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Sep 17 2013

I’m happy to make a deal with theists

LET'S MAKE A DEAL

Oh, hi, Rachel Held Evans. I hear you’d like to make a deal with us atheists. That’s rather sweet! Let’s hear it.

Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.

As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it.

I can’t bring myself to do it because I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole.

So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

Uh-oh. Did you really just compare Richard Dawkins to Pat Robertson? Really? I mean, because that gets your “deal” off on the wrong foot straight away. I do agree that Dawkins has been prone to gaffes, especially on twitter — he’s a master of thoughtful lucidity when he takes the time to write in the long form, as in a book, but oh, boy, do I agree that he has a knack for blowing it in the short form.

So you want to compare: on our side, a brilliant fellow with a long career in science who carries some unfortunately antiquated attitudes and has a tendency to be blunt on twitter; and on your side, a lifelong con artist who bilks little old ladies out of their life savings so he can buy diamond mines, to which he ships mining equipment under the guise of charitable rescue. Hmmm. This isn’t exactly a fair exchange that you are proposing.

And it’s not an exceptional choice you’ve made in Pat Robertson. There’s the Pope and his gang of child rapers, there’s Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham and the guy with the giant teeth — Joel Osteen — and Creflo Dollar and Robert Tilton and Jim Bakker and Paul and Jan Crouch and Ted Haggard…I could go on and on. Richard Dawkins is well off because he has earned his money with his writing talent, and by writing a number of critically well-regarded books. But he’s a peon compared to these pirate extortionists that use your religion to bilk thousands out of their cash. You might fairly argue that some of his personal views are a bit old fogeyish — he’s only human — but to compare one of ours, who has worked hard to disseminate good science, to one of yours, who has lived fat off the hate and fear of humanity…well, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take your offer seriously. Or perhaps laugh in your face and snarl and sweep the table clear before stomping furiously out the door.

I suspect that you aren’t negotiating in good faith, ma’am.

But you’re in luck! I’ve already voluntarily given away the store. I have this book, The Happy Atheist, and right there in the very first chapter I say this:

There is nothing unusual about my town. This is perfectly ordinary, rural midwestern America, like thousands of other small towns all across the country. We’re just immersed in religion, like every other god-soaked spot in lightly-populated, Republican-leaning, Real-Live Genuine USA.

I would even say that these are good people, like most human beings, who are mostly concerned with getting along, doing well for their families, and seeing their community thrive as a safe and stable place. I don’t accept the common atheist line that religion is a phenomenon that makes men do evil acts, like fly airplanes into buildings or start holy wars; it can and has, of course, but those are the pathological extremes, and it isn’t right to judge an idea by the excesses of those maniacs who turn a belief into a cause for violence. Mainly what religion does is make people believe in ludicrously silly things, substitute dogma for reason and thought, and all too often, draw people down into self-destructive obsession as they fret more over their reward in the next life than their accomplishments in this one.

See? I already agree that my mother and your beloved relatives and maybe you and Richard Dawkins and the Unitarian church pastor and the guy who fixes my plumbing aren’t all equivalent to a moral fuckwit like Pat Robertson! You didn’t have to offer anything, and your insults to atheists were completely unnecessary! Doesn’t that make you feel good?

So, agreed, I won’t mischaracterize all Christians as being war-mongering terrorists and greedy exploiters and unethical damaged goods. I’ve never thought that, and will try to take greater care to avoid rhetorical excess. That’s a deal.

But…

We’re still going to jump on you all for the nonsense and bullshit you do believe. And boy oh boy, there is a lot of that.

For instance, you claim to be a skeptic and a follower of Jesus. You probably are skeptical about many things, but to say so in the same sentence in which you announce that you actually believe a first century Jewish mystic actually had magic powers worthy of your allegiance…the incongruity is hilarious. Even if you claim it’s his philosophy you love, well, that’s a chickenshit excuse used by a lot of people who want to hew to the in-group of Christianity. There is no coherent philosophy there: it’s a cobbled-together mess thrown together by proselytizing religious fanatics. And really, if you’re going to sneer at Richard Dawkins for a few bad tweets, are you willing to stand up for the Apostle Paul? Or perhaps Augustine or Luther? Which have been more influential in shaping the beliefs that millions of people actually have?

I agree that Christian beliefs are complex and scattered all over the map — Calvinists are different from Mormons are different from Baptists. But there are still these common absurdities that clutter the brains of their adherents.

They believe in a guiding intelligence in the universe that is especially concerned with the sexual behavior of one species on one small planet.

They believe that they must spend time and money placating this intangible being by worshipping it or, preferably, giving money to its self-appointed intermediaries.

Christians believe that the universal sentient principle that rules the universe somehow condensed itself down into the form of one man, and that because he was killed (only not really), this god is now able to forgive us for an act of willful frugivory by one of our distant ancestors.

And the reward for this forgiveness is that some undefinable fraction of our consciousness will be permitted to live forever in an invisible church in the sky, rather than being set on fire and suffering eternal torment.

I am quite able to agree that you Christians are mostly harmless. But when you look objectively at the goofball ideas that you consider to be essential core beliefs of your religious philosophy, it’s a fair cop to say that you also look like freakin’ idiots.

Were you hoping that that was on the negotiating table? Because it’s not.

76 comments

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  1. 1
    Usernames are smart

    I suppose it depends upon degree.

    Dawkins is definitely a douche when it comes to Feminism (= women are equal to men) and child abuse. As you’ve observed, he’s brilliant when it comes to writing books.

    Just as I can revile Orson Scott Card for being a douche about…well, most things, I can enjoy some of his literature.

