A Delightful New Meme

I get it that some people do not like the New Atheists. But surely when you’re writing things like this:

And this is why I think the New Atheists are a disaster, a danger to the wellbeing of America comparable to the Tea Party.

you have simply placed yourself outside the community of people who care about civil discourse or calm argumentation.

That quote comes from Michael Ruse. Really ponder it for a moment. Marvel at its sheer obliviousness, its absurdity, its complete trivialization of important issues. Let’s place the NA’s and the Tea Party side by side shall we?

The Tea Party, which is mostly synonymous with the Republican Party, has been very successful at electing extremely right-wing politicians to Congress, governorships and state legislatures. These politicians are dutifully carrying out their primary missions of redistributing wealth upwards, destroying the public schools, and basically trying to undo anything that benefits poor and middle class people at the expense of the rich. It is no exaggeration to say they are destroying lives in the process. Occasionally they take time out from this project to demonize gays or Muslims or illegal immigrants. That’s why they are a threat to American well-being.

Against this we have the NA’s, who wrote a few books and maintain a few blogs. If you would care to take a browse through You Tube you will also find them engaging in very civil conversations with a variety of worthy adversaries.

This is the equivalency being put forth by Ruse.

When I first saw Ruse’s post I was inclined to ignore it. It seemed like an obvious manifestation of the ploy so familiar from right-wing talk radio, where you say the most incendiary thing you can think of just so you can boast of how put upon you are when people reply. Surely no one would take such hyperbole seriously. Even if you think the NA’s are insufficiently respectful of philosophy or theology, there is simply no planet on which that is remotely comparable to what the tea party has been up to.

So you can imagine my disappointment that so many people have glommed on to this. Jacques Berlinerblau upped the rhetorical ante with a screed of his own. I’d reply, but somehow I’m not worried that anyone persuadable will read his essay and come away thinking that he’s the voice of reason in this discussion. (He chides Christopher Hitchens for being insufficiently knowledgeable about seventeenth-century French atheism. I’m not making that up.) Several other bloggers have jumped on the bandwagon as well, including, most disappointingly, Josh Rosenau, who I usually count on to be a calming influence on these discussions even when I disagree with him.

I think I will not be accepting lectures about civility or seriousness from these people. For a more sensible take, I recommend David Barash’s brief essay.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob Carlson
    March 28, 2011

    Those who complain about the incivility of the New Atheists ought to read this 1872 essay by Robert Ingersoll. He is every bit as strident as Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. are accused of being. In fact, it seems to me that it makes him one of the New Atheists, which would mean, of course, that the New Atheists are really Old Atheists. I found it interesting that Ingersoll penned statements like these 139 years ago:

    These religious people see nothing but design everywhere, and personal intelligent interference in everything.

    We are explaining more every day. We are understanding more every day; consequently your God is growing smaller every day.

  2. #2 SLC
    March 28, 2011

    I am afraid that Mr. Rosenau is angling for a Templeton Foundation fellowship, like his pal Chris Mooney.

  3. #3 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 28, 2011

    Even if you think the NA’s are insufficiently respectful of philosophy or theology

    +1.

    What is the bloody difference? Mostly I feel I’m never sufficiently disrespectful of either.

  4. #4 Norwegian Shooter
    March 28, 2011

    I think it’s time to be pleasantly surprised when Josh Rosenau contributes something worthwhile to the debate rather than be disappointed when he doesn’t.

  5. #5 Greg Esres
    March 28, 2011

    It’s the new Godwin’s Law.

  6. #6 gillt
    March 28, 2011

    What’s missing from gnu-bashing accommodationist rhetoric like this is humor and wit, among other things. And so it makes it hard to know if they’re succeeding in making others look ridiculous or only themselves.

    Let’s see if they can figure it out before the next liberal pop-culture bogeyman comes round and makes for an obvious comparison.

  7. #7 Cath the Canberra Cook
    March 28, 2011

    @Bob Carlson: this is why many “new” atheists dislike the term. Many like to use “gnu atheist” instead, for the multi-layered geeky joke of it.

  8. #8 Pierce R. Butler
    March 28, 2011

    Lately, I just don’t believe in the Tea Party agenda.

    Does that make me a new aTeaist?

  9. #9 snoeman
    March 29, 2011

    @Pierce R. Butler: You may have won the Intertubes for all time. You will share them, won’t you?

