Surly theism

preacher1What is it with some of these god-botherers. Mention atheism and they can’t help themselves. It must be all the demonisation they are exposed to. They just can’t see atheists as human can they?

Last week we had Pope Benedict declaring that atheists are responsible for all our environmental problems:

“Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied?”

You can certainly understand where Pam Spauling from the US National Secular Society is coming from when she reacted with the following:

“This is rich coming from the leader of an organisation that has plundered the world to enrich itself. As he sits in his golden palaces, surrounded by unimaginable luxury and material wealth, he lectures the rest of us about restraint and greed. We have nothing to learn about environmentalism from this hypocrite.”

And then on Wednesday the New Zealand Conservative blog had to vent its spleen in The Surly Child That Is Atheism:

“For there is appearing, and growing, in Western Society, a vicious and uncompromising element of atheism, that does not tolerate Christianity at all: indeed, it abhors it and reacts violently towards it.”

Notice the claims of violence by atheists! This seems to be a common ploy of critics of atheism when they let loose. (I have already referred to Michael Ruse‘s violent presentation of atheists beliefs in Religion in the public square).

But what were the examples of “violence’ mentioned by the New Zealand Conservative?

  • Criticism of the Pope for his comments on AIDS and condoms;
  • A Penn and Teller skit on the Catholic Church;
  • Author Phillip Pulman has been writing non-theist fiction again;
  • The state of Wisconsin (USA) provision that requires providers of health insurance include contraceptive services;
  • A Brazilian proposal to remove religious symbols from public buildings in the city;
  • A claim by Australia’s Cardinal Pell that Christians face global bullying in public life.

To me these seem to be complaints about humanity in general – not just atheists. Complaints that our pluralistic society will no longer grant them a dominant role. In fact, they seem to be more the complaints of the bully, rather than the bullied.

And where the hell is all that violence they refer to?

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12 responses to “Surly theism

  1. I was reminded of the Monty Python sketch that includes the immortal words, “Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

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  2. Its been a long time between lion feedings. I think they have forgotten what real persecution is. At least to be on the receiving end of it (speaking of western christians here).

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  3. As for Pope Benedict’s statement – somewhat ironic (to say the least!) in the light of those Christian groups, particularly in the US, for whom The End Is Nigh so we might as well use everything up πŸ˜‰ Come to that, the US is often claimed to be a Christian country/society, but it’s got a woeful environmental record…

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  4. Sean
    I think they have forgotten what real persecution is.
    True, but some people remember.

    Unfortunately a lot of what passes for Christianity these days is full of apocalyptic fear, and the mission of Christ has been sidelined for a pointless ‘culture war’.

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  5. Ruse is an atheist, is he caricaturing himself?

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  6. Matt – just because Ruse is an atheist doesn’t make him:
    a) right
    b) logical
    c) free from personal hangups and professional jealousies.

    He is, after all, human – like all of us.

    Many times he does caricature himself, and his family (have you heard his comments on his daughter?) – which can make his talks and articles quite humorous.

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  7. Ken I agree I think Ruse is unecessarily abrasive and obviously I disagree with him on many things.

    That said I think his substantial points against the new athiests have been made by other philosophers familar with the literature and are worth at least consideration

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  8. Describing Christians as “God botherers” and then saying “They just can’t see atheists as human can they?” in the same paragraph is scoring an own goal.

    You (and others) are quite happy to talk about religious trends and issues in a negative context, but anti-Christian trends are somehow protected?

    Violence against Christians by atheists? There are many examples. The only problem is that atheists hide behind other ideologies when they act. That makes sense given the definition of atheism. You don’t generally kick some-one’s head in whilst saying “this is not in the name of God”, as did a bunch of people beating up Christians in San Francisco recently. Or those after the Californian referendum on Gay Marriage who broke into a church in another state and started harassing church goers.

    To me these seem to be complaints about humanity in general – not just atheists.

    Yep, humanity hiding behind another ideology.

    Complaints that our pluralistic society will no longer grant them a dominant role.

    I’m not looking for a dominant role, I’m looking for a voice. Seems that the system is set up with rules we all play to. Don’t confuse people speaking up with them having too much power, and you just itching to put em back in their place.

    Seems to me you just can’t see Christians as human.

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  9. Matt said about Ruse – “That said I think his substantial points against the new atheists have been made by other philosophers familiar with the literature and are worth at least consideration”.

    Well, consider them then. Having staked out your position don’t leave it hanging in the air. I would love to discuss thee way he has attacked the so-called (not be them) “New Atheists.” I did start discussing his inappropriate use of “violence” terminology in my article Religion in the public square).

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  10. zentiger62 – I assume you are defending the NZ Conservative article (seeing you are linked with that site)?

    I am quite happy to defend Christians when there is a genuine problem. I am a passionate supporter of human rights. But part of that stance is to come out against such biased rubbish as was in the NZ Conservative article. it amounted to demonisation of non-theists.

    Personally I think we have to accept that we live in a pluralistic society. That our human rights legislation apply to all (not just to the “faith community” as the NZ Statement of Religious Diversity claims). I think we all have common interests and can work together for these common interests.

    We have to respect each other as parts of humanity – whcih does not mean respecting beliefs. We have to be able to take criticism as well as give it. Now non-theists have been subjected to the sort of rubbish in that article for millennia and we no longer wish to put up with that.

    It’s part of asserting our right to exist – as equals in a secular society where neither side imposes their beliefs on the other.

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  11. it amounted to demonisation of non-theists.

    Snap. The point of the article was to notice the demonisation of Christians (Those “God botherers” as you charmingly call them) . Surely, this is all part of “We have to respect each other as parts of humanity” whilst simultaneously demonstrating that “does not mean respecting beliefs” (or lack thereof”.

    We have to be able to take criticism as well as give it

    Indeed, although you denied any anti-Christian violence, and I am suggesting there is a lot of anti-Christian violence, as well as an increase in legislation that seeks to undermine freedom of religion.

    Now non-theists have been subjected to the sort of rubbish in that article for millennia and we no longer wish to put up with that.

    Welcome to the club.

    It’s part of asserting our right to exist – as equals in a secular society where neither side imposes their beliefs on the other.

    Some individuals do not believe in the concept of society, even though they live in one. If society exists, then politics is the obvious demonstration of people imposing their (secular or otherwise) beliefs on others. If society doesn’t exist, then your liberterian/anarchical utopia will still rely on the imposition of a new set of beliefs.

    I think we all have common interests and can work together for these common interests.

    Now that’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard on this thread.

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  12. Pingback: Atheism: What It Is And Why It Is « Noreligion Blog

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