    Unlike Card, Pat Robertson is probably the opposite: there are a (painfully) few things for which he’s a decent person, but for the most part, he’s an ass.

    That’s the beauty and curse of being human: all the shades of grey that are right and wrong; selfish and selfless; ugly and beautify; and everything in between.

  2. 2
    richardelguru

    Sorry to be OT, but what’s up with the site?
    Seems to be partially unreachable.

  3. 3
    tomfrog

    this god is now able to forgive us for an act of willful frugivory by one of our distant ancestors.

    Ancestor who, incidentally, couldn’t have existed.

  4. 4
    Alverant

    It says a lot about Evans when she equated Dawkins and Robertson. So being a jerk online and pointing out the folly of a religion is equal to having a blood diamond mind, massive fraud, and supporting slavery. You can’t even compare statements from the two fairly, saying that religion is child abuse isn’t nearly as bad as claiming homosexuals are pedophiles.

  5. 5
    mnb0

    I have a better deal. RHE, if I won’t equate you with Pat Robinson and the likes or hold you responsible for their views (I never do anyway, so that’s a cheapo from my side), will you stop arguing that atheism is wrong (in whatever respect) and instead try to convince that same Pat Robinson that his particular brand of religion is wrong?
    You see, that’s in the end my only desire – that believers (including you) stop interfering with my life as an atheist.

  6. 6
    geeksmn

    “willful frugivory”

    Wow, thank you for that phrase .

  7. 7
    Menyambal

    So what, Rachel Held Evans?

    Dawkins and I are both atheists? All that means is that neither of us have something—a belief in a god. Other than that, we aren’t in any way required to be the same. There’s no documentation, no scripture, no sacred oath. We both could sleep in on Sunday mornings, but he gets up and goes for a walk, while I slugabed playing my PSII (maybe he does that, I don’t know, care or need to worry about it). If he and I differ about something, even about atheism, it’s not a matter of any importance at all.

    Christians, on the other hand, are united by a belief system that explicitly states they are all brothers, and they say they are all inspired by the same holy spirit, and they all supposedly adhere to the same divine scriptures. If they are in disagreement, it destroys the very basis of their religion. If God can’t keep his followers in accord, what the Hell is happening? Where’s the communication? Where is the truth?

    I have more in common with Dawkins, even though I don’t have to, than religious people have with each other. And I’m talking about members of the same church having disagreements, not about the divisions between the Abrahamic faiths.

    When all religious people can unite in one church, with a god clearly in communication and in charge, you can talk about the validity of your religion. Until then, every clowncase asshat is your brother in Christ, and you must not call him a fool, but I can call you all a bunch of delusionals.

    Dawkins is a good science writer, and a smart person, scarred by growing up in a world poisoned by religious ideas. I can call him out for his errors, and so can you. But you can’t hold me accountable for him, I didn’t sign up for that.

    I can call you out for sharing a religion with Pat Robertson, and I damned well will.

  8. 8
    Jacob Schmidt

    I had the same comparison thrown at me on a webcomic forum. Apparently, since Dawkins thinks creationists, for the most part, don’t understand evolution, he’s a bigot.

    That, or he’s one of the few atheists visible enough to demonize. I think maybe it’s the second one.

  9. 9
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Frugivory? And all this time, I thought Adam and Eve were done in for scrumping.

  10. 10
    Rutee Katreya

    I don’t think a bigot for a bigot is such a laughable trade. I mean, for sure, Robertson is a worse one. He does it for a filthy rich living. Dawkins only does it as his hobby, and less so at that. But its a difference of degree, not really kind.

    Dawkins is a good science writer, and a smart person, scarred by growing up in a world poisoned by religious ideas. I can call him out for his errors, and so can you. But you can’t hold me accountable for him, I didn’t sign up for that.

    Are you trying to fob Dawkins’ asshattery off on religion?

  11. 11
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    I don’t think you’re doing atheism any favours by minimizing and excusing Dawkins’ faux-pas constant aggressively anti-progressive behaviour, Pee-Zed. Better to be clear-eyed and forthright that he’s fucking up, big time, and is doing us all a great deal of damage, not just in the direct route by making misogyny and sexual abuse “zero harm”, but also by the fact that his fame as an atheist is making us all look bad as atheists.

    I agree completely, we’ve got a lot fewer fraudulent assholes than Christians do. But let’s not write off real misogyny and rape apologia in a zeal to say we’re so much better. These things are real, and they hurt a lot of people in very direct ways every day, and Dawkins is contributing to that hurt every time he pulls his schtick.

  12. 12
    David Marjanović

    Let’s see if I can comment. The page was unreachable for hours, and now there are a lot of “warnings” and “notices” at the top of the page and everywhere where I guess ads go, plus two “notices” on top of each and every comment.

    Creflo Dollar

    …That’s not a real name, is it?

  13. 13
    Menyambal

    Rutee Katreya:

    Are you trying to fob Dawkins’ asshattery off on religion?

    No, not really. I’m more saying that asshattery is a feature of religion, and possibly Dawkins has picked it up from religion.

    For instance, Dawkins has bad ideas about the extent of the damage caused by child-molestation. He was molested as a child, by a teacher who did exactly what Catholic priests do. I don’t know that said teacher was religious, but I assume so—that way of violating children’s personhood seems quite religious to me. Dawkins was violated by a trusted adult, and commenters on this blog have assumed it was by a Catholic priest, because that’s what priests seem to do.

    Dawkins has dissed the suffering of women in ways that are very common among religious men. I don’t think he picked that up from his atheism, I think he got it from religion. He might have brought it into atheism like some other jerks do, but it isn’t part of atheism. It is part of religion, and is even in scripture.

