Atheists as Vulcans without Machismo? An e-mail exchange…

I recently received the following e-mail query:

What do you think about the fringe criticisms against atheism that talk about the setbacks of overly concrete/logical thinking and a lack of abstract, emotional capacity commonly associated with atheists?

They criticize atheists (especially Dawkins and people like Dawkins) for being dull, unpleasant, lacking machismo and being unappealing to women. They argue that overly concrete thinking is detrimental to living the dynamic and largely abstract life outside of scientific institutions and number crunching facilities. Popular psychology even attested and perpetuated this bullshit with labels like Aspergers which describes people who are book-smart but have no people skills. I can’t cite any source that surveyed people with Aspergers and how many of them are religious or irreligious but I can guarantee a majority would be atheists.

The question is, is being 100% logical all the time really the right way to live an awesome and successful life?

You got things like music and art that you can’t build or enjoy without a level of spiritual capacity. As an example, to fully enjoy the spirit of Christmas, you gotta suspend some logic about Santa Claus and just let loose to enjoy the holiday, especially for the children whom you wouldn’t wanna ruin the fun for. Or watching cartoons and coming across many things that just don’t make sense, like the characters not falling off a cliff as long as they don’t look down and other inconsistencies in the plots of long-running anime episodes that you just don’t wanna over-analyze or be too logical about because it ruins the fun and the whole point of the show which isn’t to take it so seriously.

So essentially they are calling atheists a pack of basement-dwelling empty nerds who don’t know how to have a good time, which I gotta admit isn’t too far from the truth.

What do you think about all this?

My response was brief:

I don’t think their accusations are remotely accurate…and tell us much more about those making those accusations than the target of them.

And apparently insufficient…so the author asked for more information:

Why not? Is it not true that those prone to atheism are much more concrete thinkers than those prone to religion? You have to admit there is a correlation.

Here’s my response…

The fact that we’re not prone to accepting fantasy-as-reality doesn’t mean that we’re emotionless robots or Vulcans, incapable of appreciating beauty.

I’d argue that, in fact, the opposite is true. The individuals that I’ve met in the atheist community, are rarely dull. To the extent that we’re unpleasant, it stems from the frustrations of seeing reality treated as a minority position by individuals who credulously accept the supernatural while attempting to impose their religious views on other by legislation, coercion and indoctrination.

With respect to the lack of machismo or being unappealing to women, I find those claims absurd and sexist. They are particularly stupid charges that would be beneath response if it weren’t worthwhile to expose the ignorance and privilege of those making the claim.

There’s not a single public atheist figure that is advocating logic at the expense of emotion, humanity, beauty or empathy. (And if they’re were such a person, the rest of the public atheists would be the first in line to point out that this individual certainly doesn’t speak on behalf of other atheists).

There is no “spiritual” requirement for enjoying beauty or art…and such statements only demonstrate that the individuals have no concept of either the people their criticizing or the human condition. Most of my atheist friends greatly appreciate beauty, art, literature, fantasy, science fiction, music, films….the list goes on and on.

In addition to the television programs, podcasts, speaking engagements and activism efforts, I not only work a full-time job, but I take time to enjoy the world I live in. I read books (often fantasy and sci-fi), visit zoos, caves and museums, shop at craft fairs, hike and explore nature. I also crochet, make chain mail jewelry and oil paint. I play board games, card games, computer games and billiards. I am moved by great musical and artistic performances – occasionally to tears.

I do these things with my wife and with many other members of the atheist community. Dawkins has spoken many times about the beauty of nature. Hitchens has done so as well. I was fortunate to hear both of them speak publicly about this subject at the convention this past weekend.

As I said, the accusations aren’t remotely accurate and can only be made by someone engaged in a quixotic and xenophobic dismissal of a perceived enemy. What a sad existence one must have to presume that those who don’t share one’s imaginary friend are somehow deficient and sub-human. Curiously, they’ve often adopted religious positions that relegate the entire glory of existence to the status of a doormat – a place to wipe one’s feet while waiting for an afterlife. While their perceived enemy, to the extent that they’ve established anything akin to a religion, have largely adopted humanist positions.

And, as I’ve now wasted two e-mails responding to this absurd subject, I’ll be posting it on the blog so the reply might help prevent others from asking this.

Thanks for the question and for pushing for a follow up…but I’m most definitely finished with this particular subject.

Nice to see so much money so wisely invested

By now, you all know that the Creation “Museum” has plans to build what they think will be a full-size replica of the mythical Noah’s Ark, in order to fleece the drooling, uneducated rubes, of whom there are an unlimited supply. Setting aside exactly how he knows this replica will be authentic (hey, maybe the original had racing stripes — were you there?), it occurs to me that this could be a prime opportunity to do some actual science.

