Saturday, June 04, 2016

Hypocrisy?

Some are willing to use the Establishment Clause and the demand for neutrality to silence religious advocacy in classroom at publicly funded schools, yet have no compunction about atheist advocacy in those very same institutions. 

Are they hypocrites? 

No, they’re not being hypocritical. It is wrong to advocate for a religion in the public university, because when religious ideas are presented, they have to be presented in a neutral manner, without endorsement. However, atheism is not more a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby. Therefore we can shove atheism down your throat to our heart’s content, since it is not a religion, but is instead a non-religion, and treats all religions with equal contempt. Besides, all we’re doing when we are creating atheists is supporting science and critical thinking.


23 comments:

John Moore said...

How do you shove "not doing something" down someone's throat?

Actually, atheists themselves stand firm against any public school teachers who might denigrate religious beliefs in the classroom. That's a violation of academic integrity. For its part, the ACLU doesn't just litigate against religious people, but it also supports religious people who are denied their freedom of expression.

William Brown said...

John, that sounds nice in theory, but it is not what I have seen from the ACLU.

John Moore said...

If you click on "supports religious people" in my first comment, it'll take you to a page where they list specific cases.

Cal Metzger said...

Seriously. How does one shove not believing in something down someone's throat?

B. Prokop said...

"Seriously. How does one shove not believing in something down someone's throat?"

Like this.

Jezu ufam tobie!

William Brown said...

John Moore, I looked over the ACLU list. It's true that there are some cases defending Christians who want to wear headscarves (?) and to distribute literature (any breach of which is obviously highly egregious). But this does not change what seems equally clear, that the ACLU comes down very hard against anything having to do with Jesus Christ in government schools (even teaching his role in history) and in the public square in general. There's clearly a strong anti-Christian bias which is well documented.

Cal, when something is supported by the preponderance of evidence, yet is denied at every turn, then this is indeed a form of "shoving non-belief down someone's throat". A constant refusal to even discuss evidence for a creator in gov't schools is a good example. And the ACLU seems to work very hard to shove this form of non-belief (against a ton of evidence) down the throat of kids who are forced to go to these (so-called) schools.

Legion of Logic said...

"Seriously. How does one shove not believing in something down someone's throat?"

We don't even need to go as extreme is the League that B. Prokop referred to. There are many ways that "not believing in something" can be shoved down one's throat (and thereby revealing the lie that it was merely lack of belief).

For example, allowing students to express secular ideas but disallowing religious ideas. A science teacher who makes the claim that evolution or a theory of astrophysics disproves God. Trying to prevent people from voting based on their religious values.

Leaving behind the establishment clause, we can include such things as renting out public billboard space to advertise what you lack belief in (which just always happens to be God and none of the billions of other things that people lack belief in).

So yes, it can be done.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "For example, allowing students to express secular ideas but disallowing religious ideas."

I am not sure what you mean by a "secular idea." What do you have in mind there?

I ask because I would characterize a secular idea as, "Let's not privilege one set of religious claims over any other, and let's not create political rules that can only be justified on a religious ground." It seems that the secular claim I am making above does compete with the religious idea that, for instance, the U.S. should be governed under Sharia law. But I doubt that's the comparison you have in mind.

Legion: "A science teacher who makes the claim that evolution or a theory of astrophysics disproves God."

Well, if someone said it like that, I think they'd be simply wrong, as opposed to just opinionated. So that would just be bad teaching. But when scientific teaching does compete with religious claims (the age of the earth, the descent of man, etc.) do you really think that the teacher should defer to his religious beliefs instead, or those of his students?

Legion: "Trying to prevent people from voting based on their religious values."

Is there any example you're thinking of? The only ones I can think of are one religion preventing another religion from participating politically, that sort of thing.

Legion: "Leaving behind the establishment clause, we can include such things as renting out public billboard space to advertise what you lack belief in (which just always happens to be God and none of the billions of other things that people lack belief in)."

Hmm. So advertising the message that one doesn't have to believe in god is "shoving something down someone's throat"? That seems like a pretty harsh characterization. Do you think that the numerous church billboards that advertise their Sunday services, the signs on their front lawns that admonish me for not believing, etc., should be similarly out-of-bounds?

Also, you understand that billboards are not public, correct? They are operated by private companies. Lamar, for instance (if I remember this correctly) refused to run some atheist billboards a few years ago. And I think they're the same ones who run some kind of god billboards when they have excess inventory.

But as I look back at my question I realize I should have been clearer -- I didn't mean that I can't imagine something like an Orwellian society where individuals have no liberties to express themselves, but what are the instances in our society today where non-believing individuals (or our government) are shoving their non-belief down others' throats? Because it seems to me that the ones that pop to mind for me are instances of something like the ACLU pointing out that a religious view has indeed transgressed, and asking for the same protection the religious view had been granted.

