England: Gay Weddings, Yes; Humanist Weddings, Maybe. »« Rand Paul, Fox News and the Filibuster

More Anti-Intellectual Nonsense at WND

One of the staples of right-wing populism is misology, a hatred of knowledge and learning. We hear it all the time and it has seeped into the ethos with phrases like “pointy-headed intellectuals” and “common sense” (a meaningless phrase usually used in contrast to too much thinking). Tom Flannery in the Worldnutdaily devotes an entire column to “brain-dead intellectuals,” a group he seems to think he can defeat merely by quoting Bible verses.

Perhaps Mamet’s declaration would be better said as being no longer a “brain-dead intellectual.” That may sound like an oxymoron, but the truth is it’s precisely the problem we’re dealing with when it comes to the cultural elites in politics, media, entertainment and academia.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” the Bible puts it in Romans 1. Such militant atheism is the core “value” of the modern-day intellectual.

The late Christopher Hitchens, for example, felt that “atheism” was far too genteel and passive a word to describe his antipathy toward religion and his opposition to anything that even smacked of it. Thus, he called himself an anti-theist. He was an avowed activist in a lifelong campaign against God.

And yet, Scripture also tells us, in Psalm 14:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’…”

Now where have I heard this kind of thing before? “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture,” said Pastor Ray Mummert during the Dover trial.

Only a fool, after all, would affirm a philosophy which is intellectually untenable – as atheism is, since it’s impossible to prove a universal negative.

And atheists do not try to, except the straw man variety that you love so much. Next?

Only a fool would go a step further and devote his entire life to evangelical atheism, actively and venomously opposing something (or, in this case, Someone) you don’t even believe exists!

Except when that “something” is used to justify bigotry, discrimination and oppression. Then only a fool would not devote their lives to defeating it.

Only a fool would enthusiastically embrace an ultimately hopeless worldview, and then even celebrate it as somehow preferable to life in a universe created and controlled by a loving God.

What does “preferable” have to do with it? You may think that a world controlled by God is a better one (I disagree), but that does not magically make that God exist just because you would prefer it if he did.

To be sure, the problem that our elites – and the rest of the unbelieving world – have with God is not an intellectual one. It resides not in the head, but in the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 declares that the human heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” because of sin. Thus, they willfully reject what they know of God’s existence, His holiness, His sovereign power – or what they could know – in order to wallow in the sin and rebellion that consumes their very souls.

Yet another reason to dismiss the Bible, it thinks the heart does something other than pump blood.

This entire column could have been one sentence long: “I ain’t never had no need for book learnin’.”

Comments

  1. raven says

    And yet, Scripture also tells us, in Psalm 14:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’…”

    The brave and wise say it out loud, There is no God!!!

  2. raven says

    Old xian game. Quote mining the Giant Rorschach Inkblot known as the bible.

    Proverbs 13:10
    Through presumption comes nothing but strife, But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.

    Proverbs 14:8
    The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit.

    “But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.” i.e. go to school and learn. Don’t be a voluntary ignorant idiot.

    :But the folly of fools is deceit.” i.e. Don’t listen to the Liars for jesus and don’t send them your money. You need your money more than they need a second private jet.

    “Through presumption comes nothing but strife,” i.e. Question everything including your fictional religion and the conpeople that run it. You don’t have to hate just because someone tells you to.

  3. raven says

    Now where have I heard this kind of thing before?

    “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture,” said Pastor Ray Mummert during the Dover trial.

    Rick Satanorum, “We will never have the elite smart people on our side, …”

    Satanorum is an elite, a rich lawyer with three degrees. And a hypocrite.

    Oddly enough, he is only partly right here. Why would the elite smart people side with ignorant, dumb haters? Some elites do because they are fearful, easily led, and willing to send them money and vote for them.

    Martin Luther said it better. He hated reason, women, Jews.

    Among the many hates of fundies are college students, universities, and scientists.

  4. sanford says

    I went over there to leave a link to your post. I do that a lot. I was prohibited from commenting. I don’t know if was that particular column or every thing. Talk about being thin skinned.

  5. dcsohl says

    “Only a fool, after all, would affirm a philosophy which is intellectually untenable – as atheism is, since it’s impossible to prove a universal negative.”

    And by that measure, you should also believe in Zeus, Shiva, Ahura-Mazda, and all the gods H.L. Mencken laid out. After all, you can’t prove they don’t exist.

  6. raven says

    Proverbs 4:6-7, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

    One more for the road.

    But do be careful about the cost. These days, a lot of students are graduating with huge loans to pay off in a uncertain economy. Not good.

  7. says

    Given the growth of the Indian immigrant population in the US over the last 4 decades I’m surprised I haven’t heard about US fundies going after them much.

  8. raven says

    Only a fool would go a step further and devote his entire life to evangelical atheism, actively and venomously opposing something (or, in this case, Someone) you don’t even believe exists!

    Cthulhu, this is stupid.

    We atheists get along really well with the gods. It couldn’t be better. They’ve been so quiet for centuries that it is almost like…they don’t even exist.

