New Atheist vs Old Atheist Debate

The topic of atheism has popped up many times on this blog with no instance perhaps better than when Mark Shea, just a couple of weeks ago, was quoted as saying:

. . . The Atheist of the Gaps believes in such fake relics [e.g. the Luigi Garlaschelli fake pictured below] with childlike faith no matter how badly that fake fails to actually reproduce the Shroud. That’s because they need it to be a fake. It is an article of faith in advance of and in the teeth of all evidence,

This new video, just posted on Hemant Mehta’s blog, is a bit more off-topic. It is a five minute debate between Atheist Andrew Brown of The Guardian and Atheist Daniel Dennett, Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Simon & Schuster, 1995). Off-topic, yes, but fun to watch.

Mehta comments:

What the New Atheists (and I would lump many other atheist activists under this umbrella, too) offer is a no-holds-barred critique of religion that comes at you all at once from many different angles. Instead of the periodic trickles of atheism we saw a few decades ago, “New Atheism” hits you like a firehose. You can’t escape the books and podcasts and websites and non-religious celebrities. Nor can you ignore the media mentions of atheists that happen with increasing frequency… or the way we’ve dominated Internet discourse. The New Atheism has made it safer for people to declare their godlessness. (That’s not to say it’s easy everywhere, but it is certainly easier than it used to be.)

As for Dennett, he believes that consciousness is but an illusion and that it may be possible to reprogram all of us. That is convenient, isn’t it. If he can figure out how, then he can make us all agree with him.

Shea had also written:

Strangely and hilariously, the absolute atheist refusal to consider the possibility of the Shroud’s genuineness vs. the Christian openness to all the strange possibilities this strange world holds is called by the Atheist of the Gaps, "Christian obscurantist close-mindedness vs. Atheist rational willingness to follow the facts wherever they lead". It’s of a piece with the "open-minded" atheist Emile Zola who, witnessing a miraculous healing at Lourdes, responded by declaring "Even if I saw all the sick at Lourdes healed, I would not believe."

If Émile Zola hadn’t lived so long before Dennett was born, we might suspect that he was the product of just such a reprogramming experiment.

This bring us to Michael Redux: Quantum mechanics, consciousness and love by this blog’s regular reader and frequent commenter John Klotz from about a year ago:

The question of whether human consciousness is a distinct phenomenon that survives death, is at the core of most religious belief. Now, it is becoming a scientific issue as well. Science is dealing with two related phenomena: the existence of human consciousness and the nature of existence of all matter at the quantum level. Science in attempting to explain human consciousness is science attempting to define the soul. Is our consciousness a discreet process that may operate independent of space and time? Or,  is it only an accumulation of sensations that ends when the individual dies and the brain is  rendered inert and decaying? Can  our consciousness operate independent of time and space? Is there any scientific basis for eternal life? Is the Resurrection real?

imageOK now. Watch the watch. You’re getting sleepy. Count slowly from ten to zero. Say after me: ‘The shroud is real. The carbon dating is wrong. A mouse lives in Dennett’s beard.’

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