Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Why are there so many atheist books?"

A theist's perspective on why there are so many atheist books.

You know it's bad when he automatically...straight out of the gate, accuses Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens of "attacking belief in God." This just proves that he missed the point of the books, and atheism, entirely: You can't attack that which does not exist in the first place. But, thank you for playing, Mr. Prager. (Edited to note that I could've stated this better. I meant that atheists wouldn't attack God because we don't believe God exists. But, I should've noted that Prager is accusing atheist authors of attacking the belief in God,...which obviously does exist.)

Prager then goes on to say, "In my opinion - and I dialogued with three of the four authors on my radio show (Dawkins has refused to come on) - the arguments put forth are far more emotional than intellectual..."
I wonder what he's counting as "dialogue"? And, from what I heard, Dawkins was offered thousands of speaking engagements and interviews post God Delusion. Was he supposed to be everywhere? Sorry - he doesn't embody the fictitious abilities of your God; he can't be everywhere at once. As to the claim that the arguments put forth in their books are "more emotional than intellectual..."; wow! If that's not the pot calling the kettle black, I'm not sure what is. The irony meter is starting to rise.

Of course, because no Christian opinion would be the same without a logical fallacy (or nine), Prager continues, "...and even secular liberal journals have written devastating reviews of the Hitchens and Dawkins books."
Where? Where are the "devastating" reviews by "liberals"? Talk about emotional arguments...

"It is not due to their eloquence, originality or persuasiveness that these books have become best sellers. I believe other factors are at work."
Either this man is gearing up to sell some Amway products or he's about to invoke scare tactics... $30 says he blames it on the Muslim jihadists.
"First and most significant is the amount of evil coming from within Islam."
Damn. That was fast.
"Whether Islamists (or jihadists, Islamo-Fascists or whatever else Muslims who slaughter innocents in the name of Islam are called) represent a small sliver of Muslims or considerably more than that, they have brought religious faith into terrible disrepute.How could they not? The one recognized genocide in the world today is being carried out by religious Muslims in Sudan; liberty is exceedingly rare in any of the dozens of nations with Muslim majorities; treatment of women is frequently awful; and tolerance of people with different religious beliefs is largely nonexistent when Muslims dominate a society."
*sigh* Yes. Because, Christians have never committed genocide or endorsed the poor treatment of women and children. Right.
"If the same were true of vegetarians - if mass murder and violent intolerance were carried out by vegetarians - there would be a backlash against vegetarianism, even among people who previously had no strong feelings about the doctrine."
NO! If masses of vegetarians start committing mass murder and violent crimes, I'm probably going to take a look at their common food supply and try to determine what, in their diet, is causing them to act so violently. I'm not going to assign the brutality some spiritual significance and pray to the God of Carnivore to make the Vegetarians disappear or find the light of Carnivore.
"Religion's reputation is made all the worse by the lack of any significant outcry in the Muslim world against the atrocities committed in the name of their religion. The negative impact of this Muslim silence, especially given the amount of Muslim rioting that occurs when Muslims are disturbed by something, can hardly be overstated."
No, sir!! Religion's reputation is made worse by intolerant bigots who refuse to listen to reason. Religion's reputation is damaged by the arrogance of it's practitioners who justify a great many of their decisions, good or bad, on their understanding of the words in an ancient book that's been badly translated and is open for artistic interpretation! Religion's reputation is damaged by the Christians who claim to be loving, caring, and tolerant, but show, repeatedly, that they have no concern for humanity as a whole. They reject stem cell research, which could change the course of suffering and disease, citing a concern for the "life" in eight cells, whilst ignoring the cries of the infirmed and diseased all around them. They claim that Jesus is a loving savior, but then line-up to hurl insults and slanderous epithets at anyone who doesn't fit their very narrow view of what love should be. Mr. Prager, go sit near a gay pride parade and tell me how many of the protesters are Muslim. Go sit outside a Planned Parenthood, where poor people get medications and check-ups, and tell me how many of the protesters follow Allah or Buddha. Google "Jim Jones", "David Koresh", "Ruby Ridge", "Warren Jeffs", "pedophile priests", and the atrocities of the genocide in Croatia. Let me know how many Muslims you find in those articles.

"If Muslims around the world - especially in free countries - demonstrated against Muslim terror with anything like the fervor that Muslims demonstrate against perceived offenses against their honor, Islam - and by extension religion generally - would have elicited immense respect, despite all the evil being committed in the name of Islam.There are other, long-term, factors involved in the popularity of books against religion."
Wrong.

More later...

13 comments:

Eamon Knight said...

But, thank you for playing, Mr. Prager.

Pah, as soon as you said that name I knew I didn't need to bother reading the article. He's another blowhard who makes a living flattering wingnut prejudices.

