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Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

Ten Most Wanted Promoters of Pseudoscience

Posted by dystressed on November 16, 2008

I am a skeptoid fanboy. I will admit it. The podcast is a great resource for the beginner skeptics out there.

The recent October 28th podcast covered his list of the 10 most wanted celebrities who endorse harmful pseudoscience. Now I must specify that he does not want these people to be hurt or harmed, he simply wants people to be aware of how dangerous following these people can be.

There are figures on both the right and the left politically, but all are taken to task for the harmful ideas they promote. Guess who is number 1: Oprah Winfrey. A magazine I read about a year ago called Oprah the closest thing America has to a living Deity. All the more reason to take whatever she says with a truckload of salt.

The rest of the list:

  1. Oprah Winfrey – Jumping on every Alternative Bandwagon that comes along
  2. Jenny McCarthy – Anti-Vaccination
  3. Prince Charles – Alternative Medicine
  4. Bill Maher – Alternative Medicine
  5. Larry King – Bad Journalism
  6. Pamela Anderson – PETA
  7. Ben Stein – Comparing Science to Nazism, Creationism
  8. Joe Rogan – 9/11 Truther, et al.
  9. Chuck Norris – Christianity
  10. Montel Williams – psychics

I urge you to check this podcast out. It’s only about 10 minutes long to listen to and even faster to read.

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Posted in Politics, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“Born Again” The documentary

Posted by Andy D. on September 23, 2008

This is an inside look at religion and how it divided a family. My family is no where near as intense but those interviews towards the end mirror conversations I have had with my own family. (minus the homosexual rights and big R republican ties).  Prepare yourself for a good story.  (Snagfilms is  a cool documentary film website).

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Posted in Video | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Evangelist = Evil’s Agent?

Posted by Eye4Cards on July 18, 2008

To spread or not to spread: that is a good question. Here are a few more:

  • Is a proselytizing atheist the equivalent of an evangelical Christian?
  • Are atheists guilty of believing dogmatic, absolutist truths?
  • Is atheist activism effective?

These are a few of the common questions I’ve pondered now for several years concerning the effectiveness of the atheist communities that spend massive amounts of time and energy countering religious activists and apologists. In short, I believe the answers are no, sometimes, and somewhat.

The title of this post may be a little misleading. It’s a great anagram that begs to be used, but it seems a little harsh to me. I don’t believe the majority of evangelical Christians are evil or intend malice, or that spreading your “faith” or lack thereof is necessarily a bad thing. I do wonder how we best go about it.

There are some basic conclusions that I have drawn so far. I don’t think we have enough data to have concrete answers for many of my questions. The nature of the individuality and independence of the typical freethinker makes it difficult at best to attempt a unifying strategy for most effectively communicating our commonalities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.

There are some definite, major differences in how atheists “preach” compared to evangelicals.

Here I could go into a rant about how I believe the specific dogmas of each religion and their competing sects are all individual memes vying for your attention psychologically and are analogous to viruses, but I won’t.

I could also talk about how science is comprised of memes known as facts and these factual memes are much more difficult to spread because they are hard to transmit from host to host due to their complexity and specificity and yet they can be very effective and enduring, but that’s not what I want to talk about either.

No, I wonder instead whether we should be focused on relieving the dissolutions of the religious by continuing to focus on questioning dogma, or whether we should spend more time extolling the wonders and virtues of the natural world and science.

There have been some ingenious arguments against the existence of any gods of any organized religions. Yet still the need to believe persists. I’m sure continued education is necessary, but I doubt education is enough; otherwise, religion would have been dead long ago. Many of the answers people seek have been laid out for centuries in science and philosophy books. It is not a simple solution to just give everybody access to all of our collective knowledge.

I also grow tired of religion bashing. It is not that it isn’t easy or fun. It is. But I question the effectiveness of convincing people of the error of their ways. You don’t even have to actively insult believers to turn them away. Simply point out fallacies and contradictions and you will still lose your audience.

I’ve been thinking more about presenting the positives of freethought and science and philosophy. There is still the problem of being unable to reach those who don’t desire real truths or answers or even knowledge, but then those people are unreachable anyway.

All evangelism is simply the desire to spread the truth. Every religion thinks they have it, just as we think we know all the facts we preach are the truth. The obvious difference is that the “truths” of science are verifiable and up for debate and discussion. But this wouldn’t keep me from wanting others to know truth if I were religious and thought I had all the answers. This is why I don’t necessarily disdain Christian evangelicals for attempting to spread what they truly believe is the Gospel truth. They think they are doing you a great deed freeing you from Hell just as we think we are freeing them from error.

Concentrating on showing why non-belief is valuable and worth living for is in great demand nowadays. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked the same basic questions in one form or another: “What is there to live for without God as a reason for our existing? How can we know right from wrong without divine guidance? Why bother living a good life if this existence is random and meaningless?”

We’ve already done the debunking for centuries with many of our greatest minds spending vast amounts of time and energy telling the religious why they are wrong and how. The religious are pretty familiar with these arguments. But it seems few of them are familiar with where to turn once they’ve decided to turn from the comforting idea of God.

We still run into the problem of falling on deaf ears, but focusing on talking about why and how to live a good life without God is likely to be something refreshing and new to many of the ears that do listen.

My guess is that there will still be a need to debunk as long as there are religions that refuse to be debunked. I just think that the more people understand basic science and critical thinking, the less people will need to be debunked over time. This will take generations if not centuries. Progress never moves as fast as needs and desires. We might not have centuries to do this if some of our current trends continue, but I continue to inject a little optimism in with my skepticism. There is so much we can do and improve in this world, and so much to live for, that it would be foolish to simply give up and leave it in the hands of God and his evangelists.

More later…

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »