Jeffrey Taylor: The Delicate, Angry Atheist

Jeffrey Taylor is an angry atheist who writes for As you might guess, the angry atheist is once again angry. And what makes the angry atheist angry? Religion. Of course. Taylor’s recent excuse to coddle and nurture his anger is President Obama’s proclamation for a National Day of Prayer. Taylor goes off on a long rant about it. For example:

But I won’t deal with the faith-imbued cretinism of the Republicans in this essay. What concerns me now is what President Obama has just wrought to insult that most aggrieved (yet steadfastly growing) American minority, the advocates of reason, those who insist on evidence before accepting the truth of a given proposition, especially grand propositions about the origins of the universe and our species. On Wednesday, President Obama marked the deeply pathetic traditional outrage to rationalism that is the National Day of Prayer (since 1988 the first Thursday of May) with a proclamation bearing the stark, yet somehow comically august, title “A PROCLAMATION.”

Did you catch that? The most aggrieved American minority? The Angry Atheist wants to play the “Atheist as Victim” card. That’s hilarious.

What’s even more amusing is how Taylor pats himself on the back and engages in self-flattery. How so? By portraying the Gnus as “advocates of reason, those who insist on evidence before accepting the truth of a given proposition.” Anyone who has ever interacted with Gnu atheists knows, from experience and empirical evidence, that the Gnus are NOT advocates of reason, insisting on evidence before accepting the truth of a given proposition. In reality, they tend more to be advocates of emotion (usually anger and hate), insisting others accept their truths or be mocked.

Taylor himself shows this attitude. Consider this Champion of Reason’s “argument” for abolishing the National Day of Prayer:

In 1952, in the depths of the Cold War confrontation with the atheist Soviet Union, Congress birthed the noisome basilisk of a law establishing the NDOP, which the Freedom From Religion Foundation valiantly (but unsuccessfully, of course) challenged in 2008 on (obvious) First Amendment grounds. Fresh challenges should be mounted until the NDOP goes the way of Jim Crow. To do my part in the fight for true secularism, I hereby contest the constitutionality of Obama’s issuance of Lord-positive declarations from his podium as the chief officer of our officially godless republic, if only because such declarations menace the mental health and intellectual development of children. After all, in 1962 the Supreme Court decided against allowing prayer in public schools, so how is it that the president can use his office as a platform to call on us to beseech the “Almighty”? Children might be exposed to such corrupting speech and suffer the same retardation religion has historically inflicted on science and education. If nothing else, the White House Web page displaying the Proclamation should carry the warning “CONTAINS RELIGIOUS SPEECH — NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS.”

So the Champion of Reason has declared war on the National Day of Prayer “if only because” it “menaces the mental health and intellectual development of children?” One problem. Apart from the fear-mongering, does Taylor have any evidence that NDOP menaces the mental health and intellectual development of children? Nope. He has none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. So the guy who promotes himself as Champion of Reason clearly believes something without evidence, to the point where he will do his “part in the fight for true secularism.”

And don’t forget this:

Children might be exposed to such corrupting speech and suffer the same retardation religion has historically inflicted on science and education.

Again, no evidence. Just imaginary bogey-men. Generations of children have already been exposed to “such corrupting speech.” Have they suffered the same retardation religion has historically inflicted on science and education when they put men on the moon?

Clearly, Taylor is grasping for straws through the blurred vision of his red faced rage. In reality, the only one “menaced” by the NDOP are militant atheists like Taylor who, because of their anger management issues and extreme, delicate hypersensitivity, feel “aggrieved” and insist we turn this nation into one big Atheist Safe Space.

New Atheists constantly peddle the narrative of atheists as bold, outspoken champions of Reason and Evidence. Yet again and again, the evidence indicates they are special snowflakes in need of Safe Spaces. That’s why Taylor tries to use children as human sheilds in his fight for true secularism. It’s not the children who feel menaced; its people like Taylor.

