Friday, March 02, 2007

Dawkins was only half right.

Youll have to forgive the fragmented nature of this post, but Im really irritated right now. Irritated and disappointed.

For those of you who dont know the term, 'Neville Chamberlain Atheist' was a phrased coined by Richard Dawkins in 'The God Delusion.' He defined them as a group of atheists that will happily blast Dembski and Behe on their god-science, yet are as equally happy to turn around and blast atheists who point out to theistic evolutionists that they arent being epistemologically consistent.

Dawkins was on the right track, but I think there is a better descriptor for this issue that also explains other problems in the nontheistic community.

I think the main problem with the NCA definition is that cooperating with theistic evolutionists to communicate science to the general public is something that all atheistic scientists do. Certainly there are varying degrees of tolerance for this cooperation, but I dont think it is necessary to make a distinction between levels of tolerance. I mean, I certainly wont waste my time attending a Francis Collins presentation (or this asshole), and I would never hide my displeasure at his philosophical inconsistencies, but the fact of the matter is I really REALLY dont care what other scientists do on their time off. I need help getting evolution taught to kids. I need help explaining to adults how my research, research that requires evolution, relates directly to their quality of life. Whether you go to Star Trek conventions or the Mormon church after I get that help means little to me.

I think Dawkins missed the larger picture. There is, it seems, a subculture in the atheist community where attacking everyone, friend and foe, is in vogue-- the Neville Chamberlain Atheist^2. Extend Dawkins point out from Creationists vs Evolution to Theism vs Atheism, to Silence vs Voice. I think my irritation is best explained through a scene from 'The Last Battle', by C.S. Lewis (yes, militant atheist read C.S. Lewis, eyes didnt boil out of her sockets nor did she convert). At one point in the battle, it seemed the side of Good was lost, but then, over the hills, came the cavalry (literally). The talking horses come pounding over the mountains to save the day!.... And theyre all slaughtered. By the Evil side? No. The dwarfs. What did they have to say for themselves? "We dont want either side to win."

There is a subculture within the atheistic community that doesnt want anyone to 'win'-- they love to blast Creationists and Christian hypocrites as much as I do, but then they turn around and chastise other atheists for having the audacity to speak their mind. Im not sure what their ultimate goal is, and maybe they dont have one. Maybe they just really enjoy bitching (as its far easier than doing anything), and I have a hunch thats the case.

Example A: Theism vs Atheism
There was a LOT of bitching from this subculture when 'The God Delusion' first came out-- but curiously, none of these bawlers appeared to have, you know, READ the book before they started bitching. One of these individuals 'uncovered' that Dawkins signed a petition that wanted to make forcing religion on children illegal and thought himself quite clever. Never mind Dawkins thought that the petition was for school indoctrination only, never mind he was speaking on schools in the UK which are set up differently than were familiar with in the US, never mind that anyone who was passingly familiar with Dawkins would have known precisely what he meant (either by reading TGD, watching 'Root of All Evil', or checking his damn Wiki page). No, "Dawkins wants to make religion illegal!!"

Of course if Dawkins is using atheism to justify child pornography or illegal activities, THAT we should all speak out against. But it was like this subculture was making a mountain out of a molehill just to have the opportunity to BITCH about something.

Example B: Silence vs Voice
Now this subculture has decided that atheists are not allowed to speak their minds without being 'idiots.'

Its no secret that I like David Mills. I like Atheist Universe. I love the fact that hes an Average Joe atheist, like most atheists-- hes not a professor at Oxford or Tufts. Hes just a regular guy with a wife and a kid, and he wrote a book that is understandable by Average Joe Atheists that have no desire to get PhDs in philosophy or physics.
Anyone who knows him, has conversed with him over e-mail, has heard him on a radio interview, or has, you know, READ his book, knows that David is silly. I think you would have to have a sense of humor to be an atheist in West Virginia. But once again, this atheist subculture is too good to actually read the books and know who the atheists are that theyre bashing-- no that would take time away from bitching.

Worst of all in that post, and individual that I respect (despite the fact he is a physician) came in to repeat Dembskis devastatingly clever response to the Blasphemy Challenge: "If youre so tough, why dont you blaspheme against Allah?"



Look, Davids video is silly. Its not something I would have made. But Im not going to call him an idiot for posting it, nor am I going to sit here and let some pompous ass act like hes better than David and call him an idiot. I dont care if you paint a picture of the Virgin Mary and shit on it. I dont care if you take your dogs to your old church and let them shit all over their parking lot (as long as you pick it up). I dont care if you act like a stereotypical 'teenage atheist' dress in all black and write songs about fucking Jesus in the ass. I dont care if you jump out of an airplane with 'GOD IS DEAD' written on your parachute. I dont care if you plant a garden of tulips in the shape of a pentagram. I dont care if you put an Evolve Fish on your car and wear an Atheist Atom on your jacket lapel. Im not going to call someone an idiot for expressing their views and frustrations in a way thats appropriate for them, especially when they are doing nothing wrong.

Whatever. I just keep repeating to myself "Atheists have nothing in common except a disbelief in deities. Atheists have nothing in common except a disbelief in deities..."


Tyler DiPietro said...

I actually agree with Ed that Mills' video sucked. I think that, however, because it seems like the atheistic equivalent of Metallica's last full-length album. That is, it tries to come off as edgy but falls flat on it's face in the effort, and just ends up being annoying.

I also don't think this is an accurate assessment of Ed's views:

Now this subculture has decided that atheists are not allowed to speak their minds without being 'idiots.'

