Reply to a Rabbi's Ignorance
I read this article recently and had to write a letter to the editor regarding its weak and over-used "arguments" against atheism. You can write one too if you like by going here.
Response to The Indignity of Atheism
This piece was so full of strawman arguments and fatuous reasoning that it is difficult to know where to start a critique.
"...(T)he notion that there is no higher authority than nature is precisely what enables (psychotic murderers)". This is simple hogwash. There are good people and bad people, some are religious and some are not. To say that not believing in an invisible man in the sky permits acts of horrible violence is both ignorant and inflammatory.
"...(A)theism presents no compelling objection to such behavior – nor, for that matter, any convincing defense of the very concepts of ethics and morality themselves." Ludicrous. An atheist is no more a follower of specific actions than other social groups. Because we profess no belief in a supernatural father-figure, we rely on societal benefits to guide our behavior; societies work best when we work together and that involves respecting people and their actions. No society functions properly when its members are permitted to go around killing each other.
"One who sees only random forces behind why we humans find ourselves here is ultimately bound only by his wants." Again, the author places his vision of atheism on its actual participants without, obviously, understanding the most basic tenets of how we think. We are not "bound only by our wants", but by how we can make a positive difference to our fellow humans and to society in general.
"Atheism, in the end, is a belief system in its own right..." Wrong. Atheism, as the quote goes, is no more a belief system than not collecting stamps is a hobby. Our lives are lived based on our willingness and desire to better ourselves and the world in which we live, here and now. We are not doing good deeds because we are pining for a place in some special after-hours club where only the righteous get in, or attempting to avoid being eternally punished.
"Only an acknowledgement of the Creator can impart true meaning to human life..." This is a standard reply of believers when they see us out there in the world doing good and moral deeds. The author can only see life through the glasses of his religion and that means that, to him, ONLY through a "creator" can life have meaning. Personally, I have my family and friends, my hobbies, social events and even my cat - all of these add meaning to my life.
"...(F)or all their umbrage, they cannot articulate any way there can really ever be, as one writer has put it, 'good without G-d'." Please re-read the above for my reply to this rehashed and weak argument. It is plain when reading the author's piece that he has not openly talked with any well-read or open atheists, even though he claims to have "one or two" non-believer friends.
"(They) are not liars, only inconsistent; some well-hidden part of their minds well recognizes that humans have a higher calling than hyenas." Once again, this is the tunnel-vision of religion coming through loud and clear. The author cannot envision anyone having broken free of the superstition of gods and monsters, so he has to say that no one is "godless". Just because he cannot fathom a world without G-d, Posidon, Zeus, or Ganesh does not mean that none of us can and do every day.
"Adolph Hitler was no believer in G-d. Nor was Joseph Stalin. Nor Pol Pot." To say this is to say that these men acted the way they did because of their atheism. That is patently untrue; Hitler acted the way he did because he believed that the German race was superior to all others. To quote an article I read on this subject, "why not suggest they were also motivated by all the other things they didn't believe in, like Father Christmas or faeries?"
"(I)f my choice of (being stranded on a desert) island were between two strangers about whom I know only that one believes there is no higher reason for human life and the other that there is, I know which one I’d choose." Sadly, you would both likely perish while praying for the storms to stop instead of building a safe and effective shelter.
It pains me to see ignorance of this caliber. If you are going to say half-truths and outright falsities, at least put half and hour's worth of effort into researching your target and attempt to break free of your obviously narrow mindset.