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10 Responses to Jeffrey Taylor: The Delicate, Angry Atheist

  1. Kevin says:

    Wow. Well in my experience if you write for Salon, you’re probably completely nuts anyway, no matter what particular subject triggers you.

  2. Kevin Stuart Lee says:

    A writer at Salon, that fainting couch for social justice princesses, milky-white divas of diversity, and the perpetually aggrieved, is still allowed to use a word like “retardation”? Wow.

  3. Dhay says:

    I’m going to link to two of my previous responses. The first is on the 14 April “Jeffrey Taylor Makes a Dumb Comment” post, pointing out that Tayler is the guy who thinks that “I believe because it is absurd” is something said by Tertullian, and said as official doctrine of the Church. Wrong, and hopelessly pig-ignorant on both counts.

    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.

    Tayler is clueless about Christianity.

    The second response link is because in that NDOP Salon article I see Tayler bemoaning that “one out of five Americans believe the sun circles the earth”. Presumably he thinks the “one out of five Americans” are scientifically clueless, but Jerry Coyne’s “Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll” has been asked about this by Coyne, and Carroll says:

    “The short answer would be that it is possible to choose whatever coordinate system you like, including ones centered on the Earth, and then say “in that coordinate system the Sun goes around the Earth.” Hell, it’s possible to choose coordinate systems in which neither the Earth nor the Sun move at all!”

    Tayler is clueless about science.

    Tayler’s Salon link to the source of “one out of five Americans believe the sun circles the earth” doesn’t work for me, but I think I can be sure it comes ultimately from the NSF’s Table 7-8 , which question is:
    Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around Sun)

    One should always be suspicious of surveys because if “garbage in”, then “garbage out.” The bracketed “correct” answer is only correct according to a popular stereotype — ie “what everybody knows” — which is, as Carroll would point out, in this case itself incorrect. (Strictly, it’s correct in some of many reference frames that could be chosen, and incorrect in many others: the correct answer is, in the absence of a specified reference frame, “undecidable”.)

    On the evidence, Tayler fails to be one of his, “the advocates of reason, those who insist on evidence before accepting the truth of a given proposition.”

    On the other hand, he’s superb at ranting. No wonder he is Jerry Coyne’s favourite.

  4. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    Tayler: “What concerns me now is what President Obama has just wrought to insult that most aggrieved (yet steadfastly growing) American minority, the advocates of reason…”

    Reason…I keep hearing atheists and materialists use that term, but I’m not even sure what it means in their worldview asides from scientism – which in my opinion is a real, and radically incomplete, worldview.

    In my opinion, Tayler is committed to miracles because if materialism is true in the senses it is traditionally held to be, nobody can have access to ultimate truth without a miracle that a closed system just happens to reveal.

    As to his previous point about the sun, I don’t understand what his what he was trying to say. Even if 1-5 people believe the sun revolves around the earth, how is that directly attributable to religious faith as opposed to just general ignorance? I think some people in the humanities would say that because of our culture’s bent towards philosophical materialism, we have become more historically ignorant and philosophically ignorant, unable to “reason” our way out of a paper bag.

    As for his statement about being a part of the most aggrieved American minority,…well, that says quite a bit more about him that it does about society. I could think of groups of people who are perhaps more aggrieved than so-called freethinkers. How about the mentally ill or disabled in our society? I think they may have more of a reason to feel aggrieved than him.

  5. Wonders for Oyarsa says:

    Michael, I’ve had the idea for a while in the back of my head to write an adaptation of I Corinthians 13 addressing the bluster that comes from the Gnu camp, but I don’t think I really hang out with them enough to really do it justice. I think you could do a better job, focusing it on really the crux of what they do and what reason really is, and it would be a great sticky to link back to.