The first thing that should be done is that the ship should not have any modern construction methods brought to bear. The whole thing must be assembled by one old man (it’s unlikely we’ll find a 600-year old, but we’ll split the difference and hire a septuagenarian) using nothing but pitch and hand tools. (Gen. 6:14) Next, assemble all the animals as described in Genesis, and tow the monstrosity out into the middle of the Atlantic, where it will be left for ten months without any resupplying while all of the animals are cared for by a crew of four men and four women inhabiting a grand total of three decks. Assuming the ship floats at all, we’ll see who’s alive at the end of that time. Deal?

Oh, what’s that? This isn’t a scientific enterprise at all, but a theme attraction? But gosh, isn’t the whole sales pitch of Answers in Genesis that science is really on their side? What a fine, fine opportunity to make a real experiment out of all this. Just think of the look on that crusty old fellow Dawkins’ face when it’s all been proved! He’ll be crying into his tea and scones, the blighter! Praise Jesus.

You know, take a minute to think of what $24.5 million would mean to — oh, take your pick. Research in childhood leukemia. Feeding the homeless. Getting people clean and sober and helping them with job training. Christians go on and on about how much more they’re about the milk of human kindness and charity than anyone else. I don’t see anyone being helped by this at all, except Ken Ham and Ken Ham’s checking account. Like so many in the evangelical world, he plays multiple choice with his holy book.

Mail…some days are better than others

“Hi name is not important. I have a comment. I saw your videos on youtube. I don’t like your attacks on the christian faith. I think your program is full of shit. The Atheist Experience just what the hell is that means. As for prove, you don’t need prove to believe or haven’t you figured that out. Let me tell you something. Atheist is the devils work. So go ahead bad mouth god. Your community will be blowen up as long with you garbage or what ever happens. The christian faith is not to brain wash people. That’s just you people spreading lies. Your community is dedicated to nothing and that how it’s going to be.
The man”

Fortunately, messages like this aren’t all that common. We obviously don’t think this represents the bulk of religious thought…but it does demonstrate the results of insular indoctrination and poor education. While this sort of thinking isn’t the norm, it’s not yet completely relegated to the cast-of-”Deliverance”-minority…but someday, it will be.

In which Insane Clown Posse reveal themselves to be, in fact, insane clowns

So by now most of you who get around on these here intarweebs know that we’ve all been having fun with this on Facebook and elsewhere all day. There is some amusement value to be had that Insane Clown Posse, a group of shitty hip-hip poseurs, have thrown back the curtain to reveal that they are actually shitty Christian hip-hop poseurs, and it was all part of a cunning plan. Surely this takes both the realms of Christian pop culture and hip-hop culture to all new levels of metashittiness.

But what I have to thank frontman Violent J for (did the “J” stand for Jesus all this time — who knew?) is his instant creation of a new online meme, the likes of which 4chan would die for. It all comes from these hilarious lyrics to their song “Miracles”…

Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying and
getting me pissed.

Pure gold. “Fuckin’ [insert any noun you can think of], how do they work?” And atheists now have a new meme with which we can mock fundamentalists for pretty much the rest of our lives. “Fuckin’ flagellum, how does it work?” “Fuckin’ trees, how do they work?” See? This shit practically writes itself, yo.

Praise Jesus and pass the Pringles!

There is, I suppose, a certain breed of believer with whom there is no point in talking or engaging in any way. They just float around in Happyland with wide eyes and big smiles on their faces, impervious to any incursions by reality. Of course, they often feel compelled to contact us and share the “good news” of their delusions. Take this mail we got today (the rampant misspellings here can be attributed to ESL).

the one way to find out that God eksist, is to lay all your soul and heart to find him. and when you find him, you will see the world different, and see the truth.
but your an atheist so i know that you never will see the world through a different perspektive.

thats the way to find god

Ooo, got us on the ropes there. You may wonder why, since folks like this seem convinced that we’re unwilling to see the world through a “different perspektive,” they even bother to write us at all, but it’s easy to understand when you realize that remarks like this are the defense mechanism of a believer who wants to pat himself on the back for doing his bit to “witness” to the godless while at the same time preemptively shielding himself from any responses he lacks the intellectual muscle to understand or rebut.

So occasionally, I think it’ll be fun to reply to one of these, and I do.

It always amuses us when believers write to us to tell us we “will never see the world through a different perspective,” because it means they clearly haven’t figured out that most of us came from a religious upbringing. Furthermore, in our experience, it is almost always believers who refuse to see the world through any “perspective” that isn’t centered on their God. When they accuse of this, it is something psychologists call “projection”.

We are perfectly happy to look at other perspectives, but — and here is the important part — they must be rational perspectives, rooted in evidence. The problem with the advice you give us for “finding God” is that it is not rational. You are basically saying, “If you decide you want to believe in God, you will.” But this is obvious. Anyone can fool themselves into believing whatever they wish if they are being irrational. They may even say they believe in things they really don’t, simply for social acceptance, and they lose the ability to know what it is they really believe and what they don’t.

