04 September 2008

Yay for Christian Alarmist Propaganda

Oh, what one stumbles upon in the early hours whilst slowly extricating oneself from the peaceful void of slumber over a cup of coffee.

Check out Clifford Goldstein's 'Faith Attack' on Liberty Magazine Online. First off, the language used referring to atheists and atheism is clearly chosen very carefully to invoke the popular 'militant' image of atheists among Christians. Usually, when I come across this sort of rhetoric, I can safely dismiss the whole article as alarmist drivel. This is no exception. Enjoy some of these choice excerpts:
Picture this dystopia: in the name of rationality, reason, and science—religion is severely pro-scribed. Some religious beliefs— beliefs —deemed so dangerous that those holding them should be killed. The concept of religious “tolerance” would also be anathema: persons would not be allowed to hold whatever religious beliefs they chose—this cannot be for beliefs deemed irrational. And parents could be charged with “child abuse” for giving their offspring a religious education.

It all sounds like something from the failed social experiments of the Soviet Union, the Eastern bloc countries, and other now defunct Marxist regimes, perhaps?

Perhaps. Yet that kind of society would be the logical outgrowth of views promoted by an elitist clique of atheist writers, philosophers, scientists, and scholars. Dr. Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are at the forefront of what’s been dubbed “the new atheism,” a take-no-prisoners, shock-and-awe assault on any theism at all.
Ever see those silly little comic tracts depicting poor Christians in tattered clothing running for their very lives through dark woods in such a bleak and violent future-vision such as this? I have and they'd be funny if they weren't such an accurate description of how some Christians seem to think they are truly persecuted. Goldstein, please. Now, he does quote Harris a little later:
Sam Harris, in his screed The End of Faith, writes, “I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.” As if that weren’t enough, he argues that “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
I haven't read Harris. I'll assume he did indeed say these things. And if Harris suggests that anyone be killed for holding any idea, then I would say that Harris is a schmuck. I'll go ahead and put myself out there now to speak for what I believe the majority of atheists think--that no one be killed for their beliefs, and even that no laws be enacted to infringe of any believers' right to believe whatever they want and to worship. That said, though, what Harris says about "very ideal of religious tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss"--I agree. I do. I do believe that one major factor in humanity's long, slow spiral downwards is this sad and pervasive tendency to believe in irrational things. And the huge problem of not being allowed to directly address the issue without being told we are intolerant, or worse, militant, and being accused of wanting to physically wipe out Christians. Fact is, no one can say 'boo' about anyone's religion, no matter how ridiculous, and actually, how violent, it can be.

This is what I think Goldstein's real problem is. He seems like a relatively intelligent person, so I don't really believe that he really believes that any part of the atheist 'agenda' involves actually hunting down and killing Christians in droves. When he pulls the Harris quote, he effectively, by means of the opening paragraph, paints all atheists--specifically Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, etc.--with the same violent, bloodthirsty brush. It has been these same men who have made it a little easier to criticize religion. These popular thinkers/authors have made gains for atheists to be able to articulate our problems with religion. And since there's nothing actually wrong with that, Goldstein must drum up some real (well, imagined) fear. Hence, we are all just foaming at the mouth to shoot all Christians for nothing more than believing. It's ridiculous, and thoroughly dishonest.

Much of the rest of the article is hardly worth touching, except for this little gem, referring to religious indoctrination as child abuse:
Children do need to be taught something about themselves, their origins, and their destiny, right? The new atheists, then, would teach their children—what? That we’re created by chance, with no ultimate purpose or destiny, and that more conscious thought went into someone spray painting graffiti on a wall than went into our existence? Children who lose siblings, friends, or parents must be taught that these people are gone forever, with no hope of ever seeing them again. The children will also learn that they themselves, and all their hopes and dreams and desires, will also one day be forever gone—with no hope of redemption, no hope of having the hard questions answered, no hope of anything but the pain and suffering of this life, followed by the eternal blackness of a cold and dead universe.

Child abuse, Dr. Dawkins, can come in myriad forms.
Where to even begin? Mr Goldstein: We don't teach our children we were 'created' by chance, and for myself, the theories we have as to how exactly life came about are rather amazing and, frankly, uplifting. You're right, I don't believe that I have a particular purpose or destiny, but I have a whole lot of fun going through life deciding what I want it to be (because it is exactly what I want to to be), instead of looking up to a God with whom I have no direct, tangible contact to tell me what it is, and then sighing in resignation when I get to the end of my life, forced to be content with never really knowing how I fit into 'his plan.' And, no, I don't need to know that thought was put into my very existence--the fact that I exist is astounding and, to me, an incredibly happy and positive thought.

And yes, we lose people we love, and yes, we will never see them again, just as someday we will die and that will be the end of that. Frankly, that is infinitely more preferable than going through life believing that one misstep on my part (a misstep, by the way, constantly provoked by God himself, as for some reason he saw fit to fill our world with endless temptation and suffocating rules) and I burn in hell. Yes, indeed, give me nothingness--if nothing else, at least it's poetic.

Now, let me repeat the last bit:
"...with no hope of redemption, no hope of having the hard questions answered, no hope of anything but the pain and suffering of this life, followed by the eternal blackness of a cold and dead universe."
Really...that's what you think atheists teach their kids? Dude, what's wrong with you? First off, we would only worry about redemption if we were teaching ourselves we had done something wrong. Since we don't, we don't really have to worry about redemption. That's your problem and you bring it on yourself. As to answering the hard questions--scientists have been answering many hard questions for quite some time. Will I die before some are answered? Of course. But the amount I'm able to learn through the scientific work of others already fills my lifetime with a tremendous amount of awe and wonder, and for that, I am perfectly content. Actually, it's very exciting. Disappointment at the end of life can only come as the same sense of not being able to finish watching the movie. Oh well. No hope for anything but the pain and suffering of this life? What life are you leading? Thus far, I've had a pretty good life. Has there been pain and suffering? Sure. But really, is your outlook on life so pathetically bleak that you teach your kids that there is nothing but pain and suffering and the only relief is in dying? That isn't the outlook of atheists, that is the outlook of Christians. Clearly.

Well, that was fun. I hope you all have enjoyed this excursion into the mind of a Christian alarmist and his pathetic, bigoted, fear-mongering propaganda. Have a swell day.


  1. He failed to mention our insatiable lust for the flesh of newborns, I'm impressed! :P

    His inability to form an objective standpoint leads me to believe that he's either lying through his teeth (never having read the books he's pulling quotes from) or he's delusional enough to believe what he's writing...either way it's a shame.

    Dawkins goes well out of his way to present his view of the world and how wonderful he thinks is. Heck, he almost gets long winded about it in some cases. Harris' tone in The End of Faith is certainly a bit less 'warm and fuzzy' than Dawkins but the points he makes are no less meaningful. The quote about killing people for believing certain things is made in regard to those that would kill or harm others in the name of faith. The U.S. and her allies are doing exactly that in the middle east, certainly he doesn't object to that does he?

    His suggestion that some sort of communist dystopia would "be the logical outgrowth" of a society with no religion is just as ignorant as suggesting we need religion to have morals. He needs to check his concept of cause and effect.

    Lying or not he clearly has no idea what atheists, in general, are all about (nor does he seem to care). It's side-A not being able to grasp side-B. In all fairness I don't understand the need for superstition to see how amazing the world is so I may be equally misunderstanding of his position.

    The following quote sums it up, at least from my perspective:

    “I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do.”
    - D. Dale Gulledge

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