Georetown University’s Jacques Berlinerblau has some strange ideas, but they’re usually provocative and sometime worth sharing, which is the case today with his slightly tongue-in-cheek proposal that atheists run a candidate for president. The goal: “This is not about winning or losing. This is about figuring out who nonbelievers are. This is about learning where they are.” Hmmm.
Berlinerblau’s list of possible candidates is perhaps too silly for his argument — several of his choices don’t qualify as they weren’t born in the U.S. (Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushie). But what’s really interesting is his breakdown of the atheist community. To wit:
The flora and fauna of contemporary nonbelief is astonishingly variegated. There are the Big Science Secularists (who sometimes have a creepily cocksure, pre-postmodern, faith in the possibilities of reason). There are the Refugees who are escaping dysfunctional Fundamentalist homes. There are the Church-State Lifers who would rather immolate themselves than endure another breach of the Wall of Separation. There are The Philosopher Kings who are in it for intellectual thrills and who might be reading anything from Ayn Rand to Heidegger to the Death of God Theologians. There are The Lone Rangers who see “Stop” signs as infringements on their personal civil liberties and will ferociously resist being wrangled by any institution, organization, campaign, etc. There is a small–too small, I think–Gay contingent. There is The Lunatic Fringe composed of those who–speaking in secular tongues–equate all Evangelical Christians with the Taliban. And lots of others too.
So where do you fall?
From my cocksure perspective, Berlinerblau may be mischaracterizing the Big Science gang. Perhaps there are some misinformed science geeks who hold a “pre-postmodern, faith in the possibilities of reason.” But I would think that if they do, they belong in one of the professor’s other categories. Or maybe they’re just Laurie Anderson fans.