Atheism


Back in November 2006, a writer named Gary Wolf first coined the term New Atheism in an article in Wired. It is truly irritating that he did so,(i) since it has these days become a kind of target at which religious apologists of all flavours seem to very much enjoy taking aim.

Let’s reflect on it for a moment: the conjuring of an idea like a ‘new’ atheism logically demands, of course, that there must be a corresponding concept of an ‘old’ atheism. The vehemence with which many religious writers attack the so co-called New Atheism – as if it’s a ‘thing’ – carries a subtlety that I think a lot of people miss: that it is somehow different to, and less desirable than, the old version. What we have here is a tacit acceptance in modern religious thought that atheism was actually preferable in the old days.

Which is weird, don’t you think?

So, what, exactly, has changed?

It’s all about voices. For millennia the Church(ii) has had the loudest voice in town(iii) but in recent times, the voice of atheism has become louder and stronger, and more people are hearing it. Religions really don’t like that. They preferred it when atheists were meek and quiet and stayed in their university cloisters (because that’s where they mostly were) and weren’t heard by too many. The objection here, then, is not to atheism itself, but instead to an atheism that people know about.

To this end, religious apologists find it advantageous to make a differentiation between ‘old’ and ‘new’ atheism and so they set about characterising the New Atheists in unpleasant terms. In other words, they contrive to make an old adversary, who was comfortably tolerated and conveniently insulated, into a different one: a newbie who is disagreeable, loud-mouthed and crass – and therefore, by inference, someone with little credibility and who you shouldn’t like. This has nothing to do with what atheists are actually saying, of course, but more to do with painting an unflattering picture of them.(iv)

New Atheists are, then, brash, opinionated, militant (whatever that means),(v) narrow-minded and intolerant. Of course the majority of atheists don’t see themselves like this, so the term is viewed among atheists as completely daft. People like myself, who have identified as atheists for decades, don’t consider themselves as ‘new’ anything. We continue to hold the views that we’ve always held, and speak about them in the ways that we always have.

The significant difference, of course, is that now we have the internet we can quite easily circulate those views, make them public(vi) and share them with others. But hey – so can the religiously convinced! So what then is the problem – status quo reclaimed, right?

Not so much.

What’s happening to religion at this point in the 21st century, is exactly the same thing that’s happening to all those institutions that control the conduits for the dissemination of intellectual property. I’ve talked about other contexts for that previously on the Cow, and this is no different. A record company or a movie studio or a newspaper controls the conduit for their intellectual property in order to make money out of those who comprise their audience. Religions control the conduit because this is how they perpetuate propaganda and stop adherents from getting information from elsewhere – information that just might conceivably make more sense than that which they themselves are peddling. That’s a massive risk for religion, because in the same way that this unfettered access to information is thoroughly wrecking the old edifices of intellectual property, it could (and probably would if given sufficient time, I think) completely disintegrate the stranglehold of religion on humanity.

To put it simply, religions are losing ground when it comes to controlling how people think. Since the Devil is kinda out of fashion these days, they desperately need somebody they can blame for this horribly destabilising state of affairs. No wonder they’re so keen to find a way to make us look bad.
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Footnotes:

  1. But probably inevitable that a term like it would have arisen anyway. []
  2. When I say ‘the Church’ in most contexts on TCA, you should take it to mean ‘all conventional kinds of religion that command large numbers of followers’. []
  3. Well, possibly second to money, but hey. []
  4. You will have spotted this as a very common logical fallacy: make people look bad so that you can make it seem that their point of view is bad – Poisoning the Well. []
  5. From the first time I heard this adjective applied to atheism it really pissed me off. What the actual fuck does that mean – that atheist have guns and an army? It’s a highly coloured term that has one purpose and one purpose alone: to conjure up images of organized aggression, intolerance and domination by force. None of these objectives are ever promoted by the atheist community. []
  6. As I’m doing right now. []

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Like a bunch of other people I recently saw Ang Lee’s screen interpretation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I thought the film was pretty good – a decent cinematic imagining of the tale, even if it did gloss over some of the subtleties of the book.(i) That’s the legacy of cinema of course – commercial pressure sees to it that any idea, big or small, must be squashed into a two or three hour format no matter what the consequence to the idea. But this is not going to be one of my film reviews, you will be pleased to hear. Instead, I want to talk about the premise of the story of Life of Pi itself, and why I think its pop wisdom coda is curiously diffuse and widely misinterpreted.