  10. #10 Joel
    March 29, 2011

    While I’m sure it’s meant purely as a Godwin, there may be a little bit of an unintended point in there. After all, the accomodationists are constantly equivocating their own position in the hopes of reaching compromise with an immovable object. Who does that remind me of?

  11. #11 MJ
    March 29, 2011

    “you have simply placed yourself outside the community of people who care about civil discourse or calm argumentation.”

    …so squarely in the NA camp then :p

    “I am afraid that Mr. Rosenau is angling for a Templeton Foundation fellowship, like his pal Chris Mooney.”

    Poison the well much?

    I happen to have on good authority that SLC is being paid in Blood-Diamonds for every inane, evidence-free, bit of slander he posts on threads. I’m afraid. Implication. Like his pal PZ Myers.

  12. #12 SLC
    March 29, 2011

    Re MJ @ #11

    I consider it quite complimentary to be paired with Prof. Myers.

  13. #13 MJ
    March 29, 2011

    Is that a confession that you and PZ have been receiving blood-diamonds in return for posting lies?

    Damnit, now I’m going to have to make up another untrue implication with which to poison the well.

    I hear SLC, all his pals (Dennet, PZ, Harris, Mooney, Cyone, Hitler, Hawkins, Goebbels, Hitchens, Dave the guy from 2001), and a convicted felon have been literally poisoning wells. Can’t trust anything a well-poisoner says. It might be a cover for feeding you a glass of poisoned well water.

  14. #14 MJ
    March 29, 2011

    Coyne, – of course, SLC’s poisoned-well-water must have got me! Don’t trust hi-*ack* *choke* *gargle* *die*

  15. #15 MJ
    March 29, 2011

    *Resurrect* *Edit Hawkins into Hawking and Dawkins* *Get away without looking stupid* *Die-once-again*

  16. #16 tgt
    March 29, 2011

    @MJ SLC didn’t poison the well. He didn’t say to disregard Rosenau because he’s angling for a Templeton. He said that his writing makes it appear that he is angling for a Templeton. Sheesh.

  17. #17 Josh Rosenau
    March 29, 2011

    He didn’t say to disregard Rosenau because he’s angling for a Templeton. He said that his writing makes it appear that he is angling for a Templeton. Sheesh.

    It’s bullshit either way. Bullshit in the Frankfurterian sense of an indifference to the truth of a statement.

    Jason: As with any analogy, an analogy between gnus and teabaggers will be imperfect, and Ruse’s hyperbole undoubtedly goes too far. But I stand by my assessment that, like the Tea Party, gnuism lacks a clear vision – that is, a clearly stated problem to be solved, and a clearly stated platform of solutions that plausibly matches the problem’s scope and the resources plausibly capable of being devoted to it. I continue to think that gnuism, like teabaggerism, is utopian, and I agree that there are elements of anti-intellectualism to some of the arguments (especially the tendency to dismiss academic fields like theology or science/religion studies as “not a discipline”).

    I’ve said it before, and this is still my take on the gnus:

    I wish they’d make better arguments, ones which engage the peer reviewed literature in the relevant fields, including philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, science/religion studies, metaethics, and even theology. I wish they cited that literature more, and I wish they published their arguments there and engaged with the relevant communities of scholars that way, rather than just through blogs, and TED talks, and mass-market books and magazines. I wish they’d study the literature of social movement theory, and take what lessons can be learned from past efforts to change society and apply that research to their own efforts. I wish they’d lay out some sort of consensus platform, including both big principles and practical changes to be made. I wish they’d work with, rather than against, their most likely allies. I wish they wouldn’t drive wedges within the pro-science movement, and would focus their righteous ire on the religious authoritarians who deserve it, or who at least we all agree deserve it most. I don’t want them to go away, I want them to be better at what they’re trying to do.

    And to echo Jason’s kind words above, I think he’s largely an exception to these critiques. I think he does engage seriously with the theological literature, and is interested in creating a New Atheism that has a clear set platform and plan of action. I just wish that effort was getting any traction at all with the gnus.

  18. #18 SLC
    March 29, 2011

    Re Josh Rosenau

    Mr. Rosenau was challenged on this some time ago and, as I recall, refused to issue a Sherman type statement.

  19. #19 Josh Rosenau
    March 29, 2011

    SLC: That doesn’t give you a right to make shit up.

  20. #20 Lary Nine
    March 29, 2011

    I’ve heard Michael Ruse hold forth in several other discussion venues. His ornamented thinking style is difficult for me to follow as it lacks the direct, simple coherence of science trained reasoning. Perhaps I’m allergic to philosophers.

