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Hello, @Timothy_Stanley! I’m tweeting at you!

People are beginning to protest Twitter’s abominable support for speech without responsibility (it’s not “free speech”, let’s call it what it is) in response to recent excesses. When Caroline Criado-Perez campaigned to have famous women represented on banknotes, which sounds like an innocuous and worthwhile effort to make, she was flooded with rape threats and hatred. I suppose it could be a specific detestation of Jane Austen, but more likely it’s simply an aspect of the misogynistic nature of an unfortunately loud part of online culture. And no, I don’t respect the “it’s just a joke” excuse, that pathetic last resort of a common variant of Dunning-Krueger syndrome in which, rather than assuming a competence they don’t have, they believe they actually have a sense of humor because they can get other humorless toads to mistake contempt for jocularity.

But you know what’s as bad as telling women that you’d like to “smash them up the arse” or that women “deserve this type of abuse”? Telling them that Santa Claus God doesn’t exist. Tim Stanley is very upset.

So this gives me an opportunity to flag up a particular kind of abuse that’s annoyed me for a long time: aggressive online atheism. Don’t get me wrong: this is in no way comparable to the terrible sexual abuse that has recently gained headlines.

But that’s not going to stop you from comparing them, Tim!

But it’s still amazing how people feel that they can casually mock the spiritual and emotional convictions of others – including Tweeting directly at believers that God doesn’t exist and they’re either liars or idiots for saying so. One man who does this with gay abandon is Richard Dawkins. Apparently Prof Dawkins is a genius who writes beautifully about chromosomes and cave men. Well, bully for him. But he’s a bully, nonetheless. A recent Tweet that caused a stir: "Don’t ask God to cure cancer & world poverty. He’s too busy finding you a parking space & fixing the weather for your barbecue." Hilarious. Or on Islam: "Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist." Of course, that’s the same New Statesman that invited Dick Dawkins to edit it for a week – so, yeah, its taste is questionable.

That’s the worst you can find, Tim? Really? Those are actually valid points: people do believe in praying to the almighty ruler of the universe for better parking spots or fortuitous weather for their personal entertainment, and they do believe in absurdities like winged horses or transubstantiation or dead gods coming back to life. What you’re asking for is not that people stop bullying you, which they aren’t, but that they close their eyes and pretend that your follies are reasonable and rational.

How dare you?

Those women you are comparing yourself to are asking for safety and respect for their existence as human beings; you are asking that we privilege your idiotic delusions and exempt them from critical thought. You want us to regard your belief in saints and angels and deities as just as much a human right as women’s right to not be raped.

There is no comparison.

You want to silence atheists. That’s the only way to interpret this:

Prof Dawkins is only sending out Tweets rather than Tweeting directly at individuals – which makes him more of a passive aggressive bully than the full on shove-you-head-down-a-toilet variety. But there are plenty of the alpha male atheists around and I’ve had many come knocking at my Twitter feed. I don’t hate them, I don’t want them banned, and they certainly don’t make me want to boycott Twitter. But I would like them, and the Neanderthal Dawkins, to consider the following.

As you admit, Dawkins was not personally harrassing you. He wasn’t addressing anything directly at you — which makes him very easy to ignore. Even the atheists who directly address you*, as I am with this post, are most likely not threatening you with physical abuse, or waging interminable campaigns to hound you off the medium.

You’re also comparing a dismissal of ludicrous religious beliefs with getting your head shoved down a toilet. No, it’s nothing like that. I get told all the time that ideas that I accept and express strongly, such as promoting science and evolution, are not just wrong, but evil — and strangely, confident as I am in the value of science, I always feel that the other guy is repeatedly dunking their head in a toilet of their own making.

But then, I’m not trying to prop up inanity. You are. I can understand you might be a little sensitive about having your affiliations recognized as the foolishness that they are, and you might feel inadequate to actually defend Catholicism or Anglicanism or the Baptist faiths you’ve flitted among…but that’s your failing, not Dawkins’. You aren’t facing an existential or physical threat, you aren’t being intimidated, you aren’t being told that your existence as a human being is in question…you are being challenged intellectually to deal with the implications of ideas that you, by your own words, consider to be essential to your existence.

When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me.

