Atheist Tantrums: The New Loud

atheist-sex2

What do you get when you cross a new atheist with a Jehovah’s Witness?
Someone who knocks on your door for no reason at all.

This will be brief. Blasphemy Day, God love it, has come and gone. Soon the giggling will stop. Dogs, horses and Episcopalians will be left wondering what the point was. The few Pentecostals who can read a newspaper will say, “See, told you so,” and head for the basement before the anti-Christ rides through town.

I was musing yesterday why, as a pretty fervent Roman Catholic in the 1960′s, I fell on the floor in paroxysms of laughter when a friend (also Catholic) played Tom Lehrer’s “Vatican Rag” for me for the first time. I still laugh when I hear it, even though most twenty-first century Catholics don’t know what a kyrie eleison is or bother to stand in line for confession. In college, a little less fervent, I knew priests (many of whom aren’t any more) who knew the song from front to back. We used to break it out on cue at Charlie’s Beef and Beer (RIP) at Harvard.

So if irreverence can be funny (and I love irreverence as much as I love Mahler) why do I think Blasphemy Day was such a fuckwitted idea?

Well for one thing, as I said in my two posts on the topic, bad art, bad jokes, and behavior designed to be stupid and offensive are seldom funny except to insiders.

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A competition to see who can come up with the worst art, the worst joke, and the most self-referentially stupid behavior will have to be judged by how funny the insiders think it is.

I’m guessing the atheist insiders peed their pants. As for those standing outside the circle (those dogs, horses and Episcopalians), let the cattle judge.

An NPR story on the subject tried to link the Center for Inquiry-sponsored event to a growing rift between old school and new atheism.

If I bought the distinction, I would be expected to say that the “old atheism” as represented by ardent secularists like Paul Kurtz was warm and cuddly whereas the newer form, usually thought to be incarnate in Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (et al.) is tactically less subtle, more aggressive, unkinder.

But I don’t buy it. The old atheism was full of cranks and angry old men, but some of them were clever. Many of them (as my grandmother used to say) knew a thing or two. The big distinction between the old and the new is that the old atheism depended on a narrative, based in philosophy, and linked itself to a long tradition of rational decision-making. Not choosing to believe in God was an act of deliberation, not a foregone conclusion. At its best, it was studious and reflective. At its worst, it was purely negative, abrasive and sometimes nihilistic.

The best form of the old atheism had a lot in common with certain theological trends, ranging from nominalism to religious realism and minimalism–the sort of stance you get from Don Cupitt’s best writings. The worst, rejectionist stream of atheism, was marked (or marred) by intolerance and a lack of table manners. It was an atheism for the unsophisticated young and the dispirited old. Wedged between were Philistines of all ages, one big unhappy family.

What’s now being called “new atheism” or atheist fundamentalism is really nothing more than the triumph of the jerks. Unsubtle, unlearned (but pretentious), unreflective (but persistent). They have heroes in super-jerks like PZ Myers (yes, the one who drives spikes through communion “crackers” as he calls them, and Korans) because

Edgy is what young people like….They want to cut through the nonsense right away and want to get to the point. They want to hear the story fast, they want it to be exciting, and they want it to be fun. And I’m sorry, the old school of atheism is really, really boring.

Did you get that: really? Presumably Mr Myers has tenure, but I for one would love to see his teaching philosophy unpacked when it comes out in book form. Students may also like it raunchy, naked, and loud. And that’s why we used to think a university was a good place to lead people out of the tribe and toward civilization. Not PZ. Give him a hammer and he’ll follow you anywhere.

Almost as bad is the point made by CFI executive Ron Lindsay who says that his “research” organization will “take the high road, the low road, country roads, interstates, highways, byways, — whatever it takes to reach people.” Sounds strangely like Jesus, except the bit about the low road.

To the extent this highways and hedges approach works, imagine the good news: “Rejoice greatly: for unto you this day is born in the City of Right Reason…absolutely Nothing.”

