Jeffrey Taylor, writing for salon.com, offers up a common Gnu talking point:
I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has called for or committed acts of violence against Christians anywhere, at any time.
Well, yeah. Just as I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has done anything good for the world.
If atheism doesn’t get blamed, neither does it get credited.
Motivations don’t arise from non-belief; they arise from beliefs. So we would need to focus on the beliefs of the atheist. And atheists can have LOTS of beliefs. The New Atheist version, for example, believes religion is one of the greatest evils in the world, religious people are dangerous and/or mentally ill, and we need to rid the world of religion.
And I’m aware of atheists who, motivated by their anti-religious beliefs, have committed acts of violence against Christians around the globe.
Of course, not all atheists are New Atheists. There are many atheists who do not exhibit such anti-religious bigotry and it would be unfair to lump them in with the Gnus.
One can’t be motivated by non-belief. That’s literally stupid.
Very true, and as a complimentary aside to the stupidity of these atheists emphasizing their non-belief, I’ve found over the years that New Atheists are among the worst groups I’ve ever seen at defending their own beliefs. This is why they’re always so quick to scurry back to “atheism isn’t a belief” rather than attempting to defend their actual assertions.
I don’t think people who make this argument understand the worthlessness of it. People of religious faith or spirituality should NOT feel in anyway challenged by this assertion. In fact, if your religion teaches that you are of a “fallen” nature, it’s perfectly understandable that some human beings will be violent. After all, humans have understood themselves to be imperfect and generally still do – unless they are so narcissistic as to believe they aren’t. But back to the implications of the argument. If one holds that the violent followers of a particular creed, organizations or state invalidate the existence, need or value of such things, than we might as well throw out the idea of government. It’s a vacuous argument, which contains a shread of truth in as much that some people will use violence as a mean to achieving an end and that’s all. That said, by the same standard a religious person can – and rightfully should – point to the good that is done in the name of a creed, hospitals, schools, people willing to lay down their lives, or at least their time for something bigger than themselves. I think a person putting forward this argument may want to study – at least make an attempt to study – the previous 100 years, which were extremely bloody and much – not all – of that blood was shed in part because of intolerance and ultra-secularism. That’s not an argument against secularism or atheism. Counting bodies is not a good idea. Its also seems inhumane. People ARE just that just people. Nobody is perfect and no institution is. There is something about the human condition that is just prone to moving from anger to violence.
then there is pz meyers who wants to stab Christians with a knife.
Jeffrey Tayler has made another dumb comment, which Jerry Coyne quotes approvingly in his May 4, 2015 blog post entitled, “Brother Tayler’s Sunday Salon Sermon”. It’s part of one of three quotes showing the alleged excellence of Tayler’s anti-Christian polemics, for which Coyne has awarded Tayler the “H. L. Mencken Award for Mockery of Religion”:
To which Coyne adds:
Actually, Tayler’s Latin quote is certainly not from Tertullian, the correct version of which, RationalWiki tells us, is the obviously and actually very different, “Certum est quia impossibile est.”
As regards Coyne’s, “channeled through Kierkegaard”, doesn’t Coyne know that channeling is New Age woo; does he think Tertullian was Kierkegaard’s spirit guide speaking from the dead, and if he does, does he give credence as a scientist to this; or does Coyne mean that Kierkegaard made up “Credo quia absurdum” as a postulate-it-and-see-what-follows discussion point: whichever it is, Kierkegaard, is a one-off very wacky philosopher who almost nobody has even heard of, and who is certainly not in any way representative of mainstream Christianity (or even fringe Christianity, so far as I can tell.)
That “I believe because it is absurd” is anything that a modern Christian would say, or even that it is anything that an ancient Christian would say, is absurd: which, ironically, is probably why Tayler and Coyne believe it.
The tongue-in-cheek “award”, Coyne’s very own “H. L. Mencken Award for Mockery of Religion”, damns by faint praise. It’s not only a crappy award (see description below) and awarded for the playground standard of mockery that comes from mindlessly repeating what’s to be found on atheist meme websites, Tayler won’t even get the award at a ceremony, won’t even get it sent to him, he has to drop by Chicago and collect it or he won’t get it:
No doubt Tayler will feed Coyne’s book’s atheist memes into his articles, much as Coyne is feeding Tayler’s atheist memes into his blog. I feel inspired to channel TS Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral”: In the small circle of pain within the skull you still shall tramp and tread one endless round of thought to justify your atheist memes to yourselves, weaving a fiction which unravels as you weave, pacing forever in the hell of make-believe which never is evidenced.
“whichever it is, Kierkegaard, is a one-off very wacky philosopher who almost nobody has even heard of”
That Kierkeaard is hardly representative is hard to dispute, and it is something that he would probably be *happy* with anyway. And I should add that Kierkegaard is a notoriously difficult philosopher, hard to pinned down, in part because of its self-consciously chosen rhetorical strategies. It is for example, a notorious controversial question whether he is a fideist as he is regularly painted. For the record, and from my own meager knowledge, he is not, at least not in the bastardized sense that the ignoramus Coyne is taking.