Wait, which faith, which you? The you that was brought up Baptist, or the you that converted to Catholicism? If your faith is the heart of who you are, weren’t your religious conversions greater assaults on your identity than Richard Dawkins tweeting something you don’t like?

When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a God without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy.

I find that ineffably sad. You can’t even get up in the morning without a belief in a nonexistent entity? This will make you envious: atheists get up in the morning and go to sleep at night with no more difficulty than believers. Your god, and even more, belief in your god, are entirely superfluous to functional human existence.

There is no god and never has been, so the fact that you’re alive now again demonstrates the irrelevance of your belief.

When your mother was sick with cancer (my sympathies, that’s a pain I’d wish on no one), was it your prayers or modern medicine that helped her? Before you answer, consider that the experiment has been done: we’ve had thousands of years in which people had nothing but prayer to turn to in response to cancer, no medicine at all, and it didn’t help.

You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return – perhaps the greatest, most wonderful discovery of my adult life. You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone. In short, when you try to destroy someone’s faith you’re not being a brilliant logician. You’re being a jerk.

Errm, the church asks nothing in return? There’s no collection plate that gets passed around at your services? How do they pay for their building, maintain the services of priests, and otherwise function?

You’re a Catholic. Have you ever looked at the opulence of the Vatican and wondered where all that material wealth came from?

I’m an atheist. I know that a human being doesn’t need a god to be fulfilled, happy, and productive. So when I see someone trying to destroy another’s faith, I see a helpful act — an effort to remove a parasite that is afflicting a person’s life. It’s a good thing. Think of it as chemotherapy for the soul.

You’d be a better person without that nonsense polluting your brain, Tim. Not necessarily a good person, because there’s still much more to be done than simply shedding superstition to be truly good, but it might help.

If nothing else, it would remove the insecurity of holding stupid ideas, and it might also help you get rid of that very Christian ‘sin’ of self-martyrdom — it’s rather tacky to see women getting threatened with rape and rushing to put up your own personal cross, you know.


*You don’t have to remind me that there are atheists who ar capable of such uncivilized behavior — I’ve been targeted by some myself. If you are the target of such a campaign, then of course you would have legitimate grounds for complaint…but as you know, Richard Dawkins has done no such thing.

Comments

  1. aziraphale says

    I wonder how he feels about telling the world’s 800 million Hindus that their gods don’t exist (or, if they do exist, are demons)? Which, of course, every Christian preacher is doing implicitly every week

  2. Argle Bargle says

    Timothy is upset because some people don’t give his beliefs the respect he thinks they deserve. What’s more, these people aren’t silent about their disrespect for Timothy’s god. I can see why he needs religion to get up in the morning. The shock of knowing there are people who disagree with Timothy Stanley about the existence of gods must be so overwhelming he needs some sort of crutch to help him cope. Oh the humanity!

  3. iplon says

    How dare he criticize the emotional convictions of sexists?

    I am also particularly insulted by his beliefs in a god, because his beliefs imply that he thinks my lack of belief in a god is wrong.

    Perhaps even worse, my life might be completely empty without calling out other people when they are preaching their unjustified beliefs. Yet, here he comes along telling me that I shouldn’t be attempting to make myself feel any less empty or alone by doing so!

    Shocking!

  4. says

    You’re so cruel. Tweeting at that poor innocent man — who only wants to be left alone with his delusions — but also wants to read your tweets.

  5. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    And no, I don’t respect the “it’s just a joke” excuse, that pathetic last resort of a common variant of Dunning-Krueger syndrome in which, rather than assuming a competence they don’t have, they believe they actually have a sense of humor because they can get other humorless toads to mistake contempt for jocularity.

    This is a great line. The “it’s just a joke” excuse is such a pile of disingenuous gas-lighting shit. Your contempt oozes from you. It is fucking plain as day.

  6. Sven says

    I’m going to raise a borderline-irrelevant and possibly stupid point:
    Don’t all English bank notes feature Queen Elizabeth II on the forward side? They’re not exactly lacking for women these days.

