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Charlotte Allen: Why I can't stand atheists
St. Paul Pioneer Press ^ | 05/18/2009 | Charlotte Allen

Posted on 05/23/2009 12:15:01 PM PDT by rhema

I can't stand atheists — but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book "Faith, Reason, and Revolution," take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.

My problem with atheists is their tiresome — and way old — insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What, did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?

Read Dawkins, or Hitchens, or the works of fellow atheists Sam Harris ("The End of Faith") and Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell"), or visit an atheist Web site or blog (there are zillions of them, bearing such titles as "God Is for Suckers," "God Is Imaginary" and "God Is Pretend"), and your eyes will glaze over as you peruse — again and again — the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

First off, there's atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us 'cuz we don't believe in God.

Although a recent Pew Forum survey on religion found that 16 percent of Americans describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, only 1.6 percent call themselves atheists, with another 2.4 percent weighing in as agnostics (a group despised as wishy-washy by atheists). You or I might attribute the low numbers to atheists' failure to win converts to their unbelief, but atheists say the problem is persecution so relentless that it drives tens of millions of God-deniers into a closet of feigned faith, like gays before Stonewall. In his online "Atheist Manifesto," Harris writes that "no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that ... God exists."

The evidence? Antique clauses in the constitutions of six — count 'em — states barring atheists from office.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such provisions unenforceable nearly 50 years ago, but that doesn't stop atheists from bewailing that they have to hide their Godlessness from friends, relatives, employers and potential dates. One representative of the pity-poor-me school of atheism, Kathleen Goodman, writing in January for the Chronicle of Higher Education, went so far as to promote affirmative action for atheists on college campuses: specially designated, college-subsidized "safe spaces" for them to express their views.

Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God.

This is a favorite Dawkins theme. In a recent interview with Trina Hoaks, the atheist blogger for the Web site, Dawkins described religious believers as follows: "They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do." Thanks, Richard!

Dennett likes to call atheists "the Brights," in contrast to everybody else, who obviously aren't so bright. In a 2006 essay describing his brush with death after a heart operation, Dennett wrote these thoughts about his religious friends who told him they were praying for his recovery: "Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?" With friends like Daniel Dennett, you don't need enemies.

Then there's P.Z. Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus, whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers' field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as "idiots," "morons," "loony" or "imbecilic" in nearly every post. The university deactivated its link to Myers' blog in July after he posted a photo of a consecrated host from a Catholic Mass that he had pierced with a rusty nail and thrown into the garbage ("I hope Jesus' tetanus shots are up to date") in an effort to prove that Catholicism is bunk — or something.

Myers' blog exemplifies atheists' frenzied fascination with Christianity and the Bible. Atheist Web site after atheist Web site insists that Jesus either didn't exist or "was a jerk" (in the words of one blogger) because he didn't eliminate smallpox or world poverty. At the American Atheists Web site, a writer complains that God "set up" Adam and Eve, knowing in advance that they would eat the forbidden fruit. A blogger on A Is for Atheist has been going through the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse in order to prove its "insanity" (he or she had gotten up to the Book of Joshua when I last looked).

Another topic that atheists beat like the hammer on the anvil in the old Anacin commercials is Darwinism versus creationism. Maybe Darwin-o-mania stems from the fact that this year marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth in 1809, but haven't atheists heard that many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don't have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God's way of letting his living creation unfold? Furthermore, even if human nature as we know it is a matter of lucky adaptations, how exactly does that disprove the existence of God?

And then there's the question of why atheists are so intent on trying to prove that God not only doesn't exist but is evil to boot. Dawkins, writing in "The God Delusion," accuses the deity of being a "petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak" as well as a "misogynistic, homophobic, racist ... bully." If there is no God — and you'd be way beyond stupid to think differently — why does it matter whether he's good or evil?

The problem with atheists — and what makes them such excruciating snoozes — is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering. Atheists seem to assume that the whole idea of God is a ridiculous absurdity, the "flying spaghetti monster" of atheists' typically lame jokes. They think that lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets accusing God of failing to create a world more to their liking ("If there's a God, why aren't I rich?" "If there's a God, why didn't he give me two heads so I could sleep with one head while I get some work done with the other?") will suffice to knock down the entire edifice of belief.

