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Feb 26 2012

Oh they’re all like that

Mark Jones has an excellent post on Julian’s tone piece.

A snippet:

As often when it comes to this sort of accusation, no evidence is linked to support Baggini’s position. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the occasional atheist might make a tone-deaf pronouncement. I object that atheists are characterised as a group with this clumsy stereotype, and I object that the four horsemen, and gnus, are too.)

Yep. Atheists are this, the new atheists are that, the online atheists are the other. And as for the new online atheist bloggers – ! No stereotype can be too stale or too general or too wild for them. They must be destroyed.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    Goddists detest being called irrational for belief without evidence, detest their favorite god being compared with other historic deities, detest the use of the word “myth,” detest being called apologists, and really detest not having their religion respected. Calling out a goddist is being shrill. Not demonstrating respect for a goddist’s faith is being shrill.

    Dawkins is often called shrill. But when you listen to him he almost always uses measured, academic, precise tones, so his shrillness is not physical. His arguments are unrelenting and evidence based. To a goddist that’s being shrill.

    Baggini’s article is not about tone, physical or metaphorical. It’s mainly about rock music before ending on a plea for atheists to stop using strong arguments. The article is actually funny. It proves the case against itself, demonstrating perfectly one can have good tone and no argument. And that’s what Baggini would like to see the atheist community morph into.

  2. 2
    karmakin

    Yup. Our mere existence is offensive. Everything else is gravy.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think that means we should become overt jerks about things because of that. Don’t become what you’re trying to fight, after all. And that’s what bothers me the most. Because for us to be truly offensive, if viewed from an unbiased, objective standpoint, the things that we say, at least from a Christian-centered perspective, would have to be as offensive as the idea that people who believe differently are deserving of eternal torment, with said eternal torment being a mental shortcut for “evil”.

    So in short, people who believe differently are evil.

    I think that’s pretty damn offensive, myself. Compared to that, we’re puppies and kittens. I don’t think I would have used the word “delusional” myself (but that has more to do with my experiences and thoughts on the subject, and NOT a matter of tone), but that’s about the worst thing that we say.

    And for people who come in and say that hell is theologically wrong. Yup. It is. But it’s a very strong CULTURAL concept, and if religious leaders can’t control the culture, then what the hell are they there for in the first place?

  3. 3
    Mark Jones

    Thanks Ophelia, glad you liked it.

    And I’ve just heard on Radio 4 Andrew Marr introduce Start the Week by equating militant atheists and fundamentalists, while lauding the ‘middle ground’ as more interesting; this before a discussion involving Karen Armstrong! If she’s the middle ground, I’m a banana.

  4. 4
    Aliasalpha

    @Mark Jones

    If she’s the middle ground, I’m a banana.

    Apparently atheists used to have nightmares about you

  5. 5
    SAWells

    Maybe the root of the irrational responses to public atheism is the fear of death.

    People don’t want to die.

    Religion tells them they won’t die when they die.

    Atheism then tells them they will.

    People are reacting to atheism as they would to getting death threats. Hence the hysteria and over-reaction; we think we’re giving factual information on a par with “The earth is round, not flat”, and they’re hearing “Die!”

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    …while lauding the ‘middle ground’ as more interesting; this before a discussion involving Karen Armstrong! If she’s the middle ground, I’m a banana.

    Not to mention more interesting. Karen Armstrong more interesting? Please.

  7. 7
    Kevin Alexander

    I read a book by Karen Armstrong. I can’t recall which one or what was in it but I’m sure it was interesting or I wouldn’t have finished it. Oh..wait a minute maybe I didn’t finish it.

  8. 8
    Sastra

    I recently came across this quote by Dawkins, and thought it made a good point re. the “stridency” of the gnus:

    “What amazes me is that they (liberal people of faith) like to set themselves up as having a slightly finer sensibility than you or me but in fact they are completely intellectually irresponsible. They used to come up with very bad arguments for their faiths but at least they felt that there was something they should provide. Now mere wilfulness has triumphed. This is what I describe as the egocentric approach to truth. You are no longer interested in reality because to do that you have to be pretty rigorous, you have to have evidence or do some experimentation. Rather, beliefs are part of your wardrobe. You’ve got a style and how dare anybody tell you that your style isn’t right. Ideology is seen as simply a matter of taste and as it’s not right to tell people that they’ve got bad taste, so it isn’t right to tell them that their opinions are false. I’m afraid that the caste of mind of most people is the opposite of scientific.

    In addition to a fear of death, I think one major cause of the irrational response to public atheism is a sense that one’s personal attributes have been insulted. Their style isn’t right, their tastes are all wrong. How dare the atheists try to change me

    I’ve explicitly gotten that one. “I’m not you; don’t try to force me to be like you.” And this was over a discussion on the lack of a chemical basis for homeopathy.

    Apparently people choose their “faith” based on the type of person they want to be. As Dawkins says, it’s the “egocentric approach to truth.” Trying to turn this outward into a matter of empirical analysis and conclusion is thus framed as personal attack.

    But tough. We have to do it. Because under their rules the “type of person” who “chooses” to be an atheist is always very, very bad. And we have to make it clear we didn’t “choose” to be like that: we tried instead to approach the question objectively, from a scientific cast of mind. So should they.

    Egocentric approach indeed. Thus, the outrage.

  9. 9
    Aratina Cage

    Apparently people choose their “faith” based on the type of person they want to be. As Dawkins says, it’s the “egocentric approach to truth.” Trying to turn this outward into a matter of empirical analysis and conclusion is thus framed as personal attack.

    Right. And it’s important to distinguish what we are doing when we mock the god expressed within three frozen waterfalls from the act of discounting their personal experiences. Sure, it was an amazing experience for them and we wouldn’t dispute that. But the amazingness of the experience itself doesn’t make their conclusion about reality true.

    What we are doing is more along the lines of showing them that a valuable family heirloom is really nothing more than a Crackerjack toy, which of course will hurt them to find out, but in the search for truth it is an outcome that sometimes cannot be avoided. The atheist hypothesis is that any religious (or spiritual) experience or religious attestation has at its core a fully material (physical) explanation. Give us one and we’ll pick it apart no matter if it has been thought to be true for thousands of years (like Exodus or the Ressurection) or merely decades (like the transcription of the Golden Plates) or less. We are the nurses with needles: “This is going to sting a bit… *poke*”

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