Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


Lindsay's book, Everybody is Wrong about God

This book stresses that any reason or excuse to believe in God is invalid and false. He wants the word atheist to go. Lindsay would do well to think about tackling mathematics rather than philosophy for though the book is creative and makes original points it is philosophically thin.

Let us quote from him and then assess!
 
Lindsay: It seems that ‘God’ is an abstract mental construction that people employ to help them meet or ignore various psychological and social needs.” So he concludes that “contrary to the title of Dawkins’ famous book, believers aren't exactly delusional when talking about and believing in ‘God’. Every time someone says that he believes in God, he’s saying that he has physiological or social needs that he doesn’t know how to meet.”

Comment: It is patronising to tell people who say they believe in God as a real being and person that they do not. Only they can or might know if they do.

Believers will find it insulting to be told that they only believe in God because they think they are helpless!

Many within a religion encourage this "religion is a painkiller for getting through something - a crutch" despite it clearly leading to religious people being treated as weaklings by those who consider themselves strong and crutch-free. That is how fascism can start off! Liberal societies may present themselves as "respecting" people of faith but is that patronising outlook really respect? No!

Belief in a real God is compatible with how people interpret that God to suit themselves. Don't husband and wives make assumptions up to a point about each other?

If you mistake real things such as the need for comfort and guidance for God then you are in fact deluded. To have a deep relationship with somebody who is not there or not real is rank delusion. And the link between God and comfort is a common one but a very strange one for nothing guarantees having an easy life. The comfort has a bad side. The believer risks feeling far worse. If nothing is looking after you and you think it should or is and are wrong then that is self-abuse. The comfort only works in so far as you think the bad things will not be so bad. But when they are happening it is a different story. It could be that believers want not comfort but false comfort. And that is what is happening!

If too many believers are in fact believing in God to meet certain needs what if that God is a spiteful entity who loves punishing and sending people to Hell? All who promote the Christian God must take responsibility if some hearers respond to their teaching that way. They can't order people what interpretation to take.

Lindsay makes out that atheism is not a worldview or philosophy but just seeing the obvious.

Comment: Lindsay contradicts the truth expressed by Sam Harris, “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. No one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer – atheism is a term that should not even exist.” Lindsay however writes, "Anyone who doesn't believe in God is automatically an 'atheist' by default. Because it's the default, we cannot really 'end atheism.' Obviously, this isn't what I mean. I like to think of it this way. If theism were to go away, technically everyone would be atheists - if everyone on earth rejected theism, we wouldn't call anyone atheists because we wouldn't need to. We'd just call them people."

The author contradicts himself for we read, “Stop pretending that theism deserves serious rational consideration.” Theists do think it is reasonable to assume God or believe. A guess is an attempt to be reasonable in the sense that you only guess what you think is possible. So if they think its reasonable when it is not and is as absurd as thinking salt can substitute for sugar in your tea then it is a delusion.

As reason is seen as a gift from God if you assume there is a God or believe you must respect him by honouring and using and trying to use your faculty of reason. There is a link between God and reason so if theism is unreasonable then the theist is delusional. and using and trying to use your faculty of reason. There is a link between God and reason so if theism is unreasonable then the theist is delusional.

Lindsay:  "If theism had any real evidence to support it, it would never make arguments for why it doesn’t need evidence, relying instead on other kinds of non-epistemic warrant, for example, as claimed by Reformed Epistemology.”

Comment: Not all systems argue that evidence is not needed. The non-epistemic warrant is compatible with having evidence. You can say that nothing makes sense without a theory and still look for evidence for that theory. This is one of the worst lines ever to appear in an atheist book.

We need reason. Many think they cannot trust their reason unless it is set up by a God who can be trusted. This creates an incentive to need God. If we need to think there is a God so that we can feel looked after in this universe that is just as biased as looking for a God to satisfy your need for reason. Without reason there can be no co-operation. So reason is socially important.

If God is based a bias and is a bias believers cannot ask us to favour their bias over any other bias. Bias by its nature is considered a bad thing.
Lindsay “A satirist mocking a set of beliefs is not mocking an individual. The individuals who hold those beliefs may feel insulted, embarrassed, sheepish, or humiliated for holding those beliefs, but that is the very point of satire and the reason it is effective.”

Comment: Good point! Believers argue that God is intimately connected with them in an unimaginable way and that as creator God is closer to them than they are to themselves. Jesus said that though man is not God to see man as God which is why he said that to hurt a person is to hurt God. It is obvious that the right to satirise or laugh at religion say as part of a comedy act exists. Thus faith in God implies that right is wrong. The belief is a threat to freedom of expression. We have a right to be offended by somebody merely having faith.

Lindsay "God is a mythological object and thus emphatically not best treated philosophically because philosophy takes the idea too seriously in the wrong way. We should address ‘God’ in terms of what it actually seems to do for people. We should also recognise theism as pseudo-philosophical position instead of a properly philosophical one.”

Comment: But we all do philosophy even if we do it badly. There is no such thing as pseudo-philosophy. It is bad philosophy.

Lindsay: Forensic psychiatrist J Anderson Thomson JR is approvingly quoted, “Religion, while not an adaption in itself, derives from the same mind-brain social adaptations that we use to navigate the sea of people who surround us.”

