[From the GameSpot forums. You can read the thread I posted this in here.]

Read this.

Seriously, what is this? Militant atheists, eh? Where are they?

Here's a primer on atheism:
http://www.atheistrev.com/2008/06/militant-atheism.html

Here are a couple cartoons that illustrate the situation very well:
http://www.jesusandmo.net/2008/06/20/lake/
http://www.offendedyet.com/2008/03/same-thing.html

Here's a video that says it even better:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5OEocRp2wA

And no, the term "fundamentalist atheists" isn't accurate, either:
http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismmyths/p/Fundamentalist.htm

Reread the "primer" again if you have to. Let this all sink in. These atheists that people are calling "militant", "fundamentalist", etc. are not, in general, the perpetrators of bigotry--they are the victims of it. They're being held to a double standard by hypocrites who are so accustomed to their religion being favored by the state that they don't see injustice when it happens. Tell me, what would it take for a Christian or a Muslim, for example, to be called a "militant Christian" or a "militant Muslim"? Whatever your response is, see if those requirements for militancy are being met by atheists who are being called militant. If they aren't being met, then be sure you don't use the term unless it's use is warranted. If these atheists really are militant by your requirements, then be sure you apply the term to believers who also meet the requirements. If you aren't going to be consistent, you're a hypocrite who is instituting a double standard.

Now, about Spore: I have no problem with religion being included as an option for one's creatures to practice. That would certainly make it realistic if we're talking about creatures that are mentally somewhat similar to us humans. Without further information, though, I can't say why those atheists were upset. From what Will Wright said, I suspect that it might have something to do with the player having some level of control over his/her creatures, which is not the way that evolution in the real world works, or appears to work. It is, however, the way that theistic evolutionists believe it works, and this realization opens up room for potential criticism. But also, in trying to simulate biological evolution, do it right. You can certainly be afraid of offending the religious/theists, but please don't misrepresent the way the world works for the sake of appeasing them. I hope you aren't doing this, Will.

But back to the point of this post: Think for a moment of a well-known type of creature that you don't believe exists--for instance, a giant, invisible pair of hands (GIPoH). Let's say that everything these hands can supposedly do is or can be better-explained by the behavior of things that are confirmed to exist (i.e. there is no evidence for the GIPoH). Furthermore, let's say that there are 100 people in our society and that you and five others do not believe that the GIPoH exists (which is NOT the same thing as believing that they don't exist). Let's also suppose that the other 94 people in our society are more prone than the other 6 are to doing bad, harmful, stupid, or illegal things because of their belief in the GIPoH, and that there are many known instances of such actions being committed.

For many centuries, the GIPoH-ians have been given special privileges by the government, and they have been spreading horrible, vile, but entirely false, rumors about the a-GIPoH-ists. When the GIPoH-ians have come in conflict with other, similar (to their own), groups in the past, their interactions have consisted of violence and hatred--i.e., militancy. When the a-GIPoH-ists try to point out injustices being perpetrated in their 100-person society, via means of talking, writing, and going to court, they are given the label "militant". Doing so spreads the bigoted misconception that they are being like the GIPoH-ians were to other groups in the past.

Now, isn't there something fishy about that?
"Militant" my ass. I'm tired of all the bigotry.

Posted by Angry_Beaver Wed, 13 Aug 2008 03:49:27 (comments: 5)
 
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:29:21
I read the article looking for what the complain was.  Thanks for the generic "atheists are angry" comment without explaining anything.  I find the wording a bit interesting, since the points are

-The team has "pretty religious" members
-They wanted to avoid negative religous feedback
-They have received absolutely no negative religious feedback

From only those points, the article reads like they had a religious slant, then got called on it.  But we have no idea what the complaints were, because they weren't mentioned.

The militant atheist word comes from the recent spurring of religious debate that was previously taboo.  There are, of course, stupid atheists as there are of all characteristics, but it's impossible to stem from atheism since there are no rules/dogma/tenats to atheism.

I know as gamers I've heard a few disappointed in the lack of development over time in your creatures (since you apparently just design them from the ground up).

Stupid complaints from whomever are stupid complaints, but at least explain it.  If someone came out and said "Militant Jainists are angry about Halo 3" and nothing more, I'd have about as much information.
 
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:34:23
Yeah, I know. I actually read the relevant part of the interview, and what GS reported was almost all the info available to us.

The fact that no religious people seem to be offended also set off lights in my head. Even though the game is pretty much "simulating" theistic evolution (well, the player has to actually PLAY the game Nyaa )... if even that... I don't see how it wouldn't bother someone. Maybe there's less evolution in this game than even you mentioned in your comment. That would suck. Sad
 
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:37:08
Oops... I said that GIPoH is well-known. That's because I initially tried the Invisible Pink Unicorn and forgot to alter the statement. Nyaa
 
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 04:42:51
From the little research I just did, over time you earn points which you can use to upgrade your creature.  I guess they're like mechs.  The site also lists "5 stages of evolution" though I'd say the term evolution is being used incredibly loosely.

On searching, I can't find any complaints about Spore from anyone.  But just the link between evolution and the game you'd think would stir up something.

What is more important is what they characterise as atheistic complaints; I'm not sure what it could.  If someone complained that the game has nothing to do with evolution, that would be a biological complaint.  You have created characters in Soul Calibur, that's not gonna get complaints.
 
Wed, 13 Aug 2008 06:18:36
Something else I thought of on the topic of the term "militant atheist" comes from an episode of The Atheist Experience (I think it was episode 544)

They mentioned how in I think it was ancient greece that they dressed based on class.  However, the slaves wore the same clothes as the peasants.  Why was this?  It was so that the slaves couldn't identify each other when doing chores in the market to realise just how many there were.

Connecting this to "militant atheism," the term is meant to create the image of a group hatred of religion; a collective goal of eliminating everything religious, regardless of accuracy.  This creates the artificial separation we see with people claiming agnosticism to be different than the "militant atheists."  Meanwhile, the people who identify as agnostic have zero difference in rejection of the concept of god.  Neither believe it's true.  Some have just disassociated from the group.

It has worked remarkably well.  There aren't just atheists; there are atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, rationalists, etc.  While some have some additional philosophical meaning, people identify with them typically not out of philosophical association, but avoidance of terms viewed as negative by the public.

This is further used by the media.  Polls will show in the US and Canada about 2-4 percent identifying as atheist, but overall 15-20% as either not religious or agnostic depending on the poll.

People who fit the definition of atheist regardless of association make up the largest identified minority group in the United States, far larger than the jewish, muslim, black and hispanic populations, while wielding less power.
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