[Spoilers: To make the point of my post I must necessarily relate plot details and give away the ending, so if that bothers you, you probably should stop reading now.]

The framework for the novel relies on a conceit that has an anonymous narrator relating an incident in which he meets an elderly man who offers to tell him a story fantastic enough to give him faith in God. By inference, we, the reader will also become convinced enough by this wondrous affair when it is revealed to us, to adopt faith in God ourselves.(ii)

The rest of the tale is then told in the first person voice of Piscine Patel – the eponymous ‘Pi’ – and concerns the adventures that ensue when his father, a zookeeper, is forced to close the family menagerie and sell the animals to other zoos around the world. As the story sets out, we learn of a young Pi’s attempts to make some sense of the religions he reads about in school. His efforts to square those beliefs with the harsh lessons of nature he witnesses among the animals in the zoo culminate in him taking the unusual step of adopting Christianity, Hindi and Islam all together – because he can’t see that any one of these doctrines by itself is exclusively of merit. And still, we sense, he is not happy. It sets Pi apart as a curious and conflicted boy, searching for answers that come neither from his rationalist meat-eating father or from his religious vegetarian mother.(iii) The main part of the story takes place when the family set off to Canada via ship, to escort the last of the zoo animals to their new home. The voyage doesn’t go well, and the ship sinks in bad weather, eventuating in the death of Pi’s family and all the animals save a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and the memorable ‘Richard Parker’ – a Bengal tiger – the four of whom end up adrift in a lifeboat with Pi. The hyena, zebra and orangutan don’t last long for various reasons and what then ensues is a highly improbable fantastic journey, in which Pi trains Richard Parker not to eat him and the two companions witness all manner of marvels including phosphorescent sea creatures, great flocks of flying fish and a carnivorous island inhabited by meerkats. It’s a sweet and engaging tale.

Yann Martel intends it to be more than simply that, though. Navigating past assorted obstacles that are mostly philosophical and/or religious feints that are, unfortunately I think, never really addressed or resolved, Pi and Richard Parker become ever more desperate, until at last, dehydrated and starving, they are washed up on a Mexican beach. Richard Parker immediately vanishes into the jungle with nary a tip of the cap or a cheerio, and Pi is rescued by some itenerant fishermen. On his recovery, he is obliged to undertake an interview with Japanese officials attempting to discover the cause of the disaster which shipwrecked him. Quite understandably, they find his tale completely implausible, and so he tells them another more brutal human story in which, instead of animals, some members of the crew and his mother end up in the lifeboat. They all die in unpleasant but probable ways, and the Japanese investigators draw the conclusion that Pi’s first story is an allegorical recounting of what really happened.

‘But which story do you prefer?’ asks Pi.

The investigators choose the version with the animals.

Pi thanks them and says, ‘And so it goes with God.’

In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to Yann Martel, describing Life of Pi as ‘an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling’. It makes me wonder whether President Obama read the same book as I did, and if so, where the ‘proof of God’ actually was, because it seems to me that it’s the very antithesis of that.(iv)

It bothers me deeply that people seem to have read the story in this way. Life of Pi provides no compelling argument for someone to take up faith in God (which was the promise made by our narrator in the beginning, as you will recall). Nor, indeed, does it advance any kind of advocacy for religious belief.(v) Sure, it indisputably does offer up a wonderful poetic vision of why it would be nice to think that God exists, but just look at that coda: ‘Which version’ asks Pi ‘…do you prefer?’ Isn’t that as plain as day?

Of course we all prefer the story with the tiger and the magical luminous creatures and the spooky island(vi) – but preferring it makes it neither true nor illuminating. It just means it is a nice story. In the event, Pi’s journey has no material significance as far as the Japanese officials’ investigation is concerned, so a fictional recounting is neither better nor worse than the truth for the purposes of their report.