What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger — anger that the world isn't perfect, that someone forced them to go to church as children, that the Bible contains apparent contradictions, that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary. Hitchens thinks that "religion spoils everything." Dawkins contends that raising one's offspring in one's religion constitutes child abuse. Harris argues that it "may be ethical to kill people" on the basis of their beliefs. The perennial atheist litigant Michael Newdow sued (unsuccessfully) to bar President Barack Obama from uttering the words "so help me God" when he took his oath of office.

What atheists don't seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

Charlotte Allen is the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus" and a contributing editor to the Minding the Campus Web site of the Manhattan Institute. She wrote this column for the Los Angeles Times.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: atheism; atheists; christianity; moralabsolutes; religion
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To: rhema

“...assumes that if science can’t prove something, it doesn’t exist.”

Seems like that requires a great deal of faith.

I’ve recently come to think that atheists rely on faith as much as believers if not more. They have faith that there is no deity.

41 posted on 05/23/2009 1:28:44 PM PDT by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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To: ansel12

They are lucky they still have their eyesight.

Reminds me of the Sodom and Gomorrah scene in that 1966 movie, “The Bible” (directed by John Huston).

42 posted on 05/23/2009 1:43:01 PM PDT by donna (Gasoline usage: Demand dropped 9.6% in 2008; total decline from 2005 thru 2008 was 28%)
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To: rhema

Atheist morality is whatever the majority (or the dictator) feel at the moment. There is no God given natural law, obviously, and contrary to the atheist accusation that religion kills people, I give you atheism killing far more on the historical spectrum. In the 20th century, the atheistic totalitarian states killed far more numbers than all the religious wars combined.

Nazism was a race worshiping pagan ideology that despised religion, indeed, Hitler hoped to hang the Pope as soon as he could. Over 50 million dead from their ideas.

Communism - from the Ukrainian genocide to the murders of Mao to the killing fields of Cambodia and Vietnam, communism was completely devoid of any morality and easily ascribed “good” to their own heinous actions. They killed millions upon millions, all the while stamping out any vestiges of the ‘opiate the people’. Hitchens was once a commie, or at least didn’t complain about wearing their course underwear, and he may have seen the errors of his ways but not completely. They are abundant murders and only one living in a self created moral universe could even tolerate them.

America today is now responsible for 50MM abortions. Many of these woman regret it and return to their religious faith for renewal. The culture of death resides with the removal of all aspects of religion from the village square, and those purveyors of atheism now seek to penalize people that openly profess their faith.

One should not be allowed to define their own morality - it allows one to walk proudly after committing mass murder!

43 posted on 05/23/2009 1:50:20 PM PDT by Titus-Maximus (Joe Biden: Once you get past the lead taste, paint chips are pretty good.)
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To: Titus-Maximus


44 posted on 05/23/2009 1:53:53 PM PDT by Titus-Maximus (Joe Biden: Once you get past the lead taste, paint chips are pretty good.)
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To: rhema

Whenever I read about these atheist books like “The God Delusion” and “God is not Great”, it always makes me think of Oolong Colophid’s controversial trilogy: “Where God Went Wrong”, “Some More of God’s Mistakes”, and “Who is this God Fellow, Anyway”.

45 posted on 05/23/2009 1:55:21 PM PDT by sportutegrl (If liberals could do math, they would be conservatives.)
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To: rhema

“At the American Atheists Web site, a writer complains that God “set up” Adam and Eve, knowing in advance that they would eat the forbidden fruit.”

Okay, help me out here. This writer considers him/herself an atheist, a condition for which disbelief in God would seem to be the minimum requirement. Yet they are expending time and energy writing about their understanding of God’s motives, which would seem to imply a belief in the existence of the Deity in question.

Someone needs to cry bravo sierra on them.

As the French say, oy vey.

46 posted on 05/23/2009 1:57:03 PM PDT by mrs. a (It's a short life but a merry one...)
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To: rhema

There is a certain irony that Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is one of the most widely read and quoted works on FR. Rand of course was an atheist, and a very moral woman.

I must admit I find her moral logic much more compelling than anything I ever heard in church.

47 posted on 05/23/2009 2:00:18 PM PDT by Martel1971
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To: rhema
What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger

I have found this to be true. I know some very angry atheists. And not just angry, but extremely intolerant. They seem to think that if they don't believe in God, no one else should either. And they should never have to listen to mention of God in public.

