Father & ChildThe litany of excuses that religionists come up with in order to be able to dismiss anything a non-believer says, is legion. “You must have had a bed experience with religion!” is among the most common (it’s closely related to, “Some believer must have hurt you very badly”). They will say or do almost anything to avoid admitting that any non-believer might actually have a valid point, and no rationale is too ridiculous for them to use. One religionist who wrote a book about one of these rationales, as Religion News Service reports via Hartford FAVS, has recently re-issued his work (WebCite cached article):

A once-popular book that links atheism with shoddy fathering is getting a second life with a new publisher, thanks, in part, to the rise of nonbelief in the United States.

“Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism” by Catholic psychologist Paul C. Vitz posits that “intense atheists” throughout history — Nietzsche, Voltaire and Madalyn Murray O’Hair — had absent or rotten fathers. This, he argues, damaged their ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father.

It’s common to confuse correlation with causation, but a whole helluva lot harder to demonstrate with meaningful evidence. Logicians have a name for this particular fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc or “after this, therefore because of this.” I have to thank Dr Vitz for providing such a marvelous example of this fallacy. To be clear, demonstrating a direct causal connection between absent fathers and atheists, requires more than just a short list of some fatherless atheists.

The reason this book is being re-issued is, apparently, as a response to the rise of the “New Atheists” whom religionists despise:

So why revise the book?

A lot has changed since 1999. For one, the first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of the so-called “New Atheists” — outspoken critics of religion such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, whom many contemporary atheists credit for swelling the ranks of nonbelievers.

This article includes a snide, gratuitous “dig” at said “New Atheists”:

“The rise of militant, evangelical, fundamentalist atheism in our time adds to the pertinence of this book,” said Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, the Catholic publishing house that has reissued the book.

Boo fucking hoo, you little sniveling crybabies. So what if some “New Atheists” have come along and were insolent enough to dare critique your precious religion? Too fucking bad. My heart bleeds for you poor little things. It must be so hard to be critiqued. How dare they do that to you!?

For the record, there is no such thing as “atheist fundamentalists.” There can’t be! Atheists have no “fundamentals” to revere (as fundamentalist Christians, for example, have their Bibles coupled with Biblical literalism).

Religionists would be much better off if they simply grew the fuck up for once in their lives, and stopped looking for reasons to dismiss whatever their critics say. If their religion had any veracity, it would easily withstand scrutiny. Nothing the “New Atheists” … or anyone else … said about it, could possibly have any effect on it. That religionists view the “New Atheists” as evil — and as trying to destroy them — merely because they’re outspoken, reveals how insecure and childish they are.

Photo credit: momento mori, via Flickr.

P.S. I guess I fly in the face of Vitz’s hypothesis about non-belief being caused by absent fathers. My own father passed away only after I’d reached adulthood, and I’d crossed into non-belief before then.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Lynda

    This is a nice rebuttal of this geezer's ridiculous hypothesis. I'm am atheist and I find Vitz's quackery offensive.

    • Thanks for your kind comment! I'm happy to have obliged!