Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

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mkaobrih
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Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by mkaobrih » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:13 am

From FB
Here is the first of a series of five articles that I (MN) have written for the Irish Times about atheism and its relationship to reality, morality, faith and Jesus. The other four will be appearing on the next four Tuesdays
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opi ... 04598.html
The church complains of persecution when it's not allowed to persecute.
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by Dr Raskolnikov » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:06 pm

mkaobrih wrote:From FB
Here is the first of a series of five articles that I (MN) have written for the Irish Times about atheism and its relationship to reality, morality, faith and Jesus. The other four will be appearing on the next four Tuesdays
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opi ... 04598.html
It's a good, measured article - good to see this sort of thing being published in the Irish Times. I'm looking forward to the letters page being blitzed by the swivel-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth brigade! :)
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by aZerogodist » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:55 am

Excellent, looking forward to next weeks piece.

Wonder what Mr.Waters will make of it ?
MichaelNugent
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by MichaelNugent » Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:39 am

There's a reply to the article in today's Irish Times.

I don't want to reply to it, but it might be helpful if someone else did.

The letter reads:
A chara, – Michael Nugent claims atheists agree “values such as love and goodness are part of our experience as human beings” (Rite and Reason, October 4th). One may be an atheist and be filled with goodness and love or one may be an atheist like Stalin or Pol Pot and struggle on such matters.

Atheism is only a position on an existential question, namely the existence of God(s). Humanism may make further claims. Atheism does not. It is grossly inaccurate to infer it is anything to do with any other life stance, be that positive or negative. – Is mise,

ALEX STAVELEY,
Turvey Walk,
Donabate,
Co Dublin.
The same point was also made yesterday on the Boards website. It's based on a misinterpretation of the article, taking the sentence out of the context of the sentences before and after it.

I've outlined what I think are suitable counter-arguments in this article on my blog:

Atheism, impersonal forces, love, goodness, Stalin and Pol Pot
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:49 am

"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by aiseiri47 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:43 pm

Sir, – Michael Nugent says he rejects gods because they are “ideas invented by humans” (Rite Reason, Opinion, October 4th). But by the same logic his statement should also be rejected because that too is invented by a human.
I don't see how anyone will be able to argue with that; not because he's right, but simply because his concept of "logic" is inept.

My head hurts trying to decide if it would be possible to explain, in a way he would understand, the difference between "ideas" that people claim to be real, metaphysical entities with thoughts and powers that affect the real world in a literal sense and "ideas" that people accept as thoughts and opinions that can be agreed or disagreed.

The rest of his response just goes downhill; he seems to think that by placing concise statements adjacent to one another, the connection between them becomes coherent and logical. It's like trying to read a philosophical piece by C.S.Lewis.

I'd personally file that one under "people who should probably be left to their fairytales". It's the people he's influenced with his letter that worry me.
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by Tim Robbins » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:58 pm

It's ridiculous making arguments that atheist agree on things they don't have to agree on. Michael is doing that throughout the article.

1. "We atheists will change our minds if evidence shows we are wrong" - You can be atheist and are free to refuse to change your mind if you are wrong.
2. "Atheists reject the idea that your preferred god exists, in the same way that you reject the idea that other gods exist: because there is no reliable evidence that they do exist, and lots of reliable evidence that they are ideas invented by humans." - You can be atheist on whatever terms you want. You don't have to similar reasons to any religious person's rejection of another God or have any opinion that they are ideas invented by humans.
3. "Why are atheists so certain that gods do not exist? Actually, most of us aren’t. We merely reject the assertion that one or more gods do exist, based on the best currently available evidence." - Again - speak for yourself Michael.
4. "We would change our minds if we were given new and credible evidence that we are mistaken." - You don't have to.
5. "Atheists reject the idea of personal gods as intervening supernatural beings." - Well not really. They only have to disbelief which is slightly weaker than reject.
6. "We(atheists) do not get our morality from books such as the Bible and the Koran..." - incorrect. You can be atheist and still believe it is possible to get morality from the bible
7. "Atheists agree that there are impersonal forces in the universe, and that values such as love and goodness are part of our experiences as human beings."
As stated atheists don't have to agree on such matters.