  7. maneatinglemur says

    Argle Bargle’s comment about religion as a crutch is one I can fully relate to – it wasn’t until I got onto the right combination of medication and therapy for major depression and anxiety that I found myself in my right mind, and finally receptive to writers such as PZ and Greta Christina. Once I was able to examine my beliefs with an open mind and had become fully aware of my old confirmation bias, I realized how loopy and destructive they were. In case you’re reading, Tim, I can tell you from experience that PZ’s criticism IS a helpful act. Losing my religion was the single biggest step I took in the overall work that went into finally making myself a happy and mentally healthy human being.

  8. raven says

    Timothy is upset because some people don’t give his beliefs the respect he thinks they deserve.

    I give Timothy Stanley and his Catholic church all the respect they deserve, Contempt mixed with small amounts of pity and wonder that an adult still needs an imaginary friend.

  9. says

    Sven: yeah, that’s a stupid point that has been made many times before. The queen is not on the bank note for merit or accomplishment — we’re not talking about regarding women as figureheads.

  10. Alverant says

    I am shocked at the privilege Stanley is demanding. He thinks his opinions deserve the same protection from being questioned and mocked as women who are receiving violent threats. Then he goes and insults people of other beliefs as if they don’t get the same type of protection as he demands.

  11. unclefrogy says

    the only religion I have experience living with and amongst the practitioners of is Christianity. If they were simply living their lives and did not feel the overwhelming need to try and sell their belief to everyone else and judge everyone by the standards of their religion I could find this particular believers complaint acceptable and maybe even worth considering but it is not the case.
    Christians have used every means imaginable to force their belief on everyone every where and have not ever practiced live and let live so he can stuff his indignations any where he finds they fit. If he has that much trouble getting up in the morning and facing his existence that he has to live in a dream world of religion then I would suggest he might need some form of therapy or counseling. It is what many people do when it gets that bad.
    other wise so what! you don’t like it that other people do not agree with you.
    uncle frogy

  12. bastionofsass says

    I wish @Timothy_Stanley would stop tweeting Catholic oriented tweets. Those are an insult to my atheism. True, I never read those tweets, but he needs to stop this bullying of me immediately!

  13. cag says

    How do they pay for their building, maintain the services of priests, and otherwise function?

    Don’t forget the settlements to ex altar boys.

  14. Roy G says

    “without asking for anything in return”

    They’re asking for you to give up your self respect.
    Your intellectual integrity.
    Your rationalism.

    They’re asking for your submission.

  15. Gregory Greenwood says

    So, Stanley’s response to seeing this case (one among all too many) of a misogynistic arsehat using threats of rape to try to silence a woman is not to lament the sexist state of modern society, or to ruminate on why creatures like that seem to keep emerging within internet culture – oh no; Stanley’s response is to fall over himself in his haste to say me too.

    He says he is not comparing ‘aggressive online atheism’ to threats of rape and violence, but that is exactly the comparison he wishes to draw. He wants to imply that refusing to pander to the unevidenced and socially toxic delusions of theists is broadly similar, if not directly comparable, to threatening to rape a woman in order to silence her. It is a disgusting diaplay of shallow, whining self-obsession in the face of a genuine instance of discrimination in practice.

    But it’s still amazing how people feel that they can casually mock the spiritual and emotional convictions of others – including Tweeting directly at believers that God doesn’t exist and they’re either liars or idiots for saying so.

    There are cultures that mandate the belief that by consuming the flesh of another person you gain their strength, courage or other attributes. Should we refrain from criticising and mocking those beliefs as irrational too? Afterall, they are a deeply held component of the ‘spiritual and emotional convictions’ of those that hold these beliefs. Or is just christian and other Abrahamic religious beliefs that should be exempt from rational criticism? I wonder if Stanley would care to do a little special pleading for his particular flavour of god?

    When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me.

    And what happens when theists tell atheists that we are going to be tortured for all eternity for not believing in their god? Or when xian homophobes tell gay people that their love is an abomination and use the bible to back up their claim? Or when anti-choice xians tell women that they must risk needless death in agony because Stanley and those like him consider it a religiously mandated moral imperative to place greater value upon the life of a half-formed foetus than upon that of a fully conscious adult woman, and seek to manipulate the democratic system to get this heinously misogynistic belief enshrined in law? Or when Stanley’s co-religionists cite biblical authority to justify racism?

