Last modified on November 26, 2019, at 12:21

Atheism and dogmatism

Concerning atheism and dogmatism, research shows that atheists are less open-minded (see: Atheism and open-mindedness).

In the BBC documentary The Trouble with Atheism the award-winning journalist Rod Liddle indicates:

Some atheists have become rather dogmatic. Terribly certain in their conviction that there is no God and anyone who thinks there is is a deluded and dangerous fool. ...atheists are becoming as intransigent about their own views as the people they so despise.

Atheism is becoming a religion of its own. It already has its gurus and its revered sacred texts... It has its magnificent temples within which lie mysteries and unknowable truths.[1]

The abstract for the 2017 journal article Are atheists undogmatic? published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences states:

"Previous theory and evidence favor the idea that religious people tend to be dogmatic to some extent whereas non-religious people are undogmatic: the former firmly hold beliefs, some of which are implausible or even contrary to the real world evidence. We conducted a further critical investigation of this idea, distinguishing three aspects of rigidity: (1) self-reported dogmatism, defined as unjustified certainty vs. not standing for any beliefs, (2) intolerance of contradiction, measured through (low) endorsement of contradictory statements, and (3) low readiness to take a different from one's own perspective, measured through the myside bias technique. Non-believers, at least in Western countries where irreligion has become normative, should be lower on the first, but higher on the other two constructs. Data collected from three countries (UK, France, and Spain, total N = 788) and comparisons between Christians, atheists, and agnostics confirmed the expectations, with agnostics being overall similar to atheists."[2]
Richard Granville Swinburne

Psychology Today indicates:

Dogmatism has usually been related to low levels of openness to experience, the latter being an indicator of one's interest in new and non-traditional ideas. Dogmatism has mostly been studied in relation to religious beliefs but some recent research has looked at dogmatism among non-religious people. One surprising finding was that among self-identified atheists, higher levels of openness to experience were actually associated with greater dogmatism, contrary to the usual pattern. This suggests that the personality dimension openness to experience might not be a marker of open-mindedness as such but more of a preference for unconventional and complex ideas. Perhaps there needs to be a distinction made between humble versus arrogant forms of openness to experience.[3]

The argument from religious experience is the argument that because people have reported religious experiences of God, therefore God exists. See also: Swinburne's argument from religious experience

The journalist Marjorie Steele states:

I’m not so much saying atheists as individuals are dogmatic, as I am that atheism is, as an ideology. Atheism takes a firmly negative stance on anything supernatural, asserting it does not exist, which is very different from asserting that it’s unknown. That premise alone makes atheism as dogmatic as religion.[4]

The essay The Dogmas and Failure of Rational Atheism by Carl Olson say about the new atheist Sam Harris:

For example, Sam Harris, in his book The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all.” If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith —in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution — what is?[5]

Atheism, dogmatism and Jonathon Haidt's study

See also: New Atheism, dogmatism and Jonathon Haidt's study

New Atheism is a contemporary form of militant atheism. The new atheist Richard Dawkins said about New Atheism, "[O]ur struggle is not so much an intellectual struggle, as a political one: What are we going to do about it?”.[6]

Using special text analysis software, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt found that new atheists very often wrote in dogmatic terms in their major works using words such as “always,” “never,” “certainly,” “every,” and “undeniable.”[7] Of the 75,000 words in new atheist Sam Harris' The End of Faith, 2.24% of them connote or are associated with certainty.[8]

Jonathon Haidt wrote in his article Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind which was posted at the Evolution Institute website: "I am opposed to dogmatism. I am skeptical of each person’s individual powers of reasoning, and I’m even more skeptical of the reasoning of groups of activists, hyper-partisans, and other righteous reformers who would remake society according to their own reasoned (or revealed) vision."[9]

Richard Dawkins
According to Jonathon Haidt's study Richard Dawkins was found to be more dogmatic than Glenn Beck.[10]

Commenting on Jonathon Haidt's work the article New Study Exposes Atheist Dogma states:

A new study released by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt compared Atheists with popular conservative pundits like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter. Here’s why Dr. Haidt did the study, “When I was doing the research for The Righteous Mind, I read the New Atheist books carefully, and I noticed that several of them sounded angry. I also noticed that they used rhetorical structures suggesting certainty far more often than I was used to in scientific writing, words such as ‘always’ and ‘never,’ as well as phrases such as ‘there is no doubt that’ and ‘clearly we must’.”(emphasis mine)

Because of this change in presentation Dr. Haidt compared the writings of the new atheists to people like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck who are known for their dogmatic positions. The study analyzed the entire text of each of their newest books for words and phrases that denote dogmatic opinions. Phrases like: “always” “never,” “certainly,” “every,” and “undeniable.” and in atheist Sam Harris’s book these dogmatic phrases represented over 2.5% of every word in the book. That’s five dogmatic words for every 200 words in the book!

By looking at this graph you can see how every one of these new atheists, including Richard Dawkins, were more extreme in their presentations than even Glenn Beck.

