Skip to comments.When Atheists Attack (Each Other)
Posted on 05/01/2011 7:24:18 AM PDT by Ethan Clive Osgoode
The squabble between Darwin lobbyists who openly hate religion and those who only quietly disdain it grows ever more personal, bitter and pathetic. On one side, evangelizing New or "Gnu" (ha ha) Atheists like Jerry Coyne and his acolytes at Why Evolution Is True. Dr. Coyne is a biologist who teaches and ostensibly researches at the University of Chicago but has a heck of a lot of free time on his hands for blogging and posting pictures of cute cats.
On the other side, so-called accommodationists like the crowd at the National Center for Science Education, who attack the New Atheists for the political offense of being rude to religious believers and supposedly messing up the alliance between religious and irreligious Darwinists.
I say "supposedly" because there's no evidence any substantial body of opinion is actually being changed on religion or evolution by anything the open haters or the quiet disdainers say. Everyone seems to seriously think they're either going to defeat religion, or merely "creationism," or both by blogging for an audience of fellow Darwinists.
Want to see what I mean? This is all pretty strictly a battle of stinkbugs in a bottle. Try to follow it without getting a headache.
Coyne recently drew excited applause from fellow biologist-atheist-blogger PZ Myers for Coyne's "open letter" (published on his blog) to the NCSE and its British equivalent, the British Centre for Science Education. In the letter, Coyne took umbrage at criticism of the New Atheists, mostly on blogs, emanating from the two accommodationist organizations. He vowed that,
We will continue to answer the misguided attacks [on the New Atheists] by people like Josh Rosenau, Roger Stanyard, and Nick Matzke so long as they keep mounting those attacks.Like the NCSE, the BCSE seeks to pump up Darwin in the public mind without scaring religious people. This guy called Stanyard at the BCSE complains of losing a night's sleep over the nastiness of the rhetoric on Coyne's blog. Coyne in turn complained that Stanyard complained that a blog commenter complained that Nick Matzke, formerly of the NCSE, is like "vermin." Coyne also hit out at blogger Jason Rosenhouse for an "epic"-length blog post complaining of New Atheist "incivility." In the blog, Rosenhouse, who teaches math at James Madison University, wrote an update about how he had revised an insulting comment about the NCSE's Josh Rosenau that he, Rosenhouse, made in a previous version of the post.
That last bit briefly confused me. In occasionally skimming the writings of Jason Rosenhouse and Josh Rosenau in the past, I realized now I had been assuming they were the same person. They are not!
It goes on and on. In the course of his own blog post, Professor Coyne disavowed name-calling and berated Stanyard (remember him? The British guy) for "glomming onto" the Matzke-vermin insult like "white on rice, or Kwok on a Leica." What's a Kwok? Not a what but a who -- John Kwok, presumably a pseudonym, one of the most tirelessly obsessive commenters on Darwinist blog sites. Besides lashing at intelligent design, he often writes of his interest in photographic gear such as a camera by Leica. I have the impression that Kwok irritates even fellow Darwinists.
There's no need to keep all the names straight in your head. I certainly can't. I'm only taking your time, recounting just a small part of one confused exchange, to illustrate the culture of these Darwinists who write so impassionedly about religion, whether for abolishing it or befriending it. Writes Coyne in reply to Stanyard,
I'd suggest, then, that you lay off telling us what to do until you've read about our goals. The fact is that we'll always be fighting creationism until religion goes away, and when it does the fight will be over, as it is in Scandinavia.A skeptic might suggest that turning America into Scandinavia, as far as religion goes, is an outsized goal, more like a delusion, for this group as they sit hunched over their computers shooting intemperate comments back and forth at each other all day. Or in poor Stanyard's case, all night.
There's a feverish, terrarium-like and oxygen-starved quality to this world of online Darwinists and atheists. It could only be sustained by the isolation of the Internet. They don't seem to realize that the public accepts Darwinism to the extent it does -- which is not much -- primarily because of what William James would call the sheer, simple "prestige" that the opinion grants. Arguments and evidence have little to do with it.