    Or is it conveniently only the precious feelings of white, cis/het, middle class male believers that matter?

    When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a God without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy.

    You don’t need a belief in an unevidenced god to do any of that. That Stanley fails to realise that is his problem, not ours. Why should our freedom of conscience be curtailed becaue he can’t deal with reality?

    By Stanley’s logic, you shouldn’t criticise any belief that a person uses as a crutch that helps them get through their day. Would he apply this same mindset to people who find that white supremacist beliefs help them through their day, I wonder? Or is it yet another convenient religion-only exemption?

    You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return…

    Just ignore the vast wealth and its use to procure political power. Don’t pay any attention to the demands that beleivers abandon their consciences and sublimate their rational minds to do exactly as church doctrine dicates, no matter how much harm it causes, to them and to others. Forget about church dogma directly leading to huge numbers of preventable deaths due to their stance on things like condom use and access to abortions services. Pay no heed to the epidemic of preistly child rape that the church used its unearned power and status to cover up.

    If you do all of that and more, and squint really, really hard, you could almost convince yourself that Stanley is right.

    Almost…

    You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone.

    Whistling in the dark and holding tight to your imaginary friend doesn’t mean that you are actually any less alone, and this particular imaginary friend comes with a horrifyingly high price tag in blood and suffering, both of believers and atheists alike.

    In short, when you try to destroy someone’s faith you’re not being a brilliant logician. You’re being a jerk.

    We are merely shining a spotlight on reality. It is hardly our fault that theists like Stanley can’t handle it when the truth effortlessly blows gaping holes in their preferred ‘Revealed Truth'(TM). When your beliefs are inconsistent with the universe as it has been scientifically observed, you have too choices; change what you believe to fit with reality, or ignore reality and sink into an ever more fevered and toxic delusion of how you wish the universe worked.

    I think we know which option Stanley has chosen.

  16. Rich Woods says

    @Sven #6:

    Don’t all English bank notes feature Queen Elizabeth II on the forward side? They’re not exactly lacking for women these days.

    She’s only there by virtue of birth, and in any case she could pop her clogs tomorrow and Brian would get to plaster his homeopathic, plant-nattering fizzog over everything instead. Jane Austen, on the other hand, has been pushing up the daisies for two centuries and is still widely admired for her achievements after all that time. What would you prefer to be remembered for? Being squeezed out of the right uterus or your witty social commentary?

  17. truthspeaker says

    You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone.

    I like how he says people generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness, and then goes on to give an example of intellectual laziness.

  18. howard says

    She’s only there by virtue of birth, and in any case she could pop her clogs tomorrow and Brian would get to plaster his homeopathic, plant-nattering fizzog over everything instead.

    …Brian? Surely you mean Charles Philip Arthur George?

  19. says

    You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness.

    Of course they do. If people weren’t just lazily giving lip service to the religion they were raised in or around, we’d see the same range of variety in religious belief that we do in careers and hobbies.

  20. raven says

    Timothy Stanley:

    You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone.

    More like, filling a soul with an imaginary friend and a tribal identity.

    There are a lot better tribes than the Catholic church to belong to.

  21. moarscienceplz says

    Ooh careful, PZ. Roman Catholicism is a religious minority in both the UK and the US, so you are being hurtful to an oppressed minority (at least according to some). Apparently however, if both you and Mr. Stanley move to Italy then you comments will be apt and well deserved.

  22. A. Noyd says

    You’d think that if god actually existed, believing in him would make your worldview more robust than that of atheists. Not catastrophically vulnerable to the “bullying” of being told what you believe is silly and nonsensical.

  23. says

    You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return…

    Well, if you don’t count the right to own vast amounts of property without paying any property taxes.

    I’m sitting here in the Eugene Public Library, right across the street from St. Mary’s church. Right smack in the middle of downtown, taking up most of a city block. I’m guessing it’s pretty valuable real estate. Next time I go out for a smoke, I’m going to give them the sneer of a lifetime.

    I’m such a bully.

  24. raven says

    You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return…

    Not only is Timothy Stanley an idiot…

    he is a moocher. A freeloader. A parasite.

    Most churches want money. Tithing, collections, stewardship, donations, whatever you want to call it. They need a fair amount to pay for the building, employees, and utilities.

