Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Religion of Atheism

I've been meaning to do this for awhile... I read a lot online and I also talk about what I read a lot. The problem is that when I talk about what I read a lot of people eventually begin to realize I'm completely absorbed into too many different things and that I can go on about them for hours. Some could even argue it consumes my life... but that's not 100% true... it just consumes a lot of my waking hours.

"Perfect is the enemy of good"

It feels appropriate to start with this proverb as I feel that perfection is often at the route of dogma in some shape or form and that that pursuit of perfection in the real world is often counter-productive. I also feel that the highlighting of a solution's flaws solely to propose we not implement the solution is counter-productive. The search for the perfect solution puts all the good solutions on the chopping block and sometimes after a complete thrashing of all good solutions we choose inactivity as opposed to solving the problem at hand.

A perceived flaw in a system is often a good starting point for the opposition to begin attacking the solution as a whole. Instead of attempting to fix the flaw in said system, we resign to throwing the entire system out. Baby-with-the-bathwaterism as I call this is a key ingredient to constructing a convincing system of beliefs. Belief that as long as the bathwater exists we must throw out the baby halts progress and sometimes results in ceasing progress terminally.

This brings me to the first dogma I will discuss and the topic for the rest of this entry. What dogma will I be discussing? Do you really care? My starting point will be targetting a small sect of modern atheists who through their condamnation of religious beliefs end up creating a belief system of their own. In their opposition of religion they form a religion of their own. Abhorred by this fact, they proceed to claim their religion is in fact better and more rational.

These modern rationals as they call themselves end up adhering to a system of beliefs similar to what they oppose. However, their belief that they are immune to dogma (due to the fact that they saw through other dogma) is often what allows them to overlook the fact that they too have married themselves to a rigid doctrine of beliefs that are not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. In their divorce from religion, they married themselves to science.

Science is a rather confusing mistress. Science is a "systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe" (Thanks wikipedia, you (unlike science) will always be there for me when I need to pad the essays I'm writing). Science is never settled and like that date you pick up down town might not be there in the morning. This becomes problematic when science moves from being a means to explain the universe to a means to further a cause.

When using science to further a cause sometimes the evidence supporting your cause will eventually turn sour. Just like when that wonderful girl leaves you in the morning and you feel the onset of denial of reality, a lack of scientific evidence usually results to people turning to epidemiological studies in an attempt to try and prove that correlation provides causation. By that, I mean repeating the same damn correlation hundreds of times until everybody believes it. With the girl gone, you go get a hooker.

In that case though, you are no longer wedded to science (Since science, like a good seductress is fickle and moves on quickly to better things) but to pseudo-science. At this point you become as equally dogmatic as the religion you sought to differentiate yourself from. You have adhered to a new religion that masquerades under the guise of rationality.

A strong point that I often feels shows the dogmatic nature of a lot of athiests who seek to oppose religion is that they cease to mention the good that religion can do. They cease to mention any benefits that being religious might confer and instead attack the flaws in religion. They attempt to throw the baby out with that bathwater and make it their personal goal to do so.

Ironically, a lot of the flaws with religious practice today is strict adherence to the doctrine of beliefs that defines their religion and it is dogma that the athiests are attacking. If only the rationals could see that religion is not the problem but certain dogmas within religion itself then they would not be succumbing to the same fate as their perceived foe.

If only the rationals had attempted to solve the problem they perceived with religion, analyzed it's flaws and highlighted it's benefits and then attempted to fix the perceived flaws with religion they would have been better off. In this case they would have went on to attempt to solve the problems with some religions as opposed to attempting to solve religion.

Imagine that... atheists and theists sitting together discussing what they have in common and attempting to work towards a better future. That seems like a good framework for progress... science is a useful tool for problem solving when we have clearly identified for the problem. But when the problem hasn't been fairly examined science becomes dangerous and risks becoming pseudo-science as we attempt to fit a square into a circle.

Not that we can perfectly analyze any problem, nor should we try. Perfect is the enemy of the good but dogma is married to the perfect.

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