Carey Miller wrote:
atheist's complaints about Acharya's mythicism concept. I read her treatise on the subject, and for the life of me, I can't percieve anything in it that would contradict any atheist stance. Seems to me, that atheists would agree that incorporeal, immaterial, intangible, invisible imaginary god religion is certainly mythical. And it's historical, anthropological and societal effect on humankind indisputable. And by such factor, worthy of recognition and study. Mr. Tulip's comment, that "Generally, atheists accept a scientific worldview in which all religion is regarded as meaningless, stupid and delusory.", I would say from experience is generally accurate. Although meritorious support can be expressed for the latter two accusations, I find the first absurd. The effects of mythogical religion are anything but meaningless.
Hello Carey, welcome, and thank you for your perceptive comments here.
Debate over religious matters touches on deeply felt subconscious cultural patterns. People react emotionally to words in ways that are often irrational. Atheism as a political and religious movement has arisen out of the culture of science, with its focus on observation, evidence and logic. For physical scientists, the idea that religion could be studied scientifically is often anathema, as they see enlightenment as requiring abolition of religion.
So, in terms of the psychological reactions to Acharya's work, we find that many atheists regard discussion of ancient myth as like the 'rising tide of black slime' that Freud dreamed of regarding Jung and mysticism. Scientists have a theory of respectability, an assumption that some areas of study are acceptable and some are not, and that venturing into 'unacceptable' fields, such as Egyptian myth, is a recipe for irrationality. So, in order to look 'rational' among their peers, atheists such as Carrier feel that they enhance their reputation by distancing themselves from Acharya, because she explores the deep psychology of myth in a way that some people find frightening.
You will not find that any of her critics engage her in debate, because their agenda is to use Acharya as a 'straw woman', like a totem who they can point to as a symbol of irrationality. It does not do one's reputation any good to engage with the irrational, but refusal to engage in dialogue is a definition of bigotry. So we see the situation emerging where some atheists prefer to be slurred as bigots than to engage in dialogue with people like Acharya whose names they have turned into shibboleths
Etymologically in origin, atheist derives from the Greek, meaning simply "without god". Whereas language does evolve socially over time, and terms take on additional meaning semantically, evidence and lack thereof does show that in reality, we are all actually without a god. Early organized civilizations were nearly all centered around some type of god concept, or mutliple gods. I agree, it appears quite obvious that the Abrahamic religion and fables were plagiarized from long pre-existing astrological religion. The creation and flood stories, characters, prophets, christ figure, doctrine of control by sin against the invisible god, and manipulation of the unknown by unsubstantiated fear. Nimrod, the mighty hunter of men's souls, set up the first recorded priesthood in Babylon. And the legend also claims the tried to build a tower to heaven to reach the gods. A wondrously effective apparatus for collecting political intel on your enemies, or a governed populus.
See Carey, you have already transgressed against the unwritten law by mentioning astrology without snorts of derision. Your observation of continuity between the supernatural myth of the Bible and earlier nature worship is one of the touchstones of Acharian thought. It does not matter that you have not argued in defence of modern astrology, the simple mention of the topic as structuring ancient thought is enough to raise the hackles of some critics and put you outside the pale of respectable opinion.
Most early governments set up invisible god worship as part and parcel of their protocol. Nothing is more unquestionable than enforced and accepted personal divine interpretation, a powerful premise for absolute dictatorship. Constantine certainly came to the realization, that if you control the minds religiously, there is much less need of swords. No doubt why he traded his emperor robes for a papal dress when he fled the barbarians to Istanbul. And instituted a millennium of theocratic dark ages.
This comment about Constantine illustrates the difficulty of this field. I'm not sure if your comment here is literally true about Constantine. If Acharya made that comment, her critics would pounce on it as evidence of complete ignorance of the ancient world, by distorting any chink within it they could find. The method of ad hominem slur is widely used by apologists to degrade the level of public understanding of these topics.
Those in these city/states that claimed no particular god were technically, without a god. Hence the early labeling, atheists. By natural progression, the word atheist has has been adapted come to mean more, especially socially. This happens, like intentional slang. I remember overhearing my son telling his friend while playing a video game, "Dude, that's bad". Of course, he meant good. Dam whippersnappers, I don't care, as long as they stay off my lawn. Political wordsmiths and spinmeisters also twist to attach derisive social connotation to words. Go sit in on a Lit class at Georgetown University if you wanna see the future presidential speech writers. They make Joseph Goebbels look like an amateur. I gotta hand it to Bill Clinton though, his writers were genuis. Vicously attacking those who mentioned the Green Room BJ for being the salacious ones. But they were dealing w/ conniving hypocrites, which certainly gave license.
Semantic connotation is central to the construction of myth. As you point out, American politics is among the biggest myth machines in the world. Terms are used as symbols for sweeping generalisations that identify political tendencies, as for example in some current use of the term 'moderate'.
The word religion is example. It merely means a set of beliefs concerning god concept in simplicity. Yet, almost all god believers run like crazy from the word that actually defines them exactly. Due to attached social stigma. Unless you have absolutely no opinion or belief regarding god belief, we are all religous to some degree by definition, imo.
Apologies for rambling. But yes, I would like to see some specific quotes to deal with from these atheists regarding Acharya's presentation and use of mythicism. Sans such example, I don't have a clue concerning what they can complain about.
I agree with you Carey that we are all religious. Religion etymologically means 're-binding', and we are all bound by the facts of our life. But the term 'religious' itself has such strong mythic connotations that it is difficult to establish common ground about what it means without people becoming emotional and irrational.
If we consider this 're-binding' idea of the meaning of religion, we see that what binds us creates limits and boundaries for our values, actions and beliefs. We instinctively draw back from some actions, and we find that this boundary has become encoded in religious taboo and law. Ideas about boundaries of what is real and permissible form the structure of religious thought. Religion binds the community together in shared identity regarding the boundaries of acceptable belief and conduct. A further and deeper part of this rebinding, what Joseph Campbell called the cosmological and metaphysical functions of myth, is that religion establishes a connection between our lives and our vision of ultimate reality.
Scientists and Atheists maintain that they are not engaged in religious practice, because they say the boundaries invented by religion are irrational, whereas they are only bounded by reason. However, human psychology is far from objective and logical, especially where people have not subjected their own assumptions to critical study. Atheists operate within a paradigm of shared assumptions, a theoretical framework in which words have emotional connotations that serve to define social groups and cultural identity. The study of religious myth is a way to analyze this psychological instinct by identifying and articulating it explicitly.