Monday, October 08, 2007

I Can Has The God?

Ugh. I hate it when I open up the LA Times, over my lunch time salad, and find that Lee Siegel has written an article. It ruins my lunch.

Among other things, Mr. Siegel says:
"In the last few years, so many books have rolled off the presses challenging God, belief and religion itself (by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger and Christopher Hitchens, among others) that a visitor from another planet might think America was in the iron throes of priestly repression. You'd never know that we live in the age of Paris Hilton, HBO, Internet porn and flip-flops. The 17th century Catholic Church proscribed Galileo -- just imagine what it would have done with the creators of "Entourage."
I'm not exactly sure how he went from books challenging a belief to porn and HBO. For that matter, what the hell do flip-flops have to do with atheism? The lack of logical progression...it burns!

"Nor would anyone know from reading the latest rash of anti-God books that promiscuous sex and polymorphous sexuality are taken for granted in modern-day America..."
Nor would anyone know that the Christians are quite fond of the kink... *cough*Christian Domestic Discipline*cough*.

"If anyone thinks that Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion" -- with its "scientific" attempts to refute the existence of God -- is going to persuade today's religious fanatics, here or abroad, to loosen up and enjoy a little MTV, you have to ask yourself just who is "deluded."
So... hold on. I don't recall "The God Delusion" instructing good little Christian teens to go forth and watch "TRL". Youth Specialties, however, is a Christian publishing company who created the poorly received "MTV Bible Study". From the study book: After watching Snoop Dog's "Drop It Like It's Hot."
"Just for grins…pick up a Bible and randomly select a Proverb and see if your group can say it in “izzle” speak... The images in the video show some of the “perks” that go along with great wealth. If you had unlimited money at your disposal what would be the first “perk” you would by (sic)? It’s okay to think selfishly for this question."
Mr. Siegel? You were saying?

"The attacks in the books often don't make much sense either. For instance, Bush and his gang preach Christian values while lying us into a slaughterhouse overseas, ransacking our public coffers and ignoring social inequities and iniquities at home -- and so our heroic anti-religionists attack . . . Christian values."
I think it makes perfect sense! Bush and "his posse" (see previous paragraph) claim that they serve a higher, invisible sky daddy, rather than the people. That service has now resulted in a Christian jihad with Georgie Boy sitting at the controls. There's no video game as violent and horrifying as the one in George's Bush's imagination. The "militant atheists" attack the "Christian Values" of George Bush because those values are killing our soldiers, guaranteeing our children's future debt, and taking innocent lives in a country we have no business occupying. President Bush campaigned on Christian Values. Why shouldn't those who oppose his methods and his motivation bring up the obvious? Oh...wait, I get it. We're not supposed to question your faith...we're supposed to respect it. Right.

"If anything, you could imagine these assaults on religion becoming infamous in the Muslim world, confirming for fundamentalists that the West is every bit as godless -- and hostile to Islam -- as they thought. Hitchens' intemperate invective against Christianity, Judaism and Islam, for its part, will probably strengthen the resolve of fanatics in all three religions. What an intellectual mess."
Oh goodie!! I was wondering when we were going to get around to some good, old fashioned fear mongering. Yes, yes...stop the atheists or America will turn into Afghanistan. ???? Huh?

"They are publishing their books in an atmosphere of complacency and self-congratulation; they preach to the secular converted, who are buying the books in droves."
It's quite amusing that, when one reads this sentence pulled out of context, you could easily see it as being an accurate description of Christian authors and books. Me thinks he doth' protest too much.

"But they make me concerned nevertheless, because I think they strike a blow against something more important (at least to me) than belief in God. In their contempt for any belief that cannot be scientifically or empirically proved, the anti-God books are attacking our inborn capacity to create value and meaning for ourselves."
Oh, yeah. Of course, Mr. Siegel. When I became an atheist, I just lost all creativity and meaning. I have no idea how this blog came about. I'm not quite sure why, after ditching belief in the Big Sky Daddy, THIS life became more valuable than it had previously seemed under Christianity. Surely there are no atheist artists...oh. Wait. There are?

"When our anti-religionists attack the mechanism of religious faith by demanding that our beliefs be underpinned by science, statistics and cold logic, they are, in effect, attacking our right to believe in unseen, unprovable things at all. Their assault on religious faith amounts to an attack on the human imagination."
Man...I hate it when people make other people grow up, stop investing in fairy tales, and get to the business of living in the real world. Mr. Siegel, for those of us who don't live in Never-Neverland, things like science, statistics, and cold logic, are valuable tools that enable humans to understand, and ENJOY, the world around them. We don't have to make up crocodiles with ticking clocks or horrible, pirate captains to make our lives meaningful. Your God is nothing more than a fictional tyrant --- a Captain Hook who is watching your every move and tallying your imperfections.

