Thinking out Loud about Virtual Atheists, part 1

[This got real long so it’s going up in like FIVE parts.]

As I stare at half a paragraph in which I am endeavouring to formulate a thesis and/or to persuade the RLST guild at large that we must take contemporary atheists seriously, including and especially every jamoke with a blog on networks like Freethought Blogs and Planet Atheism, I hit a handful of blogs posts (by evangelical atheists and religion scholars) some of which I want to try to pull together here and perhaps in the effort I can wrap up my thesis/clarion call.

Let me begin with this post from the Anything but Theist (AbT) blog. I was going to post all or large parts of it, but it’s long so and so head-spinning that giving my point will undoubtedly be lost if I give it too much space. I guess this post irks me more than many because you don’t often find so much empty editorial, unsubstantiated assertion, cavalier use of the concept of ‘religion’, and misrepresentation of serious intellectual work in and on religion (all wrapped in self-satisfied snark) in one place. ***I didn’t go seek out this soft target. I found it it, and consider it here, because AbT is a blog belonging to the Planet Atheism network which is the host of numerous atheist blogs, including many written by well-known blogging atheists.

Where to start? Begin at the beginning, I guess, with the author’s characterization of ‘religion’ as simple. It’s (invariably) sociologically (and theologically?) simple in order to appeal to the simples masses. All with the implication that if it’s simple, it’s simply dismissed.

From this follows what I can only describe as the oddest series of remarks about intellect, scholarship, theology and the study of religion I’ve ever encountered. It’s hard to say what the author’s point is or even what the author is trying to say exactly.

It seems though that the point is that religion has specialized in the management of information. From humble origins assorted evil geniuses turned those folksy traditions created for the folk into complex theological edifices inscrutable to all but those within “fancy-pants circles.” Today, partisans declare that critics lack adequate training in this, that or the other tradition in order to “refute” it (ie. they don’t have enough information). But this so-called knowledge is really nothing more than intellectual onanistic issue in favour of mass delusions and not worth the parchment it’s printed on. The intellectually honest in the past had to kowtow to the information managers, or deluded themselves within their faith, as they discovered independently information of the really real. Fortunately for the folk, today information is free thanks to the internet so the learned can no longer guard it from scrutiny. Expertise is readily acquired so the information leading to atheism ready at hand. And yet, our author ends by informing us that “atheism doesn’t take brains, it takes guts.”

Read the thing yourself – if you dare – to determine how polemical I’m being here. Leaving aside how garbled the argument here appears, I don’t think I’ve found a more egregious example of atheist philistinism and anti-intellectualism, not to mention ignorance. It might not seem worthwhile (or fair) to hold this up as an example, but I’d argue that the difference between this and atheist writing in the main is one of degree and not of kind.

[Feel free to let me know if and when you wanna see part 2.]

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1 Comment »

  1. Bret Alan said

    Thanks for the link(s). I notice there are two other parts…

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