    What we do have problems with are,…their followers. On a good day they are a huge drag on our society. On a bad day, they will destroy it and us if they can.

  9. Chiroptera says

    …and then even celebrate it as somehow preferable to life in a universe created and controlled by a loving God.

    Well, I hate to spoil the party, but their god don’t seem to be all that loving to me. I mean, according to their theology, only a very, very small number of people who are the “true followers” really get to experience this god’s loving.

    And even then, between the followers getting caught up in the punishments for other people, sometimes being tested with extreme adversity, sometimes being rewarded, this god’s loving seems to be statistically indistinguishable from being totally ignored.

  10. lpetrich says

    My favorite response to Psalm 14:1 is Matthew 5:22 — whoever calls someone a fool shall be in danger of hell fire.

    As to opposition to education, what do these people think about Boko Haram? That’s a nickname for some extreme Islamists in Nigeria who attack schools and kill teachers — and brag about it. That nickname roughly means “Western education is a sin” or “Books Forbidden”.

  11. Jeremy Shaffer says

    “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” the Bible puts it in Romans 1.

    It’s funny how often the folks that like to throw out bible verse think they’re using a foil against their opposition while never realizing that they are laying rakes outside their doorstep instead.

  12. says

    “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture,” said Pastor Ray Mummert

    So, which part of the culture does that make you from?

  13. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Misology has been a staple of Christianity from the beginning. The only legitimate knowledge is knowledge revealed by god through the prophets and Jesus as recorded in scripture. Nothing else counts, especially not knowledge obtained through the scientific method.

    The fact that Christians make use of so much technology that is the direct result of knowledge obtained through the scientific method? An inconvenient truth which is hand-waved.

  14. Michael Heath says

    Tom Flannery writes:

    [Christopher Hitchens] called himself an anti-theist. He was an avowed activist in a lifelong campaign against God . [emphasis Heath's]

    An attribute of conservative Christians is dishonesty, with a particular zeal for misrepresenting their opponents’ arguments.

  15. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    Well, I guess I’m not much of an intellectual. I’ve never heard of “celebrated playwright David Mamet”, and after looking him up, never seen any of his work (I’ve heard of a few of his titles). Nor do I care if he switched his views.

    I am smart enough to know that one doesn’t have to prove a universal negative to disprove an omnipresent God. All one has to do is show that there is no God in one particular place, and His Omnipresence disappears in a puff of logic. Tom Flannery’s column was clearly not inspired by a loving and wise God. If God didn’t show up for that kneecrawler, God does not exist.

  16. raven says

    An attribute of conservative Christians is dishonesty, with a particular zeal for misrepresenting their opponents’ arguments.

    Not to mention, slaughtering huge crowds of strawpeople.

    If there is an afterlife, Tom Flannery will be repetitively set on fire by all the strawpeople he has torched in this world. Won’t someone think of the poor strawpeople?

    The fact that Christians make use of so much technology that is the direct result of knowledge obtained through the scientific method? An inconvenient truth which is hand-waved.

    We scientists created our modern 21st century civilization and are responsible for US dominance in the world.

    All the fundie xians did was get in the way and sponsor xian terrorism. They are just baggage, being dragged along behind us and holding us back.

  17. says

    I’ve always found common sense to be the equivalent of culturally structured whims myself. Whatever is most comfortable to the person using it–and typically that comfort is at the cost, as you point out, of minimizing the analytical time spent on the thing the person is trying to resolve. Isn’t that what a preacher is? Someone who does the job of ‘analysis’ for their congregation, minimizing the mental effort necessary to process social events?

    As far as Christians go, their reasoning always strikes me as a disgusting sort of nostalgia, if the past were not a country to be visited, but a casino at which one can always win.

  18. ccogan says

    The claim that you can’t ever prove a universal negative is itself a universal negative. Could it be proven? If so, it would be a counter-example to itself; it would be a proven universal negative. If it can’t be proved, then how do we supposedly know that it is true? Magic?

    But, in any case, the claim, as a completely general claim, is simply false. Universal negatives are very commonly proved, though not all can be proved (some universal negatives are false, after all).

    To prove a universal negative, all that is needed is that its positive be or entail a contradiction, or that the positive is logically incompatible with a known fact.

    Obviously, if a universal negative’s negation (the positive of the universal negative) does not include or entail a contradiction, and if it doesn’t contradict some known fact, then we are out of luck (until a suitable incompatible fact comes along, possibly).

    If the “concept” or idea of God can be shown to be logically self-contradictory (which, for the most popular versions of it, it can be), then the nonexistence of God is thereby proved. Further, if a such an idea of God requires that some observational fact must be real, and if it is found not to be real, then the God of that idea of God is thus proven to be false. Since many ideas of God do in fact imply that reality have certain observable features (or not have others), the failure of such implications to be true proves that no God by such a description exists. For example, if it is shown that prayers are not answered, then any idea of God that requires that they be answered is an idea of a God who definitely does not exist.