"By taking a leap of faith in God, you create value out of nothingness."
Hey! My four year old does that, too. The difference is that my four year old is smarter than you! She knows that her pretend world is just that,...PRETEND. There's value in having an imagination and using it. But, there can be grievous consequences for those who become so immersed in their imaginary world that they can't get out. It's a cruel psychosis.

Oh and, "Hey!"... did you write this article before or after Christian youth leaders decided to "use" Halo 3 to draw in kids for church? ?? I suppose when you consider what's in the Bible, a "rated M" game with massive gore, gunfire, violence, pilaging, and gratuitous murder, seems kinda' tame.

24 comments:

Apexmi said...

Amen to all that :)

Russell Blackford said...

I hate woolly-headed rights talk. No one is attacking anyone's rights. To criticise something you do is not to say that you have no right to do it (or that it is therefore legitimate, or advisable, or morally obligatory, for the government to ban it).

Siegel has every Poseidon-damned right to believe any irrationalist nonsense he wants, or to value whatever weird stuff he likes ... and others, such as Sam Harris, have the right to criticise his choices (the latter is known as free speech; sound familiar?).

Nikhil said...

Dear Possummomma,

A big thank you for putting a smile on a grumpy godless heathen infidel's face.

Regards,
Nick

Atheist in a mini van. said...

To criticise something you do is not to say that you have no right to do it (or that it is therefore legitimate, or advisable, or morally obligatory, for the government to ban it).

I completely agree!

A big thank you for putting a smile on a grumpy godless heathen infidel's face.

I'm glad I could make you smile, Nick. :)

Milo Johnson said...

"Sprezzatura" has already so discredited and shamed himself that he scarcely merits rebutting anyway. It speaks volumes about our nation's press that he isn't escorted off their property instead of being ushered into print.

Poodles said...

How do you read him without losing brain cells and IQ points?

Roy Klein aka InfectedTofu said...

Randomly stumbled into your blog, and glad I did! What a gem of a post.

Keith Sader said...

I love it when Christians cry that they're being "persecuted" or otherwise oppressed in the U.S. It just reminds me that Biblical illiteracy is at an all time high.

"Remember the words I spoke to you: If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
(John 15:20, 21)"

Hai, I iz Xtian! Can I haz presecution?

Pete said...

Thanks for taking one for the team and reading the article thoroughly!
(Oh btw.. it's teh god.. teh.)

Dawn said...

Great post! I just found this blog recently as well, and I really like it.

What an annoying article. And I love the term "militant Atheists." Where did he come up with that term?

Kesh said...

"By taking a leap of faith in God, you create value out of nothingness."

Actually, he's right. By believing in god, the faithful are putting value into absolutely nothing. They've hung their hats on a non-entity and then ignore reality when the hat falls to the ground.

That said, I think all his MTV comments were the tired old canard of "if you don't believe in god, you're a heartless materialist." By equating atheism with pop-fads, celebrity !news and flashy advertising, he's trying to emphasize the idea that life without the Christian god is empty and shallow. Of course, he can't even come right out and say it, because he knows it'll be shot down in a heartbeat.

Keinsignal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hugo said...

Watch out you've been PZ'd :)
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/10/siegel_is_getting_smacked_so_h.php

Erp said...

Dawn said:
What an annoying article. And I love the term "militant Atheists." Where did he come up with that term?

He probably didn't; it has been floating around for a while. I've been having a little discussion elsewhere with a Christian on that term. According to him the dictionary defines 'militant' as
1 - vigorously active and aggressive, esp. in support of a cause: militant reformers.
2 - engaged in warfare; fighting.

and he uses definition 1 when naming 'militant atheists'. However 'militant Christians' don't exist or at least doesn't include Christians who are merely 'vigorously active and aggressive' as the meaning of 'militant' changes when applied to Christians.

To quote
The meaning of the adjective itself changes. Why are you unaware of this? It is common in English for an adjective's meaning to change as it is applies to different classes of substantives.

Anonymous said...

"attacking our right to believe in unseen, unprovable things at all."

whaaah! i want my santy claus back!

kat said...

Oh this is so good!

I found your blog via Pharyngula. Mind if I add you to my links list @ http://archaeomom8.livejournal.com/

Your moniker "Atheist in a mini van" has won my heart.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Hello everyone and thanks for the feedback!! :) I just want you all to know that I'm not ignoring anyone...we're just getting ready for a HUGE birthday surprise tomorrow. You'll get the full details after it happens. :)

I wouldn't count on a reply from me until Thursday.

Peace!

Katie said...

Ooo! Ooo! I'm one of those atheist artists that are believed not to exist!