Here is my prophecy. The raw atheism of the raw atheists who have given us Blasphemy Day and probably have other delights in store for us is loud because they already know no one is listening, at least no one who matters.

The shrill tones of the movement have to be amplified for the same reason cinemas now have to pump up the volume to drown out the hundred private conversations that are going on during the film, person to person, cell phone to cell phone, tweet to tweet. It is shouting, pure and simple because loud wins. Stupid and loud is even better, and outrageously stupid and loud is best.

But while all this is going on, there are many who style themselves humanists and are not believers in any conventional sense who want to say, “Shut up-I’m watching the movie.” (More precisely, “Shut up, we’re trying to think.,” or maybe read. What we need is an intellectual resource for thoughtful humanists, the thoughtful seekers who don’t think it’s cool to “repent” of your baptism by having a hairdryer pointed at your head.

What I miss about the old atheism–even though I still find its central premises wobbly and unconvincing–is that thinking was permitted. The conversation continued. There was no infallible source of confidence. Skepticism reigned.

The new atheism is a catechism of conclusions reached, positions taken, dogmas pronounced. It is more like the Catholicism I giggled to see parodied, a church too sure of itself and its exclusive ability to save souls and reveal the kingdom.

A Prayer:

Oh Thou who hast no name and many…and may not even be there:

Bring back clever.

Smite with a bolt of intelligence all enemies of parody and good satire.

Bring low the self-assurance of the Brights, and unto the Dims give light.

With a stroke of your mighty pen lay waste the stupidity of your deniers and confound the certainty of your defenders.

Render mute, O heavenly Conundrum, the loudness of the gainsayers and the loudness of the speakers in tongues. Do it soon.

And do Thou, O King, or Something, of the Unseen Regions of my Brain, grant me the endurance to suffer religious fools as gladly as I suffer the Atheist. And failing that, send a scorching fire upon the earth, if it isn’t asking too much.

Amen.

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59 thoughts on “Atheist Tantrums: The New Loud

  1. I may not necessarily agree with absolutely everything in it but that post was fabulously funny . Something the new anti religionists seem not to have , a sense of humour ( the bus ads in London spring to mind ).

    It was a great pleasure to read .

    Regards….

  2. Yes,. me too. Everybody HATES jews,atheist or fucteist,they are all be DEAD within twenty years,yet they still continiue to Kill,kidnap,rape,steal,lie,..

  3. Can’t help but love this writing above. Blasphemy Day was a fuckwat idea designed to offend the religious fanatics perhaps but just offending human dignity (I find it offensive and I’ve never been religious) … and who actually cared or even knew about the blasphemous loud and ignorant few from an organisation we never heard of before. Just today, my cousin in Palmerston North NZ, (a university lecturer in linguistics and sociology who, like me, has never been a believer in anything much), tells me that some nitwits are sticking pointless billboards up down under in Palmy, saying ‘God probably doesn’t exist, enjoy life anyway’ or somesuch rubbish, she couldn’t exactly remember. She, being a happily isolated Antipodian (although she has lived in China, UK etc before) hadn’t heard of such dumb ideas before and really thought it quite ridiculous. ‘Blasphemy Day’ leaves us both embarrassed to be human. ‘Bring back clever’, oh how loverly, ‘Smite with a bolt of intelligence all enemies of parody and good satire. Bring low the self-assurance of the Brights, and unto the Dims give light’ – if only! I love your prayer. And someone who knocks on your door for no reason at all, God love it, I do. As for the cartoon – God forbid it!!

    xx

  4. Pingback: Atheist Tantrums: The New Loud (via The New Oxonian) « The New Oxonian

  5. So sadly relevant, they are louder than ever, with pointless ranting that is destructive, pitfully artless and as you have said previously, will not help you buy wine on Sundays. “I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit. “No,” said Pooh … “there isn’t”. The shouting on the fringes shows no signs of abating but are the sensible voices in the vast middle ground, those sheep and goats conversing in the middle, able to ignore it? I think so, and with gifted souls like you (and Tom Lehrer, R.I.P.), long may constructive conversation, sensational satire, and wicked wit, make progress imaginatively.

    x

  6. “The raw atheism of the raw atheists who have given us Blasphemy Day and probably have other delights in store for us is loud because they already know no one is listening, at least no one who matters … Stupid and loud”. Mean? Who cares? Just petty.