    If he thinks we atheists are mean, wait until he is discovered by Romney and the Tea Party. They hate moochers.

    In the old days, his church had an effective way of making people pay up. They just burnt them at the stake. If an alleged witch or heretic was torched, the church and the Inquisition got all their money.

    Yo Tim Stanley, if you see some robed men wearing crucifixes coming for you with a rope and torch, pay up!!!

  25. David Marjanović says

    I’m with comment 25, and with “ineffably sad”.

    Roman Catholicism is a religious minority in [...] the US

    It’s by far the largest denomination in the US. Sure, the 42,000 Protestant splinters have more members in total, but none of the splinters comes close on its own.

  26. says

    feralboy12

    I’m sitting here in the Eugene Public Library, right across the street from St. Mary’s church. Right smack in the middle of downtown, taking up most of a city block. I’m guessing it’s pretty valuable real estate.

    It was completely un-cited, but I came across an estimate, a while back, that the Catholic church alone owns 177,000,000 acres of land world-wide. Bog knows what the average world-wide price of an acre of land is, but that’s a lot of money, and no kidding, even if it’s in the general region of being correct.

  27. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Shorter Tim: What about the religious men?1!!?!1!?

    He thinks the church asks nothing of their parishioners? Ask the the generations of kids they raped if they disagree. Ask the women forced into the Magdalene Laundries if they think the church is such a wonderful, giving organization. Maybe he could ask homosexual kids kicked out of religious homes and left on the street or all the people who got AIDS because sex that doesn’t make babies give the Pope a sad. I’m sure he doesn’t care about them, just like he doesn’t give two shits about the women whose harassment he’s trying to appropriate.
    What a selfish, entitled douche.

  28. zenlike says

    Wow, just check out his twitter. What a right wing asshole (lock Manning up and throw away the key; online pornography should be blocked in UK, and also in US; obsessed with Weiner; global warming denialist; if you moisturise, you are not a ‘real man'; big fan of Pat Buchanan).

    Apparently, “Catholic Church is the world’s largest non-governmental provider of services to people with AIDS”. Yeah, it’s also the worlds leading cause of new AIDS-patients, idiot.

    Also, he retweets the amazing response of Dawkins:

    If God didn’t exist, Tim Stanley would cry. Therefore God exists. That’s the logic of a Telegraph leader writer.

    Brilliant.

    Oh, and seeing that Timmy recently wrote an article denouncing pagans/wiccans, according to his own logic, he is also a ‘bully’, right? Or is it only if you write something against his belief? (Yeah, the question is rethorical.)

  29. Holms says

    You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone.

    1.
    Similar to the point about ‘getting out of bed’ not being necessary and hence rendering the god motivation superfluous, I’m pretty sure atheists have plenty of scope for being loved and loving in return. I guess god is superfluous again?

    2.
    He argues that atheism is intellectually lazy, and in the very next sentence mentions believing in god simply as a way to experience those nice warm feelings. In other words, justifying belief in god simply because it feels good.

    Sorry, who is the intellectually lazy one here?

  30. alexanderjohannesen says

    I’m a bit late in this thread, but if you want to spend 15 minutes watching my favourite comedian (Stewart Lee) explain just why “it’s just a joke” is a bad, bad thing – just like Top Gear is a bad, bad thing – here you go ;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7CnMQ4L9Pc

    Top Gear has over and over put their chauvinist feet in their mouth, and this was Lee’s response, a true piece of very funny art.

  31. madscientist says

    Oh how I miss the bad ol’ days when such ‘jokes’ were properly rewarded.

  32. Alverant says

    #34
    That gave me something to think about. I can understand why people don’t like Clarkson. He’s an asshole and I like watching him get his on the show (like when the other two pushed his block of flats on wheels off a cliff while he’s a mile away eating ice cream. You watch it fall and break apart then you hear the sound then when it’s settled at the bottom Clarkson turns around and sees it but doesn’t realize what happened.) I can see the reasoning behind the dislike for Hammond, he teams up with the bully to avoid being the target. But what’s wrong with James May? At least James has a science oriented YouTube channel called Head Squeeze. That’s a redeeming value right?