With this in mind, a sensible person would surely interpret the message of the book as: Believe whatever makes you feel good as long as you understand that it has no relevance to real life. To accept that this holds any kind of profundity, though, is as absurd as saying that it’s rational to discard the truth for fanciful ideas about Santa Claus, or elves, or the Tooth Fairy, simply because all those are preferable stories. These are concepts we entertain when we are children; fantasies that are quite harmless in the protected realm of childhood but which break down when confronted with rational scrutiny. People who still believe – literally – in the Tooth Fairy into their adulthood tend to have a lot of trouble dealing with the real world.(vii)

In addition, and perhaps more gratingly, this conclusion – that choosing to believe in a nice story is preferable to committing to actual reality – sells the alternative short. It diminishes the wondrous nature of the universe by squashing it under the squalor of the worst aspects of humanity. Pi’s alternative narrative is an unpleasant and uncomfortable one, evoking as it does all the terrible (animal) traits of human beings. It’s certainly not a story someone would ‘prefer’ to live through, but it is the story we are obliged to live through. The obvious takeaway for most people seems to be that the lively fantasy version of the tale, with its more-than-human animals is somehow truer to the way humans ‘really’ are. It’s a familiar hubristic 19th century Judaeo-Christian worldview. Despite its 21st century multicultural pretensions to a lofty spiritual philosophy Life of Pi veritably reverberates with the echoes of the fairytales of Rudyard Kipling and A. A. Milne. Religious thought has ever been like this. It wants to hijack the noble parts of humanity and make a claim on them, whilst distancing itself from the bestial, the venal and the mortal, but the fact is that we humans will never truly be on the path to a worthwhile future as long as we try to set ourselves apart from nature. We can simply ignore what we’re really like or we can attend to it and attempt to address the bad bits. It is a magnificent talent that we can make up colourful and imaginative stories, but we should never, ever, start preferring to believe in them to the detriment of seeking real, touchable, relevant knowledge.

Unless, of course, the consequences actually don’t matter. Then go ahead and believe anything you want.

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Footnotes:

  1. …and lean a little too heavily on other not-so-subtle things… []
  2. In the movie, the narrator is personified as a young novelist looking for a story and it is an older Pi who offers to provide the justification for faith. This whole mechanism seems tacked-on and clumsy, and exists solely as a setup for the flimsy ‘gotcha’ moment in the finale. When I read the book it tainted the whole experience for me, because I was constantly waiting for the whammy. It would have been SO much more elegant without it, and seems like such an awful high-school flub that I’m totally surprised that it wasn’t heavily criticized. It would have lent the story an ambiguity – indeed, a point – that certainly wouldn’t have prompted a gushing letter from Barack Obama. I can’t say exactly why, but the mechanism was more irksome in the film. It’s been several years since I read the book, so maybe I’m just more touchy on the subject these days… []
  3. Yes, when you put it like that, it does seem rather heavy-handed, doesn’t it? But I’m just telling it like it is. []
  4. Even now, I am compelled to wonder if Martel intended to write an endorsement of atheism but chickened out at the last minute – for, without the framing story, that’s exactly how you would read Life of Pi. []
  5. You could argue that the island with the meerkats is an allegorical criticism of organised religion, in fact. []
  6. Although I feel I must point out that there are undoubtedly writers who could have made the other story as equally compelling, compassionate and poignant if they’d turned their hands to it. It’s another conceit of the novel – in pursuit of its high moral ground – to paint reality as something that is distasteful, miserable and undesirable. []
  7. Indeed, people who hold ‘religious’ beliefs that don’t square with the endorsed and accepted ones face exactly this problem too. You’re an Aetherian? Seriously? [woooo-eee-oooo] []

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Tetherd Cow Ahead Presents: The Baffling Bible
Episode #5: Jesus and the Fig Tree


When I was a kid in Sunday School, I learned lots about the life of Jesus. I knew the stories of the Sermon on the Mount, the casting out of demons into swine, the miracle of the loaves & fishes, the overturning of the moneylenders’ tables in the tabernacle and many other colourful yarns that have turned out to have about as much relevance to my adult life as they did to my ten-year-old self.

One baffling tale that doesn’t usually get much of an airing when the life of Our Lord is being recounted, though, is the story of Jesus and the Fig Tree. It certainly didn’t make it into my Bible class back in the day – I think it’s just possible that’s because a ten-year-old might’ve empathized with it all too well.