    • New atheism – old atheism – no God – whatever – all thoughts from within the Cave – bound by mental chains of not knowing. Let go of Religion (=Christianity). Go to the scientists – the world’s greatest physicists – who have turned to face the light which caused the shadows of sense perception. When did we stop looking to science for answers – even clues to Ultimate Reality. “Science offers a surer path to God than religion” Paul Davies. Dare to turn and “see” the Light!

  7. Pingback: Atheist Tantrums: Remembering Blasphemy Day 2009 « The New Oxonian

  8. There are lots of very aggressive, tribal (your word), and intolerant online New Atheists, but should we judge a diffuse movement of people from the worst
    characters?

    I imagine that there are hundreds of thousands of people who vaguely identify with the New Atheists, but who don’t participate in the daily online lynch mob and who certainly don’t foment the daily online lynch mob.

    Obviously, the voices of the least aggressive members of the New Atheist tribe are not often heard.

    Unlike the New Atheists, I do not judge the Catholic Church by Opus Dei, and maybe it’s not fair to judge all those who enthusiastically read Dawkins and Hitchens (not me) by those Dawkins and Hitchens readers who want my blood.

  9. On the chance that it might make some difference, I repeat a comment made to Reason as Myth to shore up the above poor comment.
    When so many believe that natural science can and will answer all questions worth asking, we best return to the reasoning of those who can be named as the greatest physicists the world has ever known. All of these pioneering physicists believed that science and religion, pyhsics and spirituality, were necessary for a full and integral approach to reality, but neither could be reduced to, or derived from the other. Physics can be learned by the study of facts and mathematics, but mysticism can only be learned by a profound change of consciousness. They uniformaly rejected the notion that physics proved or even supports mysticism, and yet each and every one of them was an avowed mystic. How can this be? Very simply, they all realized that, at the very least, physics deals with the world of form, and mysticism deals with the formless. Both are important, but they cannot be equated. Little as they were in the postion of thinking within the tradition of one of the old religious tradtions, equally little were they prepared to go over to naive rationalistically grounded atheism. (From Quantum Questions by Ken Wilber)

  10. Ed – nicely stated and poetic statement from Ken Wilber, but I ask you, can there be any answers in supernatural beliefs? Introspection labeled spirituality, maybe… but believing ones imaginary friends are real is just counter productive. Recognizing they are all just reflections of oneself, well that’s a good start. Ken’s description of atheism as “naive rationalistically grounded” is a strawman. Atheism can just be shorthand for “Show me the money”. Calling it naive is just “stupid”.

  11. The last few times I opened my door to a proselytiser, he was a theist, not an atheist. (Oddly enough, he still had nothing to say. At least, nothing substantive.)

    Where are you living that none but mean, unsophisticated, humourless atheists are knocking on your door, rather than members of the Religious Right? Because I’d love to move to the place where the pleasant, sensible, don’t-rock-the-boat moderates are winning.

    • Why would you open your door? I do agree that where you are can affect your perspective on approach. Contrary to appearances, I want the new atheists–all atheists–to be responsible, not like our worst experience of their religious opposites.

  12. I love when people use the phrase “fundamentalist atheists”.

    Fundamentalist Christians shoot abortion doctors, fundamentalist Muslims fly planes into buildings, and those goddamn fundamentalist atheist write blogs. How disgusting.

  13. the thoughtful seekers who don’t think it’s cool to repent of your baptism by having a hairdryer pointed at your head.”