    No, I’m not excusing Dawkins, or forgiving him. I’m accusing religion, and I am expecting him to do better than religious people do. He is no longer part of the patriarchy, and he certainly isn’t my patriarch.

  14. 14
    tbtabby

    The difference between the gaffes of Pat Robertson and the gaffes of Richard Dawkins is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.

  15. 15
    LykeX

    You might fairly argue that some of his personal views are a bit old fogeyish…

    That’s putting it very mildly, though, isn’t it?

    I think a more relevant point is the fact that Dawkins has been called out on his bullshit repeatedly. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Christian volunteer to criticize Pat or any of the others. They might do it if you ask, but I’ve never seen them do it on their own initiative (although I grant there may be some sample bias there).

    How about instead of just not holding each other responsible for the loonies on our respective sides, we instead agree to hold our own side responsible for the loonies? I’d very much like to see the more sensible Christians take a stand and push back against the “let’s put Jesus in the constitution” variety.

    I’d be much more inclined to view Pat as the lunatic fringe if the mainstream started treating him as such; vocally and publicly.

  16. 16
    LykeX

    Dawkins has dissed the suffering of women in ways that are very common among religious men.

    Let’s just remove that completely extraneous word.

    I don’t think he picked that up from his atheism, I think he got it from religion. He might have brought it into atheism like some other jerks do, but it isn’t part of atheism.

    It’s certainly part of the atheist movement and it’s also part of western culture in general. There’s no need to postulate a religious influence to explain this.

  17. 17
    LykeX

    Addendum:
    For that manner, his attitudes aren’t all that uncommon among women, either.

  18. 18
    Usernames are smart

    “headers already sent” – gotta love the PHP double-jack error. More info; this often happens when WP throws errors from a plugin/functions.php.

    ~ and possibly Dawkins has picked it up from religion.
    [snip]

    I don’t know that said teacher was religious, but I assume so… — Menyambal — flinging the squaler (#13)

    Wait, what? Are you serious?

    Please explain how you got to those conclusions, because I tried and it gave me a sprain.

  19. 19
    Cuttlefish

    See, it’s not the proper mainstream
    It’s the loonies at the fringe;
    I can listen to the former
    But the latter make me cringe
    As it’s painful to the both of us,
    A wound we ought to heal,
    I’m proposing a solution—
    Yes, I want to make a deal.

    Professors of biology
    Who go to such extremes
    That they see religious practice
    As evolving social memes
    We will gladly just ignore them
    When they say a bit too much
    If you’ll just ignore Pat Robertson
    When he goes off a touch

    And Ph. D. philosophers,
    And physicists, and more;
    Psychologists, neurologists,
    And others by the score
    We’ll listen to their ranting
    And we’ll try to stifle moans
    If you’ll ignore their counterparts—
    For instance, Terry Jones.

    Extremists do not speak for all—
    You understand, I hope—
    It’s such a silly strawman
    When you criticize the pope!
    Let’s peel apart the radicals;
    Dismiss them, one by one,
    And look for truth in what remains
    When all the culling’s done

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2013/09/14/hey-rachel-lets-make-a-deal/

  20. 20
    Cuttlefish

    LykeX @#15–

    There are certainly examples of other Christian leaders calling out Robertson. I have one at my post (linked at comment 19 here), where they are all over him for his endorsement of Romney, because they considered it far too left-wing.

    Yeah, doesn’t quite have the same ring, I know…

  21. 21
    RobertL

    I don’t think that she is referring to RD’s twitter mishaps. I think that they are the sort of things that his supporters have a problem with but his detractors don’t.

    I think that she is referring to his religious commentary. He is always accused of being “strident” and “rude”. To me he always seems mild-mannered and polite but his lack of respect to their beliefs really pisses off the god-botherers.

  22. 22
    screechymonkey

    LyleX@15:

    I’d very much like to see the more sensible Christians take a stand and push back against the “let’s put Jesus in the constitution” variety.

    Dan Savage started saying the same thing when he got tired of getting letters from Christians insisting that “we’re not all like that” whenever he criticized the Pat Robertson/Tony Perkins types. Basically, “don’t tell me, tell Pat Robertson.” Finally, someone started the Not All Like That Christians Project to do that, at least with respect to LGBT issues.

    I think the main reason why you don’t see more of that push back is because of the taboo Dawkins talks about a lot: the idea that it’s just out of bounds to criticize anyone else’s religious beliefs. Of course, the conservative Christians have little compunction about violating that “peace treaty” and disparaging the sincerity of their more moderate brethren.

  23. 23
    Steve Sirhan
  24. 24
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I think this deal sucks because it smacks of protectionism.

    1st, why the hell would she want to defend Pat Robertson? If what is asserted is that she shares an ideology with Pat Robertson, she shouldn’t need protection from that claim: own up to it or prove it false. More reasonable are assertions that in supporting Xianity she is unintentionally providing general support for the institutions of Xianity, including the child-molestation-protection-racket of the RCC (and, probably, other churches) and the take-your-money-&-run-off-to-Africa-to-make-money-on-war-&-slavery racket of Pat Robertson, If that is what is asserted, prove it false or take accountability for your unintentional support of evil and change your behavior. I fight against sexism every friggin’ day. To the extent that my reading the God Delusion after checking it out of the library provided support to Dawkins, I’ll happily cop to that and assert that my activism is ample accountability, given the level of my support.

