Oh dear god, Julian is still boring for Britain. What in hell do the people at Comment is Free – Andrew? David? – think they’re doing? Do they really think the series – Heathen’s Progress – is so brilliant or witty or enlightening or whatever to be worth carrying for all this time? Didn’t it start last October or something?
[pause to look]
No. Even worse: September. September 30, but still September.
Maybe the subhead for the series is all the explanation needed.
Julian Baggini sets out on a pilgrimage towards the truth, picking his way past the noisome swamp of New Atheist controversies…
It’s a chance to stick a finger in the eye of the noisomely swampy gnu atheists, and Andrew wouldn’t want to pass that up.
But it’s a dumb move, because Julian just isn’t a lively enough writer to carry it.
This time he makes the exciting unthought-of claim that reasonableness is preferable to unreasonableness. Wo! Who knew?
Of course, in reality there is no neat divide between the reasonable and the unreasonable: it’s a case or more/less, not either/or. But divisions are real even when the boundaries between them are fuzzy, and I really do think that the most important divide in the religion debate is not between believers or non-believers, but between those who show the virtues of reasonableness and those who do not. That’s why I’ve often had more fruitful dialogues with some Catholics and evangelicals than I have with some fellow atheists.
See that’s typical – “I’ve often had more fruitful dialogues with some Catholics and evangelicals than I have with some fellow atheists” – that’s a terribly clumsy way of putting it. It doesn’t work to combine “often” with “some” and then another “some” in that way; it sounds as if you’re so desperate to hedge that you can’t make sense. When I was his sub-editor I fixed things like that for him.
But more to the point, it’s the same old shit – pretending it’s a toss-up between atheists and theists. Yes there are some unreasonable atheists; no that doesn’t make theism and atheism equally reasonable as long as the individual atheist or theist is in some sense “reasonable.” It doesn’t, but it’s popular to say it does.
Maryam talked about Julian as a representative apologetic atheist in her talk at QED last week. She interjected, as she continued, “I don’t want to pick on Baggini, but – ” – I whispered to Author, “I do!” and we sniggered. It’s fair to pick on him, because he’s a prominent popularizer of philosophy, and he does a lot of this kind of thing. I think it’s bullshit. I think when you compare theist unreason with atheist unreason, you realize which set produces more and which does more harm with it.