To set the the scene: Jesus has returned from his 40 days and nights in the desert where he has had a lengthy hobnob with God, and is traipsing across the countryside accumulating crowds(i) of the faithful and assembling the cabal of chaps who would end up as his apostles. This is the Jesus of Matthew and Mark. This is the Jesus we all know and love from the comic books; he has just appeared to his followers (and Matthew & Mark’s readers) in dazzling white raiment which of course proves he is not just some guy like all the other common-garden-variety Messiahs who were touring the land at the time. In addition, he takes every opportunity to voice noble (if mostly obvious and occasionally curious) moral advice, and he performs miracles. Lots of them.(ii)

The Story of the Fig Tree is one such miracle. We’ll take up the tale with Jesus waking up one morning after having spent the night in the countryside outside Jerusalem (somewhere around here I figure). Over to Matthew to relate the tale in his compelling literary style:

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

~(Matthew 21:19)

In other words, because Jesus was hungry and there were no figs, he threw a tantrum and did the supernatural equivalent of punching his fist through the wall: he put a curse on the tree. Kapow! Take THAT you stupid tree! I’ll teach you not to have figs out of season!

Now religious scholars are quick to put forward all kinds of explanations for this decidedly tetchy Saviour behaviour. It’s certainly not fashionable these days to have Jesus to appear to petulantly invoke his super powers out of spite, so most modern Christian scholars interpret the story of Jesus and the Fig Tree as some kind of metaphorical statement about the condition and the predicted eventual fate of the Jewish nation.

But I want you to pause and reflect on that for a moment. None of Jesus’ other miracles get the ‘allegory’ explanation. If Jesus does a really cool thing – like healing a blind man, say, or walking across a lake – that’s not a metaphor. That’s a myrrh-soaked, gold-plated, frankinsence-doused, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die-and-never-be-resurrected MIRACLE! But when Our Lord chucks a tanty and fries a fig tree, well then, that must be symbolic

That’s all well and good, and I might even buy it except for one thing: both Matthew and Mark independently make the effort to point out that Jesus was hungry. This tiny detail makes nonsense of the fall-of-the-Jewish-nation explanation. How does that high-falutin’ symbolism have anything to do with Jesus not getting breakfast? Plus, it just gives the whole story a ring of truth – I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

No, Faithful Acowlytes, I believe that the most reasonable hypothesis for this story is that Jesus just got out of bed on the wrong side and took his grumpiness out on the first thing he saw (and I offer this as scientific endorsement of my assertion). Luckily it was just a tree – his dad had something of a tendency to take his pique out on entire cities.

Or maybe, just maybe, the Westboro Baptist Church has had it right all along, only their bibles have a small typographical error…

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Footnotes:

  1. We should take mentions of ‘crowds’ in the Bible with a grain of salt. That part of the world was not especially densely populated at that time, and I suspect that if you got a toothless man and his wife and their goat to come out and look at you, that probably counted as a ‘crowd’. Especially in the eyes of someone spinning a yarn to beat up some PR, as Matt and Mark unquestionably are. []
  2. I feel I have to point out that, in the light of the way we are familiar with ‘healings’ & clairvoyance and visions of the Virgin and other contemporary ‘miracles’, you don’t have to try too hard to come up with fairly reasonable non-supernatural explanations for all Jesus’ marvellous conjurations. And given nearly 20 centuries of undoubted ‘embroidery’, well… []

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You’re right, there’s no proof… but there’s no proof of Jesus…

Sometimes I just love teh internetz!


[...Deconstructing the Transforming Melbourne document - continued from here. This is the longest post, but also contains the nastiest material. Charitable Christians? Not in this town.]

Their [atheists'] control of major media outlets means they can daily run a crusade for their faith,

Atheists control major media outlets? Wow. That’s news to me. I really wish it were so, but sadly that isn’t the case. And a crusade? Do you even know the root of that word, Mr Isaachsen?

[French croisade and Spanish cruzada, both ultimately from Latin crux, cruc-, cross.]

Any of the military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims.

Methinks this is a pot-calling-the-kettle-black situation you’ve got going there. I guess you’d have phrased that a little differently if you’d spent more than a nano-second of spittle-flecked-ranting-thought on it.

I’m tired of saying it, but it obviously just doesn’t sink in with people whose brains are ‘wired’ for religion: atheism is NOT A FAITH. It’s not ABOUT faith. It has nothing to do with faith. You can keep on trying to paint it that way, but none of us see it like that. It is a measure of your great failure to understand what we’re talking about that you continue to attempt to portray us as being just like you.

Atheism has become a new “evangelistic religion”, seeking to gain converts and stir opposition to Christianity.

