2010-08-22

Atheism is not science

Since I've been on an atheism/religion kick lately, I'd like to draw attention to an interview with Seth MacFarlane in the September 2009 issue of Esquire. The interviewer, Stacey Grenrock Woods, makes the main point of my previous post about the battle between atheists and religion by asking two simple questions:

ESQ: Speaking of which, I see you've recently become rather vocal about your atheism. Isn't it antithetical to make public proclamations about secularism?

SM: We have to. Because of all the mysticism and stuff that's gotten so popular.

ESQ: But when you wave banners, how does it differ from religion?

SM: It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith.

ESQ: Right, but I think I'll still try
The Secret. Oprah raves about it.

I got excited reading this because I was starting to think that there was no one out there who agreed with me. It seems that Woods at least partially agrees with me anyway, so now I feel better.

MacFarlane, though, no matter how amazing his television shows are, runs the risk of polluting his "atheist" cause by positioning it as the antithesis to religion. I said the same thing a while ago about the humanist movement. I stand behind any organization whose main purpose is to promote the use of knowledge and scientific reason to make political decisions, and I fully oppose those people who impose their belief and faith on others, but the two ideas are not opposites.

Surely they are very different, but the lack of one does not imply the other. Therefore I will say again that the self-proclaimed atheists, humanists, freethinkers, agnostics--and all others who claim to base their decisions on only science--should not list religion per se as an enemy in their manifestos.

The enemy is not lack of scientific basis, but instead opposition of scientific basis.

A simple belief in a god does not preclude rational behavior, even if religious activities sometimes do. Therefore do not tell someone that they should not believe in a god, but remind them (as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg almost-heroically did) to keep their beliefs out of political decisions.

I have this funny feeling that decades from now atheists and theists will still be arguing about whether or not God exists and science will have slipped out the back door.


If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.
--Don Draper, Mad Men

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