In summary, Michael only speaks for himself. But, he acts like he speaks for all atheists. In the same way as this organisation presents itself as speaking for Irish atheists when it only speaks for its members and its own agenda.

I wish Michael would caveat his opinions more. In the same way as I wish this organisation would caveat its opinions and stances more.

The way he goes makes atheism sound like a religion. A set of stances and reasons for those stances.
It impinges on the freedom that is associated with the philosophical stance on atheism.

In addition:
1. "And pragmatic atheists simply ignore the idea of gods as being in practice irrelevant to their lives."
I have heard weak atheism and strong atheism but I have never heard pragmatic atheists.

2. "most atheists are also agnostics" - oh really...

Personally, I hope the next article is of a higher standard.
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:00 am

Tim Robbins wrote:It's ridiculous making arguments that atheist agree on things they don't have to agree on. Michael is doing that throughout the article.

1. "We atheists will change our minds if evidence shows we are wrong" - You can be atheist and are free to refuse to change your mind if you are wrong.
2. "Atheists reject the idea that your preferred god exists, in the same way that you reject the idea that other gods exist: because there is no reliable evidence that they do exist, and lots of reliable evidence that they are ideas invented by humans." - You can be atheist on whatever terms you want. You don't have to similar reasons to any religious person's rejection of another God or have any opinion that they are ideas invented by humans.
3. "Why are atheists so certain that gods do not exist? Actually, most of us aren’t. We merely reject the assertion that one or more gods do exist, based on the best currently available evidence." - Again - speak for yourself Michael.
4. "We would change our minds if we were given new and credible evidence that we are mistaken." - You don't have to.
5. "Atheists reject the idea of personal gods as intervening supernatural beings." - Well not really. They only have to disbelief which is slightly weaker than reject.
6. "We(atheists) do not get our morality from books such as the Bible and the Koran..." - incorrect. You can be atheist and still believe it is possible to get morality from the bible
7. "Atheists agree that there are impersonal forces in the universe, and that values such as love and goodness are part of our experiences as human beings."
As stated atheists don't have to agree on such matters.

In summary, Michael only speaks for himself. But, he acts like he speaks for all atheists. In the same way as this organisation presents itself as speaking for Irish atheists when it only speaks for its members and its own agenda.

I wish Michael would caveat his opinions more. In the same way as I wish this organisation would caveat its opinions and stances more.

The way he goes makes atheism sound like a religion. A set of stances and reasons for those stances.
It impinges on the freedom that is associated with the philosophical stance on atheism.

In addition:
1. "And pragmatic atheists simply ignore the idea of gods as being in practice irrelevant to their lives."
I have heard weak atheism and strong atheism but I have never heard pragmatic atheists.

2. "most atheists are also agnostics" - oh really...

Personally, I hope the next article is of a higher standard.
pffft...
PZ Myers wrote: Dictionary Atheists. Boy, I really do hate these guys. You've got a discussion going, talking about why you're an atheist, or what atheism should mean to the community, or some such topic that is dealing with our ideas and society, and some smug wanker comes along and announces that "Atheism means you lack a belief in gods. Nothing more. Quit trying to add meaning to the term." As if atheism can only be some platonic ideal floating in virtual space with no connections to anything else; as if atheists are people who have attained a zen-like ideal, their minds a void, containing nothing but atheism, which itself is nothing. Dumbasses.

If I ask you to explain to me why you are an atheist, reciting the dictionary at me, you are saying nothing: asking why you are a person who does not believe in god is not answered when you reply, "Because I am a person who does not believe in god." And if you protest when I say that there is more to the practice of atheism than that, insisting that there isn't just makes you dogmatic and blind.

