New Atheist Zoltan Istvan considers himself the US Presidential candidate of the Transhumanist Party and has decided to use religious people as his scapegoats in his campaign. He writes:
All around the world, religious terror is striking and threatening us. Whether in France, Turkey, London, or the USA, the threat is now constant. We can fight it all we want. We can send out our troops; we can chip refugees; we can try to monitor terrorist’s every move. We can even improve trauma medicine to deal with extreme violence they bring us. But none of this solves the underlying issue: Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam are fundamentally violent philosophies with violent Gods. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others have all reiterated essentially the same thing.
Christianity is not a violent philosophy with a violent God. So, to support his assertion, Zoltan will cherry pick and quote-mine from the Bible to make it seem the same as the Koran:
Consider these verses from the Koran:
Koran (3:56): As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.
Koran (8:12): I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.
And then consider these verses from the Bible:
Deuteronomy 17:12: Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the holy man who represents God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged.
Numbers: 31:17: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
You would think that if you are going to make a claim about Christianity, you would quote from the New Covenant and not the Old Covenant. As commenter Dhay wisely observed:
What would Rambow, Anderson and Harris have moderate Christians do each Sunday? Abandon Communion, perhaps and replace it with some Old Covenant ritual where you sacrifice a bull and re-affirm the Old Covenant – perhaps they would have us reinstate the whole Jerusalem Temple based Jewish sacrificial cultus, which is all explicitly there in the text of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers and which on a Rambow/Anderson/Harris interpretation must be implemented.
Zoltan is clearly engaged in confirmation bias. He wants to believe that Christianity is a violent philosophy so he pages through the Bible looking for something that will support his preconceived beliefs. Once he finds it, he offers it up and goes not one step further. Zoltan is not engaged in argument; he is engaged in some mental exercise that is rendered ludicrous by Dhay’s comment.
Zoltan then thinks he is anticipating objections to his point and tries to knock them down:
Of course, both the Koran and Bible have passages that highlight kindness too—but you don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card in the 21st Century by being both violent and peaceful. If you beat your spouse, you’re an abuser and can face jail time (even if you’re a loving spouse other times).
Fail. It’s not a question of the Koran or Bible also having passages about being nice. It’s about understanding the core essence of Christianity. While the Koran offers up another version of the Old Covenant, the Bible presents a New Covenant made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Let me offer up a couple of Bible quotes:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man…” (Eph. 2:13-15, ESV)
To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) (1 Cor 9:20-21)
The problem is obvious – Zoltan doesn’t truly understand Christianity. He is mentally enslaved to some form of stereotype that guides his efforts at confirmation bias.
Zoltan then expands his attack:
The fundamental problem with religion is that believers—about 5 billion people right now on Planet Earth—are so sure they’re “correct” on anything and everything they believe. This is, of course, a sure sign of insanity—especially since most of what people believe was taught to them when they were children (and they had no way to filter it out or reason about it).
First of all, how can Zoltan be so sure that 5 billion religious people “are so sure they’re “correct” on anything and everything they believe?” He can’t. Once again, his intellectually lazy stereotypes guide his thinking. The only one coming across as being “so sure” of anything is Zoltan Istvan as he pontificates about “the fundamental problem.”
Second, I’m not surprised that an atheist candidate for President would engage in name calling. Zoltan accuses 5 billion people of being insane, yet he is the one who comes across as being so sure of his position. Thus, according to his own words, he is the insane one. And it does not help that the man actually considers himself a candidate for President of the United States.
Third, Zoltan engages in stereotyping-squared. It is simply not true that all religious people are religious because they were taught to be so as a child. I myself never received any religious training or teaching as a child.
The only real truth out there, at least while our brains are just three pound bags of meat (and our senses—like our eyes—see just 1 percent of the visible universe), is to know “absolute truth” is something way too complex to understand.
More stereotypes. I don’t claim to know absolute truth. In fact, I fully recognize the role that faith plays in my beliefs. If there was no uncertainty and no ambiguity, faith would not be needed. We would just know. Ironically, it is the atheists who insist faith is evil and pretend to get through life without it.
The only real thing to understand right now is the Scientific Method—the holy grail of wisdom that reason advocates follow. It states that if you test a hypothesis enough times, and the outcome seems to always be similar, then you can utilize that as a semi-truth and apply it functionally in one’s life (but beware: It could change anytime and it might). That’s the language of reason—the language of science.