    - the reason why this is cool is because it highlights the stupidity of believing that dunking you in water is what is needed to save you from the wages of sin of an ancient ancestor. Any other response gives the right of baptism more respect than it deserves.

  14. “What’s now being called “new atheism” or atheist fundamentalism is really nothing more than the triumph of the jerks.”

    Please describe to me the “fundamentals” of atheism.

    “Unsubtle, unlearned (but pretentious), unreflective (but persistent).”

    I’ll give you unsubtle, but unlearned? Unlearned in what respect? Generally, atheists are, more highly educated than their theistic counterparts, and specifically on the subject of religion, at least one study showed that atheists know more about religions than the religious (see for example a recent pew study) which seems to fly in the face of your already arrived at conclusions. As to your accusation of being “unreflective”, well since the bulk of those people you’re criticizing (at least based upon years of reading so-called “deconversion” stories, which I admit potentially could still be the minority though I doubt it) come to atheism usually only after a long, arduous process of research and self discovery, again, your preconceptions don’t fit the data.

    In fact this entire work is drivel.

    By the way, please demonstrate some of the “catechisms” of New Atheism. The only conclusion reached by atheists is that theists have not met the burden of proof required for the extraordinary claim of the existence of god(s). As an atheist myself, I’m curious to hear some of the “dogmas” that I didn’t realize I followed.

      • Backstabber, I believe you’ve discovered one of the Catechisms Drew is looking for. Drew, I’m not sure you can defend the knowledge atheists have of religion by reducing the debate to a question of proofs. That suggests, to me, at least, a lack of sufficient understanding of religion on your part. Religion can function quite well (and be both rational and intelligent) without focusing on questions of proof. Proof is your issue. The issues of religion are invariably larger and more complex than that; even when in the hands of the dim and uneducated, they have more tangible humanity to them than can be found in any sequence of proofs and counter proofs.

      • What I drew from Drew’s complaint above, is evidence of an atheist tantrum, parroted by the unsurprising pseudonym backstabber. These tantrums are often the consequence of an ability to read literally but an inability to read laterally. They betray inadequate learning rather than greater learning. After all, the ability to distinguish fundamentals between different religious traditions, is not evidence of ‘high education’ in the broad sense. Atheism is sometimes no more than denial of possibilities in ideas. The first fundamental of atheism is ‘No’… and Mark David Dietz, your eloquent observation is as relevant now as it would be three years ago, if not, more relevant. Trouble with atheism, is that it took a dive in the 70s and seems stuck in the swamp.

  15. The reason there was a blasphemy day was because too many people in the world take blasphemy seriously. Ireland recently enacted a blasphemy law which should not survive very long. In any country dedicated to the rule of law, enforcing a blasphemy law will automatically create trouble. In many places people go crazy over instances of blasphemy. The solution, blasphemy loud and long so that people will see that nothing happens and get used to it. Wringing your hands and soothing the crazies won’t work and it would be unfair to those who are threatened by the crazies. Concern for blasphemy and social justice are incompatible.

    • @Frank What particular crazies were being ridiculed: as far as i could tell, almost all of the insults were hurled at cartoons of Christianity. There may be some counterintuitive purpose I’m not seeing here, but linking blasphemy day to social justice? Come on.

  16. I’m sorry but all of this ranting against the ‘new atheists’ is tired. ‘New’ or ‘gnu’ atheists are simply old atheists with a blog or a book or a youtube channel — oh, the horror! David Hume and John Stuart Mill would have a blogs if they were alive today. While ‘Blasphemy Day’ is a way to have a little fun at religions’ expense it is hardly something that can epitomize the atheist mindset. Just as I don’t think that those that nail themselves to a cross on Easter are typical Christians. Wanting a return to some fictional, idealized world of ‘old atheists’ reminds me of the woman screaming ‘I want my country back’ at the health care rallies a few years ago — full of sound and fury – signifying nothing. Times have changed — move on…

  17. Since this was reposted, I don’t feel too awkward about commenting on an old article. But in answer to “steph”, I would like to point out that Tom Lehrer is alive today, and was presumably alive in 2010 when steph wrote “Tom Lehrer, R.I.P.”. What is particularly ironic, is that the Vatican Rag was in its day, the equivalent of Blasphemy Day, and Tom Lehrer was the day’s equivalent of a “new atheist”, loud, irreverent and in your face. I am afraid that we cannot all be lyrical, musical and talented.