    Do you actively promote Xianity? To you thus play a small part in the conversion to (or maintenance of) Xianity in persons who will later go on to give money to the many, many Pat Robertsons and Bishop Eddie Longs and Bridge-kings? How will you counter the money flow of others? Do you give money to a church? How much of that money goes to support abusers’ evasions of justice? or their abuse, for that matter? How will you counter that inflow of money? And how will you counter the damage done by the everyday sexist speech of the Vatic Hill officials and the thousands like them in other Xian institutions? How will you counter the damage done simply by having god referred to as “Father” and “Son” and “spirit” but never “woman” or “mother” or “daughter”? The research cited in Brown v Board of Ed, Topeka ought to be relevant in giving us ideas on how to perform experiments that will prove (or disprove) that damage, but how will you know when you’ve done enough feminism to counter it?

    Bash away at Dawkins, if you’ve got real argument based on evidence and reason as your weapons. Bash away at me only for the things for which I’m responsible: which in the area of Dawkins-support is merely a) stating I’m an atheist, and b) checking out a library book. And I’ll bash away on Pat Robertson to establish the types of harms done that you indirectly support. Then we can talk about your behaviors that provide that indirect support and whether we have each met our ethical responsibilities.

    I’ll feel pretty comfortable during that discussion, and happy that we’re having it.

    Will you?

  25. 25
    ramaus

    the guy with the giant teeth — Joel Osteen

    Let’s stay focused on Osteen’s scam rather than getting distracted by his teeth, which arrived via evolution.

  26. 26
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Cuttlefish @#19: *applause*

  27. 27
    janiceclanfield

    You keep talkin’ like that and you’re gonna make baby Jesus cry again.

  28. 28
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    David Marjanović #12

    That’s not a real name, is it?

    It is, and one that he inherited.

  29. 29
    pixelfish

    I’m not sure she gets how this works. We (or more specifically you, and many of the feminist atheist contingent) were calling out Richard Dawkins for his recent thing. Why should we give Pat Robertson, OSC, or any other person a pass because she didn’t get to the work of criticising one of our prominent travellers before we did.

    It’s not a Our Team vs. Your Thing like that. It’s not like we’re playing sportball and Dawkins getting time in the penalty box means we lose points. Our Team (so to speak) is stronger when we all pull together to recognise good ideas and call out bad ones. Richard Dawkins put forth a harmful idea. We called him out. We aren’t ignoring it. We aren’t in the business of handing Get Out Of Jail Free cards to the propagators of Shitty Ideas, Inc because Richard Dawkins messed up.

    Seriously, she’s suggesting Do X for us, so that we won’t do Y to you, even though we will conveniently ignore that you have already taken on Y for your own good.

  30. 30
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Pshaw!
    Dawkins is far from the most embarrassing atheist.
    Roberts is far from the most embarrassing theist. Even so, he’s multitudes more wicked and officious than Dawkins could ever be.

    If she wants to go apples to apples I’m pretty sure we’d come out the better of the two groups.

    Even if we didn’t, the theist vs. atheist argument will have to stand on its own merits. It is also unfair to paint moral failings of atheists as a way to discredit the idea that gods are make believe. It is religions that claim to imbue (often magically) a higher standard of morality in it’s adherents. In fact, most claim to be the one and only true authority on morality. If their faith, their tenets and their gods do have a positive effect on believers, they need to be able to demonstrate that. Atheists, hopefully, see ourselves as rising apes rather than fallen angels. Our morality should come with examination, humility and empathy, rather than obedience. But, that is not necessarily how all people who do not believe in gods will approach things. Atheism does not link itself to “grace” or “salvation” in that way. Even if some of us are class “A” jerks, it says nothing of our lack of god beliefs. Morality is not automatically implied by a natural worldview.

  31. 31
    LykeX

    @Cuttlefish

    …they are all over him for his endorsement of Romney, because they considered it far too left-wing.

    Yeah, doesn’t quite have the same ring, I know…

    Indeed. He’s being admonished for endorsing a supposedly left-wing Mormon. That means he’s basically being criticized for not being Christian and conservative enough! Hardly the thing I was going for.

    @screechymonkey

    Finally, someone started the Not All Like That Christians Project to do that, at least with respect to LGBT issues.

    That’s certainly a step in the right direction. I just watched a video of a couple talking about their gay son and it was really moving.

    Granted, there was a lot of god talk, but since this is an explicitly Christian project, I’m not going to hold that against them. The core sentiment was a good one and a huge improvement over the hateful shitheads we hear about so often.

  32. 32
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    If she wants to go apples to apples I’m pretty sure we’d come out the better of the two groups.

    …and I admit that the difference there may well be due to theists having the majority and being subject to the cultures we all live in and the atheists being a minority. Still, religion has had a strong pimp hand in molding our cultures, often to the determent of humanity. Atheists are only just now gaining a voice. We have a chance to reject the status quo in a way religion, with it’s love of ancient texts and traditions does not. As PZ pointed out recently, religions are full of good people and bad ideas. We may well have one good idea as atheists, but that certainly does not ensure the morality of all those who share it. That is why I think of atheism and the current skeptic movement are good places to start, but require a certain dedication to reason that extends beyond the current popular topics. We know UFO’s are bullshit. Racism is also bullshit. Guess which one is a more pressing issue?

  33. 33
    nich

    I have fuck all to do with Richard Dawkins. We share one tiny little characteristic: we neither of us believe in gods. There is no chapter and verse in my non-existent atheist rulebook saying I also have to believe pedophilia is no big deal. Nope, I get to argue for or against his assertion based on the merits of it ALONE. You on the other hand? Pat Robertson can spew his bullshit and THEN pull out the very same fucking rule book YOU use and say here it is right here: fags suck and should die. Fornication is an abomination. Abortion is murder. He plays by YOUR rules, and I would argue he follows them better too. Don’t like it? Chuck your Bible and stop believing in utter bullshit. Until then I will happily continue to ram his bullshit down your throat with a fucking shovel. Deal?

