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Jan 06 2013

It must be fun to be an atheist in Italy

Like that other historically strongly Catholic country, Ireland, Italy has to have some special challenges to the atheist community. Fortunately, they’ve got an active atheist group, Unione degli Atei e degle Agnostici Razionalisti (google translation) and they have an agenda (google translation).

Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum? The Italian group, in addition to wanting religious interference out of the government and schools (which I can see as reasonable aspirations for either conservative or liberal organizations) also supports a social progressive agenda of ending discrimination on sexual orientation, open availability of contraception, gay marriage, equality for women, stem cell research, evolution, etc.

Also, isn’t it weird that any of those issues should be associated with liberal positions, rather than conservative ones? Maybe one of the goals of conservatives ought to be bringing their ideology in better alignment with reality.

63 comments

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  1. 1
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum?

    Sure… until the Deep Rifts.

  2. 2
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Maybe one of the goals of conservatives ought to be bringing their ideology in better alignment with reality.

    Why should they? Here in the US, conservatives and reactionaries have acquired great power by telling people that reality can be brought into alignment with their ideology.

  3. 3
    Rich Woods

    Maybe one of the goals of conservatives ought to be bringing their ideology in better alignment with reality.

    That’ll never happen. It would risk leaving them without an ideology.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    Maybe one of the goals of conservatives ought to be bringing their ideology in better alignment with reality.

    They can’t. Reality is corrosive to their beliefs. All you’re left with is common sense and disagreement about details.

    I can imagine a reality-based conservative debt hawk: “we need to seriously slash military spending!” (everyone in the room, in unison:) “Well, duh!”

  5. 5
    atheist

    @Improbable Joe – 6 January 2013 at 10:37 am (UTC -6)

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum?

    Sure… until the Deep Rifts.

    Deep Rifts? Would you mind expanding on this concept?

  6. 6
    atheist

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum?

    This is unsurprising when you consider that conservatives want to support traditions and hierarchies, while liberals want to solve problems through change. One of the main arguments in favor of religion has always been that it aids in social control, and helps to reproduce culture.

  7. 7
    IncredulousMark

    It’s no surprise the progressive ideas you cite are commonly held by atheists. There is no rational argument one can bring against any of them once you discount the “god don’t like it” rationale.

  8. 8
    Ingdigo Jump

    It makes sense to me.

    Speaking in ideals here

    Conservatism is the stance of preserving the status quo as long as possible and being slow to change, and having to be convinced of change’s necessity so it is necessarily the stance of preserving the status quo. Since the status is not quo and we do not live in a fair and equitable world conservatism campaigns against fairness and equality

    Liberal is the stance of progression, moving forward. Their stance is that we should be constantly building upon what already exists to make it better. This is in direct confrontation to Conservatism which seeks to preserve things as long as they’re “good enough”. Conservatism is “Good enough” while LIberal is “Lets do better”

  9. 9
    Ingdigo Jump

    Deep Rifts? Would you mind expanding on this concept?

    In America (and I guess the rest of the predominately white English speaking) Atheist community there is firm backlash from people who do not want Atheism associated or addressing any issue beyond the prime directive. The Deep Rifts come from the insistence that this stance of immoral neutrality be extended to INTERNAL concerns as well. To some people the proposed problem of sexism and racism within the atheist community is outside of the scope of what the atheist community should address.

  10. 10
    David Marjanović

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum?

    Well, to be fair – when the other end of the spectrum is Berlusco”li”ni… :-)

    The Deep Rifts come from

    Or, rather, any time two atheists disagree in English on the Internet, sometime comes in and writes a piece about how there are deep rifts in the atheist community/movement and it’s all going to fall apart soon, praise some Lord or other.

  11. 11
    michaeld

    BOOOOOO down with the prime directive! ….wait we’re not talking star trek? nvm.

  12. 12
    alastor

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum?

    Yes and no.

    Based on my own anecdotal experience, I would agree that most atheists and atheist groups do position themselves liberally in respect to social issues, but there are still individuals and groups which identify as being politically conservative.

    The Libertarian contingent of our demographic is not insignificant, and despite our agreement on social issues, they still embrace conservative fiscal and economic principals which are fundamentally at odds with reality.

  13. 13
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Michaeld

    We kind of are. It’s held to the same rigid dogmatic worship that looks ridiculous to any outside observer and serves the soul purpose of avoiding having to think about difficult concepts.

  14. 14
    Rip Steakface

    Deep Rifts ™ is a longstanding atheist meme resulting from religious people constantly claiming there are “deep rifts forming” in the atheist community.

