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Jan 26 2013

Heck: Atheism, Decline Linked

Peter Heck, a fundie radio host and — frighteningly — public school government and history teacher, has a ridiculous op-ed piece on OneNewsNow, the AFA’s “news” site, entitled “As atheism rises, America declines.” It’s full of all the idiotic rhetoric you would predict.

According to The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, one in five American households profess no religious affiliation. That can’t be too surprising to anyone who understands human nature or historical trends. A prosperous society built upon the back of the very values espoused in the Judeo-Christian worldview inevitably yields to satisfaction, complacency and arrogance — the belief that our material possessions, our comforts, our good fortune are all the result of our own hands. Soon it’s more than just not “needing” God for our provision. Man rebels against Him, and is offended by the mere suggestion of His authority. This culminates in an inevitable downward slouch that has accompanied so many great civilizations of the past. So it appears to be with us.

Yes, far better to keep people poor and desperate and only give them a non-existent god to foster hope that the next life, which won’t exist, will be better.

Granted, the number of “nones,” as these trendy hipsters like to call themselves, is not overwhelming, but it’s certainly higher than it should be if we were still a humble and rational people. The inversion of those two principles (humility and rationality) is one of the most stunning things about the atheist. They claim to be people of reason, yet eschew and despise its very foundation. They fail to grasp that apart from the eternal consistency provided by the biblical God, they would have absolutely no basis for reason at all.

The very fact that an atheist can argue about the laws of science “proving” there is no God, is actually proof in and of itself that He must exist.

Oh goody, presuppositionalism! Still nothing more than a shallow debating trick, not a serious argument.

It is the arrogance of the atheist mind that believes every man and woman who has, throughout history, placed his or her faith in the existence of a Supreme Being or beings has been 100-percent, totally and utterly wrong on that most fundamental question.

I write about this in my book BELiEVE: A Confrontation with Christianity’s Biggest Challenges. Imagine a four-lane highway full of traffic all traveling in one direction. Then suddenly, one singular car traveling the opposite way down the same roadway appears, heading into oncoming traffic. While it’s possible that the driver of the one car was the only one who knew the right way and everyone else was just mistaken, logic and rationality would suggest otherwise. It would take an extremely arrogant driver to stick his head out of his sunroof and start screaming at all the other drivers about how dumb they were, without ever pausing to consider he might be in the wrong.

The man who accuses others of being irrational thinks that’s a valid analogy.

30 comments

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  1. 1
    hunter

    My first reaction to anyone who starts whining about the “decline” of Western civilization is “Define ‘decline’. And then I will shoot you down for solipsism.”

    And strangely enough, none of the atheists I know spend much time at all railing against believers. They have better things to do.

  2. 2
    raven

    It is the arrogance of the atheist mind that believes every man and woman who has, throughout history, placed his or her faith in the existence of a Supreme Being or beings has been 100-percent, totally and utterly wrong on that most fundamental question.

    Fallacy of argument from popularity.

    At one time everyone believed that we were surrounded by invisible or elusive beings, elves, fairies, leprechauns, angels, demons brownies, nymphs, dryads, satyrs, vampires, werewolves etc..

    These days we are down to angels and demons and only among primitive branches of xianity.

    Same with Geocentrism or the Flat Earth.

    We don’t vote on what reality is.

  3. 3
    DaveL

    It is the arrogance of the atheist mind that believes every man and woman who has, throughout history, placed his or her faith in the existence of a Supreme Being or beings has been 100-percent, totally and utterly wrong on that most fundamental question.

    That’s not arrogance, that’s an inevitable consequence of staking out an opinion on the metaphysical. People simply do not agree, even on “fundamental questions” like this. Every belief system must, at some point, come to grips with the irrefutable fact that there are people, large numbers of educated, sane, morally decent people, who are nonetheless completely wrong about fundamental beliefs they hold very strongly.

  4. 4
    raven

    Granted, the number of “nones,” as these trendy hipsters like to call themselves, is not overwhelming.

    The Nones are around 22% of the US population and are growing rapidly.

    The fundies are around 25-30% and declining steadily.

    If he doesn’t find that overwhelming, wait a few decades.

  5. 5
    cottonnero

    He believes that he’s a close personal friend of the son of the creator of the universe, but we’re the arrogant ones.

    Does religious fundamentalism require warping of the common meanings of words, or is it just a very frequent practice?

  6. 6
    oranje

    I’ve never understood the claims that nones or none-like-people (long story) need to be humble. Like someone claiming they have absolute truth and we’re all going to some place where everyone is medium-well or well-done is an example of humility.

  7. 7
    tommykey

    That’s funny, because I’m sure there were more than a few pagans during the late 4th/early 5th century lamenting that the Roman Empire declined as the influence of Christianity spread. That’s what led Augustine to write City of God.

  8. 8
    Draken

    No, I do not “like to call myself a ‘none’”. It’s the pollsters who keep doing that.