To understand why your advice to us is irrational, watch as I take the exact sentence you wrote, and replace the word “God” with a number of other mythical beings. You will notice the advice works just as well for each one.

“the one way to find out that Zeus eksist, is to lay all your soul and heart to find him. and when you find him, you will see the world different, and see the truth.”

“the one way to find out that Shiva eksist, is to lay all your soul and heart to find him. and when you find him, you will see the world different, and see the truth.”

“the one way to find out that The Great Pumpkin eksist, is to lay all your soul and heart to find him. and when you find him, you will see the world different, and see the truth.”

“the one way to find out that Sparkles, the Magic Fairy Unicorn eksist, is to lay all your soul and heart to find him. and when you find him, you will see the world different, and see the truth.”

You see, it is all exactly the same. So, assuming you do not believe in Zeus or Sparkles the Unicorn, I hope you understand how this can hardly be good advice for distinguishing what’s true from what’s false.

The simple fact is that your beliefs, and the way you think people should decide what to believe in, are irrational. And you do not even respect the claims of your own religious beliefs as much as we do, because you are simply willing to accept them with a bare minimum of serious thought, while we insist on giving them very serious thought indeed.

So, do you think any of that sank in at all? Do you think the guy even heard a word I said? Let’s check his reply…

hello again i will thank you for your answer:-)

Its important to see from your perspective also
because not every human do not see the world like i do.

i will not try to make you beliving, but if you change your mind somtimes God is always there. and i will say you that Love of God is bigger then you can imagine.;-)

(ps. love is the answer to all the mysteris in the bible. and its the only place evil can not find)

Thank you fore reading:-):-)
:-)God is Love:-)

Aw, isn’t that sweet. All those smileyfaces. It’s like he really wanted to drive home how completely unencumbered by actual brain activity his empty little head is, bless him.

Of course, he gave no indication he saw my perspective, or that he ever had any intention of doing so, or would know how to even if he did want to. He gives no indication that he engages in the trying task of thinking at all, at any time, about any subject, including his religion, which he simply allows himself to bask in the emotional euphoria of like someone who’s just fired up an especially awesome blunt. Religion is indeed the opiate — or THC — of the masses, everyone, and it comes in dime bags. I’m guessing our correspondent has the munchies something fierce.

Ray Comfort recovers World’s Stupidest Christian™ title from Denyse O’Leary

Just in case you were worried. See how much pure, unadulterated Raytardation you can catalog in this single passage.

Evolution has no explanation for man’s beginning. Some of its believers think that perhaps there was a big bang, but they don’t know where the materials came from for it to take place. They don’t know what was in the beginning, but they are certain that there was no God. They believe the scientific absurdity that life rose out of non-life. It was simply a case of evolution-did-it.

Truly, I’m amazed the guy survives from day to day with such a profound lack of basic intelligence.

Here’s more, if you think your poor skull can take it.

McLeroy’s moronity gets press across the pond

Just in time for the end of his SBOE career, Texas’ moron du jour Don McLeroy is profiled in this piece in the Times. Unlike the mealy-mouthed faux journalism of the US, where everyone is expected to play nice and all views no matter how foolish are to be accorded “respect,” McLeroy here is unambiguously painted as a pants-on-head ignorant ideologue openly attempting to politicize education. Just another reason to be grateful he’s been shown the door.

“I love science,” he protests. Of course you do, Mac. Like priests love kids.

It ain’t just Rush and Pat

Seriously, how primitive in its development does one’s poor little brain stem have to be, to be the kind of person who interprets, in this day and age, natural disasters as some form of divine wrath? Seriously, I can understand cave-dwelling hominids cowering in their caves from a thunderstorm thinking this way. But in a 21st century civilized, technological, post-Enlightenment society? Get on board the short bus, tardboy!

Who else can we add to this parade of thermostupid? Oh, how about the reliably batshit crazy Brannon Howse? Here we see Brannon exercising his considerable prophecy skills to predict God’s next meteorological snit.

Brannon believes America may very well see a serious crisis this week such as flooding in the North East for Obama’s treatment of Israel in the past few days and particularly for his treatment of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Why does Brannon say this?

Because Brannon is a paste-eating fuckheaded moron, that’s why. The above was posted March 30. Anyone remember the news reports of flooding in the northeast the following week? Nope, me neither.

Denyse O’Leary supplants Ray Comfort as World’s Stupidest Christian™

After holding the title courageously for most of his adult life, Ray Comfort has been forced to relinquish his unofficial designation of World’s Stupidest Christian™. Meet the newly crowned title-holder, Denyse O’Leary, whose risible record of attempted evolution denial has leveled up into heretofore unexplored realms of awesomeness with this quoted passage, which simply must be read to be believed. Warning: you will lose about 20 IQ points just reading this, but the fact you won’t be able to stop laughing for a week should, one hopes, compensate.

Congratulations, Denyse, the new reigning World’s Stupidest Christian™! Take a bow.