  15. 15
    Ingdigo Jump

    The Libertarian contingent of our demographic is not insignificant, and despite our agreement on social issues, they still embrace conservative fiscal and economic principals which are fundamentally at odds with reality.

    Contradiction in terms. The fiscal and economic policies ARE social issues. People trying to be liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal are basically trying to say “I know these things are good to support…but I still want to selfishly exploit others for my own gain!”

  16. 16
    atheist

    @Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine” – 6 January 2013 at 11:05 am (UTC -6)

    In America (and I guess the rest of the predominately white English speaking) Atheist community there is firm backlash from people who do not want Atheism associated or addressing any issue beyond the prime directive.

    Oh, I see, that controversy. I suspect what you will eventually see from the “Deep Rifts” is that those opposed to inclusion of feminism (or other political issues) will get more extreme, and that the rest of atheists will marginalize those people and create new norms to deal with the dis. Actually I think this is already happening. We shall see what the future holds however.

  17. 17
    michaeld

    @Ing

    I see our views of the prime directive are quite similar ;P

  18. 18
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Thanks Ing, that pretty much covers what I had to say… I would only add that there seems to also be a rift between atheists who honestly hold progressive beliefs, and atheists who mostly use progressive stances as a club against religious conservatives.

  19. 19
    mariatheotherone

    It isn’t much fun to be an atheist in Italy – although it probably beats being an atheist in, say, rural Texas.

    We’ve got the Vatican here, which has a firm grip on state politics and drains over 6 billion euros annually from our public funds.

  20. 20
    sadunlap

    @ alastor #12

    The Libertarian contingent of our demographic is not insignificant, and despite our agreement on social issues, they still embrace conservative fiscal and economic principals which are fundamentally at odds with reality.

    I keep writing that Penn Gillette behaves like a creationist when it comes to economic policy. Although maybe not a simple as trading one kind of magical thinking for another, the disconnection from empirical reality, the hand-waving away of evidence and the construction of fantasy thought experiments which prove nothing sounds an awful lot like ID apologists. One does not have to have religion to hold beliefs fundamentally at odds with reality. Could someone tell me why is he taken seriously as a skeptic?

    @ Ing #15

    Contradiction in terms. The fiscal and economic policies ARE social issues. People trying to be liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal are basically trying to say “I know these things are good to support…but I still want to selfishly exploit others for my own gain!”

    There exists a large element of intellectual dishonesty in which Libertarians only generate some hot air on topics of personal liberty such as legalizing drugs or rolling back the police state. But they consistently vote right-wing thereby showing us their true priorities.

    “agreement” on social issues ≠ action on social issues.

  21. 21
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Mariantheotherone

    There’s one question I always had. Does the Vatican have its own plumbing/infrastructure? and if not is it provided gratis or due they pay for it?

    @michaeld

    Spock himself said in TOS that the PD should be broken to prevent a mass extinction or the like so the further obsession other series had with following it like the word of gawd is profoundly stupid.

    @Improbable Joe

    Why my stance changed away from agreeing with Harris a lot to thinking he’s a pompus asshole. Why I feel I’ve become such an annoying Muslimappologist because it seems everyone is quick to point out the problem in their neighbors while ignoring the shit in their own backyard.

  22. 22
    Ingdigo Jump

    Could someone tell me why is he taken seriously as a skeptic?

    Because of the overlap with the history of skepticism as a ideology and sub culture and that of the professional subculture of professional magicians.

  23. 23
    Olav

    Ing #8, you appear to completely conflate “liberal” with “progressive”. This probably makes sense from the perspective of the American political duopoly. In countries that have a slightly more diverse political landscape we usually distinguish between liberalism and progressivism as separate main currents. That can sometimes be combined by a party in a single platform, but they can also exist without each other.

  24. 24
    michaeld

    @ing

    Indeed the other series really flip it around. In TOS it was important to break it if millions would die, less so when cultures are hurting people and in later series its the opposite cultures oppressing people are more likely to be stopped then world ending natural disasters. But this is maybe getting a bit off topic.

  25. 25
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Olav

    Could you provide a wider definition of liberal and how it is separate form progressive?

  26. 26
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Have you ever noticed that all these diverse atheist groups, when they settle on a set of goals, always end up being on the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum…a social progressive agenda of ending discrimination on sexual orientation, open availability of contraception, gay marriage, equality for women, stem cell research, evolution, etc.[?]