    I admit that when I watch TG I don’t pay much attention to it. I prefer the episodes where they take used cars on a trip in some corner of the world and have to modify them. I also like the episode-long races between Clarkson in a car and the other two in some alternate means of transportation (and root for Clarkson to lose). But taking the supercars out and the “big star in the cheap car” segments, it’s just white noise.

    Clarkson is a jerk and he’s realized that he’s not smart enough to be a political pundit. So this is his way of making money, being an arrogant clown standing on the backs of a coward and a doormat.

  33. gijoel says

    @36 You have to be intelligent to be a political pundit?

    Ah, I love white, male priviledge. Where someone can step on your toe, and you can compare it to the atrocities of Hitler. And when you get called out on it, you can act all huffy. Fuck you, Tim Stanley.

  34. Sastra says

    When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me.

    It’s the Identity Smorgasbord again, with ‘religion’ being shoved into the same category as values, preferences, and personal choices. Tell someone “you’re wrong” and you’re automatically telling them that THEY are wrong.

    But do they really truly think it’s more important that their religion is useful to them than that it’s actually true? Do they really want the existence of God approached as if believing in it was a therapeutic regimen? Are they only three years old, and very, very fragile? I don’t think they’ve thought through the implications of this faith-based strategy.

    Stanley is not asking for respect. Atheists who criticize religion ARE giving him respect — the respect you give to someone you stand on the same ground with. They’re giving religion the respect you grant to ideas worth debating. No, he’s asking for forbearance, not respect. It’s the Grandmother Gambit and the Little People Argument rolled into one. Pity poor me. I can’t handle the truth. Arguing against faith is like hitting the weak.

    It’s also like shooting fish in a barrel. Which Stanley apparently hopes will be less noticeable if he keeps making the Argument from Boo Hoo (“1.) If there is no God, then boo hoo. 2. BOO HOO! 3.) Therefore, God exists. And leave me alone.”)

    The underlying message behind “if you take away my faith you destroy me” is that “I’d rather be dead than become an atheist.” Now … I wonder why atheists would find this appeal not very moving?

  35. bad Jim says

    It’s not an argument at all, it’s an outpouring of emotion: Dawkins makes me feel bad when he mocks religion.

    This isn’t even the most egregious example; a poster reading merely “Atheists” was rejected because it offended the tender sensitivities of believers. The very existence of non-believers is considered hurtful by implication.

    You get the sense that, for a great many believers, faith is a very frail and brittle thing, easily threatened. Why else would they regard atheists with fear?

  36. raven says

    It’s not an argument at all, it’s an outpouring of emotion: Dawkins makes me feel bad when he mocks religion.

    This Timothy Stanley has collected just about every logical fallacy and wrong argument known to humans. It’s just a nonsense stew.

    1. One of the most blatant is that reading Dawkins or atheists makes him feel sad and bad.

    2. There is an incredibly easy, free solution to that.

    3. Don’t read anything from Richard Dawkins. Or me. Or any atheist. Reading is a voluntary activity.

    4. In the unlikely event that this guy is in fact, being forced to read Dawkins and atheists at gunpoint, he should post his name and location. Even us atheists will call the police and have him rescued. It is highly illegal to force anyone to read stuff they don’t want to.

    Really, Stanley is just an internet troll wannabe who is too cowardly to actually be an internet troll.

  37. raven says

    I don’t spend much time on xian sites and never bother to comment. They usually don’t even have comments because their ideas are so fragile and obviously wrong.

    I also won’t bother reading anything from Timothy Stanley, someone I never heard of until today.

    Not because it has much of an effect on me other than mild amusement and a minor challenge to pick out his logic fails. But because it is a waste of time. It’s a big world and there are many better things to do.

    But if anyone does force me to read him at gunpoint, I’ll ask someone to call the police.

  38. Usernames are smart says

    So this gives me an opportunity to flag up a particular kind of abuse that’s annoyed me for a long time: aggressive online world-roundism.

    But it’s still amazing how people feel that they can casually mock the spiritual and emotional convictions of others – including Tweeting directly at believers that the world isn’t flat and they’re either liars or idiots for saying so.

    When you insult my faith in a flat earth you go right to the heart of what makes me me.

