I am so tired of the fatalist atheists. Julian Baggini is a perfect example: on the one hand he is incapable of seeing the progress atheism has made in the last decade, declaring us at an “impasse”, and on the other, he announces that he, as a philosopher, is going to come up with the productive, powerful Answer. I’m not interested. We’re long past the point where long-winded rationalizations by gooey apologists are at all useful. We must be aggressive and loud and keep the momentum going.
Ophelia takes him on in detail, I just have to mention a few things.
I do not blame the quagmire on the intransigence of any of the three sides in the debate – believers, atheists and agnostics – but on all of them. Broadly speaking, the problem is that the religious mainstream establishment maintains a Janus-faced commitment to both medieval doctrines and public pronouncements about inclusivity and moderation; agnostics and more liberal believers promote an intellectualised version of religion, which both reduces faith to a thin gruel and fails to reflect the reality of faith on the ground; while the new atheists are spiritually tone-deaf, fixated on the superstitious side of religion to the exclusion of its more interesting and valuable aspects.
LIKE WHAT? I guarantee you that every single “valuable aspect” he could mention (which he doesn’t) don’t need religion and are fully achievable by secular institutions…except the lies and promises of magic afterlives. Just for once I’d like these guys to lay it on the line and tell me what, exactly, humanity can’t accomplish without religion.
And then there’s this:
As a querulous member of the atheist camp, one of my aims is to end up with a richer, more constructive vision for what should follow the “new atheism”, which may well have been needed, but does not appear capable of taking us much further. To use another military analogy, the new atheism seems designed for effective invasion, but not long-term occupation.
I’ve often heard this assertion that we have to come up with something positive to replace the religion we eradicate. That would be nice, but it’s not essential: when a doctor purges a person of parasites, they’re not going to moan and fret about what they’re going to replace the worms with — getting rid of them is sufficient benefit.
Even that analogy is flawed, however. We’re getting rid of ignorance. We don’t need to replace it with a different kind of ignorance. It’s enough to learn the truth about reality.
I just got back from Cincinnati, right next door to Answers in Genesis and the Creation “Museum”. I do not feel at all charitable to religion, and my mood was not lifted by the latest insanity from Ken Ham. This is not the Omphalos argument — it’s worse.
As I have spoken at conferences over the years, people have often come up to me and said:
“When I am talking to someone who believes in an old earth, one of the things I say to them, as a young-earth creationist, is that God didn’t make Adam a baby—He made him an adult. And when He created the universe, He created it fully functional, with the appearance of age—even though it wasn’t old.”
My response often shocks these speakers: “By saying the universe looks old, you are trusting that dating methods can give us an apparent old age for the universe—but they can’t.”
Let me explain. When people say the universe has “apparent age,” usually they are assuming, for whatever reason, that the universe “looks old.” I have often found that, unconsciously, such people have already accepted that the fallible dating methods of scientists can give great ages for the earth. So if they believe what the Scripture says about a young universe, they have to explain away this apparent great age.
Ham is denying all of science and all of the evidence. The science does say the universe is very, very old, there’s no getting around it. Ham’s argument is a simple claim that all of science is completely wrong.
Why does he do this? Religion. I have no reason to believe it provides a positive benefit, nor do I need to replace it with some pretentious philosophy. These clowns are wrong.
I’m also not at an impasse. We’re going to crush them.
Seems like a good goal to me.