Minor nit: IIRC, Prager is Jewish, which only shows that Christianity has no monopoly on smug ignorance. (Someone correct if they know I'm wrong about that).

Paul said...

I think you missed the side of the barn with this one, P. You say: "you can't attack what does not exist in the first place," but you had just finished stating that Prager accuses these writers of "attacking belief in God." Are you trying to say that belief in God does not exist? I didn't think so. Your sentence upends the apple cart of discourse. Prager didn't say they were attacking God himself. Of course Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens are attacking belief in God.

Now I'm not siding with Mr. Prager here. He is clearly a nutcase. But if are going to argue with these people, we have to be very careful not to commit the same rhetorical errors as they do.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Minor nit: IIRC, Prager is Jewish, which only shows that Christianity has no monopoly on smug ignorance. (Someone correct if they know I'm wrong about that).

Is he, really? I could have sworn he was a Christian. It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong...I remember him hosting some sort of radio show (out of LA) about a decade ago (it was supposed to be a dialogue between faiths, but it never quite turned out that way). I guess it's entirely possible he is/was Jewish. Wow. Sorry about that mistake.

think you missed the side of the barn with this one, P. You say: "you can't attack what does not exist in the first place," but you had just finished stating that Prager accuses these writers of "attacking belief in God."
I don't think I missed the barn at all, but I can see where you would have the basis for that argument. Prager uses Islam as a "reason" why the atheist books are popular. My point was that atheists would counter his argument by pointing out that, as an atheist, they don't believe in Allah/Islam and, therefore, wouldn't use Islam as a reason to be an atheist. I probably should've stated it better. My bad. In fact...scratch that...I SHOULD have used more care and stated it better.

Paul T. said...

"the arguments put forth are far more emotional than intellectual..."

Huh? Dennett emotional? Harris emotional? These are two of the most calm and rational men on this planet! Hitchens, can get bitchy, but emotional, no. I have watched most of their interviews and debates and nothing rattles these people.

PerpetualBeginner said...

Prager is indeed Jewish. However, he has written in favor of Judeo/Christian values, and generally conflated the two religions for political and rhetorical purposes for years now.

shaun said...

I thought Prager converted from Judaism to fundamentalist Christianity...

AlisonM said...

Compared to just keeping quiet and not disturbing anyone with wanting science to be science and religion to be of consequence only to its practitioners, the "new" atheists are strident, indeed. This is really what the religionists' point seems to boil down to. They're making progress towards a theocracy, and these atheists (who had given them so little trouble before) are now crawling out from the woodwork and mucking up their plans. They can't fight back with truth or facts, so they need to make atheists look bad. Too bad that so many times their crying and moaning has just the opposite effect.

Vincent said...

"If Muslims around the world - especially in free countries - demonstrated against Muslim terror with anything like the fervor that Muslims demonstrate against perceived offenses against their honor...."

Where are the Christians demonstrating against Christian terror? I don't recall any christians marching in the streets to stop genoside in Serbia, or marching to condemn assassins who shoot abortion doctors in the name of Jesus.

Paul said...

As a different Paul T, I'd just like to say there are too many Pauls in these comments. I am left with no choice but to change my name to Donkey "M".

I'll let y'all get back to the topic in hand...

- Donkey "M"

kotzebue said...

This quote cracked me up... "and tolerance of people with different religious beliefs is largely nonexistent when Muslims dominate a society."

Like the tolerant Xtians who shouted down the Hindu priest in the Senate last week... real tolerant they are those Xtians. All love all the time.

JS said...

Weeelll, in the most charitable possible interpretation of his arguments, he's not all wrong. Islamist nuts do make religion look bad. And nuts who make religion look bad are certainly a contributing factor to the popularity of the authors in question.

I do seem to recall, however, this pithy story about beams and splinters in people's eyes...

- JS

Terra said...

P-Momma,
Thank goodness that there is someone who can read this drivel and respond so eloquently. When I attempt to read articles of this nature, I get so riled up with the absurdities, I usually give up a few sentences in. I love your scathing reviews. Keep 'em comin'

Cogito said...

Following on Allison's comment, I like the term "uppity atheist." It gives a nice flavor of people who dare to ask for equality against those who would oppress them. I'm not equating our struggles with those of Blacks in this country (though that may be due merely to our better ability to hide our unwelcome characteristic), but the attitude of the majority is similar, if not to the horrible degree it was toward Blacks.

Prager is indeed Jewish. However, he has written in favor of Judeo/Christian values, and generally conflated the two religions for political and rhetorical purposes for years now.

So he's like Debbie Schlussel, only prettier?

*ducks and runs*