    There are perhaps dozens of ways of showing that most claimed Gods don’t exist.

    Further, it can often, if not always, be shown that a concept of God that is defined in such a way as not to result in known contradictions would be a “God” so watered-down that it would be silly to try to use such a “God” as the basis of a religion. And, even Gods that don’t appear to entail such problems may, since there is no proof (for example) that it is logically possible for anything supernatural to exist (or that the whole idea of something supernatural can even be made logically coherent without making it useless for theism), or, if it could exist, that it could possibly haveany important attributes normally attributed to Godother than that such a “God” would be supernatural.

    Further, vacuity invalidates any claim to the existence of whatever is “defined” vacuously. If someone claims that God exists, but that he has no idea of what God’s attributes are, then his claim is automatically falsified, since he is not actually claiming the existence of anything. It is illogical to claim the existence of something if you can’t specify how its existence would be different from its nonexistence, which is what the claim of an undefinable God amounts to.

    If it is truly undefinable, why is it being called God rather than “Bluh” or “Nothing in particular”?

  19. maddog1129 says

    Only a fool would go a step further and devote his entire life to evangelical atheism, actively and venomously opposing something (or, in this case, Someone) you don’t even believe exists!

    For Pete’s sake. Anti-theists are not opposing a non-existent God; they are opposing religion and theists, which actually DO exist. Can’t they tell the difference?

  20. slc1 says

    As a matter of fact, the the two fundamental theories of modern physics, Relativity and quantum mechanics both defy common sense.

  21. naturalcynic says

    Common sense isn’t.

    If strawmen were a race, conservative Christians would be guilty of genocide.

  22. andrewlephong says

    “it’s impossible to prove a universal negative.”

    That statement is itself a universal negative, so why do you believe it is true?

  23. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Can’t they tell the difference?

    Yes they can tell the difference. They are just dishonest.

  24. says

    Thus, they willfully reject what they know of God’s existence, His holiness, His sovereign power – or what they could know – in order to wallow in the sin and rebellion that consumes their very souls.

    The phrasing and word choice here smacks of reconstructionism and theonomy. Does this guy have any connections with those movements?

  25. gardengnome says

    I haven’t seen that quote by Pastor Ray Mummert before. Can anyone guide me to the source?

  26. says

    Nemo “@16: Don’t worry, Mamet is massively overrated.”
    1. The Postman Always Rings Twice (screenplay)
    2. The Untouchables (writer)
    3. Glengarry Glen Ross (play/screenplay)
    4. Ronin (screenplay)

  27. says

    #s 16, 28, and 31: Without getting into a long back-and-forth over what are essentially matters of individual taste… Mamet’s always been uneven even in his heyday, but if he never wrote anything decent besides his plays “American Buffalo” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” he’d be worthy of a permanent place in theater history. Those two stand with the greatest plays ever written (in my and some others’ opinion) and were key to the development of a certain strain of American drama.

    But yeah, his assholeish side always peeped through in even his best work and seems to have long since colonized almost his entire brain.

  28. says

    KKKommitted KKKristianists have a systemic inability to absorb knowledge that isn’t coming from the pulpit or another approved source like FuckTheNew’sCorpse.

    As for Mamet.
    I went to a night of “readings” at a local repertory company back in the mid 80′s. One of the playwrights got up and read for about three pages of dialogue from one of his “projects”. It was like he had just heard George Carlin’s, “Seven words” rant. Every third word was some version of piss, shit, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, asshole or douchebag. It wasn’t Mamet, but surely one of his imitators. The swearing didn’t bother me–I occasionally slip up and use a foul word–but the rest of the dialogue was shit.

    Mamet’s also into gunz these days. That his “research” on the subject is less than exhaustive and cherry picks stats that he likes is no surprise.

    I always thought that Mamet was an asshole, his becoming a ReiKKKwinger (amassing money often causes people to lose their liberality–not always, obviously) has nothing to do with it.

  29. caseloweraz says

    Flannery: Only a fool would enthusiastically embrace an ultimately hopeless worldview, and then even celebrate it as somehow preferable to life in a universe created and controlled by a loving God.”

    And what you call this ultimately hopeless worldview differs in what way from the incessant proclamations by Christians that for some relatively trivial reason the loving God has turned his back on America, or is about to, or has caused some disaster that often hits elsewhere than where the supposed sin has occurred?

    Atheists may not posit some grand plan for the universe, but their outlook is far from hopeless.

  30. stanton says

    Only a fool would enthusiastically embrace an ultimately hopeless worldview, and then even celebrate it as somehow preferable to life in a universe created and controlled by a loving God.

    What does “preferable” have to do with it? You may think that a world controlled by God is a better one (I disagree), but that does not magically make that God exist just because you would prefer it if he did.

    It’s ironic, if not downright hypocritical, that many many Christian rightwingers generally consider the world we live in to be an evil, disgusting hellhole, without any worth, filled with sin and evil, and actually ruled by Satan.

    If that’s not true, then why do Christians often give Satan the epithet “Prince of the World”?

Leave a Reply