Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Stupid! It Burns! (yet another straw man edition)

the stupid! it burns! Common Problems with the Atheists

According to this author, atheists regularly make the claim that...

Everyone would be happier if we got rid of religion. ...

Religion is bad for the world because of the Crusades and the Inquisition. It is of no significance that Communism has links to atheism. Hitler was a Christian. ...

Theists came up with this idea of life being meaningless [without God] because they needed reasons to justify God’s existence. ...

Anyone can be a smiling, ardent atheist. You can be one of the best and the brightest. ...

I am an atheist and I am happy. Therefore, atheism is nothing to be upset about. ...

There is a natural explanation for everything ...

Believing in heaven diminishes the importance of this life, and of everything ...

Science has shown that the supernatural, God, etc. is superstition ...

It’s nobler to be good without God, because this shows you don’t need reward or punishment systems. ...

Yada yada yada... the list of straw men goes on.

The author does attribute some correct positions to atheists, but read the fatuous responses:

Good people doing bad things? That takes religion. [true dat]

Bad people doing good things is just as likely to take religion, and this scenario is more common in the civilized world.

American is not a Christian Nation. [quite true]
The fact that you even take the time out to argue about this shows tremendous bias and irrationality. Discussions about America are totally out of proportion with the topic at hand. Only in the United States do the arguments over God’s existence include regular debates about the intentions of the people who founded the country in which the debate is taking place.

Argument is so easy when you can just make up your opponents' positions.

Update, 28 May 2011: Apparently, the author does not understand the terms "citation", "straw man" or any basic concepts of intellectual integrity.


  1. Larry, let me ask you something. Take the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman. I don't know if you read children's books, but never mind. The point is that Pullman as an artist can be quite a profound fellow, but Pullman as an atheist often says things that strike me as vulgar and shallow. This in spite of the fact that his little masterpiece takes a pretty dim view of belief. Pullman says, for example, that he can separate Blake's poetry from Blake's religion, and revile -- revile! sneer at, laugh at, etc. -- the latter, and do no disservice to Blake. That feels like bullshit to me though I could be wrong. This idea that faith, any example of faith, is automatically contemptible, a piece of sheer silliness, an incomprehensible lapse (no exceptions!) on the part of fellows who are geniuses in every other sense--this seems so, so damn vulgar. It seems (seems) nowadays that your mainstream atheist is as closed and self-congratulatory as your fringe fundamentalist--but also hip, unlike the latter. So you have this unbearably smug, narrow culture -- one more of those in a crowded world. It's awful.

  2. Interesting comment, anonymous. Later, I'll reply more substantively.

  3. Thanks Larry, here's one more example, and thanks for hearing me out. I read another little atheistic article recently, just a little response to that Deepak Chopra piece -- & what a piece! -- on Christopher Hitchens. I can't link to it now, I don't remember where it is. But it's a decent response to Chopra -- it creams him -- but then the author says a similar thing to the Pullman thing, but references Cardinal Newman; says, "Oh, I can admire Newman's scientific work and deride his religiousness for the childish garbage that it is." Now I'm not a churchgoer & I don't pray. I was raised in a very conservative environment but got out. I had some bad experiences, I tend to deride orthodoxy in knee-jerk fashion. But still, Larry, the lives of Newman, Blake, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard -- Wittgenstein -- I find them profoundly moving and instructive, and profoundly important for an understanding of the novels, poetry, philosophical works, etc., and I know -- speaking for myself -- that to sneer at the beating heart of the personalities of these men, no matter what my own views, would severely limit me, would shrink me, and would certainly shrink & gut my relationship to them. I can understand knee-jerk reactions as I say, and probably most of these reactions (I hope) have to do with taking so much shit from so many fundamentalists for so long, well, fuck them. But it seems one has to get past it eventually or become a fundamentalist, a dirty fundamentalist oneself. Thanks again.

  4. Of COURSE not everyone would be happy if there were no religion - all the con artists, politicians, and psychopaths who use religion to manipulate and control people would be VERY unhappy.


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