48 posted on 05/23/2009 2:02:04 PM PDT by bluegirl
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To: mrs. a

No, they’re using that example to discredit its authenticity.

Since said God is infallible, so should his methods be too.

49 posted on 05/23/2009 2:02:38 PM PDT by MyTwoCopperCoins (I don't have a license to kill; I have a learner's permit.)
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To: MyTwoCopperCoins
Was Ceasar Nero an Atheist?

Hardly, he claimed to be God.

50 posted on 05/23/2009 2:49:16 PM PDT by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: dfwgator
More specifically, angry at Jesus and his followers, they're usually neutral when it comes to Allah or Buddha, or Xenu, or whatever else.

Good point. And it's not only atheists who get spooked by the name of Jesus. There's a lot of generic "God" and "Christian" talk in the liberal denominational churches. About the only time they refer to Jesus, however, is to quote the one Bible verse they know for sure: "Do not judge lest you be judged."

51 posted on 05/23/2009 2:53:16 PM PDT by rhema ("Break the conventions; keep the commandments." -- G. K. Chesterton)
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To: freedumb2003
Sorry, but the very creation itself screams of a creator. To ignore God does not make Him not exist, nor does it make Justice cease. We have life, to not be greatful is a crime against all creation.

Look at it this way, in creation we have free will. To choose to be not subject to the body of creation, and the Creator Himself is to be a cancer cell in that body.

52 posted on 05/23/2009 2:54:34 PM PDT by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: autumnraine

HOW can He be evil if he doesn’t exist?


From what I imagine is Dawkins’s point of view, a fictitious character in any story can be portrayed as good or evil, hero or villain. In his mind, the fictitious character “God” is “a ‘petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak’ as well as a ‘misogynistic, homophobic, racist ... bully.’”

53 posted on 05/23/2009 2:57:06 PM PDT by Hepsabeth
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To: American in Israel

>>Look at it this way, in creation we have free will. To choose to be not subject to the body of creation, and the Creator Himself is to be a cancer cell in that body.<<

I suspect that God doesn’t need that level of support and that those who don’t see Him are not “cancerous.”

54 posted on 05/23/2009 3:01:21 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: rhema
I can’t stand atheists — but it’s not because they don’t believe in God. It’s because they’re crashing bores.

I prefer to say there seem to be an inordinately high number who, if they did believe in a deity, would be exactly the type of miserable, intolerant creatures they profess to hate most among believers.

55 posted on 05/23/2009 3:33:40 PM PDT by RichInOC (No! BAD Rich! (What'd I say?))
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To: bluegirl
Assume there are two groups of atheists. Group one is angry and rude in asserting their atheism while group two is tolerant and considerate of the feelings of others. You would likely notice only members of group one.
56 posted on 05/23/2009 3:51:58 PM PDT by conejo99
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To: Bryanw92

I see what you mean. Maybe we should just hate ‘em right from the start? Nah, I can’t be bothered. Better to just enjoy mocking them I think.

57 posted on 05/23/2009 3:58:34 PM PDT by Emmett McCarthy
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To: rhema

I don’t believe in athiests.

58 posted on 05/23/2009 3:59:51 PM PDT by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: autumnraine

Dawkins is an idiot. Albert Einstein, Newton, Descartes and many of the greatest minds that have ever existed believed in GOD. Dawkins use of faulty logic is laughable. Mathematics, logic, and reasoning can not prove or disprove the existence of GOD. Either Dawkins knows this and wrote the book just to make money off the atheists, or he is delusional.

59 posted on 05/23/2009 4:08:41 PM PDT by Do the math (Doug)
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To: Emmett McCarthy

Ignore them. Let them file their lawsuits. Then pray at graduation ceremonies anyway. Let the cops come in and arrest everyone for public prayer. Let the school administration withhold diplomas earned from 4 years of work because the students decided to pray. Put up your crosses on the side of the road so they can make the cops take them down again. Have the 10 Commandments mysteriously “appear” in the courthouse every night, so that they can be removed again the next day.

Force them to persecute the religious people. Because although there is no “separation of church and state” in the Constitution, there sure is a something about “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

But we can’t fight on that ground until we stop giving in at the threat of a lawsuit.

60 posted on 05/23/2009 4:16:11 PM PDT by Bryanw92
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