That being said, there are asshats on all sides. So I'm also curious what the recent, worst (most famous?) cases of a secular, non-believer acting like a hypocrite.

planks length said...

So I'm also curious what the recent, worst (most famous?) cases of a secular, non-believer acting like a hypocrite.

Well, the most egregious, recent example I can think of is labeling people of faith who don't agree with last year's Supreme Court decision on same sex "marriage" as bigots and/or haters.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "Well, the most egregious, recent example I can think of is labeling people of faith who don't agree with last year's Supreme Court decision on same sex "marriage" as bigots and/or haters."

Okay, but "by shoving a non/belief down someone's throat" I mean more than expressing ones' views in the marketplace of ideas -- I mean using something like political force, or exerting control. We do have the right to free expression, and would assume that no one is saying (or are they?) that atheists shouldn't have the right to express what they think on any given topic (same as the rest of us enjoy).


planks length said...

I mean using something like political force, or exerting control.

So you don't consider confiscatory fines and driving people out of business with coercive lawsuits backed up by raw state power to be "exerting control"?

Cal Metzger said...

More like I don't consider labeling "people of faith as bigot and/or haters" to be the same thing as "confiscatory fines and driving people out of business with coercive lawsuits backed up by raw state power."

But no, but (assuming I know what you are referring to), I don't consider enforcing the laws, which protect individual rights, to be shoving non-belief down people's throats.

planks length said...

Well then, we know where you stand on the issue of religious freedom - the first and most important of all our freedoms. And your stand is, you're against it.

Cal Metzger said...

Planks: "Well then, we know where you stand on the issue of religious freedom - the first and most important of all our freedoms. And your stand is, you're against it."

Oh, Planksy.

planks length said...

Note that when Moses told Pharaoh to free the Israelites, it was not primarily to free them from slavery, but rather to allow them to worship freely. (Exodus 5:1, 7:16, 8:1, 8:20, 9:1, 9:13, 10:3). In this, the greatest liberation manifesto of all times and peoples, the purpose of freedom is explicit - to worship God rightly.

It remains true today.

Victor Reppert said...

What I am defending is what I am calling the parity thesis. Whatever would be wrong to do in, say a public school on behalf of Christianity, r in any other public arena, is also wrong to do on behalf of atheism. What is acceptable for, for example, Peter Boghossian to do on behalf of atheism in class, Eric Hedin should be able to to in his classroom on behalf of his religious beliefs.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: " What is acceptable for, for example, Peter Boghossian to do on behalf of atheism in class, Eric Hedin should be able to to in his classroom on behalf of his religious beliefs."

Boghossian teaches a class on Atheism.

What does Eric Hedin teach?

Legion of Logic said...

"I am not sure what you mean by a "secular idea." What do you have in mind there?"

Something along the lines of a school forbidding a student from sharing religious material while allowing anything non-religious. Or not allowing a student club because it is religious in nature. There is really only one reason to single out religious material for suppression.

"But when scientific teaching does compete with religious claims (the age of the earth, the descent of man, etc.) do you really think that the teacher should defer to his religious beliefs instead, or those of his students?"

Science teachers should teach science regardless of religious opposition. But my hypothetical would be an example of having atheism shoved down one's throat from a position of authority.

"Do you think that the numerous church billboards that advertise their Sunday services, the signs on their front lawns that admonish me for not believing, etc., should be similarly out-of-bounds?"

I think neither should be disallowed. But isn't it rather curious that Christians advertise what they believe, conservatives advertise what they believe, liberals advertise what they believe, yet atheists advertise what they DON'T believe? Sort of makes the claim that it is merely a lack of belief look rather suspect.

"That being said, there are asshats on all sides. So I'm also curious what the recent, worst (most famous?) cases of a secular, non-believer acting like a hypocrite."

Currently compiling some examples.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "Something along the lines of a school forbidding a student from sharing religious material while allowing anything non-religious. Or not allowing a student club because it is religious in nature. There is really only one reason to single out religious material for suppression."

As far as I know, students are allowed to pray (privately in school), read from their bibles, bring religious materials in and start religious clubs, etc. There have been religious clubs at every public and private school I have ever attended. The students can do all the "normal" stuff that kids get to do in school -- it's the school itself that can't be the promoter of religious beliefs.

Legion: "But my hypothetical would be an example of having atheism shoved down one's throat from a position of authority."

For the record, I do think that a teacher discussing religious beliefs (or the lack of religious beliefs) is inappropriate most of the time. But it does come up as a function of classwork in many, many ways. One can't talk about Western Civilization without talking about the Christian Church, Humanism, religious wars, the separation of church and state, the practice of science, etc. Sometime there are just facts, and they can't be hidden away because someone's religion prevents them from acknowledging those facts.