  34. 34
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    ..but that certainly does not ensure the morality of all those who share it.

    Well, that sounded douchey.
    I’m not saying that there are “bad” and “good” atheists and I’m a “good” one. I apologize. I’m not a good writer. I mean to say that we have no automatic assurance that our choices are moral. (Neither do theists.) It requires more than than deciding if gods are real to accomplish that. I wish I could remember the quote from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, because that’s what I think I’m trying to convey. It’s basically: Good people don’t necessarily go to bed with a light heart, feeling righteous. Sometimes they stay up all night wondering if they did the right thing.
    …and they should.

    Well, I made a mess of that. ;)

  35. 35
    consciousness razor

    (Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic.)

    Really? Where are all of these Christians raising hell? And since you raised the issue of hell, you might as well mention where all of the Christians condemning that are too, since it was my impression that’s a legitimately Christian belief based on legitimate Christian metaphysics and values (which are absurd and immoral enough, even without hell). You’ve already had a couple of millennia. Do you plan on sorting that mess out any time soon?

    So, yes, Richard Dawkins is an atheist. But so are authors Greg Epstein and Susan Jacoby.

    Way to state the obvious. What do they have to do with anything? Why are they good atheists? Was there just not enough space on the webpage to do any actual reasoning?

    Wait a second — this whole thing isn’t just about smearing Dawkins (and Robertson), is it? Because otherwise, I’m just not seeing a point at all.

    So is my friend and fellow blogger Hemant Mehta.

    It’s almost like you gave a reason. He is your friend, and he is a blogger, after all….

    So is Sir Ian McKellen.

    Well, he is a wizard….

    So is ethicist Peter Singer, who may or may not be the best example.

    What the fuck? After all that, why this equivocating bullshit now? You couldn’t just vaguely mention him too? You had to make it vague and ambiguous this time, just for a change of pace?

    And yes, Pat Robertson is a Christian. But so is Nelson Mandela. So is acclaimed geneticist Francis Collins. So is Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. So is Barack Obama. So is Stephen Colbert.

    *bleh* We’re supposed to have a reasonable conversation about The Truth™ with someone who’s just dropping names, as if that said anything?

    Awful writing. But I guess that makes it above average for CNN.

  36. 36
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    The biggest difference I can see is that when Robertson comes off with one of his (almost daily) othering statements, or his fantasmagorical nonsense, or his blatant political shilling, there are no Deep Rifts TM&npsp;. It gets ignored.

    When Dawkins comes off with one of his (mercifully rare) idiocies, when he downplays child sexual assault, or when he drops a ‘Dear Muslima’ turd into the atheosphere, people speak up, loudly and quickly, and call him on his douchebaggery. Which is why, in atheism, there are Deep Rifts TTM .

    Rachel Held Evens wants atheists to ignore Robertson. Why should we? Good Christian TM  and liberal Christians, and No Those Christians are already doing a great job ignoring his hate-filled diatribes much the same way they ignore the parts of the Bible they don’t like, much the same was modern US conservatives ignore Limbaugh, Coulter et al.. Tell you what, Rachel Held Evens, when some Christians, especially Christian leaders, actually start reacting to Robertson’s hatred the same way that atheists, including some atheist leaders, react to the privilege drops of Dawlkins, I’ll be interested in talking about a deal.

    Until then, you are invited to perform an anatomically impossible act.

  37. 37
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    And, once again, I screwed up the trademark. All hail Borkquotia, acolyte of Tpyos

  38. 38
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Hail!

  39. 39
    Ichthyic

    I am quite able to agree that you Christians are mostly harmless.

    not when looked at historically.

    not at all.

  40. 40
    brianpansky

    @29

    Why should we give Pat Robertson, OSC, or any other person a pass because she didn’t get to the work of criticising one of our prominent travellers before we did.

    as far as i understood, it wasn’t about giving him a pass. it was about refraining from saying stuff like “(all) christians are bigoted, like pat robertson!”

    (i see so much “stop hating on christinas, we’re not all like that” on tumblr)

    that’s what it sounded like to me. which is odd, because this proposed “agreement” sounds almost like a justification for using this fallacious reasoning so long as some supposed people on the other side are still doing it…

  41. 41
    consciousness razor

    I am quite able to agree that you Christians are mostly harmless.

    not when looked at historically.

    not at all.

    Or even socially, right now. I guess we could look at them as isolated individuals completed removed from all of that. So if isolated individuals completely removed from their historical and social settings exist, then sure, they’re definitely harmless. Unfortunately, they can’t do anything good either….

  42. 42
    cicely

    I’d be much more inclined to view Pat as the lunatic fringe if the mainstream started treating him as such; vocally and publicly.

    Yes, This. Instead of just waffling around about “no True Christian really believes that”.
     
    I don’t recall reading any atheist alleging that Dawkins is “no True Atheist”, because “no atheist really believes that”.
    We have weekly proof, yea, verily, even right here in Pharyngula’s Hallowed Threads, that there are, in fact, atheists who are in agreement with Dawkins’ more objectionable opinions.
    -

  43. 43
    Ray C.

    A deal? Let me suggest the deal that Adlai Stevenson offered to the Republicans: they’ll stop telling lies about us and we’ll stop telling the truth about them.

  44. 44
    cuervocuero

    Well, if her book “Evolving in Monkey Town” is any indication, it appears the deal proposer is in the midst of believer contortions to remain a Christian but was (and who knows now) slipping down the slope to non-belief that so many born again atheists have testified happening to them.

    She seems to be at the stage of ‘well, it’s not religion and its rote laws bringing harm that’s important, it’s a personal relationship with the kinder, gentler interpretation of a god that won’t make my critical thinking skills eat my brain.’

