Op-ed: Dalai Lama

The Dalai-Lama had an op-ed in the New York Times a couple of days ago. His piece was titled “Many Faiths, One Truth” and in it he laments the lack of tolerance he sees among not only the religions of the world but also among those darned atheists.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Isn’t that just so cute. He notes that in Europe there is a violation of libertarians principles towards Muslim clothing and architecture. He then notes there is a violation of basic human rights in the violence against Muslim immigrants. Next he throws in atheists who criticize religion. Then he notes the warring that goes on in the Middle East.

Okay, let’s review.

  • Not letting people wear the religious garb of their choosing is bad.
  • Violence against members of a particular religion is bad.
  • Criticizing religion is bad.
  • Religious war is bad.

It’s like one of those tests where the question is “Can you choose which one doesn’t fit?”

To be fair, the Dalai Lama sticks to atheists who “issue blanket condemnations”, not merely those who criticize religion. Fair enough, right? Well, it would be if there was a whole group of atheists out there actually doing any such thing. I’m hard-pressed to think of a one and I consider myself well-steeped in atheist literature and happenings. Hell, even Richard Dawkins has repeatedly gone out of his way to point out that religion can be a source for good. Of course, that would be inconvenient for the Dalai Lama to acknowledge.

But notice the Dalai Lama’s stereotypes. There is no such thing as a “radical atheist” (save for Douglas Adams who used the term to be sure no one would confuse him with being an agnostic; of course, this was clever semantics and connotations on his part). “Radical atheism” implies that atheism comes with some sort of philosophy or ethical system. It doesn’t. It can’t. It’s a factual position. No morals, no ethics, no shoulds or oughts, no ideology, no nuthin’ follows from atheism. The same goes for deism, agnosticism, and the belief that rocks are usually really hard.

The Dalai Lama really means anti-theists. That’s an entirely different set of individuals. I include myself within that group, but I separately consider myself an atheist. And just as the same goes for millions, it goes the other way for millions of others. That is, it does not follow that because one is an atheist that one is also an anti-theist. There’s no way to know an atheist’s position on whether religion is generally good or bad or whatever without actually asking the atheist.

But that would have been too difficult for the Dalai Lama, I guess.

15 Responses

  1. The Dali Lama is a hypocrite:

    See this comment.

  2. It may not be an ideology, as is repeatedly claimed, but you can still have people acting on their “disbelief’s” or what that disbelief paves the way for.

    Like I’ve said atheism wasn’t a cause in communist atrocities it was a tool that allowed some states to gain more and more power, just as kings once ruled by “divine right”, religion wasn’t always a cause for wars it was a tool to bring people into submission.

    Although I will admit any strong belief, in any cause, not just religious ones, can lead people to think they are doing right when they are not. Environmentalism, “animal rights”, religion and many many other things are used by people to justify their actions, even if they are not the cause. Radical belief or “disbelief” can lead to radical actions.

  3. Like I’ve said atheism wasn’t a cause in communist atrocities it was a tool that allowed some states to gain more and more power.

    How can the lack of belief in any gods be a tool? Cite some examples of using lack of belief. Where do you come up with these? Is it from the Sarah Palin school of outright numbskullery?

  4. Your unbelievable. Are you now trying to claim that Soviet Russia didn’t have, as an ideological objective, the elimination of religion? Why do you think they even cared?

  5. First of all the word is “you’re” it stands for you are. Second of all, yes, I am unbelievable and also awesome and modest.

    Why do you think that the Soviet Russia’s elimination of religion has anything to do with atheism? It has to do with totalitarianism and the cult of fear and oppression. It is the political ideology of communism but even perverted from that. It has nothing to do with unbelief in any god. Atheism is not a dogma, not an ideology and not a political movement.

    I have explained that to you several times and you still don’t get it.

    Stalin studied for the priesthood before he became a monster of the cult that revered himself religiously.

