Friday, June 01, 2007

A blatant contradiction

Ok, I'm a dumbass for not seeing this earlier. I guess it's a purloined letter sort of thing: hidden in plain sight.

A number of reviewers and bloggers (notably Chris Hedges and H. Allen Orr) take atheist writers to task for addressing trivial or childish notions of religion (e.g. Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Pascal, the Bible, the Koran, the Catholic Church) instead of taking on the mature, robust versions promulgated by such heavyweights as Paul Tillich (chuckle) or Richard Swinburne[1] (chortle), not to mention (and they don't, obviously) the sophisticated theology of such luminaries as Deepak Chopra, Ken Wilber, Rhonda Byrne or Norman Vincent Peale (howls of derisive laughter, Bruce!).

But if Dawkins and Hitchens are so second-rate, isn't it just as bad for these reviewers to take them on instead of the atheist heavyweights such as Mackie, Flew (at least before he turned 80), Drange, Martin and even Hume?

Orr is not so bad; he too fails to substantively address any of Dawkins actual arguments, complaining only that Dawkins has not written an encyclopedia debunking every version of Jesus fanfic er... mystical mumbo-jumbo umm... "meticulous" theological reasoning (roll on floor laughing my ass off). But Hedges is worse: His argument is precisely the sort of fallacy fallacy that he decries in Hitchens: Hitchens fails to address "sophisticated" theology (and supports the war in Iraq! OMFG!!!!11!1), therefore God exists. It's simply ludicrous.

I'm not making a tu quoque fallacy here. I don't think Hitchens and Dawkins should be immune to criticism even if they were second-rate (which they're not). I'm just noting some instances of blatant hypocrisy.

Of course, the "first-rate" arguments for the existence of God are the ones not being criticized in any particular work. I'm sure if someone wrote a book about how Tillich and suchlike do nothing but use mystical mumbo jumbo to retroject mostly admirable humanist values on a mythical sky fairy, she would be criticized for ignoring Augustine, et al. There's no there there; the best the religious can do is suck the meaning, truth and value out of everything else until there's nothing left but making shit up, calling it true, and forcing everyone to believe it.

[1] Yes, I know Dawkins takes on Swinburne. A now-defunct blog actually criticized Dawkins for not taking on heavyweights such as Swinburne and also criticized him for taking on such a lightweight as Swinburne.


  1. Damned if you address the heavy(feather?) weights, damned if you don't. We atheists are all damned to H E double hockey sticks anyway, according to the Christian apologists, whether they think we have any good arguments for disbelief in their God or not. Except for Chris Hedges who perhaps, in his gentle mysticism, damns us only faintly (but not with faint praise).

    Speaking of damnation, here's a humorous take on one of those delightful Chick tracts.

    BTW, enjoyed your Inigo Montoya reference in a previous blog entry the other day.

  2. Hedges is damned too, according to any honest study of the Bible. But he gets to decide that he doesn't like that and ignore it. There are many, many Christians who believe that Hedges' thin broth of liberal Christo-mysticism is every bit as bad as atheism.

    He is tolerated as long as he critiques Harris, but Hedges is every bit as condescending of mainstream Christianity as he claims Harris is, but he can get away with it because moderates, to paraphrase Harris, really don't know what it is like to believe, and fundies just like to see attacks on atheists.


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