Sunday, December 23, 2007

Atheist Fundamentalism

We return to the the old canard of "atheist fundamentalism" yet again with a piece of inane bullshit excreted by The Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan. The poor quality of this work casts serious doubts on the basic standards of those who granted him a doctorate and any sort of position of responsibility or authority.

The phrase "atheist fundamentalism" is an oxymoron: There are no "fundamentals" on which any atheist can rely: no scripture, no canonical interpretation, no authority. Anyone who uses the phrase "atheist fundamentalism" or its derivatives is using doublespeak, and has no regard at all for basic standards of precision in language. It's ironic too: "fundamentalism" is a rhetorical stand-in for "violent extremism" precisely because religious fundamentalists — in the descriptive sense of those who rely exclusively on traditional religious scriptural authority — are so often violent extremists.

Dr. Morgan mistakes atheism for secularism, the idea that religion ought to be excluded from government and arenas, such as the workplace, where individuals do not have free choice to participate. The terrible effects that Dr. Morgan attributes to "atheist fundamentalism" are nothing more than:
  • councils calling Christmas "Winterval"
  • Schools refusing to put on nativity plays
  • hospitals removing all Christian symbols from their chapels
  • schools refusing to allow children to send Christmas cards with a Christian message.
  • things like "airlines refusing staff the freedom to wear a cross round their necks"
But the worst, the very worst, sin of atheist fundamentalism is that it holds "that religion in general and Christianity in particular have no substance" and views faith as "superstitious nonsense." We can only cry out, "Oh! the humanity!" at such egregious oppression leading to the suffering of dozens. We must admire Dr. Morgan's forbearance in not adding divorce, abortion, animal cruelty, mopery on the high seas, poor television programming, and the difficulty of finding a plumber on Sunday to the list of atheist fundamentalism's deleterious effects.

Of course, Dr. Morgan does not tell us precisely how atheist fundamentalism is undermining the bedrock of Western Civilization (I mean, really: were it not for Nativity plays in school, we'd still be living in caves.) He can say only that atheist fundamentalism "leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours." [emphasis added]

I would really like to know how atheist fundamentalism leads to any sort of positive claims about God. Perhaps I missed a memo from the Evil Atheist Conspiracy. In an amusing bit of sophistry he characterizes atheist fundamentalist attacks as ""virulent, almost irrational". Almost irrational? Almost irrational means rational, just as almost pregnant means not pregnant. We must ask whether Dr. Morgan's words are connected to anything even remotely resembling a thought process.

It's a fair cop that secularism does indeed adopt the language of at least expulsion and exclusion: Secularists wish to expel and exclude religion from government. Secularism is, of course, a position that benefits the religious as much as atheists. (Perhaps more: atheists are irritated by government-supported religion, but members of minority religions might find their immortal souls in jeopardy.) Of course, as a member of the state supported religion, Dr. Morgan might lose his fat taxpayer-supported paycheck if the UK ever got serious about secularism, but I'm sure this fact doesn't bias Dr. Morgan's opinion at all.

Dr. Morgan is not some obscure blogger or anonymous commenter. He's not just a priest, he's an Archbishop. And someone has given him a doctorate. I cannot even hope to damn the vacuity, stupidity, inanity and outright corruption of religion as effectively as has Dr. Morgan.

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