Thursday, January 12, 2012

An honest question?

Recently, a commenter on another blog (lost in the mist of bygone days) chided me for labeling an "honest question" with "The Stupid! It Burns!" I never found out specifically what question he was referring to, but I assume it was this one: And Atheists Want What?: "What do atheists hope to accomplish in the world? ... I can’t see any other motivation that can come from believing that the physical world is all there is or ever will be other than complete selfishness and narcissism."

Now, to most atheists, especially atheists who have been talking with religious people about religion, it's obvious why this is not an honest question. It's possible that religious people cannot understand why this is not an honest question. But on the off chance that there's some religious person reading this blog who is genuinely confused about whether this is an honest question, let me explain.

First, because the original post offers an answer, the author is by definition not asking an honest question; he is asking a rhetorical question to make an assertion. My response is directed toward his assertion: atheists are motivated only by complete selfishness and narcissism. He can couch his assertion in all the weasel words he wants; his underlying meaning is clear. Not only is the assertion rude by virtue of its obviously falsity, it is more rude precisely because it is framed as a question. If you're going to ask me a question, shut up and let me answer. It is not only intellectually but socially rude to cut me off and offer your own answer.

More importantly, the author asks a question that I should not have to answer. I don't in any way have to justify acting like a civilized, socialized person in a civilized society. The author is essentially saying, how dare I act in a manner he finds socially acceptable!

Look, if you're a Christian (or Muslim, or whatever) apologist, I expect you to be an idiot and/or asshole, and I expect you to see yourself as a reasonable, nice person. The problem is not that you're a Christian (your private delusions are none of my business) the problem is that you're an apologist for a transparent fraud; your social identity has become intimately bound up with complete bullshit. People who keep their delusions private, who are not so insecure that others who don't swallow their brand of bullshit drive them crazy, do not become apologists.

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