    Not aleays.
    Groups which are united by their shared atheism, yes. For one thing, they know about the effects of social hostility and the harm it can do so they think it would be better not to impose it on other people. However, some self-proclaimed progressives- most notably Stalinists and Maoists- are pretty enthusiastic about suppressing sexual freedom and equality. Others seem to take the view that the hoipolloi are best policed with superstition or religion. The fact that people say they are liberal/progressive or share some views with liberal/progressive people doesnot necessarilymean they are.

  27. 27
    michaeld

    @ing/olav

    I’d say from my canadian experience, liberal (cause we have a liberal party) tends to be more synonymous with moderate then necessarily progressive. Having a look at liberalism in europe on wiki suggests the same kind of view there. This may just be a distinction of how the name is used in a party sense vs a more historical ideological sense.

  28. 28
    Ingdigo Jump

    Interesting.

    In the US it seems progressive is starting to take over the definition of Liberal due to liberal being a dirty word now. Of course now progressive is becoming a dirty word

  29. 29
    w00dview

    sadunlap @ 20:

    I remember Gillette saying ages ago that the last episode of Bullshit! was going to look at things they got wrong. I was quite intrigued as I thought this episode was going to target the nonsense they believed such as climate change denial or trickle down economics. Alas, that episode never happened. It would have been quite a brave thing to do if he had to tackle his preconceptions that way. Not to mention, his type of woo is just as damaging as alternative medicine or religion.

  30. 30
    michaeld

    Hmm I hate sending links saying go read this but I think this little section from wikipedia (even though it’s poorly cited) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism#Relation_to_other_political_ideologies
    gives some idea to how progressive and liberal interact. It more or less describes my experiences with the 2 though it may not be the most academic look at it.

  31. 31
    alastor

    @Ing

    Contradiction in terms. The fiscal and economic policies ARE social issues. People trying to be liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal are basically trying to say “I know these things are good to support…but I still want to selfishly exploit others for my own gain!”

    I certainly agree.

    Those are, however, the terms libertarians use to distinguish issues of “personal freedom” from issues of “policy”. These may very well prove inseparable as well, but that would only further accentuate the absurdity of libertarianism.

    @sadunlap

    I keep writing that Penn Gillette behaves like a creationist when it comes to economic policy. Although maybe not a simple as trading one kind of magical thinking for another, the disconnection from empirical reality, the hand-waving away of evidence and the construction of fantasy thought experiments which prove nothing sounds an awful lot like ID apologists. One does not have to have religion to hold beliefs fundamentally at odds with reality. Could someone tell me why is he taken seriously as a skeptic?

    If I had to take a whack at it, I would say Penn’s popularity as a skeptic is due largely to…

    1- Other libertarians. Brian Dunning and Michael Shermer–virtual spokesmen for the skeptical community–both buy into libertarian nonsense.

    2- The unwillingness of the skeptical community to tackle overtly political issues. Skeptics may be more than willing to overlook absurd political beliefs if community leaders insist they aren’t interested in “discussing politics”.

    3- Let’s face it, the preponderance of middle class white men within the movement. Libertarianism speaks to this demographic more than any other, and one shouldn’t underestimate its allure.

    Did you happen to catch the episode of Penn’s Sunday School when Bill Nye called libertarianism “fashionable”? lulz ensued.

  32. 32
    mariatheotherone

    @21, Ing: in Italy, it’s not easy to get clear information on anything. However, I understand the cost of the Vatican’s water and sewerage is born by the city of Rome’s tax payers. How utterly unsurprising.

    Detail: in the nineties, city officials discovered over 70 Vaticanese sewers dumping Vatican filth directly, and illegally, into the river Tevere.

  33. 33
    Ingdigo Jump

    Brian Dunning

    It might be irrational of me, but despite enjoying his podcast I found myself not listening anymore because I wasn’t sure if it was credible. Mostly it was after Scientology where he kept expressing confusion over why people were opposed to it so much, never seeming to have bothered ASKING anyone (Anonymous isn’t exactly quiet about why things piss them off) and no mention of things like Operation Snowwhite or Fairgame. Then the podcast on fraking left me feeling like I knew less about it then when the podcast began because I didn’t know what to trust fearing an ignoring of one side of the issue like before.

  34. 34
    michaeld

    Brian dunning

    There was also the controversy surrounding his DDT episode.

  35. 35
    Stilts

    Apropos of nothing, the title sounds like it could be a Noel Coward song. (“What Fun! (To Be An Atheist In Italy)”)

  36. 36
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Michaeld

    I missed that one but did work with the chemical for a while. What was the controversy?