  6. There’s a difference between atheism and anti-theism.

  7. I wasn’t saying there isn’t a difference. Anti-theists worked to eliminate religion but I don’t think their aim was to make themselves into a country of ‘anti-theists’ but to remake the country as a country of atheists.

    They used the concept of atheism, that is that there is no God, to their own ends. And that the proletariat would spend their time better by giving up religion and put redirect their faith to the state to provide their every need.

    Bob, I do apologize for my grievous error in typing. I know you would not in your wildest nightmares mistype something.

    I’m also not trying to ruffle your feathers by painting atheism as blagh blagh blagh all the things you listed. I am merely trying to articulate, for lack of better terms, how I see it. That is, if religion is an ideology, have to better term than ideology to describe its opposite. What should I refer to it as “dis-ideology” or “un-ideology”?

    And what I was saying and did say was not that it was an ideology, I was referring to the political system. As part of its ideology, total faith in the state with nothing else being acceptable. Atheism became a goal, a tool to use to achieve this. Orchestrated by, presumably, ‘anti-theists’.

    Do you have another word for politically mandated dis-belief in a God(s)? Or is it that you are clinging to this idea that religion is the supreme source of problems for humanity, that no one could ever turn the non-belief of God into a method of amassing power for oppression?

    I’m only going to say it once more at any rate. If you claim to be arguing rationally there is no need of name calling and grammatical nitpicking . As soon as you decide to start, I’m just going to ignore the post even if you suddenly claim you’ve been saved by (insert god, goddess, or almighty turkey here) and/or agree with everything I’ve ever said.

  8. —>have to better term <—


    Just caught that one.

  9. Once again, I did not call you any names. I was discussing your ideas. You still don’t understand the difference.

    I am arguing rationally, which is more than I can say for many of the outrageous claims you have made on this blog.

    If you can’t take grammatical corrections then, too bad. I would correct anyone that misuses the language that way..

    As far as politically motivated disbelief in god? Why does it need a name? Is there a name for politically motivated attempts to disallow burqas? Is there a name for politically motivated bigotry and racism? Is there a name for political support for either drilling for oil in the ocean or for not drilling? There is no name for these because they are being used to further aims, not the underlying ideologies.

    Your premise above is”

    Radical belief or “disbelief” can lead to radical actions.

    Atheism is not a radical disbelief. Blanket statements like this are not rational thought.

    I really don’ t care if you ignore my posts, It just means that what you say will have no standing and the bad arguments will stand out like beacons of bad thought.

  10. I don’t mind grammatical corrections at all. Correct me anytime you like, just know when you focus on grammar than move into the matters at hand it looks like your trying to tie the two together. Your, you’re, a mistake that is a result of typing fast and not re-reading, can humanity survive making mistakes like that?

    I didn’t say it was radical. What I said was correct, any belief taken to extremes can give a person justification for almost any action.

    It’s not even a blanket statement.

    OK, there’s the answer. Although the word atheism fits you can’t standing thinking it has been tarnished in any way. Billions of people live everyday knowing that their beliefs have been or are used for violence, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them.

  11. Once again, Nate you missed the point entirely.

    Lack of belief in something can not be taken to an extreme. It isn’t a belief, It isn’t an ideology, it isn’t a dogma.

    You are flat out wrong. Otherwise I will call you a radical non-numismatist. or a radical non-philatelist. Maybe you are a radical terrorist non-cricket player.

  12. I have both coin and stamp collections. Sorry.

    If I, for some reason, held a crazy opinion that coin collectors were wrong in some way for doing their collecting, I can see that it would be possible for someone to believe con collectors were so wrong, violence would be fine.

    We are not talking about actions like collection coins or stamps or playing cricket. We are talking about a persons beliefs.

  13. (You might not call it exactly the study of, but I put a fair amount of research into every new acquisition)

  14. We are talking about a persons beliefs.

    No, we are talking about the lack of belief, atheism, which can not have an radical position. You conflate atheist with anti-theism.

    So you admit you you are a radical non-cricket player! ;)

  15. If asked what your beliefs are, how would you respond?

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