  21. #21 SocraticGadfly
    March 30, 2011

    A few thoughts … call me a “middle atheist,” tho I don’t normally use that term. “Gnus” have made me allergic to it, just like the likes of Shermer make me allergic to the word “skeptic.”

    I’m all in favor of being “muscular” for things such as First Amendment rights for atheists. Attacking folks like Eugenie Scott, though? Ridiculous. Or attacking academics such as “fellow” philosophers (fellow in scare quotes because I’m not willing to call him one) as Sam Harris does?

    On Ruse, beyond his quasi-pendantic language, he’s not that good of a philosopher, as shown by his recent defense of Dawkins trying to make a case for a secular equivalent to the “problem of evil.”

    But, speaking of philosophy, beyond Harris, no matter his degree, it’s clear that, on things such as logic, Myers, Stenger and others who claim they can “disprove the existence of God” simply are ignorant. (That’s why good scientists need good philosophers of science setting them straight from time to time, as Stephen Toulmin pointed out long ago.

    Otherwise, I agree in part with Berlinblau, that when Gnus are confrontational for the sake of being confrontational, they are a danger to the potential future of atheism.

    Let’s look at civil rights issues, like black or gay rights. In both cases, yes, leaders were confrontational. But, it was confrontation that was part of a strategy.

    Confrontation for confrontation’s sake, or refusal to work with NCSE on public school education issues, or Americans United for Separation of Church and State on First Amendment issues, is just dumb.

    What’s needed is better “old atheists,” or whatever term we use.

    Otherwise, I prefer to call myself a secularist, a naturalistic philosopher, or something similar.

  22. #22 Barry
    March 30, 2011

    JOSH: “I wish they’d make better arguments, ones which engage the peer reviewed literature in the relevant fields, including philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, science/religion studies, metaethics, and even theology.”

    Josh, referencing “peer review” within the context of the “philosophy of religion” for example, doesn’t actually mean anything. You seem keen to throw this phrase around as though it lends weight to your comment. Please explain exactly how peer review works within the context of “philosophy or religion” for example? And when you’ve done this, how would the outcome of this “review” be any different from reviews conducted by parapsychologists, astrologers or psychics?

  23. #23 Barry
    March 30, 2011

    JOSH: “SLC: That doesn’t give you a right to make shit up.”

    I’d vote for you if you were put up for a Templeton Award.

  24. #24 eric
    March 30, 2011

    Josh Rosenou: like the Tea Party, gnuism lacks a clear vision – that is, a clearly stated problem to be solved, and a clearly stated platform of solutions that plausibly matches the problem’s scope and the resources plausibly capable of being devoted to it.

    I’m not a fan of the TEA movement but I think you’re completely wrong about this, and your analogy is poor. The TEA party had a very clear vision and very clear platform: they wanted taxes reduced and proposed to balance the budget via spending cuts. (Since the election, the movement may not be so clear or focused.) Their vision was sufficiently clear, in fact, that in multiple states they got the GOP to rewrite their platforms, those ‘top 10′ lists of things the republican party sees as priorities. That’s some serious influence.

    Now, I’d agree with you that the TEA party is utopian, anti-intellectual, and that a lot of their solutions are implausible. But the point to be learned from their impact is exactly the opposite of the one you are trying to make. You’re trying to compare the gnus to the TEAs to say that the gnus will remain ineffective until they have (things like) plausible strategies. But the TEAs didn’t need plausible strategies to be politically effective.

    I’d be ecstatic if a pro-secularism group had the politcal and social impact on either party that the TEAs had on the republicans. I can’t see how you could possibly consider that a failure.

  25. #25 Michael Fugate
    March 30, 2011

    I think many new atheists have clearly stated that their goal is to simply have a world free of religious privilege. Religions claim authority that they don’t have and religious believers try to extend this presumed authority beyond themselves and their fellow believers. The Bible and the Quran have as much authority as The Cat in the Hat – or am I being too generous.

  26. #26 Matt Penfold
    March 30, 2011

    Rosenau spoke thus:

    SLC: That doesn’t give you a right to make shit up.

    No, making stuff up should be left to Wally Smith, aka Tom Johnson. I seem to recall Rosenau approving of the stuff Smith made up.

