February 26, 2013

#Oscars: Alternet doesn't know what atheism is

In addition to wrongly touting James Kunstler,  about whom I blogged earlier today, online progressive mag Alternet also gets atheism wrong in its Oscars-related touting of top 10 atheists.

First, not all the people listed are atheist. Second, in line with Gnu Atheists, it ignores things such as the fact that tens if not hundreds of millions of Theravada Buddhists are atheists by definition, not believing in a personal divinity, yet very religious and very metaphysical.

In fact, the first alleged atheist on its list, Angelina Jolie, exemplifies both types of "wrong." Her response to being asked a question about whether god exists:
Hmm… For some people. I hope so, for them. For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either.
So, first, she's not saying god doesn't exist, just that she doesn't believe in one for herself. So, she's not an atheist. Second, she's clearly "spiritual" in a metaphysical way, meaning the anti-religious angle typically associated with Western atheism's opposition to Western monotheism doesn't apply to her either.

Indeed, their touting of Jolie is expressly countered by Seth McFarlane, No. 7 on their list:
When asked in an interview with Esquire why he’d grown so vocal about his atheism, he explained, “We have to. Because of all the mysticism and stuff that's gotten so popular.... It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith.”
Hah! Take that, Alternet and Angelina.

I'm not sure about Jodie Foster, per this comment:
In an interview with  Entertainment Weekly  she explained, “I'm an atheist. But I absolutely love religions and the rituals. Even though I don't believe in God. We celebrate pretty much every religion in our family with the kids. They love it, and when they say, 'Are we Jewish?' or 'Are we Catholic?' I say, 'Well, I'm not, but you can choose when you're 18. But isn't this fun that we do seders and the Advent calendar?'" 
Why are you doing the rituals? I mean, Christmas is one thing, but Passover (or Easter) is less secularized.

Anyway, Alternet isn't as bad as Truthout at times, but an SEO-trolling article like this, when it's got such inaccuracies, kind of gets my goat.

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