  37. 37
    michaeld

    The controversy was mostly about misrepresenting the book silent spring and taking his DDT facts uncritically from biased sources. I can’t remember the whole thing now but if people want to read more this post by bug girl has an extensive reference section to people’s arguments against that episode.

    http://membracid.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/brian-dunnings-ddt-fail/

  38. 38
    Ingdigo Jump

    @michaeld

    Thank you. Pretty much summed up why I dropped the post cast

    For a while Dunning refused to admit his error; the podcast page as of 11/23/10 now has a box at the bottom in which he distances himself from the DDT claims he made by saying “Skeptoid is not here to tell you what to think.”

    Yeah if you don’t care to try to provide the best sources available and then attack people for trusting you when you’re wrong rather than making corrections fuck you you’re not reliable.

  39. 39
    michaeld

    You’re welcome. I was a little behind on skeptoid when the DDT episode went up and that’s about when I stopped following it with any regularity for much those same reasons.

  40. 40
    Ingdigo Jump

    The JunkScience guy has a blatant libertarian agenda. The SourceWatch guy has a blatant anticorporate agenda. Big whoop! They’re both still researchers. I have no problem citing either if they’ve done the research I’m looking for.

    Bit of a slip up there, Brian

  41. 41
    David Marjanović

    We’ve got the Vatican here, which has a firm grip on state politics

    and recently recommended voting against Berlusconi. I was all “WTF?!?”. I guess I have to be happy that they’re siding against “il Cavaliere” after having supported him for so long.

    Spock himself said in TOS that the PD should be broken to prevent a mass extinction or the like so the further obsession other series had with following it like the word of gawd is profoundly stupid.

    So beautifully lampshaded in Enterprise, where the PD doesn’t exist yet. :-) :-) :-)

    I’d say from my canadian experience, liberal (cause we have a liberal party) tends to be more synonymous with moderate then necessarily progressive. Having a look at liberalism in europe on wiki suggests the same kind of view there. This may just be a distinction of how the name is used in a party sense vs a more historical ideological sense.

    It has come to mean something different in the US – basically “very moderate left” or, as a slur, “crypto-communist” – for historical reasons: rather than socialism appearing in the late 19th century and forming its own party that then grew big, what little there was happened inside the liberal party, maintaining the polarity of conservative vs. liberal as opposed to conservative vs. socialist.

    Detail: in the nineties, city officials discovered over 70 Vaticanese sewers dumping Vatican filth directly, and illegally, into the river Tevere.

    Wow. BTW, the river is known in English (and German for that matter) in the Latin form, Tiber. (Well, actually, it’s Tiberis in Latin, but never mind.)

  42. 42
    David Marjanović

    Bit of a slip up there, Brian

    I guess it’s fine as long it really is just the research he’s looking for, not the results.

  43. 43
    Gil Henriques

    I see the question has already arisen above, but since I don’t think it has been properly addressed I will add my contribution here.

    I understand this might be confusing to citizens of the US, but it is a tricky think to apply the word ‘liberal’ in relation to European politics. As a European, I can tell you we use the word with quite different a meaning than US citizens do. What you call liberalism — that is, left-leaning — we call progressivism, which I gather is considered sort of synonymous with liberalism over there. On the other hand, ‘liberalism’ here means right-wing economics and free-trade apology, sort of in the spirit of the Enlightenment economists. Sometimes, to point out the subtle differences between those classical economists and modern free trade apologists, we use the term neoliberal (that would be slightly pejorative).

    Then there are libertarians, which are also confusing because for US citizens, a libertarian is an anarcho-capitalist or capitalist minarchist, or voluntarist… while we use the word to refer to all sorts of anarchists or minarchists… only, since we appear to be short of anarcho-capitalists (fortunately) we generally use the word to refer to (left-leaning) anarchists (libertarian socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc).

  44. 44
    Ingdigo Jump

    So beautifully lampshaded in Enterprise, where the PD doesn’t exist yet. :-) :-) :-)

    For those who blissfully avoided Captain W and his Fuckatanuats, the episode in question had the Doctor convince the Captain to let an entire species die of a disease they had the cure for…because evolution.

