My delightful evening of fun and intellectual stimulation continues shortly, with a guest lecture on my campus from Chris Hedges, who threatens to berate atheists with his typical ignorance. I’m hoping for full-bore hand-waving purple-faced screaming, but otherwise, it’s going to be a failure of a night.
I’ll try to live-blog it, if he says anything interesting.
His introduction is all about his Harvard Divinity School professor’s experiences in Nazi Germany, and how Christianity was coopted by fascists, which led to his book, Christian Fascists, and his concern with the origins of totalitarianism. He also talks about how megachurches absorb people into the fold, and the nonsense at the Creation Museum.
Then he debated Harris and Hitchens. He was upset and angry at how Dawkins and Dennett and Harris and Hitchens replicated the authority structures of the Christian Right. What?
7:45. Suddenly we’re talking about genocide in Serbia. Where’s the connection to the atheists?
Now he says that like like the Christian Right, atheists can only argue against a caricature of religion:
they haven’t studied theology! They have
gods of reason and science. And this meme stuff is an example of the misuse of science, reflecting the desire of atheists to
engineer ideas, and
control the way people think.
He really doesn’t like Sam Harris, quoting him on torture and nuking Islamists. I know this would surprise Hedges, but there are an awful lot of atheists who dislike Harris’s ideas, too.
But no: both
atheists and the Christian Right embrace the dehumanization of Muslims. We do? I keep hearing things that I reject, being told that this is what I believe to be a New Atheist.
Weird. Now we’re being told of the bizarre practices of Christian Right anti-abortion activists.
What drives people into these movements is despair. Relevance? I don’t know. It seems he doesn’t have enough horrible stories about totalitarian atheists so he has to drag in tales of the religious to tar us with their sins.
The New Atheists misuse Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. It’s not a theory about politics or culture, and Dawkins and EO Wilson abuse it to make false claims about society. What? The Dawkins who has said that selection is an inappropriate ideal for human behavior? Freakish. And now he has brought up
Social Darwinism. He’s sounding a bit like the loons at the Discovery Institute.
The New Atheists believe that
evolution is linear and directed towards a goal and that we believe in using it to justify genocide.
Religion is not irrational, but it is non-rational. Jebus, Hedges, focus. Make an argument and back it up. This is rambling nonsense.
8:05. My brain hurts. This is stupid. Now he’s chewing out science for fracking and global warming and pollution, and blames it on the corporate state. Fine. Do atheists align with the corporate state? Does any of this have anything to do with his thesis?
New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated and
that evil is largely Muslim.
Fundamentalists readily embrace violence, just like Sam Harris, therefore atheists are fundamentalists. How can I possibly defeat such lucid logic?
8:15. I don’t much like Sam Harris. Harris rather detests me. It’s getting a bit old hearing some horrible thing Harris said being pinned on atheists, including me, as a class…by a guy who’s berating atheists for demonizing groups of people.
We seem to be closing with some babble about transcendance and the struggle with the irrational and the
need for the sacred, whatever the hell that is. And we get to the heart of his problem: atheists are knocking down his cherished presumptions, and replacing then with
squalid monuments to ourselves…which is a form of idolatry.
8:20. He’s blathering incoherently through the Q&anp;A now. This talk has been such a mess of misconceptions and rambling nonsense that I can’t even think of a question. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m at a creationist talk: it’s wrong from word one, so where do you start?
There were two places where Hedges totally lost me with his bullshit false equivalencies. Well, more than two — but these were the big ones.
Just as the Christian fascists abuse the bible, the atheists abuse evolution. Dawkins argues for a linear, progressive, utopian version of evolution.Total crap. Dawkins has been quite clear that natural selection is a “clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel” process, and not at all desirable as a model for human relations. Hedges argument relied entirely on misrepresenting what atheist evolutionists have said.
Christian fascists have totalitarian authority structures, just like the New Atheists.I just wanted to ask, what authority structures in atheism? He spent a lot of time railing against Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris; one of those three is dead, and the other two are single individuals who’ve written books. I remember attending a Hitchens lecture in which he presented his odious anti-Muslim views, and the audience booed him. These guys are not our rulers. Hedges has simply inflated his animus against a few individuals into a broad brush characterization of every atheist.
It was infuriating.