No, it hasn’t. Atheists don’t ‘seek to gain converts’. Atheists seek the freedom to let people decide for themselves how the world works without influencing them with superstition. If you had real faith that what you believe is right, Mr Isaachsen, surely this shouldn’t concern you quite so much.

This new religion calls for adherents to a level of faith to believe that there is no meaning in life, there is no God, and that the only “real” things are those you can touch or prove. To believe anything else would be illogical (what they do about proving or disproving “love” is a mystery).

OK, well, now it’s obvious that he’s just raving. Atheism, as I keep saying, is not a religion and does not involve faith. And it certainly isn’t new, any way you want to look at it. And notice how he folds a whole lot of puerile and simplistic assertions up together and presents them as if they are one wholistic fact. Although atheists don’t feel the need to believe in a supernatural being that takes a personal interest in our affairs (we don’t believe in God – fact), I don’t know a single atheist or humanist who says that ‘there is no meaning in life’, or that ‘the only real things are those you can touch or prove.’ These are gross misrepresentations of an atheist viewpoint, and Mr Isaachsen undertakes them out of wilful malice or ignorance. I am inclined toward the former, given the tone of his tract.

I won’t even bother with his silly faux puzzlement about ‘proving’ or ‘disproving’ love. I can’t even fathom a brain that thinks with such superficial banality.

The promoters of this “religion” are strong on seeking to undermine Christianity and religion, and are engaged in widespread attempts to have the core values of our society removed.

While Mr Isaachsen is very happy to promote atheism as a religion here, I wonder how keen he’d be to see it get the kinds of tax breaks that his Church does? Not very, I wager. Like many religious people, especially Christian religious people, he seems to see atheism as some kind of anarchistic form of Satanism. No atheist in my sphere of knowledge is attempting to ‘have the core values of our society removed’. It’s fearful and hyperbolic language designed to frighten people who don’t know better. You see, what he’s doing here is saying that Christianity has some kind of monopoly on all the things we consider good and valuable in our society, and that those kinds of values simply can’t come from anywhere else. Any reasonable person would realise, after a moment of reflection, that many, many societies through history have managed to have very decent lives without even having heard of the Christian religion. This frightening hubris is extraordinary, given the widely promoted emphasis on meekness and humility within Christian philosophy. This idea that Christianity is the be-all and end-all of how to live a life is far from meek or humble.(i)

An example is their moves to undermine the traditional nature of family based of the marriage of a man and a woman and the children they bear and raise, which is the core of a healthy society.

Ah, there we have it. Where is that Christian tolerance now? Since you’re bashing gays, Mr Isaachsen, why not throw in a couple of stonings and a sacrifice? They come from the same part of the Bible. Or can you, like so many Christians, somehow manage to live your life by the bits of the Bible that suit you and ignore the rest?

They are strong on their style of intellectualism and highly intentional at gaining influence and pulling down religion (and especially Christian faith). It is noticeable that there is little mention of promoting positive contribution to society or of any initiatives or encouragement towards the welfare of our society. (It is recently rumored that atheists have started an overseas child sponsorship programme – perhaps to be able to say they have an interest in welfare programmes.)

I really find it hard to believe that this man is quite as stupid or malicious as he appears. What is that last sentence? A condescending attempt to give an impression there is only ONE non-religious charity out there?! Is he really that small-minded? (That’s mostly a rhetorical question, because I actually think he is.)

The Atheists claim they focus on pursuing the truth, however in publicly attacking the Chaplaincy in schools programme as being negative and for preaching and brainwashing children they deliberately or otherwise deny the truth, and certainly do not reveal how highly valued chaplains are by principals and school that work with them, and the growing number of principals applying to have a chaplain at their school.

OK. Well. That’s incoherent.

On receiving the Australian Foundation of Atheists “Australian Humanist of the Year” award, Dr Leslie Cannold urged her audience to organise and fight back against religious fundamentalists who take advantage of Australia’s acceptance of religious freedom to push their ”violently intolerant ideologies’

Oh right, so what you’re saying then, Mr Isaachsen, is that we should condone religious fundamentalists? Like the ones who flew planes into the World Trade Center, perhaps? And you, by chance, advocating violently tolerant ideologies? Because it sure sounds that way…

She went on to make the extraordinary claim that “Christianity is a greater threat to society that militant Islam”.

