Posts Tagged “debate”

Richard DawkinsThe world’s theists can’t handle the fact that atheists (and other types of non-believers) exist. They’d prefer never to hear, see, or know about them. They view the very existence of non-belief as a direct and imminent threat to their very existence. This means they’re especially incensed whenever a vocal atheist (or other type of non-believer) comes along. They think non-believers are required to be silent and go away … and those who refuse to comply are trying to destroy them utterly.

The so-called “New Atheists” (i.e. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens) have especially invoked their sanctimonious outrage. Because they’ve all been successful authors, ardent theists have cast about for years to find any and all means of discrediting them. Most of the time all they can come up with is a repeated, old, juvenile whine along the lines of, “Why, these people are criticizing religion! How dare they!? They can’t do that! It’s not allowed!!! Religion is just too precious to permit any critique!”

Apparently, as the (UK) Daily Mail reports, Richard Dawkins recently handed militant theists what they perceive as “ammunition” they can use against him (WebCite cached article):

Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist – admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

The country’s foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The heart of this matter is a clarification, by Dawkins, about exactly what he believes about God:

But when Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams suggested that Professor Darwin is often described as the world’s most famous atheist, the geneticist responded: ‘Not by me’.

He said: ‘On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn’t, I call myself a six.’

Professor Dawkins went on to say he believed was a ‘6.9’, stating: ‘That doesn’t mean I’m absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don’t.’

I’ll say right now that — while I’d welcome Professor Dawkins to the company of agnostics — I neither know nor care whether or not he actually is one. The degree to which he’s an agnostic as compared to being an atheist is not really relevant to me. I have written elsewhere that there is a clear distinction between agnosticism and atheism, and that atheists have revised the definition of “atheism” over the last few decades so as to enlarge their own company. But in the end, agnostics and atheists have far more in common with each other, than either does with theists. That much is undeniable. They are partners — sisters and brothers, even — in non-belief, who are together under siege by militant believers who, rather childishly, cannot and will not accept them as fellow human beings. Dawkins — and the rest of the New Atheists — are as much spokesmen for non-belief in general, as they are for any specific form of “atheism” they may or may not adhere to. Distinctions like this do nothing to mitigate the validity of their critiques of religion or of religious people.

Ultimately, this means that the Daily Mail‘s attempt to discredit Dawkins is a fucking joke. That Dawkins might also be an agnostic in addition to being an atheist, does nothing to refute anything he’s said or done — even if theists erroneously think it does.

One last thing: I love how the Mail called Dawkins a “career atheist.” What a transparent attempt to slur him! Most of us know that Dawkins is, by contrast, a “career scientist.” That he’s published some books on atheism in addition to being a prominent and respected scientist, doesn’t make him any less of a scientist, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer part of that profession. All it does mean is what I’ve been saying for ages — which is that theists just can’t handle the existence of non-believers, especially outspoken ones like Dawkins.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Shane Pope, via Flickr.

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Syringe 5 With DropsThe recent “tea party” sponsored GOP presidential debate has kicked up some testiness within the Religious Right over the simple matter of a vaccine.

Yes, that’s right, a vaccine.

As the New York Times explains, this controversy concerns TX governor Rick Perry’s support for vaccinating all girls in his state against HPV or human papilloma virus (WebCite cached article):

An unlikely issue — whether to vaccinate preadolescent girls against a sexually transmitted virus — has become the latest flashpoint among Republican presidential candidates as they vie for the support of social conservatives and Tea Party members.

The issue exploded Monday night when Representative Michele Bachmann and former Senator Rick Santorum attacked Gov. Rick Perry of Texas during a debate for issuing an executive order requiring sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, criticizing the order as an overreach of state power in a decision properly left to parents. Later, Sarah Palin, who has yet to announce her 2012 intentions, also found fault with Mr. Perry.

This particular controversy is multi-pronged, as the Times explains:

The issue pushes many buttons with conservatives: overreach of government in health care decisions, suspicion that sex education leads to promiscuity and even the belief — debunked by science — that childhood vaccinations may be linked to mental disorders.

The militant Ms Bachmann insisted that the problem was the “dangerous” nature of the vaccine, however, the HPV vaccine was approved a number of years ago and its safety is not at issue. Rather, from the time it was approved — as Time magazine reported then (cached) — it became a target of the Religious Right, having been tagged “the promiscuity vaccine.” They can claim concern with the vaccine’s “safety” all they want … but really, their sole concern is women’s health and depriving them of control over their own affairs. We already know that the Roman Catholic Church considers the lives of pregnant women forfeit and of no account; the mostly-Protestant Religious Right more or less agrees with this position.