  18. Another goddist whining about the existence of people who don’t share his delusions. Of course the worst are the “New Atheists” who have the temerity of not showing the respect to goddists that goddists feel they should receive.

    • Absolutely. That’s exactly what this post is all about, me not getting respect for my goddist beliefs. –What were your SAT scores, btw.?

      • Nice – a cross between an ad hominem attack and an argument from authority. Two logical fallacies in one. Then again, given the intellectual dishonesty required to justify your kooky and unsupported beliefs, should we be surprised?

      • Time to Play Learn Your Fallacies. 1. There is no ad hominem attack here. There is a reply to one, but it’s pretty tame. 2. Using scholarship to support a position is called “argument.” Ad baculum arguments are ones you win by threat. There is no argument from authority here. There are some facts: should we fear them?

    • Pray tell me how this particularly dumb idea had a salutary effect on any of the countries that still have blasphemy laws, especially since its focus was almost exclusively on the Western tradition.

      • First off, you will notice that a lot of “secular” countries still have blasphemy laws on their books and have groups of citizens who like to apply a religious label to their country (eg. American is a “Christian” nation). The focus of Blasphemy Day was not just on Western tradition. It applied to all religions. The “Draw Mohamed Day” was similar in concept and that applied exclusively to Islamic societies. Yes, it is true that these have greater participation in Western societies, but the power of the internet is that eventually these will catch up in other countries where I agree this is needed more.

      • I do not notice that: Please tell me what you have in mind? Certainly not the US– here we give bathroom passes to idiot clergymen who burn Korans.

      • Are you for some reason incapable of following the link that the good fellow posted in his comment? The Western and/or secular countries that it lists as still having blasphemy laws of some kind include: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand. Under the section “European Initiatives” you will find a further list of countries who make a crime of “religious insult”. Some of these countries have not prosecuted anybody for these “crimes” in a very long time, and Ireland has not yet made use of it’s recently enacted blasphemy law, but others have done so within the last decade. So as you can see, blaspheming against the “Western tradition” is an act of civil disobedience for many of us, since we do not all live in the US.

      • Only if you consider Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to be part of the “Western tradition”. I’m not sure you could make a credible case otherwise, though you seem to be attempting to do so.

  19. “A kind of book that has been endemic in England for quite sixty years is the silly-clever religious book, which goes on the principle not of threatening the unbeliever with Hell, but of showing him up as an illogical ass, incapable of clear thought and unaware that everything he says has been said and refuted before. This school of literature started, I think, with W. H. Mallock’s New Republic, which must have been written about 1880, and it has had a long line of practitioners—R. H. Benson, Chesterton, Father Knox, ‘Beachcomber’ and others, most of them Catholics, but some, like Dr Cyril Alington and (I suspect) Mr Lewis himself, Anglicans. The line of attack is always the same. Every heresy has been uttered before (with the implication that it has also been refuted before); and theology is only understood by theologians (with the implication that you should leave your thinking to the priests). Along these lines one can, of course, have a lot of clean fun by ‘correcting loose thinking’ and pointing out that so-and-so is only saying what Pelagius said in A.D. 400 (or whenever it was), and has in any case used the word transubstantiation in the wrong sense. The special targets of these people have been T. H. Huxley, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Professor Joad, and others who are associated in the popular mind with Science and Rationalism. They have never had much difficulty in demolishing them—though I notice that most of the demolished ones are still there, while some of the Christian apologists themselves begin to look rather faded.”

    http://ghostwolf.dyndns.org/words/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/tribune/AsIPlease19441027.html

  20. Please let me know if the following is blasphemous, heretical, or just cause for another crusade — this time from the Gnus to the bible thumpers who inhabit these parts (we could use a little help):

    “Well, I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
    Long as I have my plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Through all trials and tribulations,
    We will travel every nation,
    With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far.

