Quantcast

«

»

Mar 17 2013

You can all call me Mahout Myers now

Oh, no. Not again. It’s another arrogant wanker insisting that atheism is a religion, too, and of course, making dumbass arguments to do it. And here they are:

Atheists are, in fact, some of the most religious people.

First, they have a functioning God under whom they are subservient (normally it’s science or rationality, but mainly themselves), and that idea of God informs the way they live and interpret their lives. It informs their biases and determines their values, and governs any sense of morality or ethics they adhere too, or ignore.

So, if you believe in yourself or trust empirically determined facts about the universe, why, that’s exactly the same as believing in gods, therefore we’re all religious. Having any sense of morality is exactly the same as religion, even if it is a secular morality.

We’re not dealing with the most discerning intellect here, are we? Everything in the world is the same gray porridge to him; bicycles and elephants are all just objects, you know, so when people try to tell me they’re different, I’m going to say NO, and I will keep one in my garage and I will attach my pump to its toenails to inflate it and I will find a place to attach this spoke wrench.

The second argument is hilarious: keep in mind that this is a commentator on Fox News.

Once that’s all settled all that’s left is the preaching.

And they preach all the time.

This new breed of atheists is obsessed with the idea of God. They write books, deliver speeches, comment-bomb the evangelical blogosphere and generally rant on ad nauseam about the ills of believing in God.

So when anyone goes on a rant about the ills of liberalism on Fox, it means they really are a liberal themselves? I’ve tuned out that channel for so many years, but I guess I’ve been missing out on some great progressive discussions then.

Maybe, just maybe, we’re obsessed with how religion poisons our culture with endemic stupidity. I’m planning to cite Johnnie Moore, the author of the rant about atheism (oh, hey…I guess that makes him an atheist, too!) as a perfect case study in the future.

Another point he makes is that Richard Dawkins was defeated in a debate with Rowan Williams. It’s true, I looked it up: the audience voted 2:1 in favor of the Anglican priest.

Welp, I guess I gotta give up this atheism thing since a majority of people in England believe in god. Oh, wait…they don’t. It’s kind of evenly split right now.

So I guess I should adopt a faith because Dawkins had an off day?

If you read the summary of the debate, it was about whether religion had a place in modern society, and I thought this young person made a telling point about Dawkins’ performance:

One second year student told TCS: "He did not address the motion. His points focused only on debating whether religion is true, and ignored the question of whether it has a place in modern society."

Heh. Yes. I guess that’s quite perceptive. To some people, it’s completely irrelevant whether a claim is true or false, and they are quite happy to build a society around a lie.

I’m not one of those people. I guess I need to stay an atheist.

(via The Zingularity.)

39 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    I’m also relieved that you don’t have to feed a bicycle — that’s going to save me a fortune on hay.

  2. 2
    SallyStrange

    On the other hand, bicycles can’t uproot trees for you and carry them around. Trade-offs, I guess.

  3. 3
    chigau (違う)

    Nobody would steal an elephant. The bicycle …
    where is this anaolgy going?

  4. 4
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    where is this anaolgy going?

    I think the whole argument by the Faux News folks is a non-sequitur, just like feeding a bicycle. My twenty mils….

  5. 5
    Hank_Says

    Feh.

    Every time I hear a Used-God Salesman proclaim “atheism is a religion” it comes through as “you’re just as dogmatic/irrational/flamingly idiotic as we are.”

  6. 6
    Jafafa Hots

    Are they admitting that they don’t use science and rationality? I mean, seeing as those are our “gods” and not theirs…

  7. 7
    Ace of Sevens

    More likely the churches stuffed the pews than Dawkins did poorly.

  8. 8
    redmann

    keep in mind that this is a commentator on Fox News

    It’s worse than that, from the end of the ‘article’ “He is a Professor of Religion and Vice President of Liberty University, where he, among other things, supervises its Center for Global Engagement.”

  9. 9
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    (normally it’s science or rationality, but mainly themselves)

    In order for this to be true, his definition of god must be nebulous.

  10. 10
    johnberg

    PZ – do you ride a bicycle? I always thought you walked everywhere, since your town is walking-sized. But anybody who knows what a spoke wrench is is a friend of mine. Do you build your own wheels, too?

  11. 11
    chigau (違う)

    I think I used that writing style for essays when I was in junior high school.
    He’s a “Professor”?

  12. 12
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    “He is a Professor of Religion and Vice President of Liberty University, where he, among other things, supervises its Center for Global Engagement.”

    Ah, both Professor of Religion and at Liberturd Univesity explains the fuckwitted presupposition(s) that everybody must have a religion and/or believe in an imaginary deity. I’m surprised if he can chew gum and walk at the same time….

  13. 13
    irisvanderpluym

    @ Jafafa Hots 6:

    Are they admitting that they don’t use science and rationality?

    “Professor of Religion and Vice President of Liberty University” is pretty much an admission.

  14. 14
    sirbedevere

    @9 In order for this to be true, his definition of god must be nebulous.