In essence, this study proved the opposite of what atheists claim. The new atheists aren’t scientists trying to present every side of the truth and allow their audience to come to their own conclusions but rather they are pushing people to believe a predetermined conclusion.[11]

Antitheism and dogmatism

Social science research indicates that antitheists score the highest among atheists when it comes to personality traits such as narcissism, dogmatism, and anger.[12][13] Furthermore, they scored lowest when it comes to agreeableness and positive relations with others.[12]

Jagiellonian University study on atheism and dogmatism

Jagiellonian Library at Jagiellonian University

The an excerpt from the abstract for the journal article Many faces of dogmatism: Prejudice as a way of protecting certainty against value violators among dogmatic believers and atheists which was published in the British Journal of Psychology states:

In this article, we suggest that dogmatic beliefs, manifested as strong beliefs that there is no God (i.e., dogmatic atheism) as well as strong beliefs in God (i.e., religious orthodoxy), can serve as a cognitive response to uncertainty. Moreover, we claim that people who dogmatically do not believe in religion and those who dogmatically believe in religion are equally prone to intolerance and prejudice towards groups that violate their important values. That is because prejudice towards these groups may be an efficient strategy to protect the certainty that strong beliefs provide. We tested these assumptions in two studies. In Study 1 and Study 2, we demonstrated that dogmatic beliefs mediate the relationship between intolerance to uncertainty and both, religious orthodoxy and dogmatic atheism. In addition, in Study 2 we showed that both the religiously orthodox and dogmatic atheists become prejudiced towards groups that violate their values and that these effects are especially strong under experimentally induced uncertainty.[14]

The research was done by the Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University by the researchers Małgorzata Kossowska, Aneta Czernatowicz‐Kukuczka and Maciej Sekerdej.

Atheist Luke Muehlhauser on atheism and dogmatism

Luke Muehlhauser (pictured on the left) and Brad Voytek (pictured on the right).

Atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote about atheism and dogmatism:

...I am reminded every day that we atheists are not particularly more rational than believers.

Denying the gods does not allow one to escape rampant human bias... We, too, are often dogmatic. We, too, abandon reason and evidence to support opinions that just “feel right” to us.

I was reminded of this a few hundred times during the week when I asked atheists to explain what was wrong with my [July 16, 2010] post. A few people gestured toward a kind of argument, but it was clear they were more interested to condemn me than they were to work through the logic of the ethical issues at play.

Most of my critics made little attempt to understand what I had said. Instead, they blatantly misrepresented my stated positions so that they could smear me.

Others admitted freely they didn’t care about the arguments involved, they just knew that they knew that they knew I was wrong...

Read the comments on this subject at Pharyngula for a lesson in dogmatic atheism. They demonstrate a method for showing that atheists are dogmatic: Attack an atheist’s dogma – especially about a complicated subject like morality and feminism – and count the number of respondents who show a serious interest in arguments and evidence over emotion and dogma-defending.[15]

Atheism, dogmatism and strong atheism/positive atheism

See: Atheism, dogmatism and strong atheism

Avatar Adi Da Samraj on atheism being dogmatic

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults.[16] See: Atheism and immaturity

See also: Atheism and immaturity

The essay The Parental Deity and The One To Be Realized by Avatar Adi Da Samraj declares:

Atheism is the ultimate form of denial of the Parental "God". Atheism is not founded on real observation of the ultimate facts of the universe. Rather, it is a kind of adolescent development of the human species.

What characterizes the doctrine (or dogma) of atheism is not a discovery that there is no "God", but a refusal to acknowledge every kind of parent (or parent-like authority), including (therefore) the Parental "God" of childish "religion".[17]

G.K. Chesterton quote on man and dogmatism

"Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. . . . Trees have no dogmas." - G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

See also

References

  1. BBC Documentary The Trouble With Atheism BBC Horizon Documentary
  2. Are atheists undogmatic?, Personality and Individual Differences, Filip Uzarevica, Vassilis Sarogloua, Magali Clobert, Volume 116, 1 October 2017, Pages 164-170
  3. Dogmatism and Openness to Experience in the Non-Religious, Psychology Today, 2013
  4. Journalist Marjorie Steele on atheism
  5. [The Dogmas and Failure of Rational Atheism] by Carl Olson
  6. Faithless: The politics of new atheism by Steven Kettell
  7. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  8. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  9. Why Sam Harris is unlikely to change his mind by Jonathon Haidt, Evolution Institute website
  10. Study Exposes Atheist Dogma by [[Eric Hovind]
  11. Study Exposes Atheist Dogma by [[Eric Hovind]
  12. 12.0 12.1 Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded
  13. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  14. [https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjop.12186 Many faces of dogmatism: Prejudice as a way of protecting certainty against value violators among dogmatic believers and atheists by Małgorzata Kossowska, Aneta Czernatowicz‐Kukuczka,, Maciej Sekerdej, British Journal of Psychology, First published: 19 February 2016 https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12186
  15. Atheism and Dogmatism by Luke Muehlhauser] at Commonsenseatheism.com
  16. http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-atheists-have-lowest-retention-rate-compared-to-religious-groups-78029/ Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  17. The Dogma of Atheism by Dogma of Atheism: A reading from The Aletheon