    Something like this:

    [i]Though I speak with bluster and divisiveness at the stupidity of religion, and use not reason, I am become as a lumbering troll or a fingernail upon a chalkboard. And though I have the gift of education, and understand scientific theories and academic research; and though I have all engineering skill, so that I could remove mountains, and use not reason, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to secular charity (yea, verily tenfold more than the heads of faith), and though I give my life to the cause of reason, and use not reason, it profiteth me nothing.

    Reason considers an argument long, and is fair; reason envieth not; reason assumeth not its own position is faultless, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own ideology, is not easily provoked, is driven not by hatred; rejoiceth not in seeing its tribe triumph, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, considereth all things, examineth all things, asketh all things.

    Reason never faileth: but whether there be education, it shall fail; whether there be passion, it shall cease; whether there be technology, it shall be eclipsed. For we know in part, and we argue in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    And now abideth tribal identity, idealism, reason, these three; but the greatest of these is reason.[/i]

    There – I took a first pass. But you could probably do a lot more with it. Feel free to if you think it worth doing – no need to cite me.

  6. Michael says:

    LOL! Yeah, I’ll chew on it. BTW WfO, it’s great to hear from ya!

  7. GM says:

    I wonder if Tayler’s “I believe because it is absurd” is just another secularist-tortured reading of Kierkegaard, specifically SK’s “virtue of the absurd.” SK saw a value to the “foolishness” of the Gospel, in so much as it was a measure of individual sincerity and a rejection of getting caught up in a “mass movement” of belief. In other words, by “virtue of the absurd” one can know they are not just going along with things-as-they-seem in a half-hearted socio-cultural participatory manner.

    I don’t 100% agree with every position of Kierkegaard’s, but his rage against Hegel and false auspices of universal mastery of reason speak volumes to the secular cult’s social imaginary, and this is one of those cases that the new atheist just cannot even approach without falling all over themselves.

  8. Peter says:

    I would love to hear his opinion of the US Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

    Apart from distaste at the openly religious language, he will presumably have to reject the equality of human beings, given that the DoI offers no evidence of this and instead appeals to a Creator to endow it.

    Naturally a faith-based superstition can’t be allowed to intrude into politics. He will have to substitute other principles capable of being empirically verified – natural selection, perhaps.

  9. Dhay says:

    In his latest Salon rant, Jeffrey Tayler has a paragraph starting, “Bush then took the unoriginal step of calling on graduates to love their enemies “as a bold challenge to leave our comfort zone and …””, which took my eye because it is so full of ignorance and deliberate ignorance.

    This is, for Tayler, prima facie contradictory and absurd, especially after reflection, because: “Amorous sentiments cannot be conjured up at will, and certainly not toward those who inspire animosity.”

    Got that? For Tayler, Christian love is amorous sentiments. Now I could understand him missing that in John 21, Jesus’ thrice-repeated question of Peter (“… do you love me …”) uses three different Greek words translated “love” — none of which means erotic or amorous love — but I have no understanding whatsoever of anyone who has grown up in a Christian culture being so ignorant as to confuse Christian love with “amorous sentiments”.

    On the evidence, Tayler fails to be one of his, “the advocates of reason, those who insist on evidence before accepting the truth of a given proposition.”

    On the other hand, he’s superb at ranting. No wonder he is Jerry Coyne’s favourite.

    And that’s a surprise — or it ought to be. Jerry Coyne has spent “over two years” studying theology, in order to learn to be a sophisticated theologian, someone who can discuss on their own level the writings of Sophisticated Theologians™ who are accomodationists™ or accomodatheists™, and to criticise those writings.

    That Coyne should repeatedly urge his blog’s followers to read and “enjoy” Tayler’s articles, and should do so without a trace of criticism or reservation, makes me question whether Coyne’s theological knowledge is any better than is Tayler’s.

  10. TFBW says:

    Tayler isn’t all hate and rage: he also does ebullient adulation — for Richard Dawkins, of course. Caveat lector: you might throw up in your mouth a little. At least he’s not shy about his perspective on matters: if you read Jeffrey Tayler, it should be clear how much of what kind of bias is inherent in the report.

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