The Stupidity of Jeff Lowder: "Nontheists Should Stop Using 'Freethought' as an Umbrella Term"

Jeff Lowder again, with today's post: "Stupid Atheist Meme #3: Freethinker = Atheist." He may be baiting me so I won't continue dogging his every step, just a few of them as I see fit. Jeff Lowder smuggled his way into being known and respected as a philosopher without any relevant credentials. I aim to "out" him about this. Don't shoot me I'm just the messenger. If you're looking for a more accurate analysis of philosophical arguments then I bid you turn elsewhere. I am banned from commenting at the Secular Outpost because I have publicly exposed Jeff Lowder's dishonesty and hypocrisy, so in order to comment on a post of his I must do so here. Okay.

First let me point out more of his hypocrisy. A while back Dan Fincke, a former Freethought Blogger, issued a pledge to civility. Jeff Lowder endorsed it with his full support. Afterwards Greta Christina published her book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless.Lowder has yet to state for the record that he disproves of the tone and/or substance of that book since she is definitely not being civil to religionists. So his supporting the civility pledge doesn't mean much. I consider this more of his hypocrisy, as I wrote earlier. Now why is he a hypocrite? For one reason. To please important people. He will, on occasion, say what needs to be said to please them, hoping no one notices his hypocrisy. People call that being two-faced. [For my part I reserve the right to piss people off and I can like Greta Christina's book because I never signed that unbalanced pledge].

But to the point of today's lesson. Lowder once again is spouting ignorances. He calls himself a philosopher but he lacks both the knowledge and thinking skills to be awarded that accolade. See for yourselves. He claimed it is stupid to think of a Freethinker as an atheist. Not just wrong, mind you. Stupid. Let's see who the stupid one is, shall we, and why.

Who he is calling stupid?

- Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor who host Freethought Radio.

- Freethought Blogs.

- Any and all Freethought Conventions.

- The people discussed in Susan Jacoby's book, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.

- David Eller, who wrote the book, Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker.For the record I think David Eller is one of the bright lights, if not the most important freethinker on the planet, with a lot of very very close seconds. [FYI: In this book Eller argues a true freethinker is someone unattached to a community because a community will influence what we think.]

So, basically a lot of people, atheists, are stupid. Not just wrong. But stupid. Personally I tire of a mere college grad in computer science telling us what to think. Who gave him this right? Does he think that just because he did a wonderful job with his computer science skills in setting up Internet Infidels he has earned any authority over us? Upon what basis?

I object to someone defining the words I use. The people who seek to define my words for me have power over me. They basically are claiming I cannot use a word the way I want to use the word. I can use any word I want to, so long as it communicates and is consistent with other words I use and what I think. If I use a technical word then I can define it so people understand what I mean.

So Lowder cannot even say I am wrong to say I am a freethinker, which I am one, nor that I am stupid to say freethinking entails atheism, which it does according to me, nor that he is the authority over my own words. I am not stupid to maintain this nomenclature, which I do, and he does not have the authority to tell me what nomenclature I can use.

Okay? But maybe there are good reasons to adopt his nomenclature that I should consider. Okay.

Jeff (who's side is he on anyway?) Lowder basically says the word "freethinker" can apply to people who freely and sincerely entertain doubts by critically examining the best arguments against what they believe, even if in the end they are unpersuaded. This means not all atheists are freethinkers, and that it's possible for theists (not Evangelicals) to be freethinkers. He counts Bertrand Russell in his camp on this.

Lowder wrote:
For example, the Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA), the campus outreach program of the Council for Secular Humanism, states that "Freethought is the application of critical thinking and logic to all areas of human experience, and the rejection of supernatural and authoritarian beliefs."[1] Thus, on the CFA's definition of "freethought," theists by definition cannot be freethinkers.
Lowder asks, "But why should we accept the CFA's definition of "freethinker"?"

Well, well, my hand is raised. Call on me, me, I have the answer. It's because all justifications of belief are based on poorly evidenced propositions, invalid arguments, unsound conclusions and so many informal fallacies it should make us dizzy, that's why. There are many of us who think this way, who have rejected authoritarian religion, including religious traditions and beliefs, precisely BECAUSE we are freethinkers, and that this is where freethinking leads honest sincere reasonable people.

But we're stupid people Lowder opines. Right!?

I want people to think of Lowder, even though he has indeed done us all a service with the creation of Internet Infidels, just like the Emperor who had no clothes on. See him prancing butt naked through the street telling us he's a philosopher, acting like one, frequently doling out praises for stupidity, praising folly, and commanding the rest of us peons what we should think.

The consistent logic of a freethinker leads to one conclusion, that of atheism and skepticism.

What Lowder is really doing here folks, is calling anyone who comes to this correct conclusion stupid. I am sure Lowder thinks of himself as a freethinker--who wouldn't want to be known as a freethinker?--so he is telling us what he thinks, what he has concluded, even though he's against conclusions. He has concluded that being a freethinker is more of a process, not a conclusion, that pursuing truth is what makes for a freethinker, whereas anyone who reaches a conclusion through the process of freethinking is stupid. But many of us have concluded that the first step in the pursuit of truth is the rejection of faith, and once faith is rejected there is no more justification for any religion since they're all based on faith.

One final note and two links:

Ideas about free speech, human rights, freethought, peace and justice vary depending on the content of the ideas. If we know anything about political correctness, Stanley Fish effectively argued (I think) that there's no such thing as free speech: and it's a good thing, too. Just like free speech is a political prize won by the diligent, so also are human rights—-they too are a political prize won by the diligent (they're certainly not God-given rights). Likewise the notion of freethought, as PZ Myers has correctly argued, has a truth component (or content) to it. Whether there is peace in the world depends on what we think is a peaceful society (just think what a dyed-in-the-wool Communist or Militant Muslim might think). And the same goes for justice. Justice is not just treating everyone equally given past inequities. It means uplifting the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the minorities, and the oppressed to their rightful place at the table, which has been denied for decades, and centuries. So likewise what we think about the concept of "Freethought" depends on the content of that concept and what we think it means to be a freethinker, so it is not stupid to think differently than Lowder. It has a history to it.

Lowder can use words as he wishes of course, but it's stupid of him to say it's stupid of us to continue using them the way we use them, especially when he doesn't consider the kinds of considerations I just wrote about.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Even some very basic research on the use of the word "Freethought" should have kept Lowder from expressing such stupidity. Two popular links to the word Freethought:

Wikipedia on "Freethought".

RationalWiki on Freethought.