The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Charlotte Allen, Answered

Reprinted without permission from the L.A. Times and with commentary by me in blockquotes. Enjoy.

Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining
Superstar atheists are motivated by anger -- and boohoo victimhood.
By Charlotte Allen

I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.
Right, so why take time from your obviously worship-filled schedule to address us? You're like a loser who claims to hate Jennifer Aniston but can't stop reading about her in Us Weekly and making snarky comments.
Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book, "Faith, Reason, and Revolution," take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.
Um, no. They say that if there's no evidence for something, why would you believe in it? If you have evidence, we'd love to see it, apart from that, take a hike with your silliness and stop shoving it in our faces like we're the stupid ones.
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. What -- did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?
I quote Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O'Connor: "...there is, in fact, in my view, something not totally human if they (atheists) leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone is made for, which is a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God, if you're saying that has no place, then I feel that it's a diminishment (sic) of what is being human...I think that if you leave that out then you are not fully human." Sound oppressive at all? How about this one: "No, I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic." That was former U.S. president George H.W. Bush. Nice. Oh, more? You'd like more? Here ya go: "They don't have a good - marketing. If they had hallmark cards, maybe they wouldn't feel so left out. We have Christmas cards. We have Kwanza cards now. Maybe they need to get some atheist cards and get that whole ball rolling so more people can get involved with what they're doing. I think they need to shut up and let people do what they do. No, I think they need to shut up about it." Karen Hunter in a three-way discussion on atheism on Paula Zahn's CNN's show with not an atheist in sight. Seriously, read the whole transcript - the last segment - for the pain of stupidity on nation television.
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.
Gee, I wonder if atheist blogs have to keep railing on the same topics because religious folks don't ever, ever, ever pay attention to our replies and we have to deal with the same stupid "arguments" time and time again? Just a thought.
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). 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.
This is a painful paragraph to read because of its complete lack of understanding. Try growing up in the southern U.S. with a big 'ol family. Then get to an age where you start to...what's that term...? Oh, right, "think for yourself". Once you start to do that and come to the conclusion that there is no Old Man In The Sky (OMITS), just TRY to come out (if I may borrow a phrase from the Giant Evil Homosexual Agenda) to your family as a non-believer. Allen has no idea what she's talking about and obviously no desire to get educated, but blathers on like a know-it-all. Sort of a microcosm of most fervent believers, eh?
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.
This is so stupid that it pretty much requires a new word. It is brain-deadery at its most bashed. Harris is making the point that if you do not at least pretend to believe in a god(s), people won't elect you because of their misguided association with religion and morality/goodness. Allen's inability to recognize this is to either not understand Harris' point or to purposefully mislead her readers. Way to go!
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such provisions unenforceable nearly 50 years ago, but that doesn't stop atheists from bewailing that they have to hide their Godlessness from friends, relatives, employers and potential dates. One representative of the pity-poor-me school of atheism, Kathleen Goodman, writing in January for the Chronicle of Higher Education, went so far as to promote affirmative action for atheists on college campuses: specially designated, college-subsidized "safe spaces" for them to express their views.
Just a quick point here: Doesn't Allen realize that she's talking about how stupid it supposedly is for atheists to be complaining against being discriminated against in an article that does nothing but spew hatred and ignorant discrimination towards atheists? Irony meter...straining...
Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular 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 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!
Admittedly, Dawkins isn't the most light-handed fella in the world. That being said, when most, if not all, of the "arguments" coming at atheists from religious folks are so old they could apply for a fucking pension and so stupid that they have to wait for the bus that comes after the short bus, you can't fault us for calling some of you out. Sometimes, when there's smoke, there really is a burning, incandescent fire of stupid.
Dennett likes to call atheists "the Brights," in contrast to everybody else, who obviously aren't so bright. In a 2006 essay describing his brush with death after a heart operation, Dennett wrote these thoughts about his religious friends who told him they were praying for his recovery: "Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?" With friends like Daniel Dennett, you don't need enemies.
A bit of etiquette here: if you're going to quote someone, please at least read the article and get the context. Dennett's actual line there is, "I have resisted the temptation to respond 'Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?'" See, it changes the whole thing. He didn't actually say that to his friends. In fact, earlier in that same paragraph he says of his friends who prayed for him: "The fact that these dear friends have been thinking of me in this way, and have taken an effort to let me know, is in itself, without any need for a supernatural supplement, a wonderful tonic. These messages from my family and from friends around the world have been literally heart-warming in my case, and I am grateful for the boost in morale (to truly manic heights, I fear!) that it has produced in me." Sort of makes Allen seem like an insincere douche, doesn't it?
Then there's P.Z. Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus, whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers' field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as "idiots," "morons," "loony" or "imbecilic" in nearly every post. The university deactivated its link to Myers' blog in July after he posted a photo of a consecrated host from a Mass that he had pierced with a rusty nail and thrown into the garbage ("I hope Jesus' tetanus shots are up to date") in an effort to prove that Catholicism is bunk -- or something.
*sigh* I really have to delve into why this idiotic, moronic, looney, imbecile is wrong in just about every aspect of this paragraph? Just the Coles Notes version, please? Indeed. University of Central Florida student Webster Cook did not swallow a Catholic Eucharist because he wanted to show it to a friend. Catholics lost they effin' minds. PZ stood up for the student because, after all, it's just a goddamn cracker. PZ gets a cracker (along with some other stuff) and symbolically destroys it to make a point and take some of the heat from the kid. It was not to, "prove that Catholicism is bunk -- or something." Literally six seconds of checking would have told you what happened. I guess anyone can haz jurnalizm.
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).
Is anyone else getting bored with this woman's blathering yet? I am. My eyes glaze over as if a donut maker just frosted my pupils with sugary goodness. Anyone who has actually sat down and read the (worst book I have ever struggled to get through) Bible knows that it's a book of horrors and insanity with very small pockets of goodness. Enough said.
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?
Oh for chrissake, I'm not going to tell this illiterate woman why "lucky adaptations" have nothing whatsoever to do with the theory of evolution by natural selection. I'll let a high school biology student tell her that (provided that her religious buddies don't succeed in taking the subject out of schools altogether). I'll speak for most atheists here when I say that we really, truly, honestly don't give a crap what you believe, but in science class, the research shows that the mass majority of scientists who do biological research for a living agree that evolution happened. Apart from that, you religious people just leave us the hell alone. The problem is that you can't.
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?
Here's a better response to this bit that I could throw together. It's by Paul Fidalgo at The Examiner. A quote: "Dawkins doesn't think God is evil because Dawkins doesn't think God exists at all. He is remarking on the literary character in the context of its worship by real life humans. Indeed, Dawkins writes specifically in The God Delusion immediately following this passage (p. 31) that his case against theism 'should not stand or fall with its most unlovely instantiation, Yahweh...' I'm guessing Allen did not get that far, all of four inches or so down the page."
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. 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.
Do me a favor here and replace the word "God" with "Zeus" in this paragraph. Does her point make sense? Would she be so forgiving of someone who worships Zeus and said that she didn't "make serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against Zeus' existence"? Please.
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,...
Apparent? Ha!
...that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary. Hitchens thinks that "religion spoils everything." Dawkins contends that raising one's offspring in one's religion constitutes child abuse. Harris argues that it "may be ethical to kill people" on the basis of their beliefs. The perennial atheist litigant Michael Newdow sued (unsuccessfully) to bar President Obama from uttering the words "so help me God" when he took his oath of office.
Ok, #1, Hitchens thinks that religion poisons everything. It's the subtitle of his book. At least judge a book by its cover if you're not going to read it. #2, if the case isn't obvious for child abuse, then just making your child believe nonsense can be damaging enough. #3, Harris defends himself against this charge at his site thusly, in part: "Some critics have interpreted the second sentence of this passage to mean that I advocate simply killing religious people for their beliefs. Granted, I made the job of misinterpreting me easier than it might have been, but such a reading remains a frank distortion of my views." I recommend reading that webpage to Allen as it would save her from looking like such as dumbass.
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. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?
Whose sarcasm you callin' "tired", Willis? My sarcasm may be bitter, annoyed, over-the-top, foul-mouthed, and perhaps even a tad jaded, but it's never "tired". I'll thank you, wait, actually I won't thank you at all.
Charlotte Allen is the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus" and a contributing editor to the Minding the Campus website of the Manhattan Institute.
And a heck of a jurnalizt.