No, she did not (evidently Christians have no compunction about lying as part of their modus operandi, just as I inferred last post). What Dr Cannold said, in fact, was:

My point here is not to suggest that [proselytizing] is not morally repugnant and a real cause for alarm – it is – but to point out that in Australia the risks it poses emanate primarily from evangelical Christian fundamentalists, not jihadist Muslims.

… which is a very different proposition entirely. She is saying, in case I need to make it clear, that religious proselytizing by evangelical Christian fundamentalists is of greater concern in Australia than proselytizing from fundamentalist Muslims. I’m pretty sure that a great number of Australians would agree with that statement.

Mr Isaachsen either didn’t read Dr Cannold’s speech, or he is intentionally altering its meaning to suit his purpose. Either way he is being deceitful.(ii)

Where would it lead if they had their way?

“The attempt to eradicate religion only leads to it reappearing in grotesque and degraded forms. A credulous belief in world revolution, universal democracy or the occult powers of mobile phones is more offensive to reason than the mysteries of religion, and less likely to survive in years to come.” ~ ‘Evangelical atheism, secular Christianity’ By John Gray – Emeritus Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics

That has to be the lamest quote in support of an argument that I’ve heard in a very long time. Mr Isaachsen conveniently forgets that Christian history is littered with its (often successful) efforts to eradicate religions with which it has come into conflict. Didn’t seem to be much of a problem when the Christians were hell bent on doing it. As usual, the double standard is in play, bolstered by the haughty Christian conviction that they have the monopoly on a superior morality and spirituality. Mr Isaachsen seems oblivious of the fact that Professor Gray’s quip says, in effect, that ANY religion is better than no religion at all. Christians (including Rob Isaachsen if this tract is an accurate representation of his stance) quite plainly are only prepared to tolerate ONE religion: their own.

It seems clear that if they were to succeed with the atheist’s intentions, the society based on their philosophy would lead to a collapse of much of what we know and enjoy, what is valued by the majority of the population, and what sustains much of the community.

It doesn’t seem at all clear to any thinking person that this apocalyptic scenario would unfold, Mr Isaachsen. You seem once again to have gotten your atheists confused with your anarchists (or perhaps with your Satanists). And once again you seem to think that Christianity is responsible for everything good about our lives and ‘much of what we know and enjoy’. That’s plain bunk. Personally speaking, I have a very enjoyable, love-filled, friend-rich, family-oriented life full of wonder, and inspiration and satisfaction. And, as much as this seems an impossible thing for you to grasp, not one little bit of it is due to Christianity. Or ANY religion. That is purely a conceit of your limited world view.

CONCLUSION
Secularisation involves doing churchy things in a churchy way by non-churchy people, and while this has resulted in decades of marginalization of the church, it is now recognized that a very obvious partner for governments in the church-type activities is the church itself.

Wow. That ace came off the bottom of the deck so fast that I wonder how many of you saw it? Rob Isaachsen just tried to claim all the commendable acts in the world in the name of the Church! Apparently he believes that there can be no kind of admirable morality without it being somehow the responsibility of religion! How offensive is that? Every doctor in Médecins Sans Frontières, every volunteer for Amnesty International, every one of you who has done something out of human compassion or altruism is just doing a ‘churchy thing’. In fact, your churchy thing, dear Acowlyte, was a lesser deed because it didn’t involve Jesus. What a mean-spirited and selfish philosophy this man holds. If this thinking represents the thoughts of most Christians, then they have every reason in the world to be afraid of atheists and humanists because their shallow morality must inevitably unravel in the face of people who really care.

I’m going to finish this up here, faithful Cowpokes. The Transforming Melbourne diatribe goes on for a while more, but I am sincerely offended, no – disgusted, by the imperious self-righteousness that saturates it, and I don’t care to dismantle it any further. Since I left the Christian Church 35 years ago as a teenager, I have never really been fond of its myopic and outmoded approach, but this new evangelism, fuelled as it is by fear and desperation, stinks of a witch hunt. Which, after all, is a pursuit with which Christianity is very familiar.

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Footnotes:

  1. The exhortations of meekness and humility are of course just rhetoric. Christians throughout history have displayed arrogance, aggression and hubris in staggering quantities whenever it suited their purposes. The Catholic Church – meek and humble? Give me a break! []
  2. It is possible that he just wasn’t capable of understanding what she was talking about. It wouldn’t surprise me. []

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