  27. #27 Wowbagger
    March 30, 2011

    Socratic Gadfly wrote:

    Otherwise, I agree in part with Berlinblau, that when Gnus are confrontational for the sake of being confrontational, they are a danger to the potential future of atheism.

    Emphasis mine.

    How, exactly? Are you claiming that someone who’s on the fence about the existence of gods for the same reasons that put everybody else who was a former believer on the fence – i.e. the lack of evidence and compelling argument to support such the claims religion makes – is suddenly going to be have all that doubt wiped away and return to the bosom of the church simply because a gnu atheist is ‘confrontational’?

    Or that people who are currently atheists might suddenly decide, because they dislike gnu atheist confrontation, that they believe in a god?

    Really, if you were to claim that gnu atheists affect the perception those who are religious have of atheists then you might have a point (of sorts). But I can’t see how anything they do has any effect whatsoever on atheism.

  28. #28 Josh Rosenau
    March 30, 2011

    Eric: “The TEA party had a very clear vision and very clear platform: they wanted taxes reduced and proposed to balance the budget via spending cuts. ”

    I think you mean “via tax cuts.” And that’s where I tend to think we aren’t talking about a clear or coherent vision.

    Michael Fugate: “I seem to recall Rosenau approving of the stuff Smith made up.”

    Bullshit. Never happened. I never said anything about the so-called “Exhibit A” story, and I’ve been consistent in condemning the sockpuppetry.

    If you want to argue that SLC’s misbehavior (like your own blatant falsehoods) is as deserving of criticism as YNH’s, I’m all ears, though.

  29. #29 SocraticGadfly
    March 30, 2011

    @Wowbagger … you answered yourself for me. By the perception nonatheists have of atheists being affected, it’s quite likely atheism itself will be affected. Now, that’s not guaranteed, and, of course, some fundies need no “excuse” for acting however they may.

    Let’s take an example from the gay rights movement. (Note: I’m straight, but have a number of gay friends.)

    I’m thinking the “queer” movement within gay circles didn’t exactly help the cause of gay rights.

  30. #30 Owlmirror
    March 30, 2011

    But, speaking of philosophy, beyond Harris, no matter his degree, it’s clear that, on things such as logic, Myers, Stenger and others who claim they can “disprove the existence of God” simply are ignorant.

    I note that Stenger is careful to specify “a God having the attributes that are commonly associated with the Judaic-Christian-Islamic God”.

    Where’s your alleged “knowledge” of “logic” of which Stenger is ignorant?

    Ooh! Did God maybe whisper in your ear that he does too exist?

    Hahahaha!

  31. #31 skfjdk
    March 31, 2011

    “The Tea Party, which is mostly synonymous with the Republican Party, has been very successful at electing extremely right-wing politicians to Congress, governorships and state legislatures. These politicians are dutifully carrying out their primary missions of redistributing wealth upwards, destroying the public schools, and basically trying to undo anything that benefits poor and middle class people at the expense of the rich.”

    What doesn’t make sense is that though religious people believe that all people were created by God, and all people are his children, who he should be loving equally, some people have a much higher value than others. Some poeple do not seem to have any value at all, no matter how hard they try to educate themselves, work hard and be good moral people, in the view of others.

    Why is one person rewarded generously for their efforts, and gets everything they can dream of in their life, and others get nothing?

    So this is quite a paradox.

  32. #32 Owlmirror
    March 31, 2011

    I’m thinking the “queer” movement within gay circles didn’t exactly help the cause of gay rights.

    Because, of course, remaining utterly silent and apolitical is the best way to achieve equal rights, if you’re a minority. A good example, of course, being the black “rights” movement, where black people remained quiet and meek, and eventually, the formerly racist white majority changed their minds for no particular reason and graciously granted them civil rights, one fine Friday.

  33. #33 Michael Fugate
    March 31, 2011

    Josh – can you read? let me answer it for you – NO!

    Michael Fugate: “I seem to recall Rosenau approving of the stuff Smith made up.”

    Bullshit. Never happened. I never said anything about the so-called “Exhibit A” story, and I’ve been consistent in condemning the sockpuppetry.

    I never said that!

  34. #34 Kevin
    March 31, 2011

    Josh:

    You mean I can’t just cite Diderot and Holbach…I have to cite their peer review work?

    Oh wait…they didn’t publish any, because if they had they would have been EXECUTED. France in the 1750s not being exactly the hotbed of religious tolerance and freedom of speech. And there being no peer review literature in the field of theology.