    So, she’s cutting deals with non-believers that she and others she…influences?…won’t criticize non-believers she doesn’t like and is making a public douche of themselves….and appealing to atheists to stop criticizing heinously behaving celebrities of faith sects because…something about it makes her uncomfortable, the celebrity’s acts or the criticism, I’m not sure.

    …that’s where she loses me. She seems to waffle around ‘no true Scotsman’ territory and can’t quite seem to get to the point where she might admit that bad behaviour is bad behaviour no matter who does it, sorta kinda making an appeal to Assured Mutual Destruction Cold War because…atheists are just as invested in atheismismmmmm as Christians are in Christianity and we’d all hate for something bad to happen to the ‘movement’ because Darwin was a racist…I mean Dawkins walks a non-progressive (ie: socially conservative and you’d think they’d like that but hey the dealmaker is a freewheeling critically thinking Biblican woman not being held down by rote) talk, …Ergo is ‘totes vulnerable to religionists saying nasty…MORE nasty things about him that will make atheists afraid to step into the streets without paper bags over their heads….or something.

    Maybe I need less caffeine.

  45. 45
    cuervocuero

    cicely @42. egad. we both saw scottish waffles. and not the nomnom kind.

  46. 46
    craigmcgillivary

    Frugivory?

  47. 47
    cicely

    Much less tasty. Even with syrup.
    -

  48. 48
    cicely

    (That was in response to cuervodecuero. Frugivory is pretty sweet.)
    -

  49. 49
    OldEd

    WONDERFUL!!!!! An “act of willful frugivory“!!!!!!!

    ABSOLUTELY – TOTALLY – AWESOMELY- WONDERFUL!!!!!

    I can see it now! T-shirts with images of Adam and Eve, tastefully wearing fig leaves (of a species that has never been seen outside of the Garden of Eden) COMMITTING AN ACT OF WILLFUL FRUGIVORY!!!!

    I can see the signs held up out side of churches and other public religious and quasi-religious events with the slogans “Adam and Eve committed FRUGIVORY!” and/or “Adam and Eve were FRUGIVORES” and/or “We are all FRUGIVORES” and/or “Jesus was a FRUGIVORE!!!”

    Or “(you pick the sub-group) ARE FRUGIVORES“!!!

    I could go on and on and on… But I won’t, here.

    Hummmm… I wonder how much it costs to set up to silk-screen t-shirts? Or to have them done commercially?

    Do you think I could make back my costs if I sold them on-line? Or at a table at a convention?

    Anybody interested? Anyone have any suggestions?

    I’ll welcome a partner or two…

    My new slogan:

    FRUGIVORY FOREVER!!!

  50. 50
    imthegenieicandoanything

    The roundfiling by some folk here of Dawkins is a matter of choice, if not taste. I’m sure it means I’ll think less of them, generally. This is rather as I deal with every nice Christian I know: strictly case-by-case.

    The purists of atheism are the same as purists everywhere – people on the road to bad deeds and worse self-justifications for those deeds. Hopefully, these will just be a bunch of ill-thought out words on some blog.

    I ain’t thinking better of Richard Dawkins over these stupid tweets, but no one trashing him here (wholesale) looks any better than he does at his worst.

    I thought his explanation and (near-) apology pretty adequate, to the point that I can accept it although my own opinion is A LOT stronger. He doesn’t look nearly as awful as Dennett, or as wrong, wrong, wrong (but always sincere in the best way) views of Hitchens on Islam.

    I see no link to that statement, which puzzles me. But maybe it’d just be red meat to the Flame-ons! here, and even more uselessly divisive,… and boring.

  51. 51
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @craigmcgillivary

    frugivory?

    A frugivore is a fruit eater.

    Frugivory is fruit eating.

  52. 52
    LykeX

    I see no link to that statement, which puzzles me

    Why is that puzzling? The subject of this thread is Evans’ statement, not Dawkins’. If you’re interested, it has been discussed at length elsewhere on this network, such as here or here.

  53. 53
    sciencenotsuperstition

    “Uh-oh. Did you really just compare Richard Dawkins to Pat Robertson? Really? I mean, because that gets your “deal” off on the wrong foot straight away. I do agree that Dawkins has been prone to gaffes, especially on twitter — he’s a master of thoughtful lucidity when he takes the time to write in the long form, as in a book, but oh, boy, do I agree that he has a knack for blowing it in the short form.”

    The above, from the original post, seems fair. Dawkins has devoted most of his life to promoting science, critical thinking, and atheism. His books have helped countless people turn from superstition to evidence-based thinking. How sad that some critics focus on his gaffes and blithely toss him, along with his incredible lifetime of achievements, into the dumpster.

  54. 54
    chigau (違う)

    Monitor PSA
    to quote another comment:
    <blockquote>paste words here</blockquote>

    paste words here

    It would also be helpful if you include the ‘nym and number of the comment to which you are responding.
    thank you

  55. 55
    NelC

    I think it would be more balanced to pair off Pat Robertson with one of the worst atheists on our side. Men like Dr No, Dr Doom, Dr Octopus, or Dr Evil.

  56. 56
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ David Marjanović

    Creflo Dollar

    …That’s not a real name, is it?

    I boggled when I first ran into that name. I immediately thought it was a humorous contraction of “Credit flow” and “Dollar”. As it turns out , he is one of the most entertaining of the goddists out there. If there’s nothing funny on the comedy channel, then I’d strongly recommend switching to god.tv . The next best was Jan Crouch, who came up with some classics, such as asking grandmothers for their grocery money: Linky. A lot of people like Benny Hinn, though I find him a little OTT, even for this industry.