In that Montreal talk, I explained that there is more to my atheism than simple denial of one claim; it's actually based on a scientific attitude that values evidence and reason, that rejects claims resting solely on authority, and that encourages deeper exploration of the world. My atheism is not solely a negative claim about gods, but is based on a whole set of positive values that I will emphasize when talking about atheism. That denial of god thing? It's a consequence, not a cause.

Now I don't claim that my values are part of the definition of atheism — I just told you I hate those dictionary quoters — nor do I consider them universal to atheism. I've met plenty of atheists who are in our camp over issues of social justice — they see god-belief as a source of social evils, and that's why they reject it. That is valid and reasonable. There are atheists who consider human well-being as the metric to use, and we call them humanists; no problem. There are also atheists who are joining the game because their cool friends (or Daniel Radcliff) are atheists; that's a stupid reason, but they are atheists.

My point is that nobody becomes an atheist because of an absence of values, and no one becomes an atheist because the dictionary tells them they are. I think we also do a disservice to the movement when we pretend it's solely a mob of individuals who lack a belief, rather than an organization with positive goals and values.
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 ... theist.php
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by MichaelNugent » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:56 pm

For context:

On Tuesday, Tim started a thread on Boards.ie with this post:
Tim Robbins wrote:Fair play to Michael for stirring a debate but I think he misrepresents atheism. He sets it up as a sort of life stance on a range of issues. This is incorrect. All atheism is, is a position on an existential question, that is whether God exists or not.

He says things like: “Atheists agree that there are impersonal forces in the universe, and that values such as love and goodness are part of our experiences as human beings.”

Who is he to say atheists agree on such matters? I applaud Atheist Ireland for a lot of the work they do but I find the way they extend the definition of atheism and speak as if they are speaking for all atheists a tad annoying.
And he followed this up with:
Tim Robbins wrote:Yes the vast majority agree on such matters. But the way he pushes it to the next level like a pushy sales person opens the door for the head recking Stalin argument.

It's very easy for anyone to say: "Michael Nugent claims athesits "agree that there are impersonal forces in the universe, and that values such as love and goodness are part of our experiences as human beings". Does he include Stalin and Pol Pot in his analysis?"

If he was more clinical with the logic and not make himself so easy to counter argue - it would be better.
On Wednesday I clarified what I meant by that sentence, in the same way as I did above here, and Tim replied:
Tim Robbins wrote:Michael,
I greatly admire the amount of free time you are putting into this.
I think the way you've expressed your opinion here are clearer and hope you don't mind a bit of what was meant to be some constructive feedback. You should go on Vincent Browne and make some noise about the President having to take a religious oath!
Cheers.
On Friday, Tim posted the post above on our forum here.

For Tim:

Tim, where would you prefer to continue this discussion? Here or on the Boards.ie forum? It’s probably easier to follow if we keep it all in the same place. I’ll post this message on both, but after that I think we should focus on one or the other location. Wherever you want to continue it, can I ask you some questions?

Why are your opinions on this so volatile? Why were you originally concerned about just one statement in my article, then responded supportively to my explanation, but are now less supportive and are concerned about nine statements in the article?

Why are you suggesting that I should go on Vincent Browne and make some noise about the President having to take a religious oath, given that it is theoretically possible that some atheists might want the President to have to take a religious oath?

In other conversations, do you implicitly understand words like 'some' and 'many' and 'all' to be intended where it is reasonably obvious from the context, or do you insist that they are always made explicit?

Why do you think that your preferred meaning of atheism (which is not even the dictionary definition) should be the default meaning for everybody else?
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Re: Michael Nugent's Irish Times Article

Post by funkyderek » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:49 pm

Tim Robbins wrote:I wish Michael would caveat his opinions more.
You mean a sort of caveat idiota? "Any of the statements made above, no matter how reasonable, may theoretically have exceptions and should not be considered to universally apply."

I'd have thought it unnecessary to overly complicate an article like that with exceptions that only the most insufferable pedant could come up with, but as they say, there's always one. (Caveat: there may only sometimes be one.)
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

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