    Seriously, name me one single atheistic argument (or theistic one) in the recent “peer review” literature that wasn’t more than adequately covered by those two (especially) in the mid-1700s…then we’ll talk. You can start with Le Christianisme devole and Promenade de sceptique and work your way forward. Although it would probably also do you good to review Meslier’s Testement as well.

    Why should we take modern scholarship seriously when it hasn’t come close to reaching the lucidity, clarity, and outright ferocity of the 18th century Enlightenment?

    You confuse “peer review” with scholarly. Einstein wasn’t “peer reviewed” when he published in Annalen der Physik in 1905…didn’t seem to hurt his arguments much. Nor, for that matter, was Spinoza.

    You also seem to confuse volumes of words for clarity of thought. Which is curious, because they’re nothing like each other.

  35. #35 Punishment
    March 31, 2011

    #1 Wrote
    “These religious people see nothing but design everywhere, and personal intelligent interference in everything.”
    …………….

    It’s amazing that religious people, especially the ones that try to excercise power over disadvantaged people, are actually the ones, who make it EXTREMELY difficult to believe in God and his design. One can’t stop asking themselves – who, on earth, could design something like this? When religious people themselves blame people for being so atrocious because they choose to be that way, and it’s not God’s fault, then the questions, unfortunately, don’t stop there – why couldn’t God create people in a way that they could design only great things and make only good choices, in order to provide a liveable environment for all his creations?

    It would make sense, if people evolved from some kinda of bacteria, and there was no such thing as God, then their atrocious behavior could be potentially understandable. In this case, you could always tell yourself – what is there to expect from bacteria-based life form other than constantly incurred damage in order to benefit themselves. But when religious people claim to be God’s creations and act on his behalf, they totally misrepresent him by being what they are, unless God is not loving at all and just as atrocious. If that is the truth, then who needs such God, even if he exists.

  36. #36 kjkjh
    March 31, 2011

    @32

    “Because, of course, remaining utterly silent and apolitical is the best way to achieve equal rights, if you’re a minority. A good example, of course, being the black “rights” movement, where black people remained quiet and meek, and eventually, the formerly racist white majority changed their minds for no particular reason and graciously granted them civil rights, one fine Friday.”

    It seems that these days all American citizens have equal rights. However, their equal rights do not seem to allow people to deliver equally great life for everybody. People can still treat you as an outcast, garbage, useless, unworthy for no apparent reason to you, and make your life unbelievably miserable. Discrimination is still there, which is way too powerful to allow equal rights to create true equality. Racial discrimination is just one type of discrimination that is, at least, solvable through moving to a safer environment. However, the other types of discrimination, such as discrimination against your looks, abilities, health, intelligence and so on, that are the largely inborn attributes (just like race), by which people define your value, are a lot more difficult to battle with.

    “Because, of course, remaining utterly silent and apolitical is the best way to achieve equal rights, if you’re a minority.”

    If you remain silent, people are going to think you’re dumn. And, honestly, I don’t know which is more painful – to be discriminated racewise or intelligencewise. When people lash at my race, it makes me laugh. When they lash at my personal qualities, such as intelligence, looks, talents, health and everything else, it makes me wanna cry. And the problem is that race, intelligence, looks, talents, health are all inborn qualities that are equally impossible to change no matter how hard you try. So ethnic minorities can go to hell with their complaints and demand for equal rights. They simply don’t have to hang out by whites, if they don’t like the way they are being treated. There is plenty of land everywhere, where they can build their own civilizations without the reliance on European ideas and technologhy. Well, if they actually have such capacity.

  37. #37 vcvcxv
    March 31, 2011

    The fact that ethnic minorities are acting as victims in the US, does not mean that they are not racist themselves. Furthermore, if you go to countries, where these ethnic minorities are the majority, you will see how unbelievably racist and cruel they can be.

  38. #38 Josh Rosenau
    March 31, 2011

    Michael: Then WTF are you talking about. Either support your bullshit claim or retract it.

    Kevin: Your point would be relevant if we lived in the 18th century or even the early 20th century (i.e., before modern peer review existed). But for better or for worse, we live in an age where legitimate scholarly publication goes through peer review.

    And yes, Barry, that includes publications in philosophy and math and literary studies. Even in science, the principle goal of peer review is to ensure that the results being reported make sense given the evidence and logic offered (the sort of evidence cited varies between disciplines, naturally), and that the paper reflects the current state of the literature, citing relevant previous work and explaining why the results support prior findings or what it means that the results refute or conflict with those earlier findings.

