One of the things that drives atheists crazy is the need in conversations to constantly say "No, that isn't what I think", "No, we don't do that", and "Yes, we do have morals, believe it or not". Millions of Americans have these ironclad opinions of atheists, born mostly from conversations from their friends, their family, their pastors, anyone but, you know, actual atheists. Major networks even have discussions about atheism with no atheists in attendance! Thus, what comes out of their mouths is usually a completely misinformed, clueless understanding of what makes atheists tick. Charlotte Allen's latest article is a perfect example, overflowing with arrogant ignorance and therefore worthy of a full fisking.
I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores...Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") [indulge] in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.
Right out of the gate, the bullshit begins. Sorry Charlotte, neither Hitchens, nor Dawkins, nor most any atheist you care to cite has said any such thing. You do have a cite for your claim right? No? Gee, now why do you suppose that is? That's right: Charlotte is making shit up. Color me pious with surprise.
What we in the reality-based community DO say, however, is that without solid evidence (and that means verifiable experimental results, not the any-story-I-find-believable version so many anti-science Christians prefer), one has very little reason to believe in something. Further, in the case of Gods, with their almighty powers and limitless knowledge, the very notion that evidence for them is hard to find is evidence of their nonexistence, and we await the day that changes with great eagerness. Until then, gods belong in the same category as leprechauns, unicorns, floating teapots, and flying spaghetti monsters: as interesting, but nonexistent, concepts. In fact, the teapot is Dawkins contribution to the refutation of Allen's foolishness, a fact she'd have been aware of if she, I don't know, actually read the books she's criticizing. I know, I'm such a picky shit.
But let's not bore Charlotte with facts, she's got some victim-blaming to do:
My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.
Yeah, how dare atheists insist they are oppressed just because they are de facto forbidden from earning high office in our national elections (de jure in some states), risk firings and expulsion from family and social groups for expressing their views, have politicians say they can't be good citizens, and have themselves used as a synonym for "evil" as no other group can be. It's just all in our imagination, and if we'd just be quiet and stop causing a fuss, everything will be fine just like it used to be. That should sound familiar to black and gay readers. It's first defense of the oppressor to deny the reality of his oppression and blame its victims.
As for the finer points of Christianity, again, if you read anything about the subject of your article, you'd know that one of the most common criticisms of Dawkins and Hitchens is that they practically ignore all the fine points of Christianity as irrelevant given they call into question it's foundational presupposition. It's been so common that their response even has a name The Courier's Reply. MSU again.
Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris ("The End of Faith") and Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell"), or visit an atheist website or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as "God Is for Suckers," "God Is Imaginary" and "God Is Pretend"), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse -- again and again -- the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.
Well, since Charlotte is either lying about reading any of this stuff, or has atrocious recall, we can take her characterization of atheist sites with a grain of salt. However, it is worth noting that atheism is, in fact, a tiny range of a topic. Contrary to the ignorant babblings of people like Charlotte, atheism implies little other than "nonbelief in gods". So there is the philosophy and science behind that, and the social repercussions of being an atheist in a society dominated by believers. Just what else would Ms. Allen have atheists talk about? There's no such thing as "atheist cooking" or "atheist math" or "atheist football".
First off, there's atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us 'cuz we don't believe in God. Although a recent Pew Forum survey on religion found that 16% of Americans describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, only 1.6% call themselves atheists, with another 2.4% weighing in as agnostics (a group despised as wishy-washy by atheists).
One might be forgiven for wondering if part of the text was lost between the first two sentences. How is the number of people hated relevant to whether they are hated? And if atheists are so small that discrimination against them doesn't matter, then what about discrimination against Jews, Muslims, and Mormons, who are even fewer in number? Charlotte, of course, fails to tell us.
You or I might attribute the low numbers to atheists' failure to win converts to their unbelief, but atheists say the problem is persecution so relentless that it drives tens of millions of God-deniers into a closet of feigned faith, like gays before Stonewall.
Once again, when reality conflicts with ideology, Charlotte rejects reality. Never mind the millions of personal stories from atheists of their fear at coming out and calling themselves atheists publicly, and the backlash many experienced as a result. Never mind the association of "atheist" to "evil" common in many US subcultures that makes it understandably difficult for many to accept the title "atheist". Just stick your fingers in your ears like Charlotte and wish it all away.
