Excessive Certainty

In Christianity & Atheism on June 29, 2010 by thesignalinthenoise Tagged: , ,

Daniel Dennett

Jerry Coyne quotes Daniel Dennett in response to Ron Rosenbaum‘s pitch for agnosticism:

Have you noticed how self-proclaimed (and self-satisfied) agnostics often sneer at us arrogant, over-confident atheists without expressing any parallel contempt for the Pope, Rick Warren, the imams, and so on for their similar if opposite avowals of certainty? In the future I plan to insist on agnostics being equal-opportunity sneerers.

You should note that I have repeatedly said that excessive certainty is a hallmark of both fundamentalism and fundamatheism alike.  As Einstein said, ” [t]hen there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source.”

Six of one, half a dozen of the other.


3 Responses to “Excessive Certainty”

  1. First off you misuse fundamentalism as it is colloquially understood to be much more stringent in the domain of atheism. Basically any atheism is by the definition you currently use fundamental.

    But a fundamental Christian certainly is different from a Christian who says “god exists” but doesn’t hold conservative or literate interpretations of the faith.

    So you basically paint the mainstream of atheism in an extreme light, or you should basically consider everybody who believes in god a fundamentalist, which is against current word usage and hence misleading.

    Frankly you just make it too easy.

    Unfortunately Dennett is basically right. We don’t sneer at people who say “I believe in God” the same way it is not fashionable to sneer at atheists.

    It’s OK to sneer at atheists! In fact one gets a large crowd to applaud if you do.

    Actually I personally prefer the label agnosticism to atheism, though I ultimately reject all labels that relate to theism in any way. Thomas Huxley had a strong vision of agnosticism that I agree with. It’s not about believe but about method. I dare wager that lots of so-called fundamentalist atheist actually fully agree with Huxley on method, just not on the label.

    As for your blog, well so far you just try to establish and find evidence for “fundamatheism”, yet another negative brand about nonbelievers. Clearly “militant” “aggressive” and negative branding attempts of “New Atheism” wasn’t quite enough.

    • Basically any atheism is by the definition you currently use fundamental.

      Not at all. An atheist who claims that I am wrong and vigorously opposes my position needn’t be a fundamatheist. Most aren’t. But one who deems me inferior because I see things differently (claiming I’m necessarily delusional, a child abuser, irrational, etc.) is one.

  2. You show and quote Dennett in the context of fundamentalism. I was fair to assume that you tried to make the connection. Now you come around and say that this is not an example of it. Why then put his face up and quote a passage?

    Certainy Dennett did not call anyone delusional, child abuser, irrational. He simply stated a valid observation, that I explained and you still haven’t refuted.

    I would charge that the article is misleading and unfairly give the impression that Dennett because of the quote is a fundamentalist.

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