    Yes, yes yes! I have a friend with whom I’ve occasionally had “god” debates. These always involve him gradually diluting the definition of “god” to that point at which it’s almost impossible to disagree with… but almost pointless to believe in.

  15. 15
    PZ Myers

    I walk–bicycling is overkill, & impossible in winter. But yeah, I used to be a constant bicyclist, and I know how to maintain one.

  16. 16
    chigau (違う)

    I wonder how an elephant would do in a Minnesota winter?
    Is your garage heated?

  17. 17
    johnberg

    Bicycling is NOT impossible in winter – I did it in Ann Arbor for five years. However, I much more enjoy my current situation in Davis. No snow, no freezing rain. Next time you’re on the West Coast, swing by Davis, and I’ll loan you a bike for a very pleasant ride. We have a nice little Midwestern College town plunked down in the middle of California.

  18. 18
    Jafafa Hots

    I walk–bicycling is overkill, & impossible in winter.
    Kickbike in summer, to get you ready for one of these in winter:
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kicksled_Kickspark_MAX.jpg

    I read your post about ice… with these you WANT ice. And besides, it’s a modern version of a part of your heritage or somethin.

    (I have a kickbike but it’s stuck in NY with most of the rest of my possessions.)

  19. 19
    PZ Myers

    Ann Arbor has a robust biking culture. Morris doesn’t. Roads are lumpy chutes of ice and snow (I was noticing how badly degraded the roads have been by this winter just today). We have snowmobile lanes, but no bike lanes.

    I worry about killing myself just strolling through the town in winter — a bike would be courting catastrophe.

  20. 20
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Y’know how it’s really easy to equate atheism and religion?

    By conflating all philosophy with religion.

  21. 21
    johnberg

    PZ @ 19 – Ann Arbor in 1969 did not have a robust bike culture, but it was bikable (if that’s a word) in winter. I only crashed once. I’m sorry to hear that Morris is that bad….and even with climate change, the situation is going to get worse for the upper Midwest. Most people hear the term “global warming,” and think it’s going to get warmer in their area. Nope. Global warming leads to changes in oceanic currents, and those changes lead to violent storms and redistributed colder climates in some places.

    If it’s any consolation, we could use your talents at UCD. And you could ride your bike again….

  22. 22
    kantalope

    It sounds like god is your brain. Damn, god just can’t hold his green beer in most people.

  23. 23
    PZ Myers

    My talents? I wasn’t that good at bicycle repair.

  24. 24
    robro

    I wonder if this guy has considered the converse: “Religionists are, in fact, some of the most atheistic people.” If that’s the case, then there are billions of atheists in the world. Oh! My! God! The livin’ ain’t easy but the confusion is high.

    I swear to nothing in particular that Fred Astaire just came on the radio singing “Cheek to Cheek” which starts (as you may remember), “Heaven, I’m in heaven…”

  25. 25
    anchor

    “First, they have a functioning God under whom they are subservient (normally it’s science or rationality, but mainly themselves), and that idea of God informs the way they live and interpret their lives.”

    Hmmm, so if we’re all ‘subservient to an idea of God’ and atheists just happen to rely on science and rationality to inform them (besides “mainly themselves”, which is also what we all necessarily must consult, just in the choosing) and if atheists are the opposite of theists (so to say, at the risk of wrecking his fragile premise of similarity, logically speaking, or he would not be so lathered up about them in the first place) then one is forced to conclude that theists rely on the dysfunctional God of non-scientific or antiscientific sources (say, superstitious and supernatural nonsense) governed by an irrational bent of mind. Moreover, they do not place enough confidence in themselves to evaluate or question the validity of what they are told by religious authority. Evidently, they allow somebody else do all their thinking for them.

    This suggests:

    1. He’s not very bright.
    2. He’s intellectually lazy, if not irresponsible.
    3. He quacks and waddles just like a liar.

    These attributes are often found together in a heap, but its the chosen habit of the second (gullible lack of confidence in themselves to construct their own world views rather than gulping down the gospel) leading to a chronic and increasing reliance on the third (as irrationality is bound to dictate in defense of convictions despite evidence or its lack) which forms the first (abject stupidity).

    And this guy is a Professor of it.

    Man.

    However, we may be reasonably confident that he wasn’t born anywhere near that intellectually dishonest and stupid. It takes a lifetime of hard work and dedication to get that way, and there are millions like him who constantly help and support each other to stay that way and to preserve the tradition by infecting their children.

    It amazes me that anybody reading or listening to nonsense like his could possibly agree with it. Hence, the ‘irrationality’ must be in full operation, I guess, but its just so…so unseemly and grotesque and alien to my sense of intellectual integrity. To any rational mind, any argument based on obviously fallacious reasoning is not only unpersuasive, as if it is to be granted a chance to compete in the world of Big Ideas, but is actually repugnant and ugly, like a bowl of steaming bullshit served at the table of the fine restaurant of Legitimate Intellectual Discourse.