    I frankly don’t know what you think peer review entails that it wouldn’t be relevant to disciplines outside of science. Peer review is primarily a consensus-building tool, and I raise the issue of peer review because I think it’s important to address scholarly consensus when it exists, and to assess what the contenders are for a consensus view if none exists in a field. I don’t see gnus doing that (Jason being the notable exception, assuming he identifies as a gnu).

  39. #39 Jee
    March 31, 2011

    “…These politicians are dutifully carrying out their primary missions of redistributing wealth upwards, destroying the public schools, and basically trying to undo anything that benefits poor and middle class people at the expense of the rich.”

    Some people do not realize that they themselves create miserable existence for themselves, by giving too much credit, admiring, and giving excessive appreciation to certain people, who eventually gain so much power over them that they drive the underappreciated ones to extinction. Like Jesus himself taught: “Do not create false idols for yourselves,” because you shall suffer from them as a result.

    There is no way God could create people with such a tremendous disparity in value, when one person costs billions and another one dies on the street from starvation. Give me a break!

  40. #40 iwueie
    March 31, 2011

    It’s really hilarious – ever since Columbus discovered America, people have been continuously brutalized, enslaved and mistreated on its territory, however, they are still drawn to the states like moths, and are willing to tolerate such brutality. One of the explanations for this phenomenon is the abused person syndrom – on one side you are being fed well, and on the other side, you are being brutalized because that’s the price Americans want you to pay for the “benefits” you receive.

  41. #41 uytryt
    March 31, 2011

    “Occasionally they take time out from this project to demonize gays or Muslims or illegal immigrants. That’s why they are a threat to American well-being.”

    Would someone, who demonizes humans in general, could be considered a threat to American well-being? Aren’t you sick and tired of the bullshit of the entire human race?

  42. #42 eric
    March 31, 2011

    Josh Rosenou: I think you mean “via tax cuts.” And that’s where I tend to think we aren’t talking about a clear or coherent vision.

    You’re missing the forest for the trees. The TEAs are/were fairly politically effective without having the things you claim the gnus “need” to be effective. So how can you claim the gnus need them?

  43. #43 Michael Fugate
    March 31, 2011

    Josh,
    Go back and read through the comments – that wasn’t my comment. Are you really that clueless?

  44. #44 Josh Rosenau
    March 31, 2011

    Ah, apparently I meant Matt Penfold. Apologies for the thinko/typo.

  45. #45 Michael Fugate
    March 31, 2011

    Thanks Josh!

  46. #46 Josh Rosenau
    March 31, 2011

    Eric: There’s no doubt that teabaggers got people elected to office. OTOH, they probably cost the GOP at least two Senate seats (Nevada, Delaware) in the last election, which is a notable own goal. And the 2010 election pickups for Republicans were basically in line with what you’d have predicted they would be based on the national economy and historical voting trends in individual states and congressional districts.

    On the campaign trail and in office, the teabagger message has been incoherent and self-contradictory. And while some got elected, the goal is not to get power, it’s to use power. What actual legislative successes can they claim? Looking at their actions, would you say they’ve been successful? Gov. Walker (like Gov. Scott and Gov. Christie) managed to cost his state a bunch of jobs by canceling the supertrain project (after having renovated a now-empty factory to build the train), then resurrected the labor movement by trying to force through his anti-worker bill, only to wind up not actually passing it because of procedural failures. Meanwhile Congress is likely to pass a budget by cobbling together votes from Democrats and non-teabag Republicans because the teabaggers refuse to give even an inch, thus making them ignorable. It’s a fairly Pyrrhic victory, if we can even call it victory.

  47. #47 Kevin
    March 31, 2011

    Josh: You mean you’re not going to dissect the differences between Hume, Voltaire, and Diderot with regard to the existence of god and the basis of morality? And you call yourself a scholar?

    Again, I invite you to prove to me that the modern scholarship has anything to offer other than word salad. A concept not covered in the 18th century? Or by Lucretius?

    Waiting….waiting….waiting…

  48. #48 uouoi
    March 31, 2011

    @32

    “Because, of course, remaining utterly silent and apolitical is the best way to achieve equal rights, if you’re a minority. A good example, of course, being the black “rights” movement, where black people remained quiet and meek, and eventually, the formerly racist white majority changed their minds for no particular reason and graciously granted them civil rights, one fine Friday.”