  9. 9
    tommykey

    And strangely enough, none of the atheists I know spend much time at all railing against believers. They have better things to do.

    Hunter, the other one that amuses me is when Christians claim people like me are atheists so that we can lead a “sinful” life. As an atheist who is a married father of two children, between working full time, raising children, tending to my widowed mom, and doing chores around the house, I don’t seem to have the time to engage in all of that sinning that allegedly inspired me to become an atheist in the first place. I must be doing something wrong!

  10. 10
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Raven at 2- Even beyond Heck’s use of the arguement from popularity in that passage is the fact that for a great many of those people Heck would agree that they have “been 100-percent, totally and utterly wrong on that most fundamental question” because it is unlikely they believed as he does. This would even include a significant number of his fellow Christians.

  11. 11
    raven

    This would even include a significant number of his fellow Christians.

    Yeah, I know. Heck conflated all the world’s religions, the vast majority of which aren’t even the wrong sort of xians.

    Their reasons to believe are poor rationalizations.

    “People won’t die for a lie.” The fact is they do every day. Hardly a day goes by without some suicide bomber somewhere killing themselves and a few dozen other people. If people dying for a religion was a criterium, Islam would be the truest of the true religions.

  12. 12
    John Pieret

    cottonnero @ 5

    Does religious fundamentalism require warping of the common meanings of words, or is it just a very frequent practice?

    Words are (ideally) intended to reflect reality so that people can communicate true things to those who have not experienced them first hand.

    Now we all fall short of that ideal, but those who cling to beliefs increasingly contradicted by reality have to keep bending words to make them fit their beliefs. Thus, those people who are proud to be “saved” are humble before the very god who is going to punish everyone for their arrogance in not believing like they do.

  13. 13
    Draken

    Look at those comments. Mr Heck is tenderly roasted and served on a bed of slightly-fried mushrooms and delicate arugula.

  14. 14
    Bronze Dog

    I think it’s more likely he’s got the causation reversed: The decline of America is one of the things that got American atheists to be more vocal because we want America to be better than the cesspit created by subversive fundies selfishly abusing their political and economic power. We’re growing in part because we’re getting people to see the decline and inspiring them to counteract it while the fundies are trying to accelerate the decline.

  15. 15
    steffp

    I really love his traffic analogy
    “Imagine a four-lane highway full of traffic all traveling in one direction. ”
    In his dreams. There are less than 2 billion Christians, more than half of them papist heretics, and three quarters of the remaining lukewarm appeasers, Lutherans, Unitarians and such. 30,000 denominations. Some of whom fought wars over petty details of their beliefs. “One direction”?
    Then we have a bit over a billion Muslims, divided into Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Ahmadija, Alevites, Ibadi, and the Nation of Islam, with quite a bit of pilgrim-killing and Mosque-bombing going on between them. “One direction”?
    For completion, we have the Ba’hai, 15 millions, and, most important, the religious Jews, about 7 millions strong. That’s the monotheistic Camp, roughly a third of the global population.
    I don’t see a four lane-highway. Looks more like a map of a hillbilly rural area, mostly curved B-roads, with an occasional Papist or Muslim 2-lane A-road.
    The rest of the population is either happily polytheistic, venerates their ancestors, or sees no reason to submit to Mesopotamian early iron age deities like Baal or Yahwe. Globally, there are far more “Nones” than
    Mr. Heck’s flock. ..
    So, who’s driving against the global direction?

  16. 16
    Modusoperandi

    Granted, the number of ‘nones,’ as these trendy hipsters like to call themselves…

    We only called ourselves that before it got popular. Now we’ve moved on to this new, obscure, name that hasn’t sold out. (/hipster)
     
    tommykey “I must be doing something wrong!”
    You monster! Do you have any idea how much extra sinning we have to do to make up for you? Some!

  17. 17
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    No, no, he’s right, just confused. As America declines, atheism rises.

  18. 18
    Scott Hanley

    A prosperous society built upon the back of the very values espoused in the Judeo-Christian worldview inevitably yields to satisfaction, complacency and arrogance — the belief that our material possessions, our comforts, our good fortune are all the result of our own hands.

    Huh. I never realized all those people shouting “We built that!” at the Republican National Convention were atheists! You learn something new every day.

  19. 19
    Sastra

    oranje #6 wrote:

    I’ve never understood the claims that nones or none-like-people (long story) need to be humble. Like someone claiming they have absolute truth and we’re all going to some place where everyone is medium-well or well-done is an example of humility.

    I think the claim that belief in God is humble and atheism is arrogant can only properly be understood from within the faith-based system itself, the Playpen Theory of Reality. Look at how the scenario is set up in the essay, with its talk about still “needing” God or being able to make it on our own. Human beings are analogous to babies in a universe created and controlled by a generous but strict Parent. The babies who admit they are only babies are humble: they know they need supervision, help, correction, and someone else to provide the sustenance. . The ones who try to pretend THEY are the parent — or that there is no parent — are being not just foolish, but self-aggrandizing. They think they’re so biiiiig.