8 Barbaric Yawps:

At 18/5/09 11:46 pm, Blogger Paul Fidalgo said...

Hey, thanks for the inclusion! Nice dissection.

At 19/5/09 5:55 am, Blogger Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

If her history research is as good as her journalism I think I will pass.

At 19/5/09 7:21 am, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

Paul - You're welcome and thanks for reading my site!

Sean - Totally agree.

At 19/5/09 12:56 pm, Blogger pendens proditor said...

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.I don't think I've met an atheist in my life who hasn't spent a significant amount of time studying those serious metaphysical/epistemological arguments. And I've met very few theists who actually have. But maybe that isn't everybody's experience.

If this woman was confronted by a person who called all theists uneducated, closed-minded, slack-jawed hicks, she'd say, "You're just going after the low-hanging fruit. Every ideology attracts people who just don't get it, people who make the rest look bad. To paint us all with that brush just reveals your ignorance and prejudice."

But, of course, she doesn't hesitate for a nanosecond to treat atheists the same way.

Color me unimpressed as well.

At 20/5/09 5:27 pm, Anonymous AK47 said...

If you actually look at the context of the quote (and perhaps this is asking a bit much from Allen), Dawkins' uncharitable remarks are not directed generically at "religious believers" as Allen says, but rather they are directed specifically at those who deny evolution because of their religious beliefs.

At 22/5/09 11:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bloody great read mate!

thank's for the chuckle, although at the same time the furious facepalming.

At 22/5/09 12:26 pm, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

Oooohhh, the facepalming did commence, sir. It did with gusto.

At 27/5/09 11:55 am, Blogger auJT said...

Charlotte Allen IS "brain-deadery" at it's finest. I hear that Peter Popoff is looking for a new make over and marketing director. She wins hands down.


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