Author Topic: history of atheism  (Read 189 times)

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Online screwtape

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history of atheism
« on: July 09, 2014, 08:08:58 AM »
At Slate, Michael Robbins writes a review of Nick Spencer's Atheists: The Origin of the Species that is both snotty and mocking of atheists.
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/07/atheists_the_origin_of_the_species_by_nick_spencer_reviewed.single.html

It is mainly a petulant tirade of name calling and, frankly, lies, about what atheists think about religion.  It is a parade of strawmen. 

He says, we - specifically Dawkins - get religion all wrong.  We think it is an attempt at science, which he thinks is laughably moronic, when it is really something else altogether.  Only an idiot would think the bible is an attempt to explain how the universe works.  Yet he never acknowledges, let alone explains, the pluraily of people in the US who do indeed think exactly that.

He makes a common mistake that so many theists do, which is he thinks he found a big, gaping hole in science, all on his own, which far smarter people stupidly overlooked:
Quote
So when, for instance, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne and pop-cosmologist Lawrence Krauss dismiss the (metaphysical) problem of how something could emerge from nothing by pointing to the Big Bang or quantum fluctuation, it is difficult to be kind: Quantum fluctuations, the uncertainty principle, the laws of quantum physics themselves—these are something. Nothing is not quantum anything. It is nothing. Nonbeing. This, not empty space, is what “nothing” signifies for Plato and Aquinas and Heidegger, no matter what Krauss believes. No particles, no fluctuation, no laws, no principles, no potentialities, no states, no space, no time. No thing at all.

No shit, Mikey?  Gosh, you must be smart as hell.  Those scientists must be total dipshits compared to you for not taking that into consideration.  Oh, wait.  They did take that into consideration.  Nevermind.

He says we are ignorant of religion, despite survey after survey showing we know more about it than the religious.
Quote
Several critics have noted that if evangelical atheists (as the philosopher John Gray calls them) are ignorant of religion, as they usually are, then they aren’t truly atheists.

He also delves into morality and thinks we are shallow and have not thought anything through.  He says that secular humanism borrows xian language without any of the underlying metaphysical authority, and so we are stupid.
Quote
The point is not that a coherent morality requires theism, but that the moral language taken for granted by liberal modernity is a fragmented ruin: It rejects metaphysics but exists only because of prior metaphysical commitments. A coherent atheism would understand this, because it would be aware of its own history. Instead, trendy atheism of the Dawkins variety has learned as little from its forebears as from Thomas Aquinas, preferring to advance a bland version of secular humanism. Spencer quotes John Gray, a not-New atheist: “Humanism is not an alternative to religious belief, but rather a degenerate and unwitting version of it.” How refreshing would be a popular atheism that did not shy from this insight and its consequences.

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Offline Timo

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Atheists apparently know nothing...true story
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2014, 05:24:41 AM »
I just think that this here is probably the dumbest thing I've read in quite some time and I want to inflict it on you people if you haven't already had the pleasure:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/07/atheists_the_origin_of_the_species_by_nick_spencer_reviewed.html


Also, how are you people?


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Offline Foxy Freedom

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Re: Atheists apparently know nothing...true story
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2014, 05:58:28 AM »
That was a few minutes of my life wasted on mediocrity.
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Online screwtape

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Re: history of atheism
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2014, 10:02:39 AM »
merged topics

also, nice to see you around, Timo.
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Offline Timo

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Re: history of atheism
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2014, 10:47:35 PM »
Yeah, I was really overwhelmed by how completely up his own ass this dude was.  I think that there is plenty to dislike about the New Atheists, but you can't tell their story without acknowledging that they're reacting to Christian fundamentalism and militant Islam.  But I can see why he didn't since that fact would undermine his point.  What he's calling a strawman is actually a significant portion of the Christian community--significant enough to have captured a major political party.  I mean, I think that he's right that whether or not the opening of Genesis is literally true isn't all that important to Christianity as a whole.  That doesn't change the fact that there are millions and millions of people that believe that I'm wrong about that.  I mean, there are Christian writers who spent their spring winding themselves up in knots trying to figure out a way to make Neil deGrasse Tyson wrong on evolution and other areas of science.  It seems to me then that maybe you can criticize Dawkins or whoever for painting with too broad a brush, but they're not making things up.  There really are people whose Christianity really does depend on those fossils being put in the ground to test our faith.

I think what really bothers me about this piece is that I know for a fact that Slate employs editors.  I'm surprised it was even published.
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