Friday, February 11, 2011

The Stupid! It Burns! (I'm doing this for your own good edition)

the stupid! it burns! An Open Letter to the Atheist Community
I'd like to offer a few general observations [about atheism and the atheist community] that I've culled from my experience over the years - not to convince you to change your mind (which, I've discovered, is close to impossible) and not to judge your choices, but rather so that we can understand each other better and possibly "walk back" some of the clamorous dialogue.
All right so far, but then...
The first point I'd like to explore is that there really are no true atheists. It seems to me that in order to claim with certainty that there is no God you would have to have knowledge of the totality of the universe - seen and unseen - and I don't think any of you guys are ready to make that claim.
You may want to counter that you have many well-regarded and brilliant personalities who have provided more than sufficient evidence to knock theism back to the Bronze Age where it belongs. ... But even if the arguments were more persuasive and comprehensive, surely you are aware that believers are ready to parry with many philosophers and scientists of our own, people like Anthony [sic] Flew ...
It's Antony Flew, and he became the most vague kind of deist at the end of his life, when his mental capacity may well have been substantially diminished by old age. I mean no disrespect to Flew; old age gets us all if nothing else gets there first.
theoretical physicist Dr. Andrew Goldfinger, and the mathematical physicist and cosmologist Frank Tipler. You will quote your expert and I will quote mine.
Again, <facepalm> At least he doesn't mention Alister McGrath.
Wouldn't it make much more sense to just chuckle knowingly to yourselves and shake your heads at our folly in the way you might with children who believe they have magic powers?
I have to concede this point. I should just chuckle knowingly to myself and shake my head at the folly of undermining science education, the oppression and marginalization of gay people in the West and their execution in the Islamic world, the dominance of women by rape and murder in the Islamic world, the continuous attempt to enslave of women's bodies in the US.
We will point out that equally severe evils have been perpetrated by secularists such as Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot.
You deride us as anti-science, to which we respond that we're really not, but, rather, see scientific proof and inquiry as subject to certain inherent limits.
Those limits being whatever the believer really wants to believe, especially about women and those dirty fags. And evolution.
Have a look at this quote from British historian Paul Johnson:
To them (the Jews) we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without Jews it might have been a much emptier place.
First, we don't owe these ideas to the Jews. The ideas predate the Jews in the West, have occurred in other cultures, and the Jews seemed to have honored many of these principles more in the breach than the observance. Second, that people who happen to be religious and who also live in the real world have come up with good ideas, ideas that need no conception of any god to appreciate, is no argument that religion itself has any value.

As an empiricist, you are only prepared to believe in that which can be seen or measured.
<facepalm> That hasn't been an accurate definition of empiricism since the beginning of the last century.

Charles Darwin added three interesting quotes to later editions of the Origin of Species. Of these, the third, from Francis Bacon's Advancement of Learning, is especially revealing:
To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God's word, or in the book of God's works; divinity and philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.
If Darwin himself could find room for belief in a God and stay faithful to his discoveries...
According to Wikipedia, "Darwin added an epigraph from Joseph Butler affirming that God could work through scientific laws as much as through miracles, in a nod to the religious concerns of his oldest friends." Darwin was himself not a believer, although his primary work was as a scientist, not a philosopher or activist. He found room not for God, but for friendship.

This article is why I have as little patience — perhaps less — for religious "moderates" as I do for "extremists" or "fundamentalists". Jacobs "frames" his essay as a search for common ground, but talks almost exclusively about issues with which the religious and atheists disagree. He's framing criticism and outright attack as conciliation and compromise. Now, I'm all for criticism and attack — We atheists can dish it out, and we can take it without injury to our tender feelings — it's the hypocrisy and disingenuity that grates here. If you're going to attack, go ahead and attack.

Jacobs does try to attack, but he wields only a popgun. I mean really: certainty? Dueling experts? Logical Positivism? Antony Flew? Charles freakin' Darwin? HITLER HITLER HITLER!!!11!!eleventy-one!!1!!? Give me a break.

It's clear that Jacobs is not writing to atheists; he's writing to believers. "I'm really trying," he seems to say, "but they're all pig-headed doofuses. Really. Don't pay any mind to them, keep paying me, because I have a direct line to God. I'm a rabbi dontcha know."

1 comment:

  1. Dear atheists,

    I have collected a litany of the most insipid, over-used theist apologetics to show you. Can't we all just get along? By which I mean, shut up and get out of our way.

    Every smarmy, faux-conciliatory, moderate theist on the internet ever


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