    “No, I don’t care if it rains or freezes
    Long as I have my plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    But I think he’ll have to go
    His magnet ruins my radio
    And if we have a wreck he’ll leave a scar

    “Riding through the thoroughfare
    With his nose up in the air
    A wreck may be ahead, but he don’t mind
    Trouble coming, he don’t see
    He just keeps his eyes on me
    And any other thing that lies behind

    “Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Though the sun shines on his back
    Makes him peel, chip, and crack
    A little patching keeps him up to par

    “When I’m in a traffic jam
    He don’t care if I say Damn
    I can let all sorts of curses roll
    Plastic Jesus doesn’t hear
    For he has a plastic ear
    The man who invented plastic saved my soul

    “Plastic Jesus, Plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Once his robe was snowy white
    Now it isn’t quite so bright
    Stained by the smoke of my cigar

    “If I weave around at night
    And the police think I’m tight
    They’ll never find my bottle, though they ask
    Plastic Jesus shelters me
    For His head comes off, you see
    He’s hollow, and I use Him for a flask

    “Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Ride with me and have a dram
    Of the blood of the Lamb
    Plastic Jesus is a holy bar”

  21. There’s nothing new about atheism, even strident atheism that demands attention and gives no quarter to illusions of the supernatural or divine. All that has changed is, with the explosive growth in human knowledge of the natural world, “God’s” retreat from relevance has accelerated to a breakneck pace. As we scan the skies, plumb the depths, reach into natural history and delve into the workings of the mind, all we find are nature and natural cause and effect. God has been pushed so completely into the immaterial that it is no longer possible to tell the difference between a God that cannot be understood, and a God that doesn’t exist at all. Bravo to this generation’s band of atheists who, generally more educated on matters of faith than their theist counterparts, have the courage to stand up, point, and declare at the top of their lungs “The Emperor has no clothes!”. And bravo to our Western society for, little by little, growing mature enough to allow the atheists to do so without burning them at the stake.

    There is still a long way to go. It is easier for a teenager to declare “I’m gay” at the family gathering than it is for them to declare “I’m an atheist”. But if the loud voices of atheism continue to override dismissive voices like R. Joseph Hoffman, eventually the atheists can come out of the closet at the Thanksgiving table without causing family schisms. And then they can turn their attention to openly teaching the next generation about the truths and limits of “faith”.

  22. When they came for the Jews, I said nothing because I wasn’t a Jew.
    I would not come for anyone. Everyone has a right to be themselves and to be different. I would be the one defending them. Mr. Hoffman seems the type to go after someone rather than defend them.

  23. Wow – the hypocrisy in this post is breathtaking. Complaining about the ‘lack of table manners’ of the ‘new atheists’ while simultaneously calling them ‘jerks’, ‘shrill’, ‘stupid’ and ‘loud’.

    But I guess hypocrisy is just normal par for the course for the religious, so why would anyone be surprised. What’s the matter? Don’t you like it when someone who can think for themselves calls you out on the lack of credibility of your favourite superstition?

    You need to get used to it. We ‘new atheists’ are here to stay. And we are heartily sick of evangelising and proselytising from people who don’t have the courage to reject the bronze age nonsense that they foist on society – all the time demanding special privileges such as tax breaks and that their superstitious beliefs be protected agains ‘blasphemy’.

    As Peter Finch so aptly put it: We are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.