Yes, it’s true: Christianists like Bachmann actually believe it’s better for women to contract illnesses caused by HPV, including deadly cancers, rather than innoculate them early in life, merely because they perceive that it grants girls license to be sexually active. The idea that an HPV virus does so, of course, is completely laughable; it prevents only HPV-borne illnesses, it has no effect on other STD’s, and it doesn’t prevent pregnancy.

It just goes to show that facts and reason don’t matter to the Religious Right, just their emotional assessments, irrational beliefs, and slavish devotion to laughable dogmas.

Lastly, I’d like to give Gov. Perry, whom I generally dislike, some credit here. In the name of promoting health and fighting cancer, he’s taking on his own co-religionists and seems rather determined about it. I only hope he doesn’t cave in to them.

Photo credit: ZaldyImg.

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Glenn BeckThe raging paranoid Glenn Beck continues to rage, and to … well … be paranoid. He has decided, in his typical childish and irrational fashion, to dig his heels in on the matter of whether or not Christianity is compatible with “social justice.” As I blogged before, Beck views the term “social justice” through the lens of Cold War era propaganda, connects it with Communism (and Nazism and every other “ism” he happens to personally hate) and thus concludes that no Christian is ever permitted to seek “social justice.”

Yes, folks, on the scale of Christian authorities, Beck places himself even higher up than the Pope, who by his own Church’s admission speaks only for Roman Catholics; Beck, on the other hand, speaks for ALL Christians of ALL denominations, everywhere, including ALL Christians who ever lived, and who ever WILL live. In other words, he places himself on par with Jesus Christ himself, as the final arbiter of all things Christian.

The juvenile Beckie-boy is unmoved by various other Christian authorities who have more or less called him a blithering idiot. He is, in fact, so unmoved by them that he has inexplicably gone on the attack against one of his more outspoken critics, the Rev Jim Wallis, head of the Sojourners Community. Wallis blogged about Beckie-boy’s attack on him (WebCite cached article):

In fact, on Friday, I sent Glenn a letter proposing that the two of us sit down together and have an open and public discussion on what social justice really means and how Christians are called to engage in the struggle for justice. I said, “let’s make this a civil dialogue and not engage in personal attacks on each other — which is never helpful in trying to sort out what is true. So let’s talk about the heart of the matter.”

Well, on today’s Glenn Beck radio show, I got a response that disappointed me. Glenn Beck said:

So Jim, I just wanted to pass this on to you. In my time I will respond — my time, well, kind of like God’s time, might be a day, might be a week to you, I’m not sure. But I’m going to get to it in my time, not your time. So you go ahead and you continue to do your protest thing, and that’s great. I love it. But just know — the hammer is coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks, we’ve been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it’s going to be hammering hard and all through the night, over and over …

He went on to say that “It’s weird how people all over the world have been sending me stuff. It’s weird that way, Jimmy.” Why is the idea of a civil dialogue such a threat to Glenn Beck?

That is a very good question, Reverend. The answer, however, is deceptively simple: To a paranoid schizophrenic like Beckie-boy, everything is a threat to him … even things that are not actually threats. He doesn’t understand that the Rev Wallis — and other people who’ve criticized him — are not somehow trying to destroy him, personally, utterly, and even physically. This is why Beckie-boy can’t admit he was wrong about Christianity and that Christians can concern themselves legitimately with “social justice”; for him to admit his critics are right, would grant his critics a “win,” and thus destroy him — in his paranoid eyes. He cannot permit that to happen, so he will never allow it to.

I give the Rev Wallis credit for remaining open to a dialog with Beckie-boy. Unfortunately, no “dialog” is possible with Beck. He is too mentally ill to be able to communicate levelly with anyone or anything.

P.S. I’ll be amused with whatever it is Beckie-boy thinks he’s got on Wallis and his organization. I can’t imagine what sort of dirt he thinks he’s going to reveal.

P.P.S. I know you find it “strange” that people are contacting you, Glennie, and criticizing you for spewing inane bullshit. If you don’t like it, here’s a thought: Stop spewing the inane bullshit, and people won’t “strangely” be getting in touch with you any more! If you need help for that, Beckie-boy, treatments are available.

Hat tip: iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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