    But that’s the frame of the religious; it’s not the frame of the ‘nones.’ The complaint that it’s ‘arrogant’ to not believe in God is like the complaint that atheists must think they can “save themselves from sin.” The critics are caught up in their own little playpen, and translating the thoughts of others into gibberish.

    Granted, the number of “nones,” as these trendy hipsters like to call themselves, is not overwhelming,…

    Granted, you can argue over whether we like to call ourselves “nones” or whether or not our numbers are more impressive than implied here, but for now I am simply basking in the pleasure of the idea that someone, somewhere, thinks I am a “trendy hipster.”

    Alas, my clothes, lifestyle, decor, and musical preferences are not meant to be “ironic.” No, these reflect my actual tastes. But heck, I’ll thank Heck anyway.

  20. 20
    marcus

    tommykey@9 Obviously just another atheist, libertine slacker. So sad.

  21. 21
    jnorris

    I’m thinking this decline in America has something to do with allowing non-property owners, women, and blacks to vote; legalizing factory made cigarettes; and taking lead out of gasoline.

  22. 22
    jaytheostrich

    “These days we are down to angels and demons and only among primitive branches of xianity.”

    Yeah, now we really know it’s the Reptilians who control everything from behind the scenes.

  23. 23
    fifthdentist

    The very fact that an aunicornist can argue about the laws of science “proving” there is no unicorn, is actually proof in and of itself that It must exist.

  24. 24
    wilsim

    “Imagine a four-lane highway full of traffic all traveling in one direction. Then suddenly, one singular car traveling the opposite way down the same roadway appears, heading into oncoming traffic. While it’s possible that the driver of the one car was the only one who knew the right way and everyone else was just mistaken, logic and rationality would suggest otherwise. It would take an extremely arrogant driver to stick his head out of his sunroof and start screaming at all the other drivers about how dumb they were, without ever pausing to consider he might be in the wrong.”

    Uh, now instead of a 4 lane highway, imagine it is a twenty-four thousand lane traffic congestion where everyone has their head out the window screaming at everyone else they, and only they, know the way. The lone, single driver found his way around the traffic snarl by inspecting his environment.

    Peter Heck is a dolt that seems to forget that there are thousands and thousands of different religions with different sects with different core beliefs, not just his special version of christianity.

  25. 25
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Imagine a four-lane highway full of traffic all traveling in one direction. Then suddenly, one singular car traveling the opposite way down the same roadway appears, heading into oncoming traffic. While it’s possible that the driver of the one car was the only one who knew the right way and everyone else was just mistaken, logic and rationality would suggest otherwise.

    What do the road markings say?

  26. 26
    anne mariehovgaard

    Imagine a four-lane highway full of traffic all traveling in one direction. Then suddenly, one singular car traveling the opposite way down the same roadway appears, heading into oncoming traffic. While it’s possible that the driver of the one car was the only one who knew the right way and everyone else was just mistaken, logic and rationality would suggest otherwise.

    If they’re heading the opposite way, they might just know something about the road ahead that the others aren’t aware of (collapsed bridge, car crash, tunnel fire…). Blindly going along with what “everyone else” is doing can be dangerous. I’d at least slow down and try to figure out what they were shouting.

  27. 27
    d.c.wilson

    His image of a four-lane highway in which everyone is going in the same direction is pretty faulty. Given all the religious wars and massacres in the name (insert name of preferred deity here) throughout human history, the world of religious thought is more like a demolition derby with seven billion cars all colliding with one another, each one sure that theirs is the one true direction to go in.

  28. 28
    kermit.

    tommykey -

    My buddy and I were hitchhiking home from work (two generations back, when it was still respectable for working class folk) and we got picked up. The driver told us about the hippies living on the Smith farm and the sex & drugs orgies they held every night. “Wow,” we said, “that’s disturbing.”
    .
    I don’t know what he thought when we asked to get off at the Smith property, with our long hair and all, but we were too tired from construction work all day to do anything but listen to music & sleep. Sometimes the farmer’s daughter came out and watched TV with us, but that was as wild as it got. Nice summer, low key and mellow.
    .
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too: What do the road markings say?
    .
    Awesome and efficient response!

  29. 29
    lpetrich

    From that four-lane-highway analogy, one could argue that Jesus Christ had been a false prophet who deserved his crucifixion.
    .
    Yes indeed, Augustine wrote his book City of God to rebut some pagan contemporaries who claimed that Rome fell because of turning away from its old-time religion.
    .
    Give me that old-time religion
    It was good enough for Numa
    It was good enough for Caesar
    And it’s good enough for me

  30. 30
    lpetrich

    I’ll try to think of a Latin version.
    Da mihi religionem antiquam
    Satis bona pro Numam
    Satis bona pro Caesare
    Ac satis bona pro me
    Satis bona pro Romulo
    Satis bona pro Catone
    Ac satis bona pro me
    Satis bona pro Augusto
    Satis bona pro Aurelio
    Ac satis bona pro me

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