In his online "Atheist Manifesto," Harris writes that "no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that ... God exists." The evidence? Antique clauses in the constitutions of six -- count 'em -- states barring atheists from office.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such provisions unenforceable nearly 50 years ago...
Perhaps Charlotte has missed that in our elections, candidates routinely fall all over themselves expressing their god belief, and the huge proportion of society (61% according to the very same Pew Research Center Charlotte referenced above) who flat says under no uncertain terms that they'd refuse to vote for such a person. And pardon me, but are there any clauses, antique or otherwise, barring any other group from holding office? Why are we atheists so special?
...but that doesn't stop atheists from bewailing that they have to hide their Godlessness from friends, relatives, employers and potential dates.
Right, because somehow the fact that antique constitutional clauses forbidding atheist candidates have been ruled unenforceable, magically that makes all the social problems of being an atheist disappear.
Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular
It's worth noting that there is no evidence (I know Charlotte could give a rats ass about that sort of thing, but I figured some of you would) that atheist outspokenness has negatively effected public perceptions of atheists. Prior to all the new atheists coming out loudly and proudly, those who'd not vote for one was still above 60%. This should come as no surprise: no oppressed group ever changed the behavior of their oppressors by being nice.
...if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God. This is a favorite Dawkins theme. In a recent interview with Trina Hoaks, the atheist blogger for the Examiner.com website, Dawkins described religious believers as follows: "They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do." Thanks, Richard!
Yes, Dawkins, Dennett, Myers, and many others have made those general claims about the general groups (nothing absolute). There is much evidence to support this contention, as can be seen any time education levels are juxtaposed with religious fervor, or decidedly Parochial schools' academic reputations are compared with those not so saddled with ancient mythology. Charlotte's own words here do nothing to refute those claims, and as usual, she can't be bothered to supply any counter-evidence of her own.
Myers' blog exemplifies atheists' frenzied fascination with Christianity and the Bible. Atheist website after atheist website insists that Jesus either didn't exist or "was a jerk" (in the words of one blogger) because he didn't eliminate smallpox or world poverty. At the American Atheists website, a writer complains that God "set up" Adam and Eve, knowing in advance that they would eat the forbidden fruit. A blogger on A Is for Atheist has been going through the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse in order to prove its "insanity" (he or she had gotten up to the Book of Joshua when I last looked).
OK, well, was Jesus a jerk or not? If he was all-powerful, why didn't he eliminate smallpox or poverty? Did or did not your all-knowing God know ahead of time that Adam and Eve would eat the forbidden fruit if it was put in the garden? Is much of the Bible insane?
Again, we get no answers from Ms. Allen on any of this. Here are the good atheists taking the subject seriously, asking fairly obvious questions about it, and taking it's claims to their logical conclusions. The problem is what again? It seems with Ms Allen, the problem is insisting on evidence.
Another topic that atheists beat like the hammer on the anvil in the old Anacin commercials is Darwinism versus creationism. Maybe Darwin-o-mania stems from the fact that this year marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth in 1809, but haven't atheists heard that many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don't have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God's way of letting his living creation unfold? Furthermore, even if human nature as we know it is a matter of lucky adaptations, how exactly does that disprove the existence of God?
Once again we get a heaping helping of MSU from Ms. No Research. Any cursory reading of the evolution/creation debate will reveal clearly that those claiming evolution would disprove God are the creationists, while the scientists are the ones to note that many religious people like the Pope accept evolution. It should also come as an embarrassing surprise to Ms. Foot-n-mouth that noted Christian biologist Ken Miller is championed by the science side, not the creation side. I know, I shouldn't confuse Charlotte with facts.
And then there's the question of why atheists are so intent on trying to prove that God not only doesn't exist but is evil to boot. Dawkins, writing in "The God Delusion," accuses the deity of being a "petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak" as well as a "misogynistic, homophobic, racist ... bully." If there is no God -- and you'd be way beyond stupid to think differently -- why does it matter whether he's good or evil?