Legion: "But isn't it rather curious that Christians advertise what they believe, conservatives advertise what they believe, liberals advertise what they believe, yet atheists advertise what they DON'T believe? Sort of makes the claim that it is merely a lack of belief look rather suspect."

This is a video (which I hate being introduced into comments) that does, I think, a very good job of answering this objection. I don't expect you to watch it, but if you have the time I think it does answer what you find so suspect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnbXlkNavwo


Legion of Logic said...

"The students can do all the "normal" stuff that kids get to do in school -- it's the school itself that can't be the promoter of religious beliefs."

Yes, but schools do overstep their bounds because, presumably, of their fear of atheist lawsuits (rather than personal animosity of the teachers in question). Couple examples I found real quick:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Student-Not-Allowed-Talk-About-Bible-School-Lawyer-240195351.html

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Teacher-to-Student-Jesus-Not-Allowed-in-School-238979411.html

Legion of Logic said...

"This is a video (which I hate being introduced into comments) that does, I think, a very good job of answering this objection."

I forgot all about my Voltron toys. Those were awesome. Never watched the cartoon somehow, didn't even know it was a cartoon.

Now then, overlooking the fact that I thought the guy came across as a bit hard to take seriously due to his unjustifiably high opinion of his opinions, I do understand the point he was making that you presumably wanted me to understand - condensed summary, God-belief is harmful to society (a statement countered by numerous studies, but still), thus combat God-belief to improve society. A few problems with this.

First of all, I don't buy his assertion that removing religious belief would suddenly make people vote the way he and other progressive atheists want them to vote - remove my belief in God, my political views would not change one bit. Still pro-life, still what would be termed as "transphobic" by activists, etc. There is scientific evidence that people are conservative or liberal based on genetics / neurological differences, so atheism does not a liberal make. The strategy seems to be a poor one to me.

Second, I found it somewhat amusing that he was talking about how imaginary religious beliefs are imposed by voters / lobbyists to restrict others' rights. Everyone who voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump voted against my values, so it's not like religious beliefs are somehow worse values to vote upon. But also, the very idea of rights are human constructs - basically, imaginary beliefs that he opposes are being used to battle against imaginary beliefs that he supports. It's very hard to prove empirically that women have a "right" to abortion or that homosexuals have a "right" to marriage, isn't it?

Third, the ol' evolution topic. I did not believe in so-called "macroevolution" (as termed by young-earth creationists) until I was in my mid-20s and already had my degree. My disbelief in evolution did not prevent me from getting straight A's from kindergarten until graduating college. Nor, had I continued to reject it, would my disbelief have in any way impacted any career I chose short of one which revolved around agreeing with evolution as a daily requirement to complete the job - there are not many of these. I personally am not impressed with the alleged urgency to teach evolution, even though I believe it should be taught as science. It's a rather irrelevant belief that man and ape evolved from a common ancestor that itself evolved from a rodent tens of millions of years ago, regardless of truth. This is a value claim, however, so others might find it to be more important than I.

Fourth, he justifies his opposition to religious belief upon how certainty in those beliefs can lead to wars and oppression. By this logic, he should also oppose left-wing political beliefs, which I would argue have a far higher body count than religious beliefs. But for some reason, the leftist atheist only uses that argument against God. Hmm.

I suppose you are correct, however, that if they believe the removal of unproven religious beliefs would bolster their (unproven) political beliefs, that they would focus their energy there. Again, though, they are motivated not by what they don't believe, but by their opposition to the effects of religious beliefs that counter their political beliefs. They are still motivated by what they DO believe, rather than what they lack belief in.

That's why you'll usually see me scoffing at all the assertions of "simply a lack of belief". Because if that's all their atheism is, then it's utterly irrelevant as a motivation for their actions, so they should be upfront about what their goals and motivations really are.

Cal Metzger said...

@Legion, I read the stories you linked to regarding Christian students not being able to recite religious messages or distribute religious messages in their class.

It looks like both of these cases are being reviewed, and that we only have one side of the story (the story based on the families of the Christian students). So, it's still entirely possible that both of these instances might just be overblown or misreported.

Butif they're not being misreported, I still do think that young students should be largely discouraged from presenting religious messages in class anyways -- I think that they are often tools of their parents. And this would go for a family that is strongly atheistic as well. I just think that expressing strong religious belief, or strong atheism, from a 1st grader is inappropriate pretty much whatever the circumstances. I would allow more talk of religious beliefs to emerge from students if they were older -- probably high school.

But your articles do raise an interesting point -- about the little judgment calls that teachers and administrations (and families and students) have to make to avoid creating hostile environments for students from different backgrounds. I think that mistakes are going to be made from all sides, and all that we can do is pay attention and point out where we think someone has transgressed.

Legion of Logic said...

Agreed.