Comment: So if religion is just another way of social contact is religion really religion? If superstition were just a placebo it would not be really superstition.

Lindsay "Atheism is a non-position, or more accurately a pseudo-position, a position that pretends to exist, a word that pretends to mean something, only because so many people insist on embracing a belief in God that isn't there."

And

"People who do not believe in God are people, just like people who do not play golf." Calling them nongolfers is "both awkward and pointless."

Comment: But they are nongolfers! The non-position argument is untenable! Atheist is a legitimate word! Even if atheism were a pseudo-position it needs a name. It makes no sense to say there is no alternative to belief in God.

Lindsay "Atheism paradoxically maintains theism. This surprising effect is strongest with philosophical (strong) atheism, but it is true simply by the fact that atheism only really exists as a counterpoint to theism. In order for atheism, as the kind of thing one can hold or be good at, to have meaning, theism must have something going for it. That is, just as theism implicitly defines atheism by negation, this kind of atheism defines theism by negation too. Atheism, by asserting, 'God does not exist', immediately causes us to seek meaning in theism. This invariably leads to trying to understand 'God' as a kind of being."

Comment: Atheism can only indirectly lead people to belief in God or the supernatural. It says you must consider if they are real and decide and it decides that there are no grounds to think they are true. Not all atheists or atheists systems think that the idea of God is so important that it needs a lot of vigorous refutation. It may just happen that some atheists spent a lot of energy attacking faith in God but that is not because they think God is a good or plausible idea. People do battle bad rubbish ideas. One reason for their zeal is that they see God as an undermining of science or as something that does not deserve the prevalence it gets.

Lindsay "Agnosticism - is a kind of nonbelief. By saying, 'I don't know' entails a certain kind of open-minded non-belief." He mentions ignositicism which is the doctrine that nobody can know what is meant by God.

Comment: God is described by the rather intelligent religionists as unknowable. They say that God is not literally love. They use univocal language which says that God should be referred to indirectly. So he is not fair or loving. He is just not unfair or unloving. He is described in reverse. Ignostics are more common than they realise.

Lindsay: Lindsay points out that all of us what to have values and purposes for life that they turn into an "immovable core." They want these things to be the place inside that nothing and no one can ever touch. He feels believers externalise this by assuming a God who represents and lives for those values.

Comment: Obviously the danger with that is once you turn your principle in a fixed God you will not revise any of the bad principles. Even a good principle is bad if you have the attitude, "If it were bad or dangerous I'd still stand by it." That is really caring about the rule not what is right. It explains why religious superstition can be very solidified and immune to refutation and criticism. Catholicism being a man-made not God-made system never did it much harm.

Lindsay mentions Daniel Dennett's observation that many believers in religion are in fact believers in belief first and foremost. They think it is somehow helpful or virtuous to believe. To say it is a virtue to believe say in God is a way of saying you believe in belief.

Comment: That implies some things and none of them good.

It is possible that all believers are really believers in belief. It is possible that even if they are not everybody is a lot of the time.

It implies condemnation of those who do not believe or cannot believe or know they should not believe.

It is arrogant to turn an opinion or belief into a virtue. Virtue is not about what you think about anything other than virtue. It degrades virtue.

It is bigoted to argue that belief in belief in God is good for it suggests that as God alone matters and is important that this is the most important belief in belief of all.

Belief in belief is a refusal to let evidence and reason help you decide what to believe. It is a commitment to refusing to let the evidence speak to you and let it help you revise wrong beliefs or even discard them. Even in weak believers they are at risk of being too invested, emotionally or otherwise, in belief to change their minds and care about the truth and those who serve the truth.

Even if belief in God does not have to be a superstition or a delusion, belief in belief turns it into both. Lindsay reminds us that delusion is a belief that is immune to all strong evidence or proof that it is wrong. Psychiatrist Karl Jaspers wrote in General Psychopathy that delusions are present when there is "certainty, incorrigibility, and the impossibility of falsity of content". Lindsay thinks that believers because there is so much talk about God in the world easily think they believe so they are not deluded but are mistaken. That might seem to be true but it is certainly not true for those who pursue religious vocations such as priests and evangelists and prophets. They are downright insane for their religiosity surpasses the average. Mistakes get fixed but if believers make mistakes with faith matters they still persist in those beliefs and faith-related matters and that is where the problem is.

Why do faith mistakes get away with it?

Nothing but religion or belief in God insists on belief in belief. Science and medicine could not function if they operated on a belief in belief basis for each person would be getting in the way with their divergent and sometimes mutually exclusive beliefs.

Belief in belief is then based on cherry-picking and dishonesty and is not a virtue but a vice.

Lindsay argues that atheism needs to stop being seen as a thing or a belief for not believing in God does not amount to another kind of believing - that is believing that there is no God.

Comment: Atheism is the absence of belief in God according to Lindsay. True but it, by default, implies rejection of God for you are saying God by definition is that which has supreme importance as creator and friend.

Lindsay points out that those who tell you that God is responsible for giving your life purpose and meaning are fuzzy for they never tell you how this works.

Comment: True - they are trying to hide how useless their faith is. They try to get you into a system of religious society and belief and faith to keep you occupied so that you do not see that.
 
Conclusion:
 
Atheism is a valid word. It describes a person who lacks faith in God and by implication shows he more than just not believes but rejects God.