    When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that the world isn’t flat, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a flat earth without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a perfectly linear horizon that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy.

    You see, people don’t generally believe in a flat earth for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with the security and comfort that a round earth cannot, for a sphere would only fling one off into the void, leaving one quite empty and alone.

    FIFY.

  39. anchor says

    “When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me.”

    All the more reason to get over it.

  40. says

    Played the tune before. But once more with feeling:

    Religions really don’t do well where unbelievers are at all visible and vocal. They’d really like the only picture of unbelievers to be the one they draw for their own purposes, and even that’s one they’ve got to handle with care, avoid giving too much emphasis to. Overall, they’d prefer the target audience not even to grasp that’s an option. Religions aren’t really won with arguments, anyway; it’s more about socialization, belonging, and, of course, frequently just getting ‘em when they’re young. People realize there’s somewhere to go outside at all, that whole game gets a lot less solid.

    So any excuse to silence will do. And anything an atheist says is too much. As pointed out above, even that sign with just the word is ‘provocative’. Invisible, that they can live with.

    Sorta another thread, but I suspect also religions figure atheism just isn’t sporting. I mean, you join another religion, hell, okay, that’s competition, but at least we’re still in this together at a level not really that far removed. The social structure’s pretty similar between the groups, anyway. And everyone’s got something on someone else. We’ve got our conflicting accounts of lineage for our saviour, you’ve got your flying horses; it’s all good…

    But those damned atheists, they just won’t make it quite so easy. Gotta get all weaselly about epistemology and ways of knowing even to get something that sounds to the sufficiently naive like any kind of shot in at them, and let’s face it, four fifths of the audience is only nodding along at that point even if you can talk yourself into believing that’s a any kind of hit… Some of ‘em seem socially alien, even; once-bitten, and now wary about trading agreement to a suspect cosmology or creed for belonging, and it’s really not like we can let that kind of attitude spread. And alien yet again: as even when we think we’ve attached a ‘doctrine’ to them we can mock in the fashion of another’s allegedly holy canon (we like those; usually we can argue they’re at least as ludicrous as our own), they turn around and say listen, we don’t really do doctrine at that level; shit stands or not on its evidence; we qualify our confidence accordingly. Holy books, not so much… Our thing, it’s not even properly so much our thing as it is the bits of the rest we haven’t rubbished yet, and it’s not so much canon as a sort of wiki we’re constantly editing.

    So: freakin’ nihilists or something. And again: cheaters the lot. No fair. It’s like we were having a perfectly lovely little knife fight in here, all gentlemanly-like, the rules pretty much worked out for that, and then these bastards show up with nukes.

  41. says

    She’s only there by virtue of birth, and in any case she could pop her clogs tomorrow and Brian would get to plaster his homeopathic, plant-nattering fizzog over everything instead.

    All the more reason to hope that Brenda hangs on for a few more years yet.

  42. DLC says

    Oh Fucking Hell.
    Somebody call the Waaaaaaaambulance for Mr Stanley. Tell them to make it code 3, scoop and run.
    Seriously Stanley. grow some fucking spine. You cry a river because big mean softspoken polite bully Dawkins dares send a tweet to someone else telling them that their Imaginary Friend is in fact imaginary. Then you fucking dare demand the rest of us STFU ?
    Go jump down a hole and pull the hole in after you, you mealy-mouthed little twerp.

  43. Brother Yam says

    This is the sort of aggreived butthurt that I had to deal with when spending a weekend at the cabin with my in-laws. Here in Minnesota we are happily allowing all couples to get married and this has the in-laws all twisted around the axle. We can’t talk about it, because, according to my MIL, “it goes against our beliefs.”

    Using your religion to deny rights to citizens of my state is an example of “not asking anything in return.” But, the cherry on this little shit sundae was the complaints of “denying my religious freedom” when this passed anyway.

    Hey Timmy, take a header into a chipper-shredder, huh buddy?

    Also:

    When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God booze doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith vodka that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a God booze without whom which I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God booze that I prayed to drank when my mother was going through cancer therapy.

    Think of it this way and it’s a lot less pleasant way of living…

  44. David Marjanović says

    I’m now so desensitised to this crap that the only thing that really made me bristle was the Neanderthal defamation.

    Thread won.