Monday, March 05, 2007

Staring into the abyss of stupidity

Once in a while I stumble over an article from one of the far-right websites such as Powerline or Townhall, and they never fail to make me wonder of the sheer stupidity expressed. I came across one such article from Townhall

Atheistic Democracy: An oxymoron

The sheer amount of stupidity and ignorance at display in the article is incredible. I will not go through every piece of tortured logic and moronic statement, but I will make a few remarks. Feel free to make your own in the comments.

In response to the recent assault by “tolerant” atheists, I am going to explain why it is necessary to maintain our Christian heritage in order to sustain our democracy. This is for the benefit of the “scientists” who presume themselves the authorities on everything and who have penned tomes with such ostentatious titles as The God Delusion, Letter to a Christian Nation, God: The Failed Hypothesis, and other works that rehash the arguments from ages past. They all have committed the common error of mistaking the empirical method for the whole of knowledge. It wouldn’t be too bad if they all just went off by themselves into their own little self-created hells where they snarl and snipe (called “free-thinkers meetings”) because a Christian might say “God bless you” or wear a tiny crucifix around her neck. Judging by the comments in reply to my column “Letter to a Stupid Atheist,” I have to conclude that this is one of the most miserable groups of people on earth. And as my adjective for them implies, they are not very smart, for there is no analogy between a female dog and a columnist, a claim they make through the name they call me in their blogs and letters.

First of all, it seems like she is arguing that the reason why you should believe in a Christian god is because it's necessary for democracy. That's a novel argument for belief.

Second of all, I haven't come across secular people complaining about people saying "God bless you", except if it is a official role (for example as the President of the United States), or if it is against our expressed wishes.
On the other hand, you have Christians like Bill O'Reilly who are complaining about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", and claiming it is part of a "War against Christmas". Seems to me that it's not the secular people who snarl and snipe about such things.

But more importantly, whenever they assault Christianity, we need to remind them of the foundations of their freedoms.

First, the fact that they live in a country founded upon a belief in “inalienable rights” imparted by their Creator should give them a hint. The very notion of democracy is based on Christian principles—a historical fact, though one not really emphasized in our public school system. But I noticed as I was reading an article in 1999 in The Atlantic Monthly by Francis Fukuyama: “In the West, Christianity first established the universality of human dignity. . .” Yes, the Greeks had a democracy, but it was not a democracy for women and slaves. It was the radical Christian notion of equality--that there was neither “Jew nor Gentile,” and that even prostitutes could repent--that forms the basis of our democratic values.

Argh! The stupidity... it hurts!
When democracy was introduced in USA, it was exactly like the original Greek concept. Slaves, women, non-citizens, and people who didn't own property were not allowed to vote. In other words, the "Christian notion of equality" hardly came into play. Not surprising really, since the notion of equality isn't really shown in the Bible (need I go into the parts about slaves and womens' roles?).

The Greek were not the only ancient democracies. The old republic Vajji Sangha, located in current India, was also a democracy long before Christianity arose (before BCE 600), and it's believed that the Sumerian city states had some kind of democracy before becoming monarchies. Scandinavia also had (limited) democracy, where all the free men could vote on important issues (including election of the King) at the ting, before the countries became Christian.

And it's nonsense to talk about Christianity as the root of democracy, even if you ignore the pre-Christian democracies. Renaissance humanism was the true root of democracy (which they copied from the ancient Greek), and they did so in spite of Christianity.

In general, it's not a bad idea to read the Wikipedia entry on democracy, though it's simplistic, and lacking.

This of course presupposes the notion of sin, or if you don’t like that old-fashioned word, imperfection. Christianity acknowledges the universality of human sin in addition to the universality of dignity. Therefore the Christian recognizes the limits of government because of the limitations of the (fallen) people who make up the government. The ultimate arbiter is God, not man the Scientist. Who is the ultimate arbiter for the atheist? Sam Harris? Richard Dawkins? Adolf Hitler? To whom will they appeal when they cannot decide their infernal debates?

Ok, first of all, Adolf Hitler was not an atheist. He made frequent references to God in Mein Kampf and in speeches.
Having said that, she clearly doesn't understand the simple principle of atheism. There is no "ultimate arbiter". You have to live in a society together with other people, and thus to behave in a manner that makes this possible. Or in the words of PZ Myers.

Religion is not a source of moral behavior. It's a source of tribalism and obedience to authority, which sometimes coincides with respectable morality, but isn't necessarily associated with it. We have to find our virtue in one true thing, our common humanity, and these ancient superstitions actually interfere with instruction in how to be good by encrusting it with nonsense.

But back to the article.

The atheist, nonetheless, against all evidence, believes in the “progress” of science. He believes it can replace religion. And he believes that we are marching towards perfection. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that. But what do we do before we reach perfection? Which scientist do we turn to to save us? How do we make decisions now? Or if we mistakenly believe we have arrived at The Answer Through Science do we form our culture to that formula? But how do we know it’s perfect? Doesn’t each generation believe itself the most advanced? Didn’t the flappers? Didn’t the hippies? What do we do about the past generations that made mistakes?

The atheist doesn't "believe" in anything. It's a word used for people who has looked at the evidence for a God, and found it lacking, and thus doesn't believe in one. In other words, it means the lack of belief in God. Other than that, you can't make any general statements about atheists.
Some of them certainly feel that science leads to progress, and history would seem to be on their side. It's not religion that has lead to better medicine or better technology (though some of the people involved have certainly been religious). It's science.

Ok, I give up. I have to break away from the sheer ignorance shown through the article. If nothing else, then because commenting on every stupidity would take up too much space and time. Go read it yourselves and weep.

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Blogger Kaethe said...

Careful, when you stare into the abyss of stupididty, it stares into you as well.

That or you burn out your retinas.

March 08, 2007 5:55 PM  

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