This smells like the watered-down version of the scientific method. The language of science entails not just “test the hypothesis,” but test the hypothesis which generates clear predictions entailed by the hypothesis with carefully designed experiments. “Test the hypothesis” is just common day thinking that has no special track record of success. So let’s play with Zoltan’s version.
The Scientific Method is also not the thinking method of the pilots who flew into the World Trade Center. Or of the murderer who gunned down people in Orlando. And it’s certainly not the method of thinking that the truck driver used to run down innocent people in Nice, France.
Well, if the scientific method of is just “test the hypothesis,” yes, it was part of the terrorist thinking. The hypothesis would be that by committing such horrific acts, you can induce terror and chaos in your enemies. And it works. So that’s why they will keep doing it. Not to mention that the scientific method provided the tools of terrorism (the planes and guns and trucks) and must be part of the planning. So, According to Zoltan’s logic, the scientific method is part of terrorism.
Like the hundreds of millions of other nonreligious people out there, it’s hard for me to fathom how religious people got brainwashed into being this way—this ignorant. But bear in mind, it’s not just religious terrorism that is literally killing us—it’s much more.
So religious people are not only insane, but brainwashed and ignorant. Once again, stereotypes guide his hateful rhetoric. But if he is worried about things that are literally killing us, why doesn’t he mention the myriad of secular causes that exist? For example, according to the CDC, in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. From just that one secular cause, we have more dead people than with all of Zoltan’s examples of religious terrorism. So why is he not lashing out at the consumption of alcohol? Clearly, Zoltan is not concerned about things that are killing us. He just hates religion and religious people.
Consider how many nonreligious secular people there are leading our nation right now. The answer is astonishing: It’s zero (at least publicly). All 535 members of Congress, all eight Supreme Court justices, and our President believe in God and an afterlife.
I see. So Zoltan equates reality with what politicians say publicly. What an incredibly simple-minded way to approach our social reality. I think it a little more accurate to look at what politicians do. And as such, there is very little evidence to think most of these politicians are guided by religion (unless we define their secular ideologies as religion).
Zoltan then swerves into CrazyTown:
No wonder life extension and anti-aging science is basically unfunded by the US Government. Why should the US care about whether you live longer or can overcome disease when you’re all going to wake up in Jesus’ arms after you die? Or in some heavenly Islamic paradise with a bunch of virgins?
Huh? So all those religious politicians won’t fund life extension and anti-aging science because they all think they will end up in Jesus’s arms? Up to this point, it is clear Zoltan has simply been trafficking in hateful stereotypes and cliches about religious people. But now we need to begin wondering if this man, who throws around accusations of insanity, is himself delusional.
I’m a presidential candidate that wants you to live—not in some unknown paradise once you die that no one has ever seen before or can prove exists. I want you to live now, regardless what craziness or tragedy the world can throw at you. I want your loved ones to live too—and not die because of aging, disease, or terrorism. I want you all to survive as long as you want—and to try to find a perfect world here on Earth. Transhumanist science can give that to us, and it will soon. And maybe in a hundred years, we can all even venture somewhere else in the universe when space travel can get us there safely.
LOL! An atheist presidential candidate who wants us to live. You can’t make this stuff up.
If you want to live—and not be killed or die—make a point to criticize and disavow religion and religious people for being deathist: the idea that death is either welcome or acceptable (whether it comes via terrorism, disease, or aging).
Why are New Atheists so obsessed with coming up with more and more ways to hate on religious people? So now, this atheist wants to blame death itself on religious people. If it wasn’t for religious people, science would have discovered immortality! And we’d all be flying around in Starships. Just like Star Trek! Damn those religious people! Damn them!
It’s not that death is welcome or acceptable. It’s inevitable. Zoltan has been drinking from transhumanist koolaid and is thus in a state of denial.
In the 21st Century, fundamental religion is a form of mental disease. And sadly, that disease continues to take lives everywhere, in the worst of ways.
More hateful rhetoric guided by simple-minded stereotypes. Since religious people are insane, mentally diseased, and fatally dangerous, what does this presidential candidate propose we do about them? Put them in some type of camp? Atheist leaders throughout history have a track record of doing this. Surely, he must have a plan. So what is it?