      • Since my last post was ‘moderated’ – or to use the more correct word, ‘deleted’ – I will try again. But the very act of deleting my comment perfectly encapsulates why I am ‘so mad’. (it also answers the question I asked in my post as well)

        It’s because superstitious nonsense has held sway over our culture for far too long. Bronze age belief systems have no place in the modern world. They corrupt human progress and inflict endless suffering on people. They demand and get special privileges that they don’t deserve and which detract from more rational and deserving pursuits – the costs of which must be borne by everyone.

        So you miss the ‘old atheists’ huh? Too bad. The days of compliance – of hiding our rationality for fear of persecution by a society gripped by superstition are over. We want our culture to progress, to move past the fear-mongering, the hypocrisy, and the hatred of religious superstition. And the only way we will be able to move forward is to move out of the dark ages when humans worshipped homophobic, genocidal, mysogenist, racist, and jealous beings in the sky.

        Religion is the root of all evil – and we will all be better off when it is confined to the dustbin of history.

        Now I ask the question again – why are you such a hypocrite?

      • “It’s because superstitious nonsense has held sway over our culture for far too long. Bronze age belief systems have no place in the modern world.” Where do we disagree? have you ever read anything I’ve written–because if you had, you know I’ve been saying tis for two decades. As to my hypocrisy: I don’t think my opposition to the rashness of new atheism is hypocritical., it’s heartfelt.

      • “…Where do we disagree?…”

        Isn’t it obvious? You are superstitious, and use ‘faith’ to colour your worldview. You are irrational, and ‘believe’ in things for which there is no evidence.

        You have not done the most important thing that any rational individual should do – and that is to question and think about that which underpins the ‘glasses’ through which you view the world.

        Ask yourself this. Why do you believe in god? Why do you believe in that particular god? Why are you a christian, and not a muslim or a jew? Why do you think you are right and they are wrong (and yes, if you are a christian then you DO believe they are wrong)?

        You may claim to have thought these issues through – but you obviously have not. For there is no RATIONAL reason for you to think the way you do – it is simply a matter of that is the culture in which you were raised. And if you were raised in a different culture, you would draw radically different conclusions on these issues. And that is pretty conclusive proof that there is no real rational thought process underpinning your beliefs.

        Belief in a god – any god – is a ‘bronze age belief system’. Indeed, that is being charitable. Belief in the supernatural is even more archaic that that – and less relevant to the modern world. We now know that the earth is not the centre of the universe, that the universe was not created especially for us, it was not created by a supernatural being, and that we are just another animal species, no more special or deserving than any other. These are the teachings of religion – why would you in any way defend such nonsense?

        You may claim that religion has given us art and culture etc, but I am going to suggest that art and culture would have existed anyway. And while religious organisations may have done some good, they have done a lot more damage, and on the balance they have had a much more negative than positive impact on society. ‘Goodness’ is NOT the sole province of the religious. Indeed, the worst kind of hate, hypocricy and biggotry is reserved for those who are religious, and who use the teachings of their religions to justify all sorts of unacceptable behaviour.

        You have written a lot lately in criticism of atheism and ‘new’ atheists in particular. And that from there that your worst hypocrisy stems. You complain about our ‘lack of table manners’, and of being ‘loud’ and ‘loud and stupid’, and that the only people who don’t matter listen to the ‘shrill’ tones of new atheists.

        You might want to take a good hard look at your own table manners and attitudes. New atheism is not – as you put it in your own shrill, lacking in table manners tone – a ‘triumph of the jerks’. Atheism is a triumph of rational thought over superstition; a realisation that the fairy stories you were brought up with have no more credibility than santa claus or the easter bunny. They are great stories to tell children, but its long past the time when humanity – those who still cling to religion – needs to grow up.