One the other the claim that Kierkegaard is “one-off very wacky philosopher who almost nobody has even heard of” boggles the mind.
G. Rodrigues > On the other the claim that Kierkegaard is “one-off very wacky philosopher who almost nobody has even heard of” boggles the mind.
You have provided a good summary of what’s relevant here. Thanks.
There was an earlier attempt by a New Atheist to nominate an obscure (probably even to yourself in this latter case) Existentialist philosopher the official spokesperson for Christianity. John G.Messerly’s claimed (towards the end of his ill-written article) that Spanish Existentialist Miguel de Unamuno “searched for answers to existential questions, counseling us to abandon rationalism and embrace faith.”
Worldwide, it’s probable that most Christians wouldn’t accept even so eminent and knowledgeable a person as the Pope as their spokesperson; but Tayler and Coyne have elected Kierkegaard to that role, and Messerly has elected Unamuno.
Well, if they can do, so can we. Who do you elect, guys, as the spokesperson for all New Atheists?
Jerry Coyne, in his blog post dated May 7, 2015, entitled, “A flea goes after my credentials”, complains that an e-mail from a Philosophy professor criticised Coyne because in one of his lectures, “you [Coyne] extensively address not only theology but morality at length”; then the professor stated he had searched for Coyne’s relevant credentials but found none; then he asked (sneeringly, I think, and so does Coyne) what credentials Coyne has in theology, philosophy, or history of philosophy.
Coyne has a point: that someone lacks relevant credentials is useful for showing why someone doesn’t know their arse from their elbow, but only after making substantial arguments to demonstrate that the someone actually doesn’t know their arse from their elbow.
Of course, if Coyne does make claims based upon what Duns Scotus or Tertullian wrote, he had better “fully marinate himself” in their “tedious lucubrations”, else he risks being shot down in flames by not only scholars, but even by the common-or-garden educated layman who has seen that particular bit of bullshit before.
Actually, I think he is thrashing about blindly: as my response three above points out, “That “I believe because it is absurd” is anything that a modern Christian would say, or even that it is anything that an ancient Christian would say, is absurd”: Coyne cannot detect absurdity; Coyne doesn’t comprehend the very basics about Christians or Christianity; Coyne doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.
So Jerry Coyne, what exactly are your qualifications?
Jerry Coyne, quoted in my previous response:
Or it’s a polite way of pointing out to non-theologians who criticize religion that they are ignorant, which does indeed seem to be most common.
On a more general note, a major problem with the black-and-white thinking that Coyne regularly displays (and which his scholarly and thoughtful tutor despaired of and distanced from) is that — to mis-quote the Tao Te Ching — the two colours make a man blind.
That Coyne is temperamentally unsuited to studying religion is indicated by his visceral hostility towards what he calls sophisticated™ theology and sophisticated™ theologians; and by the regularity with which he demonstrates in his blog postings that when he starts reading something that pushes his buttons his reading comprehension becomes abysmal and ordinary English sentences become difficult for him to grasp — let alone anything sophisticated™. I have commented on his red-mist comprehension failures many times.
The world’s (metaphorically) a rainbow, but, a severe reductionist, Coyne reduces it to the categories he can handle.
Mind you, don’t we all. But Coyne more than most.
> Or it’s a polite way of pointing out to non-theologians who criticize religion that they are ignorant, which does indeed seem to be most common.
In fact, it is often a response to “ex hominem” argument (name taken from https://blog.chrislansdown.com/2021/03/21/the-problem-with-ex-hominem-arguments/), that is, an argument where one relies on ones own personal qualities. The example given there was “I did X as a kid and I turned out all right.”, but atheists tend to use many of such arguments. In the case like this it might be “I say that Christianity includes a belief that X, and I wouldn’t say so if it wasn’t true, therefore, Christianity includes a belief that X.”, but even the classic “There is no evidence for god!” is supported by the implicit claims that the one saying so is capable of noticing evidence, is not going to lie etc.
And in such cases “ad hominem” is not a fallacy, it is a perfectly legitimate response, because one’s personalty is used in an argument which is being answered. Thus it is not irrelevant, as it is when “ad hominem” is a fallacy.
And, naturally, the one who makes an “ex hominem” argument should be ready to support the claim about oneself (which sometimes can be done by pointing to some sort of credentials). Yet how rarely that seems to happen…
> Jeffrey Taylor, writing for Salon, offers up a common Gnu talking point: “I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has called for or committed acts of violence against Christians anywhere, at any time.”
Since Devin Kelley, the Sutherland Springs church mass murderer, that claim can no longer be honestly and reasonably made.
If in doubt, read the 06 November 2017 S2L post entitled, “Texas church shooter was a fan of the Friendly Atheist blog”; and read the extensive comments.