The Shabby, Shallow Atheists Of Conrad Black

The atheists’ world is so shabby and shallow
They don’t even know what they obviously lack!
Their view of religion is puerile and callow,
A strawman constructed so they could attack.
A world without magic, with nothing held hallow,
Where anything’s possible–nothing held back–
But sadly, the truth is, they’re sickly and sallow,
At least, in the view of the great Conrad Black.

Holy fuck, seriously? Yet another “atheists were so much better in olden days–these modern atheists are just so… ”

Having spent a very enjoyable two hours in conversation with Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and one of the most rational and persuasive advocates of a Christian theistic view of the world, it has come back to me what a shabby level of mockery and sophistical evasion many of the militant atheists are reduced to, in comparison even with the famous skeptics of earlier times. People like Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, wrote and spoke well, and were more able than is rigorously admissible now to cloak themselves in the inexorable march of science and reason. Their witty if gratuitous disparagements of Christianity were much more effective than the coarse blunderbuss of my late quasi-friendly and frequent adversary, Christopher Hitchens.

I’ve read Shaw; I’ve read Russell; I’ve read Freud. I admire their writing–Freud won the Goethe prize for literature (importantly, not a prize for scientific achievement), and his writing is delightful, especially in the original German. But really, they are not any better or worse than modern atheist writings–they just had a different set of arguments to call bullshit. Modern apologetics has evolved, in part because of the earlier atheist writers, and has (as Black’s own writing illustrates) jettisoned more and more of the unsupportable shit that has tagged along under Christianity’s banner for centuries. Christians who don’t believe in evolution don’t count, according to Black (“all educated Christians, including Darwin, acknowledge evolution”), no matter what percentage that might be, or how influential. I don’t doubt that Black finds fewer True Christians than I do!

Black finds modern atheists lacking, but to do so, is forced to throw a great many modern Christians under the bus.

There is more I want to say, but the biggest thing, really, is that there is nothing new in his essay. Nothing. Read it–please!–Nothing. Every sentence has been addressed (and yes, the majority of them have been addressed here in verse!). Every one. Seriously, if there is anything you think has not been, bring it up in the comments. And as much as Black pretends that he is not proposing a “god of the gaps”, when it all boils down, that is exactly what he defends. And frankly, when the science that defines his gaps includes Freud, he has lost any claims to understanding the world as modern science does.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Darwin considered himself a theist, but vigorously* rejected core Christian tenets such as the necessity of faith to avoid damnation.

    Then again, this comes from Conrad Black, a media mogul whose reputation for punctilious factuality stands barely a half-notch above that of Rupert Murdoch.

    * All together now – “stridently!!!1!”

  2. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    It is hardly surprising that Conrad Black prefers Russell, since they are both ex-convicts they do have a common bond.

    Of course, Russell was a prisoner of conscience rather than an embezzler and common thief like Conrad Black.

  3. doublereed says

    @1 Pierce R. Butler

    Darwin’s views changed over time, but he became agnostic:

    I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

  4. david says

    Why do newspapers publish writings on ethics from a man convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice?

    Oh, right (silly me) – it’s because he inherited a large stake in the holding companies that own the newspapers. In his christian view, a rich man may not be able to enter heaven, but he surely can lecture to the rest of us about right and wrong.

    A comment on one point in his essay: he calls multiverse theory “diaphanous piffle.” Multiverse may be a right or wrong idea (I’m not expert enough on physics to say), but the density and complexity of the mathematics that underpins it is certainly not “diaphanous.” He is so ill-informed that he doesn’t even know how ignorant he is.

  5. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    If he thinks that Hitchens is a “coarse blunderbuss”, he obviously isn’t familiar with the firebreathers of good old days, like Nietzsche (in the Antichrist, translated by H.L. Mencken):

    “Faith” means not wanting to know what is true.

    I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty – I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.

    “Sins” are indispensable to every society organized on an ecclesiastical basis; they are the only reliable weapons of power; the priest lives upon sins; it is necessary to him that there be “sinning.”

  6. says

    I know it’s used so often that it probably seems normal to the people using it, but the term ‘militant atheist’ irritates me to no end, when there are groups like ISIS that show what militant religion is like. And that was in the first paragraph, so it was hard to take him seriously at all after that.

  7. says

    Ah, the irony of that essay accusing atheist arguments of having no intellectual weight.

    We could probably make a decent drinking game out of taking a shot every time he makes a claim in the form of “atheists all argue that (straw man argument that no one who seriously argues for atheism actually makes).”

  8. Dago Red says

    There will never come a time when people like Conrad Black ever admit to being wrong. The only response capable, in fact, for such ossified thinkers is the repetition of failed objections and long countered arguments. There is an implicit “I failed” in the words of Conrad Black, precisely because when he speaks, he contributes nothing new to the conversation. There is a comfort, at least for me, in listening to the blustery wind outside pound against my walls that so effortlessly deflect its biting cold bitterness.

  9. says

    So Conrad Black would be more willing to listen to atheists if they toned down their rhetoric? I doubt it. This just sounds like the whine of a tone-troll who doesn’t like that many atheists don’t speak respectfully of religion.


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