Hemant Mehta, the man who sells himself as “The Friendly Atheist,” explains why “We should absolutely mock religion.”
Okay, so we’ve established that the Friendly Atheist is an oxymoron. What’s funny is how Mehta tries to rationalize this mandate to mock others.
But for some reason, we’re afraid to make fun of religion. I understand that when it comes to Islam, where mockery could bring a death sentence. But not all religions are like that, and yet we still treat those beliefs with kid gloves.
In other words, it is understandable why atheists don’t mock Muslims, but since Christians are not going to kill you for mocking them, why aren’t more atheists mocking Christians? Now that’s a man who stands on principles, eh?
Mehta then unleashes his mighty logic:
In fact, I think it provides a more useful way to get people to rethink their beliefs. When you straight up challenge people’s ideas, they get defensive. They’ll rationalize whatever position they hold, no matter how absurd it is. If you’ve ever seen a politician getting interviewed, you know what I mean. But if you can make people laugh about the ideas they already hold? That’s powerful. That’ll get them rethinking those beliefs in the future. You could make the argument that George Carlin has changed more minds about religion than, say, Richard Dawkins. Because Carlin took those ideas you held and made you realize how illogical they were.
So making fun of people is a great way to get them to think “rethink” their beliefs as desmonstrated by Mehta’s faith that the power of Carlin is greater than Dawkins. Sounds like he is making this stuff up as he goes along.
The key justification (rationalization) for mocking others is that Mehta believes it to be an effective method of proselytization. Sheesh. So much about Gnu atheism seems to be about proselytizing others into their cult. Does this mean when some Gnus show up at your door and for some reason their app won’t load onto their phone, that they will then begin making fun of you?
Another reason I believe it’s okay to mock religion is because it’s something people choose for themselves and they can still change their minds about. Religion, unlike your race or your looks, is something you have control over. So have at it. Religion’s basically a long setup just waiting for a punchline.
Making it up as he goes along again. Mehta is assuming agency and free will when he insists religion is “something people choose for themselves and they can still change their minds about.” He is denying determinism when he insists “Religion, unlike your race or your looks, is something you have control over.” Huge numbers of New Atheists agree with their leaders Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne and deny the existence of agency and free will and insist determinism is true.
If there is no free will, people don’t “choose” their religion and don’t “choose” to remain religious. They have no control over such things. It’s something that happens to them because of their genes and environment. In other words, atheists who mock religious people and who also deny the existence of free will are indeed no different from racists who mock other races.
Or think of Peter Boghossian’s perspective, where religious people are infected with a faith virus and are in need of a cure. The Friendly Atheist argues that atheists have a mandate to mock people who are sick.
Or think David Silverman’s perspective, who recently argued that religious people are victims of brainwashing. The Friendly Atheist argues that atheists have a mandate to mock victims.
So there ya have it – the mindset of the New Atheist. The New Atheist is someone who thinks we should mock people for something they have no control over, mock people who are sick, and mock people who are victims. Nothing more friendly that that, eh?