Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Atheist 13

I've been tagged by that other Jewish atheist, The Atheist Jew, with a meme of ten questions:

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

There are at least two kinds of atheists: Those who do not believe in God and those who believe God does not exist. I'm among the latter.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

I grew up in a relatively left-wing Modern Orthodox tradition.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?

Desperation.

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

Neuroscience. Also, genetics, nanotech, robotics, and AI.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

I'd like to see it become less a community of the bitter and wounded and more a community of those who share a common philosophical stance.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

It depends on the kind of clergy. Humanistic Chaplain/Rabbi? "Wow, that's great!" Orthodox Rabbi or Catholic Priest? "Maybe we should have a little talk..." Ultimately, it's their life.

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Without God, I can't see how we have free will. It appears that we have free will, therefore God must exist. Curiously, nobody seems to make this argument except me, on Opposite Day.

My refutation is that we actually don't have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I don't think there is a "general attitude among other atheists." Among atheists are secular humanists, libertarians, Randian libertarians, doves, and hawks. Perhaps I have more respect for some religious people than many atheists do.

My psychologist is an Episcopal priest, for example.

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Dawkins, by far. Even though he sometimes goes too far as activists tend to do, his book The Blind Watchmaker blew my mind. To be fair, I haven't read much of the others. Hitchens, though, strikes me as a pompous blowhard.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Great question. Let me think as I type:

Osama bin Laden? Nah, I don't think that would much matter at this point.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein? Too selfish. While I would love to see a prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi publicly admit there is no God, it just wouldn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, I'd like to convince that kid or young adult who thinks they're a bad person because of their sexual orientation or sex life or curiosity about the outside world or lack of religious fervor.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

XGH, although he's only admitted to being an agnostic, Abandoning Eden, and Lubab No More.

12 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Interesting.

I've been tagged by Stardust. I'll post mine on Friday/Saturday probably.

Anonymous said...

>My refutation is that we actually don't have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with.


Yep, that's enough to drive you batty. When I first came across the concept (in a Matt Ridley book), I was disturbed for days. I just don't ever think about that anymore.


BHB

CyberKitten said...

The question that springs to mind is this:

How do you tell the difference between Free Will & the *illusion* of Free Will?

Lubab No More said...

Thanks for the tag.

My work here is done.
http://lubabnomore.blogspot.com/2008/06/questionare-atheist-thirteen.html

asher said...

Could you please explain what you mean by a "left wing Modern Orthodox" upbringing. The majority of Modern Orthodox are Republicans who vote for the candidate most devoted to Israel. The majority of Jews in general are democrats regardless of who is running and cannot be convinced otherwise.
Please explain this anomoly.

Jewish Atheist said...

I mean "left-wing" religiously, not politically, although the community probably was also more liberal politically than many Orthodox communities are. By "left-wing" religiously, I mean more lenient, etc.

CyberKitten said...

My Meme is up....

asher said...

Ask a simply question....."left wing religously"? and being Modern Orthodox at the same time?

I hope you are around during the debates when Obama tries to maneuver around Mccain. You could help Barack not answer any real questions.

That is a non-answer. Modern Orthodox by definition is ridgid and inflexible and probably one of the reasons you became an athiest.
There are degrees of Modern Orthodox (which is an oxymoron in itself) but none could ever be described as "liberal".

We're waiting.

JaaJoe said...

I must suggest to all Christians and Atheist to read this book "The End of Reason" by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. This book forces the reader's mind to do the critical thinking that is so lacking in Christianity today. It should also be considered required reading for the atheist who has never really looked at a logical argument for the existence of God, or the Christian who has never really critically analyzed his own faith. Check out more information on The End of Reason here

The Raz said...

Free will verses the illusion of free will strike me with many parallels attributed to the nature verses nurture arguments. Genetics are really going to challenge our modern civilization in many of the ways Galileo challenged religion to view the Universe as not centering around earth, except for the fact that the repercussions will have a far greater impact.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ask a simply question....."left wing religously"? and being Modern Orthodox at the same time?

asher:

Why is your tone so antagonistic? I'm not trying to deceive anybody here, I'm just trying to describe my background. Among the Jblogs, Modern Orthodoxy is broken up into LWMO and RWMO. I was just saying that we were on the LW end of the LW-RWMO spectrum. I agree that the whole MO spectrum is on the far right as compared to the non-O denominations.

elf said...

Dawkins, by far. Even though he sometimes goes too far as activists tend to do, his book The Blind Watchmaker blew my mind. ... Hitchens, though, strikes me as a pompous blowhard.

Yes! I love it when people say exactly what I think.