Beta testing a book: Chapter 3: Why religious ideas are fair game

Yay for a very productive week! I now have a substantially revised version of chapter three of the book. It’s titled Why religious ideas are fair game. “In this chapter” and other notes below the fold:

  • How taboos stop honest discussion of religion
  • The truth about the Bible and the Quran
  • Why arguing about religion works
  • The value of mocking religion
  • Religious believers’ “helpful advice” for atheists

I’ve taken Delphi Psmith’s suggestion of enabling comments on this draft as well as drafts for chapters one and two. This chapter assumes to some extent that you’ve read chapter one, so consider reading that if you haven’t yet. Those who are new to this project may also wish to read the project’s introductory post, which includes some “ignorable advice” to commenters.

I should mention that this draft of this chapter currently does not incorporate this post. I’m currently thinking of saving discussion of those issues for a later chapter, though I may also put them back in in response to further comments.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who’s been commenting on draft chapters so far, especially Leah Libresco, who devoted two posts at her blog to commenting on the draft of chapter two. I’ve added a couple parenthetical asides to that draft to address a couple of her concerns.

  • MNb

    “what about all the good religious believers in the world?”
    What about all the good communists last 150 years?

    “how atheists and believers should work together,”
    As a non-American this never ceases to amaze me. For the zillionth time: I am probably the only atheist teaching at a secular school, with all kind of religious colleagues. And I don’t shut up. If my pupils (most of them and possibly all of them religious too) ask me I am crystal clear: “there is no god”.
    It doesn’t prevent me to work together and to earn the respect of same pupils.

    Btw some christians made me reject religion, while it took Quantummechanics to make me chose atheism.
    Good chapter again.

    • DSimon

      What’s the connection between quantum mechanics and atheism?

    • Pseudonym

      What about all the good communists last 150 years?

      I agree with you! It’s not like there’s any shortage of them, after all.

      In the 1930s, the liberal intellectual class noticed that some democracies around Europe were collapsing and being replace by communism or fascism, and that many industrialists and aristocrats seemed to prefer fascism. Assuming (as it turned out, incorrectly) that the trend of democracy-collapse would continue, many of those intellectuals became communists with the intent that a) it was preferrable to fascism (which is arguably correct), and b) they were smart enough that they could work out how to do it “right” (which is arguable).

      Yes, most of these people were good, well-meaning people. Many of the intellectuals and labor organizers did a lot of good for society. Their positive contributions should be celebrated, shouldn’t they?

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  • MNb

    @DSimon: Quantummechanics is acausal. All religions I know have causal god images – especially the three Abrahamistic ones.