The prestige of Darwinism is not going to be affected by how the battle between Jerry Coyne and the NCSE turns out. New Atheist arguments are hobbled by the same isolation from what people think and feel. I have not yet read anything by any of these gentlemen or ladies, whether the open haters or the quiet disdainers, that conveys anything like a real comprehension of religious feeling or thought.
Even as they fight over the most effective way to relate to "religion," the open atheists and the accomodationists speak of an abstraction, a cartoon, that no actual religious person would recognize. No one is going to be persuaded if he doesn't already wish to be persuaded for other personal reasons. No faith is under threat from the likes of Jerry Coyne.
For an example, there was a tradition that early Christians continued to honor the Sabbath day. They also met on the first day of the week to honor the resurrection of Jesus. When the Roman Emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a day of rest from labor in 321 A.D. he did not forbid Saturday Sabbath observance, but said the empire should honor the "day of the sun" in order to satisfy both pagans and Christians. Even today, most Christian denominations conduct services on Sunday. Now this tradition developed after the Apostolic period and the day to meet was never demanded or commanded in Scripture as long as a day of rest was set aside - as Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for the man and not man for the Sabbath.". Scripture DOES, however, state that "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."(Romans 14:5).
So we have a "tradition" that is not spelled out in Scripture but, since it does not contradict Scripture, it is acceptable. There are many other traditions that developed later within certain churches that are either optional or clearly contradicted by Scripture. For example, the tradition that women should not wear pants because Scripture says women should not dress like a man. We can clearly see from Scripture that there was a reason and a context for Paul stating women should not pretend to be men nor that men should dress as women. Its context had to do with homosexuality, and not a restriction like we think that has relevance today seeing as women wear pants who are NOT trying to look like men. Back in the first century, I'm sure even the men didn't wear "pants". But my point is that tradition certainly has a place but it must be judged against Scripture, which is our objective authority for the faith handed down to us from the Apostles.
Cyril was not the only "recognized" doctor of the church to say such things. The point is not that "tradition" has no place in the Christian faith, but that the Holy Scriptures must be the authority by which those traditions are judged to be relevant to the church today.Irenaeus is another ECF who practiced Sola Scriptura.
Irenaeus assesses the Gnostic position in these words:
When however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For they allege that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce (orally)...For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to &the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the churches themselves.39
One must also be careful understand what is meant by tradition in the Fathers writings. Many times tradition just refers to the major tenets of the Faith as found in the scripture. Many times it is traditions such as facing the east or other liturgical proceedings. There has never been a major doctrine proved to originate from any apostle that is only ORAL in nature.
First, let me thank you and bkaycee for making this a reasonable discussion of doctrines and differences.
Your underlines the Catholic premise that there exists a hierarchy within the Revealed Word in which Scripture does indeed carry a higher weight than Tradition. We Catholics also believe that within Scripture there exists a similar hierarchy in which the actual words of Jesus hold a higher importance than do the letters and epistles of the Apostles and the laws and accounts of the Old Testament. However, all of Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture play an important role.
It is through this understanding of hierarchy that Catholic doctrines and dogma can be better understood.
If we parse the revealed Word and exclude Tradition can we then keep going and exclude everything except the Beatitudes and still be Christian?
There certainly are traditions that are not kept today, nor does Rome have unanimous consent of the fathers for all her doctrines, and the EOs also differ with Rome about what Tradition teaches in some things, primarily papal infallibility and power.
But i would have to differ regarding worship on Sunday being a result of a 4th cent, edit. Justin Martyr records this was practiced in the 2nd century, and the command to keep the 7 day Sabbath is the only one of the 10 commandments not reiterated under the New Cov., and i see it as falling into the class of typological laws. (Gal. 4:10; Heb. 4:309). But to save typing, i will just reference this which i first wrote a long time ago,
I also see a restriction against women in male clothing as not so much being against homosexuality, but in order to reflect the anatomical distinction God made btwn genders (thank God), and due to the Fall, and the attraction to female anatomical parts by normal males, beyond simply appreciating God-given beauty - the extent of which i think many women do not realize (while others seem to all too well).