Um, because people who believe in Yahweh because they bought the propaganda that he is all-good might change their minds if they realized just what a petty, unjust, misogynistic, homophobic, racist control freak he is. And those of us who feel the effects of these believers beliefs would prefer they not worship someone like that. Is this really all that hard to understand?
The problem with atheists -- and what makes them such excruciating snoozes -- is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering.
Charlotte knows this of course from her thorough reading of the covers of these books. Fact is the serious metaphysical battles over the existence of gods were hashed out centuries ago, and you lost. Besides, those arguments might be interesting to academics, but they are completely irrelevant to most believers, and it is those bases at which we atheists rightly aim.
Atheists seem to assume that the whole idea of God is a ridiculous absurdity, the "flying spaghetti monster" of atheists' typically lame jokes. They think that lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets accusing God of failing to create a world more to their liking ("If there's a God, why aren't I rich?" "If there's a God, why didn't he give me two heads so I could sleep with one head while I get some work done with the other?") will suffice to knock down the entire edifice of belief.
The only absurdity here is Charlotte's depiction of atheists, which describes no one I've ever met or read. We don't ask why God didn't make us rich. We ask why God decided that Amber Haggerman's fate should be to be raped and murdered short of her 12th birthday and left to rot in a ditch. It's all of part of His plan right? He knows all, right? He's all-powerful, right? Pardon us for considering such a character an absurdity, and not even one of the more interesting ones.
And psssst. Charlotte. You know that Flying Spaghetti Monster? It was supposed to be lame, to make fun of the equally lame Intelligent Design. Do you research your topics at all before you write? I mean what's next, writing an article about football and wondering why offensive linemen are so obsessed with being large and strong?
What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger -- anger that the world isn't perfect, that someone forced them to go to church as children, that the Bible contains apparent contradictions, that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary.
Ah yes, the accusation of anger. No criticism of atheists is complete without a dismissal of us because all the idiocy I've described might annoy us to the point of being angry. It's not about a world that isn't perfect. It's about a world full of people who think they have a right to limit my freedoms, my participation in society, and sometimes my life itself, simply because I don't believe a bunch of obviously made-up bullshit for which they cannot provide one iota of bona fide evidence (and again, that means verifiable experimental results, not the any-story-I-find-believable version so many anti-science Christians prefer).
Oh, you're not obsessed with unicorns now Charlotte, but consider what it would be like if 85% of society believed in unicorns, and basically insisted you at least pretend to believe in them, or they'll inflict social, legal, and political repercussions on you. Imagine being told you needed to stop eating and be quiet in the middle of the meal as the Unicornists made their traditional midmeal toast to His Horniness. Imagine being told if you admit to denying His reality, you cannot be a good president, or a good citizen, or a good parent. Imagine having attendance at a Unicornist meeting a condition of your freedom? Imagine having a guy tell you he won't date you if you don't believe in unicorns. Think you might get a little annoyed at all that unicorn bullshit? I do. Empathy just isn't your strong suit.
What atheists don't seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses.
Oh we believe it just fine. It's made abundantly clear every time we get into a debate with you about it, reveal your arguments to be illogical, and your presumptions in error, and watch you dance and fall back on either faith or a scientific relativism ("who knows for sure what is true?") that should make you choke on the hypocrisy (morals are absolute, but science is relative?). Our question to you is why? Why put such an investment that is just beyond the scrim of sense. And why in the world would you take a belief based on such an admittedly shoddy standard and feel compelled to force everyone around you to pretend as if they had the same poorly based view?
So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?
Sure Charlotte, right after you stop trying to enforce your baseless views on us (Jesus would NOT approve). Keep your silly views to yourself, restrict their influence in your life to dealings with yourself and those who believe as you do, and deal with the rest of us using only, as the president so wisely said, "what we can all see". Then you won't have to deal with any of our sarcasm, or lack of seriousness anger at your mistreatment any more. Keep telling us we are horrible and evil and not entitled to some things in society that you are entitled to, due to our lack of belief in unicorns, and we'll keep laughing at you and making fun of you. Because believe it or not, you sound EXACTLY as stupid to us as a Unicornist would sound to you.