Pharyngula

NO RELATION!

Kevin Myers is some wackalooney Irish commentator who, as far as I know and as fervently as I hope, is no recent relation to this Myers — the only thing I can commend him on is that he manages to spell his last name correctly. Oh, we do have one other thing in common: we’re both atheists. He’s an idiot atheist, though, so I wash my hands of him. He recently made this admission while also acknowledging his flaming hypocrisy.

Now what follows is quite hypocritical. For, on the one hand, I simply don’t believe in God, because I am intellectually unable to; but on the other, I prefer a society which generally respects and reveres a god, and the organised system of pieties and rules that a god-based religion generates. The alternative seems to be a secular-dementia that makes godlike figures of such as Rooney [some football star I know nothing about –pzm]. I would have once said that there was little worse than the vulgar basilica at Knock, and the debased and semi-hysterical cult surrounding it — but surely, it doesn’t compare in sheer bloody awfulness with the frenzied adoration generated by soccer or television celebrity-worship.

How condescending. He’s too smart to be anything but an atheist; but all the little people out there, the dull dumb mob, why…they need religion so that they’ll obediently maintain his life in the style to which he is accustomed. There are plenty of idiot atheists like that, and they’re usually conservative/libertarian assholes. Personally, I would rather not live in a society of pious rules-followers; I want everyone’s intelligence respected and nurtured and encouraged to flower. My ideal society is one that is getting better and discovering new ideas and bringing everyone along, not just some smug elite that thinks they’re better than everyone else.

The credulousness that has caused people to turn to a god is so universal that it must be in our DNA. In other words, it is an evolved characteristic, which has proved beneficial to those who have possessed it. Groups of primitive man who didn’t believe in a god simply perished. Clearly, possessing this belief — presumably because it helped to create a moral order — conferred a decisive survival-advantage which non-believing groups fatally lacked.

So, mankind will always need its gods: that’s in our genes.

But wait, Kevin…are you not human? Did you fail to inherit this precious strand of DNA? Do you consider yourself unfit, doomed to die as a detriment to society?

There is no evidence that humans without god-belief died because of it. There is no evidence that atheism is genetically determined. There is no reason to believe that those of us who do not hold in faith are somehow biologically special — I certainly don’t regard myself as unusual, and consider my youthful departure from religion to be a consequence of early experience and education in science. I also don’t look at believers and figure they’re all crippled from birth.

It’s simply idiotic to declare that humanity will always believe in gods because of a genetic predisposition while noting that some of us don’t believe and also feel no stress or loss because of our disbelief — apparently it’s not in our genes.

Mr Myers (oh, how it pains me to use that name in this context!) has another peculiarity: he’s a self-loathing atheist who also thinks, along with the Pope and a host of other deluded souls, that secularism has been the great evil of the 20th century.

And no one ever suggested that gods were always good: look at the Aztecs, feeding their children to their ferocious deity: the Ashanti much the same. And in our post-religious culture, we have seen, in all their splendour, the celebrities whom people worship in the absence of a creator-god in their firmament: Madonna, or Lindsay Lohan, or Piers Morgan, or Simon Cowell — or even Wayne Rooney.

And they’re the good ones, before we come to the great secular gods of the 20th century: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot. They all triumphed in political cultures of obligatory godlessness. Remember — there have, in fact, been few societies which made godlessness mandatory: and without exception, they soon degenerated into orgies of murder. And maybe that’s what happened to the early hominids: those who didn’t have a god, in other words, those who didn’t fear consequence, rapidly disappeared in a welter of homicidal bloodshed.

Repeat after me: Hitler was not an atheist. He was a crazy Catholic. None of these people, horrible as they were, killed in the name of secularism or atheism, but in the name of specific ideologies…and they also tended to set up cults of personality. I know nothing about this Wayne Rooney with whom Mr Myers is obsessed, but I don’t think he’s a major figure in 21st century atheism, and for all I know he’s a devout Presbyterian; it doesn’t seem to matter to Kevin Myers. Madonna is a weird New Agey kabbalist and former Catholic…again, not an atheist. I don’t know what Lindsay Lohan’s religious beliefs are, but I doubt that all of her fans (does she have any any more?), or even a majority of her fans, are unchurched.

Maybe he should look a little deeper into his own assertions. He claims that societies that have made “godlessness mandatory” have collapsed. It could be that it isn’t the “godlessness” part that has been destructive, but the “mandatory” part, and that tyrannies that try to dictate the beliefs of citizens, no matter what those beliefs are, are going to fall apart in internal strife.

Not that I expect Kevin Myers to ever think that deeply about his own ideas. He seems to be content with his hypocrisy and self-contradiction.

Hey, if atheist views are so likely to disintegrate healthy social values, shouldn’t he be quarantining himself, and voluntarily hiding his unfit self so that he can continue to reap the benefits of a godly society?