Anonymous said...

However 'militant Christians' don't exist or at least doesn't include Christians who are merely 'vigorously active and aggressive' as the meaning of 'militant' changes when applied to Christians.

Yes. That's called "evangelical".

Steve M said...

Fantastic title by the way, those LOLcats are the internet meme to end them all.

Great article too, keep it up

Stephen Littau said...

I love it when the xians bring up other religions that we supposedly are not as critical of. I despise any religion or belief that requires obedience without question, faith without fact, and vices that are treated as virtue. This description fits about any religion I can think of.

Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism...I'm an equal opportunity atheist. I equally don't believe in other gods as I don't yours. Nothing personal.

Jez said...

Hey, Possummomma. Great blog. :)

Thought you might find this interesting: http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=49750&cl=4450904&ch=3598482&src=news

I guess you could prove the comment about atheist kids wrong. ;)

Sherry said...

Hey!! P-mamma!!
Were you at downtown Disney today (in Anaheim)?????????????? I could've sworn I saw the possums. I think I collected their money at the World of Disney store. Was it Possum1 and Possum2????? If it wasn't them then they have doppelgangers. Was it your family? Is that what the surprise was?
-Sherry

Dangerous Dan said...

...a visitor from another planet might think America was in the iron throes of priestly repression. You'd never know that we live in the age of Paris Hilton, HBO, Internet porn and flip-flops.

Also, tele-evangelists, the "Christian Right" political movement and Christian only Cable TV channels. And flip-flops? what the hell do sandals have to do with faith or atheism? I can't even guess where to buy a clue to the meaning of that part of his argument.

...; and that even the state board of education in Kansas recently forbade the teaching of creationism.

And that anti-science Christian groups have been trying to replace the teaching of the scientific theories of evolution with a biblical creation myth since at least 1925.

The attacks in the books often don't make much sense either. For instance, Bush and his gang preach Christian values while lying us into a slaughterhouse overseas, ransacking our public coffers and ignoring social inequities and iniquities at home -- and so our heroic anti-religionists attack . . . Christian values. But shouldn't they be attacking Bush and Co.'s hypocrisy in betraying Christian values instead?

And yet, these Christian hypocrites often proclaim that their beliefs make them morally superior to those with religious disbelief. They cannot prove it by their actions. Christians have been blaming atheists and Jews for centuries for every evil in society. This idea deserves to be attacked.

If anything, you could imagine these assaults on religion becoming infamous in the Muslim world, confirming for fundamentalists that the West is every bit as godless -- and hostile to Islam -- as they thought. Hitchens' intemperate invective against Christianity, Judaism and Islam, for its part, will probably strengthen the resolve of fanatics in all three religions.

Is Hitchens actually opposed to these assaults on religion because it might upset Islamic terrorists?

By almost comical contrast, the new anti-religionists ... are publishing their books in an atmosphere of complacency and self-congratulation; they preach to the secular converted, who are buying the books in droves.

This is a null argument at best. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are serving the Right Wing, while Al Franken and others catered to the Far Left, and the USA has entire publishing houses catering to the Christians, but it is bad for atheists to publish their point of view because...?

When our anti-religionists attack the mechanism of religious faith ..., they are, in effect, attacking our right to believe in unseen, unprovable things at all.

It is not an attack on the RIGHT to believe, but on the belief itself. Christians proselytize and attack others' beliefs and try to turn them into Christians, and call it good, but think that it is bad for anyone else to proselytize to them and attack their beliefs.

By taking a leap of faith in God, you create value out of nothingness. The more difficult it is to believe, the stronger the faith that flies in the face of absurdity.

By that logic, an extreme form of Nihilism, in which you believe that nothing, not even yourself exists is superior to most if not all other religions, simply because it is almost impossible to believe and values nothingness the most, although sincere belief in the Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster rates kind of high on the absurdity scale.
The world might be better off if every True Believer tried believing that they can levitate and then stepped off of a tall building--but not until after the rest of us finished cleaning up the mess.


answer to Poodles: having read Lee Siegel's actual column, I'm sure that I've lost a few brain cells, if only due to the rise in blood pressure.

to Keith Sader: it appears that at least some Christians think and feel that they have the exclusive right to persecute. Is "Biblical illiteracy" not having read the bible or the lack of the ability?

Hugo said...
Watch out you've been PZ'd :)
Yeah, how do you think I found this?

Erp said... However 'militant Christians' don't exist..
Christians aren't classified as militant until they actually open fire...with guns or bombs or other physical nastiness.

Sorry for the length, but the F***tard Lee Siegel ticked me off.
Personally, I don't even have enough faith to be an atheist. I don't have enough faith to believe that there is no god, but I don't have enough to believe that there is either.

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