I think he specifically called David Mills an idiot for what I described. What he did seemed far more calculated to offend than make a personal statement proudly avowing his atheism.

ERV said...

If youll notice the girl laughing in the background, I personally think it was calculated to make a little girl laugh at theism. "Look, you can use the Bible to pick up poo and Gods not going to do anything! Look at that silly God! Fuck God! Look, nothing happens!"

But I was cursed with a father who loved me, too, so I might be seeing this through rose colored glasses. Considering his daughters response video, however, I think that is the case. But the fact of the matter is, its his Blasphemy video, and he can do whatever the hell he wants.

And once again-- who the person is, what their background is, nothing matters except seizing that opportunity to act like a jerk to another atheist for no goddamn reason. Who cares about Davids daughter? Who cares about Dawkins position on state sponsored indoctrination of children?

Disappointing. Over and over and over.

Tyler DiPietro said...

But the fact of the matter is, its his Blasphemy video, and he can do whatever the hell he wants.

I don't deny this, nor do I deny that Ed can say whatever he wants about anyone. Ed is certainly not as sympathetic to Dawkins as someone like you, me or PZ, so I can't exactly expect him to endorse that sort of thing. And AFAIK, he's not personally an atheist but a provisional sort of deist. Giving him a ROB Trophy may be a bit over the top, but Mills overreached and came off as silly.

And once again-- who the person is, what their background is, nothing matters except seizing that opportunity to act like a jerk to another atheist for no goddamn reason.

Well, I certainly agree that Ed stepped in it with the whole Dawkins' petition controversy. I personally thought it to be highly inprudent of Dawkins to sign a petition with such vague language and which could be so easily manipulated, but Ed seemed to have a hard time letting go once the smoke cleared and no fire was revealed. But setting that aside, I don't think that Ed is being a jerk to atheists for no reason. I think he often wrong, but I don't think he is simply malicious toward atheists for the sake of it.

ERV said...

David IS silly!!! I thought I made that clear!!! Anyone who has read AU or heard him at interviews KNOWS that! And why wouldnt you be silly about the whole thing for your 11-year-old daughter???

Its becoming increasingly clear that Ed loves the taste of atheist blood, whether they deserve his ire or not. He doesnt even seem interested in finding out whether they deserve it.

Tyler DiPietro said...

Well, maybe it's a difference of opinion then. When I saw Mills' BC video it seemed like the strained attempt of a shock jock, which is always nails on a chalk-board for me.

Its becoming increasingly clear that Ed loves the taste of atheist blood, whether they deserve his ire or not.

I think that this is way OTT. The impression I get from Ed is that he thinks that the more vociferious atheists are alienating potential allies in his quest to defend good science education. I've made it pretty clear that I think he's A.) wrong and that B.) whether it alienates allies or not, I care about what's true (i.e., that religion is ridiculously false). But I don't think he has any personal problem with or bigotry toward atheists.

ERV said...

Well, I wouldnt call it a difference of opinion-- I would call it "one person knowing the context and one person judging another based on limited information."

The solution to this problem would be to listen to one of Davids interviews, which he has available on his website, and either admit that "Oh, I get this fellows personality now-- I was too quick to judge" or say "I still think this guy is dumb, but I was too quick to judge him." I dont see that happening. I see people acting like assholes. To quote someone at InternetInfidels:
There are things worthy of division among our selves. Bible-pooper-scooper video is not one of them. Some atheists like to criticize other atheists while emphatically stating, "I AM AN ATHEIST, NOT A CHRISTIAN!" Yeah, we get it. Your methods are different from our own. You do your thing, we'll do our thing. If you have an argument or a tactical suggestion, then make it, and let's leave it at that, but please don't make us the bad cop when you are trying to play the good cop with the Christians.

And Eds opinion on 'vociferous' atheists is what Im trying to point out with the 'dwarfs'-- I have never had a problem with the theistic evolutionists I have worked with on science education issues. I know where they stand, they know where I stand, just educate people. What pisses me off are the dwarfs who hide under the pretenses of 'mediators' when they are the ones no one can trust. Who are they going to attack next? Friend? Foe? Id rather deal with a million Francis Collins than worry about when that dwarf is going to put a knife in my back.

Gerald said...

Well, I have to admit that I thought Mr. Mills video was in poor taste. But he is from southern West Virginia after all and they are a strang bunch, lol. Not as sophisticated as us northern WV residents. But I would still recommend his book to anyone who wanted to learn about atheism but didn't want to read some dense philosophical tome.

ERV said...

Dude I so understand! Northern MO and Southern MO might as well be on different planets! hehehe!

Tyler DiPietro said...

I don't see what any of this has to do with "personality", ERV. Whatever aspect of his personality was expressed is completely irrelevant to my opinion that the video was stupid and juvenile (or "dumb", to use your preferred terminology).

I completely agree with the IIDB poster you quoted. I'm not going to stop David Mills from doing whatever he wants. I don't think one video on YouTube is going to sabotage the entire atheist/secular movement. I just thought it was idiotic.

ERV said...

The video was for an 11 year old. It is not inappropriate for it to be stupid and juvenile.

Look maybe Im just missing the point. What was the point of singling out Davids video from hundreds (some equally 'juvenile', mainly because they were also done for/by kids)? Obviously Ed had no idea who David was, so its not like it was Davids minor atheist celebrity status. What was the point other than "Har har thats DUMB! Im so smart!"?


G said...

That's the funniest video I've seen in a good while. The semi 'fro, the turtle neck, the tone of voice its just... spooky and dead funny.