    I do not understand why some people choose to live among people, who constantly mistreat them, put them down, bully them, deprive them of the basic means to survive and so on. Even if these people are given equal rights and recognition by those, who brutalized them, how can they respect their abusers afterwards?

  49. #49 Deepak Shetty
    March 31, 2011

    Gnu’s can be confrontational supposedly for the sake of being confrontational.
    What are comparisons of gnu’s with the tea party supposed to be?
    What are idiotic justifications of that comparison supposed to be?
    Because surely when Ruse states that

    And this is why I think the New Atheists are a disaster, a danger to the wellbeing of America comparable to the Tea Party.

    we are meant to read it as gnu’s dont have a clear vision – or a clearly stated problem to be solved.
    That’s what readers are going to interpret that statement as.

  50. #50 wiueey
    April 1, 2011

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    This sounds like a retaliatory tactic on part of Jesus, who also taught not to be retaliatory by turning the other cheek and forgive. I see this as pure hypocracy.

    3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    The problem is that each of Jesus’s creations thinks that there is nothing wrong with them. If every person starts looking for problems within themselves, then their self-esteem will be extrememly low. If you look at yourself in the mirror, and constantly remind yourself of your defects, you won’t be able to survive for too long.

    Can somebody tell me why Jesus is referring to some people as dogs and pigs? All people are supposed to be his creations? Why did he create them in a way that led them to becoming someone, he does not want to give what is sacred? Sorry, but this really doesn’t make sense, and makes Jesus look like a hypocrit? Was this, perhaps, added by somebody else, and was not at all his words? –

    6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

    Furthermore, Jesus preached forgiveness. What type of people would he consider dogs and pigs? The ones, who refuse to believe in him, because they hate his creation for being so atrocious? Supposedly, sinning is totally OK with him.

  51. #51 eric
    April 1, 2011

    Josh @46: What actual legislative successes can they claim?

    IOW, the TEAs won a few battles but you’re going to stick with your claim that they are a failure because they haven’t won the war yet?

    I think that’s ridiculous. Getting people who represent your views elected is a great first step. As is getting national and state parties to change their official platforms to be more in line with your views. As I said in @24, I would be very happy if secularists were able to achieve that, and I’m amazed you wouldn’t count that as a success.

    Bottom line – you drew a comparison betweeen how the gnus act and how the TEAs act in order to try and claim that the gnu movement is a failure. But I think a lot of secularists and atheists would be very happy if the gnus were as successful in the 2012 election cycle as the TEAs were in 2010. And I think if you are honest with yourself, you would admit that you would be happy, too, with an analogous level of success.

  52. #52 antifia
    April 4, 2011

    WTF. What is so wrong about Ruse’s text? Yes, there is the Tea Party hyperbole, but as you said yourself, nobody takes that seriously – an emotional reaction. We are all humans, after all. Despite this one phrase, in a blog that goes for couple of pages, the overall message seems quite on target to me.

  53. #53 dkfjfjf
    April 6, 2011

    “nobody takes that seriously – an emotional reaction.”

    The problem is that people do not take anyone seriously, unless you brutalize them. People, who are obsessed with intellectualism, discredit emotions and view them as something unnecessary, and even as a sign of dumbness. However, a person, who does not have emotions is a psychopath, who is capable of exhibiting unbelievable cruelty.

    If people think they have the power to change human biology and psychology, then emotions are not the only thing that’s unnecessary. There are many things that are unnecessary in the human body. For instance, the need for food, sex, breathing, excreting waste, clothing and reliance on objects in order to perform basic functions.

  54. #54 anon
    April 8, 2011

    If anyone’s wondering what the hippie wing of Christianity is up to, here’s an enlightening post from the Presbyterian Church (USA), the leftmost branch of the Presbyterians:

    http://pcusablog.blogspot.com/2011/04/grounded-scriptures-wisdom-and-milk.html

    “Genetically modifying plants and animals is a whole can of worms. My Material Theology class did a lot of work on debating their merits and dangers. My side (arguing against genetic modification) acted it out: we placed ourselves in a divine council, and God heard arguments against the dangers of GMO agriculture. In our heavenly council, there was an American farmer who had lost his land due to the monopolization process, an Indian farmer whose land was ruined by bad farming practices, and an activist talking about the agricultural-military-industrial complex.”

    Look out, scientists: these new theological research methods are going to revolutionize the quest for knowledge. ;)