The media are lashing back. The post-convention media (with the exception of one article in the Australian) has been abysmally bad, relying on tried-and-true excuse-making from religious apologists. It would be nice if they actually had conversations with atheists rather than immediately running to the nearest cathedral for consolation, but I guess that’s what they have to do now. After all, the convention was an unqualified success, a real triumph for the atheist movement, and they just can’t have that.
Barney Zwartz is a concern troll. He’s a believer; he presumably thinks religion and god and all that crap have some value; so why is he trying to give us advice on how to make atheism more effective?
Here’s my advice. If atheists can reduce their contempt for believers and work harder for their positive goal — reducing the footprint of religion in society — they may begin to exert more of the influence they feel they deserve.
OK, Barney. Here’s my advice for you: put away the writing career, join a monastery, and pray, pray, pray. It will advance your cause!
Of course, why should a believer trust my advice on this issue? I want you to go away. It’s the same with Zwartz. Complain away, at least that’s being honest about your own opinions; but playing the game of offering grandfatherly advice to a movement you detest is insincere and obnoxious.
Oh, and what you consider unworthy doesn’t interest me much. Explain why.
Also unworthy were ABC science presenter Robyn Williams offering “a devastating argument against religion in two words: Senator Fielding”; former Hillsong member Tanya Levin: “I’m finally getting to hang out with the adults”; and Rationalist Society president Ian Robinson, asking whether there were any believers in the audience. “OK, I’ll speak really slowly.” (Wild applause after each.)
What was missing was any sign of self-deprecation. Atheism will be a mature movement in Australia when atheists can laugh not just at the religious, but at themselves.
For instance, you could try to defend Fielding — that would be interesting. Fielding is the fellow who believes the earth is 6000 years old, after all, because his religion tells him so. The religious should be embarrassed by him.
As for laughing at ourselves…we did. There was quite a bit of humor aimed at our own little group. It’s just that the wacky, goofy religious nuts are so much funnier. Religion will be a mature movement when it can stop providing so much juicy material for comedians, although, given that you’ve been struggling with that problem for a few millennia, I don’t offer much hope.
Speaking of jokes, here’s a punchline for you: Melanie Phillips. She’s the deranged religious nut who rants and raves about atheists being totalitarian fundamentalists, and who is now making a career out of her hatred of Richard Dawkins.
Just why is he so angry and why does he hate religion so much? After all, as many religious scientists can attest, science and religion are — contrary to his claim — not incompatible at all.
A clue lies in his insistence that a principal reason for believing that there could be no intelligence behind the origin of life is that the alternative — God — is unthinkable.
Melanie Phillips was not actually at the Global Atheist Convention. I specifically addressed her argument about compatibility from propinquity — it just doesn’t work, because it means that everything must be compatible with everything else in the most trivial way. I also have not heard Dawkins ever claim that God is unthinkable, or that there is no possibility of intelligence responsible for the origin of life — quite the contrary, these are possible alternatives which we simply reject because there is no evidence for them.
It’s always a bad sign when the only way you can make a point is by lying about what the other person said.
Phillips is always a source of amusement, though.
Through such hubristic overreach, Dawkins has opened himself up to attack from quarters that, unlike the theologians he routinely knocks around the park, he cannot so easily disdain.
Books taking his arguments apart on his own purported ground of scientific reason have been published by a growing number of eminent scientists and philosophers, including mathematicians David Berlinski and John Lennox, biochemist Alister McGrath, geneticist Francis Collins, and philosopher and recanting atheist Anthony Flew.
Uh, yes. We can easily disdain them. Berlinski, Lennox, and McGrath are not serious contributors to the debate; Berlinski is a popinjay and Lennox and McGrath are wacky theologians. Collins’ arguments for religion are fallacious and trivial, and Flew is in a sad state of senility.
Here’s the worst. ABC news spent half their brief coverage with shots of a communion ritual at a church, and got some smug idiot in a dog collar named Philip Freier to give his opinion of atheism, and got it all wrong.
Here’s the priest’s brainfart:
It will be interesting to me to see how something that is framed around a largely negative concept, atheism <self-satisfied smile>, is capable of developing a coherent position.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The central concept of modern atheism is the importance of evidence. We have seen the remarkable success of evidence-based reasoning, and have noticed that religion doesn’t seem to use it…that the only negative concept here is the fundamental premise of religion, faith. Evidence and reason are not negative concepts, except perhaps in the minds of faith-heads who have replaced them with a vacuum and gullibility.
We’ve also been waiting a long, long time for religion to develop a coherent position. Their failure so far suggests that they are incapable of doing so.