    Note that the PD probably wouldn’t even apply had it been around because

    a) as Kirk argued cultural contamination is preferable to extinction almost all the time. This would be backed up by them meeting the aliens as they’re trying to send out an SOS over the situation. Thus they themselves have, with full knowledge and informed consent, waived their right to pure cultural development for the sake of survival.

    b) despite said species lacking warp tech (that being the cut off point for the PD) the species had already met the Enterprise, been taken aboard the ship, and had first contact made…and had had contact with other warp races. Complaining about contamination when that cat is already out of the bag and sleeping on your piano just makes the characters look like idiots

    c) Since two species were involved it wasn’t a purely internal affair so THAT part of the PD didn’t apply

    The PD is to prevent Imperialism and cultural genocide, prevent exploitation of less developed species, to allow a culture to develop by its own decisions rather than outside values, and to protect officers from getting stuck in a moral quagmire.

    Every single solitary reason for the PD did not apply in this situation. In fact we see numerous times in TNG that a distress beacon or anything that could be read as such is seen as a justifiable invite to at minimum provide COVERT aid to any planet facing an existential crisis.

    This is of course also ignoring the blatant hypocrisy of the PD in TNG where the Federation is happy to make deals and interact with pre-warp societies *IF* they have something the Federation really really wants (in that instant it was a plague vaccine so not totally selfish but still gimme a fucking break)

  45. 45
    Ingdigo Jump

    I guess it’s fine as long it really is just the research he’s looking for, not the results.

    Except the end result is the same.

    And “I won’t ignore research from clearly biased sources that are horrifically untrustworthy if it’s the research I’m looking for” isn’t very skeptical. It’s fucking lazy. Would Brian trust Discovery Center or AIG if he was looking for research on speciation?

  46. 46
    michaeld

    @Ing Prime directive talk (puts of her nerd hat) :P

    Which doesn’t even mention things like in TNG up the long ladder where instead of aiding or not aiding 2 colonies they decide the proper solution is to destroy both cultures and make a new one.

    The ending of Errand of Mercy in TOS where an outside group forces peace on the federation/klingon war ultimately for their benefit I’d say. The ultimate moral seeming to be that outside involvement can be very beneficial.

    In voyager there’s examples like false profits where they intervene to stop a prewarp civilization being conned by aliens vs prototype (at least before we learned they were evil) or time and again where with civilizations facing extinction it was decided not to help them.

  47. 47
    Ingdigo Jump

    Which doesn’t even mention things like in TNG up the long ladder where instead of aiding or not aiding 2 colonies they decide the proper solution is to destroy both cultures and make a new one.

    Oh god that was an even greater voilation of the spirit of the PD. The unfortunate reality was taht Picard and co were basically setting up rape camps.

    1) One of those colonies had become asexual, they were being forced to use sexual reproduction. This is blatant cultural genocide and profound callousness. Yes sex seems like a natural thing to the Federation humans…but this was a different culture and one that had lost all sense of sex drive. asking forcing them to have sex was like coming to America and asking people to start fucking their house pets.

    2) They never fucking asked the other colony. They got the permission of the patriarch figure and then told the other colonies females they had to shack up with the clones. For the greater good.

    And this was all because Picard and Riker didn’t want to donate their DNA to the clone colonies gene bank. Picard and RIker put their own private autonomy over the sexual and cultural autonomy of two entire civilizations.

    And Picard and Riker made that decision unilateral. Imagine how much of that shit could have been avoided if they put up a notice on the Enterprise bulletin board. “Anyone interested giving a small blood sample can help save an entire colony.” I’d be shocked if there weren’t a few ensigns or civilian personal willing to volunteer for a greater good. That whole episode was imposing a few individual’s preferences and values over that of THREE civilizations.

  48. 48
    michaeld

    Yup pretty much. It was also full of well racist irish stereotypes truely an awful episode and from the writer that gave us the measure of a man no less (though Maurice Hurley did his part to make it wretched). There’s also the part after well being violated that Riker finds the clone of him growing in a tank and without even considering the ethical and moral questions just guns it down without a second thought. Not to judge that action but frankly for a show that likes to indulge in moral dilemmas it’s the kind of situation that at least deserves a discussion.

    Off topic while I’ve been misgendered before I think this is the first time I’ve ever done it to myself, haha oops.

  49. 49
    Ingdigo Jump

    Not to judge that action but frankly for a show that likes to indulge in moral dilemmas it’s the kind of situation that at least deserves a discussion.

    Except that Trek itself DID judge that action as it’s established that in the Federation both clones (equivalent of just identical twins) artificially made duplicates (something grown to be the other person) and transporter twins are legally different distinct individuals. It’s explicitly stated that killing your own clone (even one that’s a homunculus you grew and programed to be an obedient slave) is considered murder.