No, there is NO excuse for us men taking that second look at a shapely female in revealing clothing, nor must we, and as there is a vast difference between women as regards how dress would affect this, one cannot make a dogmatic rule, yet i think women need to understand the command for modest apparel, and against unisex clothing, as having more of a purpose than preventing homosexuality.
And in a spiritual sense, God veils Himself, revealing enough so that souls should seek Him, but only to those who enter into covenant with Him will He the more fully reveal His glory. And true seeking prepares the heart for receiving with proper appreciation. But those scoffers who declare that God must explicitly show Himself to them on cue, if He expects them to believe, are spiritual rapists.
Thank you as well for the respectful discussion. I do have an objection to your statement about Catholics holding the "actual words of Jesus" having a higher authority than the rest of Scripture. My reasons for objection is because the words Jesus spoke while here on earth were retold by men specifically inspired by the Holy Spirit who brought to their remembrance all things that Jesus taught them. John, for example, not only wrote one of those retelling books (The Gospel According to John) but several other Scripture books. Are you implying that what the Gospel of John says Jesus said is more important than what John the Apostle said in his epistles as well as the book of Revelation? Are not ALL of the Holy Scriptures God's word? Are not Paul's writings as Peter said in his epistle that Paul's writings were inspired Scripture equally authoritative?
The reason I think that compels some to place the words of Jesus in higher importance than the rest of Scripture is that they see a disconnect in Jesus' teachings and what other Bible books (such as Paul's epistles) teach. I do not see any disconnect nor any contradictions. I do not think any Scripture contradicts any other Scripture as they were divinely inspired by the same (and only) Holy Spirit and he would not, could not contradict himself. This obviously calls for a proper hermeneutical understanding of Scripture that studies the Word in regard to context, audience, times, subject and consistent with the other revelations from God. So, why do you think your church needed to state such a distinction? What do they say is "troublesome" about holding ALL Scripture as revelation from God so that all is true and equally true?
I do not think this is "parsing" of Scripture nor is it discarding tradition, but is rather an understanding that tradition MUST be understood and judged by Scripture and not the other way around. Thanks for your input.
I also agree that women should be careful to dress modestly and not be drawing attention to themselves in a way that overtly invites lust. I certainly think that admonition can be done by faithful women today even if they do wear pants, since pants are no longer - in our society - associated solely as menswear. My example was based on a few students I had when I taught at a Christian school. Their parents had placed them with our new school mainly because of the intolerance exhibited by another school that told their students their mothers were going to Hell because they wore pants! To me, that was placing a tradition in too high of a place over sensible understanding of Scripture with regards to modesty and freedom in Christ. To me, that church went too far.
Thanks for your understanding and appreciation. There certainly are extremes, though it today it is more on the libertarian side, as we become more like the society in which we exists. The RCC did as well, and so we must and i must obey Rm. 12:1+2 more deeply.
Where was it stated that it was a Catholic school who made the asinine claim that mothers who wore pants were going to hell? Boatbums clearly said "Christian" school.
Catholic schools did the same! I know - I went there!
And don’t eat meat on Friday and fast before communion - or - oh the horrors - straight to hell for you! Condemning others to hell all on their man made rules.
You simply are not credible.
No, it was a Protestant church school that had that strange idea. It was back in the mid to late seventies, so they may have changed their tune by now.
I have no argument with that at all.
The Catholic schools that my wife and I went to and the ones kids went to K - Grad School had plenty of non-Catholic teachers.
Interesting, I was unaware of that as my Catholic school experience was mostly all nuns as I remember. Of course, those days for me probably go back way before yours. ;o)
boatbums: I did not say it was a Catholic school...No, it was a Protestant church school that had that strange idea
When the nuns started leaving in the very late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s - they replaced them with lay faculty. My children went to catholic school and there were no nuns.
It is actually pretty simple. You have been so consistently and epically wrong so often on matters of Catholic doctrine and dogma you are either an imbecile or were never a Catholic. In either case you have no credibility.
Wait a minute, iscool — didn’t you say you were an ex-Catholic?
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