    Yet there are people so conditioned who swallow stuff like this up without a second thought. It shouldn’t be that hard to realize that stupidity in the name of god is still stupidity. The only explanation can be that stupid is in full and rampant operation and practiced by multitudes. All of which makes me wonder what, exactly, it is about an argument which they find so tastily persuasive. If they find bullshit not only palatable but delicious, you see, how can anyone persuade them of anything else without serving them more of it to please their taste?

    Its a real dilemma for anyone wanting to help promote a rational, and specifically a secular and non-superstitious, society. These people don’t want to try reason. They’re comfortable scarfing down their bullshit.

    Nope. I’d rather not have anybody else tell me what a god thinks or wants (uh, who’s the real god then?, but that’s not often asked by those who most need to ask it of themselves) and prefer to not pass the buck of responsibility onto some controlling power-mongering ‘representative’ (who is inevitably, by all available evidence and experience, all too damned human in their god-like ambitions) and would much rather take my chances with science and rationality to inform my fallible self in the construction of my morals, ethics and an honest conceptual model of the world that is consistent with the evidence so far gathered from an independent natural universe that doesn’t revolve around humanity. Its much MUCH too important a business to be left to con-artists, charlatans, cheats, bullshitters and liars – like that good ‘fesser on fox noise.

  26. 26
    nullifidian

    First, they have a functioning God under whom they are subservient (normally it’s science or rationality, but mainly themselves)….

    So atheists are subservient to themselves? I don’t know about that. I’m not limber enough to attempt genuflecting to myself. Perhaps that means I’m not a True Atheist.

  27. 27
    DLC

    “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know!” — Groucho Marx, in the character of Captain Spaulding.

    I think the thing you’re missing, PZ, is the bicycle in the room. I’ve been an avid Non-Collector of Stamps for decades now, and I have to say, my non-hobby has greatly enriched my life and informed my soul.
    Um, except I haven’t got a soul.

  28. 28
    Charlie Foxtrot

    For a theist there’s nothing quite like watching an atheist get an intellectual walloping from a preacher. There’s just something apocalyptic about it,…

    “Apocalyptic”? As in they’re still waiting breathlessly for it to happen?

  29. 29
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    That information about UK religious attitudes has cheered me up no end :)

  30. 30
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Charlie Foxtrot

    Hah! Surely that comment wins the thread?

  31. 31
    woggler

    ” they have a functioning God under whom they are subservient (normally it’s science or rationality…”

    1. Does this mean that as he believes in God rather than rationality, rationality is divorced from the concept of God?

    2. If he is subservient to God, did he get permission to write this piece?

  32. 32
    woggler

    thumper1990 – Yes, and we’re very prod of ourselves

  33. 33
    Olav

    For cycling in winter there exists this wonderful invention called a “fat bike”. Look it up. Of course, the fattest thing about these bicycles are their tyres.

  34. 34
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Olav:

    Do they make a peddle powered snowmobile?

  35. 35
    Olav

    Ogvorbis, a fat bike is a pedal powered snowmobile.

  36. 36
    graham

    “One second year student told TCS: “He did not address the motion. His points focused only on debating whether religion is true, and ignored the question of whether it has a place in modern society.”

    Sounds like a fair point. It would be difficult to argue that religion has absolutely no “place” in modern society. As an atheist my complaint is that religion tries to dominate. I’d have no objection to it finding a place for itself in some small corner if it promises to behave itself. Personally I’d suggest somewhere like this: http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/

  37. 37
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    True Olav, the fattest commercially available one that I’m aware of is the Surly Moonlander.

    But here’s the thing: skinny cyclocross nobbies work better on snowy roads. I cycle commuted for almost 20 years year round in a place that had a lot of winter. Knobby 770c’s track better and are far less effort to push. I’d only use a fat bike if I was going off road where there isn’t a hard, flat consistent base under the snow.

  38. 38
    irisvanderpluym

    nullifidian 26 & woggler 31 Re: subservience, one thing I’ve long noted about the minds of conservatives — and this goes for economic conservatism as well as social conservatism — is the characteristic rigidly hierarchical worldview. It appears they cannot conceive of an egalitarian relationship between anyone, least of all with themselves: not in a marriage, and not in the free market. There must always be an alpha and a beta, a winner and a loser, a top dog and a bottom feeder, the makers and the takers. It’s an order they impose on the world without questioning its reality, that seems perfectly natural and comforting. Anything else is “chaos.” Therefore atheists must be subservient to someone or something.

    The impulse motivating this is an unabashedly authoritarian one. And I find it … curious that clergy (and religious men) are subservient only to an invisible, silent being.

  39. 39
    martin_z

    “He did not address the motion. His points focused only on debating whether religion is true, and ignored the question of whether it has a place in modern society.”

    The point about a debate is that you are meant to speak for or against the motion. And the audience is meant to listen to the competing arguments for and against the motion, and vote accordingly.

    It can of course be argued that something that isn’t true should not have a place in modern society. But, judging by this quote, it sounds as if Dawkins failed to make that argument. Which might be why he lost the debate.

Comments have been disabled.