      • It is impossible to overlook the tone of the tertiary Gnus. My guess is that they are all trying to sound as acerb at Hitch and fail miserably because they are not as clever as he is. Your entire representation of my worldview and thoughts is so distant from anything I believe that I thought at first it was directed at some other comment. You are superstitious, and use ‘faith’ to colour your worldview. You are irrational, and ‘believe’ in things for which there is no evidence. You have not done the most important thing that any rational individual should do – and that is to question and think about that which underpins the ‘glasses’ through which you view the world. Ask yourself this. Why do you believe in god? Why do you believe in that particular god? Why are you a christian, and not a muslim or a jew? Why do you think you are right and they are wrong (and yes, if you are a christian then you DO believe they are wrong)? Did you just dial a wrong number and continue talking when the message bleep came on, or do you really think these points are pertinent?

  24. I think the phrase we’re looking for is “Link or it didn’t happen”.

    You’re writing a blog, making sweeping assertions, and never providing links to anything that might resemble, you know, evidence for your assertions.

    Maybe this is your beef with the so-called New Atheists; you want the whole God conversation to remain rarified and abstract and all in your head, and this modern habit of actually asking for evidence doesn’t suit you. It’s so crude, doncherknow.

    People are actually being murdered for blasphemy in places like Pakistan: establishing that blasphemy is not a crime actually matters. Wibbling about Respect for Deeply Held Beliefs doesn’t help. Beliefs are not respectable merely because deeply held, and people need to get used to having their beliefs mocked and challenged.

  25. Blasphemy Day wasn’t some unmotivated bit of spite – it was a specific response to the fact that it’s now illegal in Ireland to diss certain fictional characters. It is now literally *a criminal offence* to impune the virginity of one character from one book – God’s other bit of stuff, his second Queen of heaven, the one he raped when she was fifteen when her husband wasn’t looking. Or so the little strumpet claimed.

  26. I for one am amazed at the capability for people to suspend disbelief for such outragious claims as are foisted upon them by religion. I am amazed at the self defeating God people have the ability to persistently believe in. A perfectly omnicient and omnipotent man that can literally do anything, that creates an imperfect world because He couldn’t create a perfect one? Or because maybe he wanted a flawed world? An all knowing God who flooded the entire world after He got mad at his own creation for doing what He knew it would do? How is it possible to be dissapointed in your own creation knowing the outcome already? If you can believe such diametrically opposed ideas, then you have an absolutly astounding ability to dismiss your own lifes experiences for want of a bearded invisible man. It is shocking to me. Do you want to know why “New Atheists” are mad? It isn’t just because people believe in God. It isn’t just that people don’t value science (the thing that has brought you every modern convenience you enjoy, every medical treatment you use, increased food supply, etc…) over religion. But, that religion works actively against science anytime it feels threatened is the problem. Were there ever to be a final proof that God does not exist, it would not ever matter to you. Why? Because faith is the entire emphasis of religion. And what stronger faith can you have than one that exists despite clear and concise evidence to the contrary? Faith is belief without evidence, and in the world we live in, that is incomprehensably foolish.

  27. Blasphemy Day was doubtless intended to have a little shock value, but I think it was more about using that shock to demonstrate that it’s actually OK to be blasphemous.

    Most of the people I know aren’t religious, but they’re shocked by outright blasphemy nonetheless. I think overt blasphemy helps non-believers who have never really identified as atheists to understand what we supposedly strident, shrill atheists are complaining about. For example, the horrible acts of the Catholic church in covering up the rape of minors and nuns and their insisting that AIDS proliferates due to arbitrary bans on condoms while the emancipation of women – the only known remedy for poverty and horribleness – is discouraged at best.

    Blasphemy Day wasn’t about pissing off faith-heads, although I personally couldn’t care less if it did. It was mostly about reaching out to people who don’t believe in gods but were brought up to feel religions automatically deserve respect.

    It’s a revelation to some people that they DON’T have to respect fairytales after all.

  28. Reblogged this on The New Oxonian and commented:

    Short repast from Blasphemy days past, alas. Sometimes you just can’t help feeling nostalgic for the new atheism…. a feeling similar to the withdrawal comedians must have felt when W. left the White House.

  29. Pingback: The Church of No-God: Blasphemy Day Edition | The R.oB. Opinion

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