    (This passing out stuff is not unique to religion, it even happens at Beyonce concerts.

  57. 57
    LykeX

    @sciencenotsuperstition

    How sad that some critics focus on his gaffes and blithely toss him, along with his incredible lifetime of achievements, into the dumpster.

    That’s right! We are his sworn enemies, dedicated to persecuting him until the end of time and never, ever, under any circumstances will we recognize any positive contribution from him.

    That was sarcasm, in case it wasn’t clear.

    If you bother reading attentively, you’ll notice that many people here have over and over again recognized Dawkins’ contributions. I know I wrote a post like that myself in one of the recent threads and I’ve seen others express similar sentiments.
    I have no problem recognizing Dawkins’ sensible opinions and criticizing him when he talks nonsense. Harmful ideas and poorly thought out statements should be opposed, no matter where they come from.

    His recent (and not so recent) foolishness doesn’t eradicate his previous record, but neither does his past contributions give him a free pass to talk shit without being called on it. Agreed?

    Surely, we should be able to criticize the great hero without constantly having to reassure the fanboys that we’re not about to lynch their idol. Quite frankly, I’m starting to get tired of having to constantly repeat that Dawkins has done good things, just to keep from being accused of trying to bury the man.

    It’s starting to look less like a desire for sensible moderation and more like an attempt to stop criticism; like a Christian that demands that any criticism of Christianity be tempered with profuse mentions of their charity work, moral teachings, etc.

  58. 58
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @sciencenotsuperstition

    How sad that some critics focus on his gaffes and blithely toss him, along with his incredible lifetime of achievements, into the dumpster.

    And who, exactly, has done that? I think everyone here is quite capable of recognising his achievements while also calling out his douchebaggery. Most adults are in fact capable of realising that the world is not black and white, and that people have both good and bad points.

  59. 59
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    That seems to be the difference, if people in the “atheist community” (scare quotes deliberate!) say or do something stupid they tend to get very loudly called on it. If any deal is made then maybe her & her friends should do the same with their lot.

    Can we get rid of Ayn Rand, btw? The Christians can have her.

  60. 60
    brucegorton

    @Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    We could always get a petition together to ask the Mormons to baptise her.

  61. 61
    SallyStrange

    Just yesterday some Christian told me explicitly that climate change was a fraud, she knows because it says in her Bible that when Jesus comes back the earth will be habitable, SUVs or no.

  62. 62
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    LykeX @ #15:

    I can think of two Jesus-believers who spend pretty much all their time attacking Christians like Pat Robertson, and even allying with atheists for the separation of church and state without the backstabbing: Stephen Colbert and John Fugelsang.

    Stephen Colbert is a Catholic (and Sunday School Teacher) who spends large portions of his show attacking fanatic Christians and even the Catholic Church itself (I’d so far as to say Colbert was one of the loudest critics of Pope Palpatine). Colbert appears in the Unbelievers documentary coming out… eventually (I’m torn on it because I really want to see it, but it stars two people I’d rather not have anything to do with anymore: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss)… and has actually been a very big supporter of the modern atheist movement as well as of science.

    I don’t know exactly which denomination he is, but John Fugelsang is a Christian who spent a huge portion of his show Viewpoint on Current TV attacking fanatic Christians and Catholics, and vocally and monetarily supported the atheist movement and, like Colbert, science.

    Both have made statements about atheists I’ve disagreed with, but they both criticize their fellow Christians all the time… they’re sort of defined by it a bit…

    So… there are such Christians out there, who not only criticize fellow Christians, but try to be good allies of atheists. They’re rare (I could only think of two, after all), but they’re out there…

  63. 63
    consciousness razor

    Stephen Colbert is a Catholic (and Sunday School Teacher) who spends large portions of his show attacking fanatic Christians and even the Catholic Church itself (I’d so far as to say Colbert was one of the loudest critics of Pope Palpatine).

    By “attacking,” you mean joking, because that’s what comedians do. Note that neither attacking nor joking is what I’d actually like to see, from more than just two Christians out of a couple billion. A little serious, thoughtful self-criticism would go a long way, if it were really self-criticism and not devoted to convincing themselves how much better they think their own flavor of faith is compared to a rival sect. Doing that sort of thing, he could find plenty of good reasons to leave altogether, not just crack a few jokes and move on.

    Both have made statements about atheists I’ve disagreed with, but they both criticize their fellow Christians all the time… they’re sort of defined by it a bit…

    I don’t know the other, but Colbert is defined by being a satirist. Mostly that’s at the expense of conservatives and other whackaloons, whether or not they are “fellow Christians.” You exaggerating how much time on his show is spent on religion doesn’t make your case any better, not least because you’re still just mentioning a handful of people out of billions. Try to imagine what it would be like if most Christians actually had respectable beliefs.

    But I’ll say again, Christians simply “attacking” each other (about who knows what, never mind how or why) is not the point. It wouldn’t help.

  64. 64
    Walton

    I tend to think that PZ is somewhat understating the problems with Dawkins’ views. Even leaving aside the recent child abuse gaffe, I have long been very uncomfortable (and said so at length recently) with Dawkins’ rhetoric about Islam. Particularly his endorsement of outright xenophobes like Pat Condell and Geert Wilders, and his habit of making sweeping anti-Islam comments which can too easily be uncritically repeated (and indeed retweeted) by far right supporters.

    The problem is that Muslim-bashing, in Europe and America alike, is a favoured pastime of those on the right who have an anti-immigration agenda – an agenda which is toxic, dangerous, and grounded in racism. I do not mean to suggest that Dawkins is a far right sympathizer himself; I don’t think he is, and I think he genuinely believes he’s being progressive and enlightened. But he doesn’t seem to understand how easily the xenophobic far right can use his words and ideas to support their agenda.