  50. 50
    Ingdigo Jump

    The Universe also seemed to find Riker’s actions horrible and gave laser guided Karma via the birth of Bill Riker

  51. 51
    michaeld

    I was more thinking that there is at least the difference as to whether the unfinished clone is conscious yet etc (similar to various abortion debates minus the bodily autonomy of the mother as its in a tank). This could at least create a situation different enough for a possibly different outcome (depending how you argued it) but you are correct killing ones clone is indeed murder.

  52. 52
    Ingdigo Jump

    Honestly the Federation is a horrible “Utopian” society and shows lots of evidence of rape culture and casual permissiveness of slavery and exploitation.

  53. 53
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Ing:

    Whenever I run across a fictional Utopian society, or a real life Utopian society, my first question is, “Utopian for who?” The Sultan of Brunei and his family live in a Utopian society for them. For everyone else, not so much. The Federation is Utopian for certain segments of the population, just not for all.

  54. 54
    michaeld

    Don’t forget the sexism, turnabout intruder with a story by credit for gene Roddenberry himself being the most obvious example. I, generally speaking, enjoy star trek but it has more then its share of problems for a program that gets hyped for its progressive scientific utopian views.

  55. 55
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Ogvorbis

    Like I said earlier I’m toying with the idea of writing a scifi thing and have thought about how to do a realistic federationesq gov (cause their economy always never made sense to me). I don’t think it’s a utopia largely but it seemed to me to be the best structure to try to engineer away social problems.

  56. 56
    chigau (違う)

    Good thing the Federation isn’t running Italy.

  57. 57
    michaeld

    @Chigau

    hehe yeah this is so off topic for this post…. Sorry Italian atheists.

  58. 58
    Ingdigo Jump

    Moving to lounge then

  59. 59
    nathan perrier

    I’d like to point out that while it is likely true that most atheists tend to lean liberal in their political views, this assumption should not be made when meeting atheists.

    My closest friend is a conservative atheist who is pro-choice and supports gay rights. It might be more accurate to not use the term “liberal” (which implies other shared political views) but instead “socially liberal”.

    I think the one thing that ALL atheists share is a strong belief in science (empirical observation) over blind acceptance of ideas.

    Political viewpoints should never be assumed.

  60. 60
    michaeld

    Yeah we’re unfortunately quite aware. There’s a significant number of libertarian skeptics/atheists who would describe them selves as socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

  61. 61
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Michaeld

    I.E. I want to be thought of as as good person while I sacrifice others for my own benefit

  62. 62
    michaeld

    @ing

    More or less. They claim to care about issues but rarely want any structured money going to solve those problems through social programs or taxes.

    I was alas briefly interested in libertarianism longer then I was MRA shorter then I was a moon hoaxer. Ah the foolishness we change our minds on…

  63. 63
    crys

    As an atheist in Italy who has also lived in Ireland (and is a member of UAAR) I have a slight correction.

    It is true that the Pope lives in Italy, so we do have a good deal of Catholic meddling in this country, but its from an entirely different perspective. We have a hard time getting rid of Catholic influence in schools (although it has to be said that evolution is a non-issue to the Catholic church and has been for decades, it’s the Jehovah’s Witness population that will moan about that) because of the fact that this country is very “culturally” Catholic. However, when it comes to practicing Catholics, we have one of the lowest rates in Europe, Italy actually has far fewer practicing Catholics than Ireland, Spain, France, even Germany. The problem is that people define themselves as Catholic on censuses because they were raised that way, even though they don’t believe in the dogma and dont go to church, and since the “secular Jew” equivalent has not been invented yet the numbers can be misleading. Ask for “practicing Catholic” however and the numbers are stark: only 1/3 of people who call themselves Catholic go to church with any semblance of regularity.

    Anyway, the point is that Ireland has it much worse. There people are far more Catholic than in Italy, bringing with it all the restricitions surrounding contraception, illegal abortion, mandatory religion studies with a priest in public schools. In Italy I can get my birth control without a prescription if I need it, abortion has been legal since the late 70s, stem cell research goes on.

    Not that there aren’t legitimate problems that the UAAR is trying to address, prime of which in my opinion is getting the Vatican to pay taxes on their numerous for-profit properties all over Italy, tackling the opposition to gay rights etc, but the situation here is far more complex than you seem to realize.

    Ireland represents the absolute extreme in Europe, having laws many people are surprised are even allowed by the EU. Other Catholic countries don’t come close

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