I received Chris Mooney’s last two books as review copies, before the simple folk could get theirs, and I also gave them positive (and sincere!) reviews. I’d noticed that he’s got a new book out, but strangely, I hadn’t been sent a copy this time. I was wondering what was up with that, but now Ophelia Benson has read part of the book, and all is explained. He spends part of one chapter singling me out for criticism! Gosh, I guess he felt he wouldn’t get a friendly review this time.
The focus of his ire? Crackergate. He regards destroying a sacred symbol to be inflammatory and obnoxious, completely ignoring the insanity it exposed. That insanity — and I am not using that word casually — is what Mooney thinks the spokespeople for science in our country ought to treat deferentially. Here’s why he thinks we need to do that:
America is a very religious nation, and if forced to choose between faith and science, vast numbers of Americans will select the former. The New Atheists err in insisting that such a choice needs to be made. Atheism is not the logically inevitable outcome of scientific reasoning…A great many scientists believe in God with no sense of internal contradiction…[pp 97-98]
Ah, yes, the policy of cowardice. We are weak, and the loons are numerous and strong, and therefore we must avoid telling them the truth. If the masses prefer their silly religion to science, well then, we shall give them a neutered science, a weak science, an inoffensive science that does not challenge anyone’s beliefs.
If atheism is not the logical outcome of scientific reasoning, then let us pretend that gods that turn into a cracker that cures you of sin is logical and unquestionable and harmless…oh, wait, let’s pretend that belief doesn’t exist, and doesn’t poison minds. We’ll blame the American problem of unreason on the atheists, instead.
Sheril Kirshenbaum assures me that I will be receiving a review copy of their book; I’m not being intentionally snubbed, it is merely a matter of timing, and the review copies are only now being sent out. I look forward to it with grim anticipation. I am hoping that the rest of the book isn’t as awful as chapter 8, or I’ll have to be brutal.