    The problem with Dawkins is that, while he’s a great biologist, he’s a terrible sociologist. And he overestimates his own understanding of the social sciences. Take, for instance, the infamous response to his critics in which he asserts that “race” is defined as “a limited group of people descended from a common ancestor” and chides sociologists for saying that race is a social construct! (He also misconstrues his critics’ arguments in the first place; no one is actually saying that Islam itself is a race.) He doesn’t really have a good understanding of what racism is or how it works, and his combination of ignorance and arrogance on this subject is sometimes deadly.

    The problem is also bigger than Dawkins. Xenophobic anti-Muslim rhetoric in the atheist community is a major problem and has been so for years. And it doesn’t have to be this way. It is perfectly possible to mount an uncompromisingly radical critique of religion while also avoiding xenophobia and distancing oneself from the racist far right – which is what we should be doing.

    Sorry for this ramble. But I just think we need to acknowledge that this is not a small problem, and Dawkins is not just someone who’s made a few embarrassing gaffes but is otherwise on the side of good – he’s someone who, at least some of the time, is actively (though probably not maliciously) promoting bigotry against an embattled minority.

  65. 65
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Ultimately the problem with Rachel’s deal is that it ignores the fundamental problem with belief in a deity for which there cannot be evidence–we are free to project onto said deity all of our prejudices, bigotry and absurd beliefs. True, not everyone will do this, but the temptation will always be there.

    Voltaire said it most succinctly, “If they can make you believe absurdities, they can make you commit atrocities.”

    Given that, how do you know your religious beliefs are not absurd if you do not have atheist friends to point out the fact to you?

  66. 66
    Walton

    (*headdesk* How did I manage to start three consecutive paragraphs with “The problem…”?)

  67. 67
    vaiyt

    The roundfiling by some folk here of Dawkins is a matter of choice, if not taste. I’m sure it means I’ll think less of them, generally.

    I’m sure everyone here is sooo concerned about your opinions.

  68. 68
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Walton, I don’t have a problem with it… ;-)

  69. 69
    Ichthyic

    I’m sure it means I’ll think less of them, generally.

    I’ll alert the media then, shall I?

  70. 70
    Ichthyic

    *looks at Vayt’s last post*

    oh damn, now the genie will accuse us of being in “lockstep” no doubt.

    *sigh*

    I’ll preemptively alert the media, again.

  71. 71
    Ichthyic

    if it were really self-criticism

    but…. introspection is the anathema of religion.

    you’re not supposed to think too carefully about that shit. you might just start seeing the holes in it.

    this is what christians are afraid of, and it’s exactly the reason they aren’t more vocally critical of asshats like Roberts.

  72. 72
    Ichthyic

    Try to imagine what it would be like if most Christians actually had respectable beliefs.

    Imagining such things is dangerous. Just look what happened to John Lenon.

  73. 73
    Ichthyic

    Xenophobic anti-Muslim rhetoric

    xenophic rhetoric is the problem. You’ll find xenophic anti christian rhetoric in various places around the world as well.

    anti-muslim rhetoric itself is no more problematic than anti-christian rhetoric, and frankly BOTH as well as just anti-abrahamic-religion rhetoric in general.

    It’s time for the entire world to simply drop the abrahamic religious dogma as a whole, and get on with becoming an integrated society of equals.

    the xenophobia will remain, but at least it won’t be EMPOWERED by the abrahamic religions.

  74. 74
    Walton

    xenophic rhetoric is the problem. You’ll find xenophic anti christian rhetoric in various places around the world as well.

    Sure, but we shouldn’t erase the fact that – in Europe, at least – anti-Muslim rhetoric, specifically, is very, very, very commonly used by the xenophobic Right to push an anti-immigrant agenda. They say things laced with racist and colonialist tropes, like calling Muslims “barbaric” or “savage”, and call for restrictions on Muslim immigration. Islam serves as a convenient bogeyman. A prime example of this, right within the atheist community, is Pat Condell. But you can find examples all over the far right: the EDL, the BNP, the Front National, Geert Wilders, and so on. Certain forms of prejudice against Muslims are intimately linked with racism and anti-immigrationism.

    We have to be conscious of the fact that Muslims are a marginalized group. Anti-Christian rhetoric is not equivalent, because in most European countries (and a fortiori in the US) Christians are the dominant, privileged majority, and Christianity isn’t associated in the public mind with particular marginalized racial minorities. (This would be different if we were speaking from within a society where Christians are a marginalized minority; and indeed there are some such societies.)

    I am absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t criticize Islam. Plenty of people, including some who are ex-Muslims themselves, criticize Islam very vociferously while also strongly condemning, and distancing themselves from, the anti-immigration far right. (Maryam Namazie, for instance.) We can make a radical critique of religion, and we should; but our critique needs to be intersectional, and aware of the social and political context.

  75. 75
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Walton

    But you can find examples all over the far right: the EDL, the BNP, the Front National, Geert Wilders, and so on.

    Not to mention most of the British gutter* press.

    *And never was an adjective so opportunely apt.

  76. 76
    brucegorton

    Sure, but we shouldn’t erase the fact that – in Europe, at least – anti-Muslim rhetoric, specifically, is very, very, very commonly used by the xenophobic Right to push an anti-immigrant agenda.

    The weird thing with the Right is they tend to do a pretty good job of arguing that the cultural values they love so much aren’t worth having. It is an instinct to exclude, which does sweet fuck-all about the very issues with Islam that they claim to oppose.

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