I found myself laughing through this Fox News segment:
God Under Attack? Are Militant Atheists on the Rise?
1. Attaching the term “militant” to various viewpoints you disagree with has become pretty common. It’s a nice little way to demonize it. Originally, the term “militant” meant committing violence, and it still has that negative connotation. Now, it’s been thrown around so much that anyone who strongly argues a viewpoint is “militant”, although people carefully pick which people they want to attach the “militant” label to. For example, the term “militant Christian” is never used by Christians, even when describing missionaries because it has that negative connotation.
2. Funny how they call atheism a “craze” to downplay the longevity of this change in American culture. Father Jonathan downplays it further saying that it’s just a fad for publishers – not the general public. Then he says that he “has a lot of atheist friends”. Really? Perhaps that’s an indication that atheism is not just a fad among book publishers.
3. Father Jonathan claims that atheist authors believe they are “the only elite who know what they’re talking about”. This is typical debate tactic of attributing negative personality traits (arrogance, looking down on other people) to one’s opponent so that people will want to disagree with them.
4. Father Jonathan says that people writing atheist books need to stick to their field of expertise. Then, he talks about the amazing design of the eye. Apparently, his expertise is biology.
5. Father Jonathan says that 90% of the American public believes in God, and there’s a reason for that. I think there is a reason for that – but it isn’t the existence of God. I think religion is used to “explain” the unknown in the world (much like a “volcano god” explains the eruptions of a volcano) and plays psychological roles in people’s lives – allowing them to believe in an afterlife for them and their loved ones, believe that someone is on their side, believe that evil people get punished and good rewarded (aka emotional justice). Additionally, religious people like to trot out the arguments that you should believe in God because it’s a safer bet than disbelieving. Many people may be doing exactly that – believing in God not because there is better evidence, but because it’s a safer bet. Put another way, it might be that 90% of the American public believes in God because it’s a safer bet, then people want to turn it around and say that the fact 90% of the American public believes it means there must be some truth to it.
6. “Why is there this posturing in the media of atheists as intellectuals?” It’s funny how they have to undermine ideas as they ask questions. The use of the word “posturing” makes it clear from the beginning that “it’s a myth”. Actually, it’s not a myth. Atheism and agnosticism are both correlated with educational level and intelligence. There are a number of reasons for this – ranging from educated, intellectual people have fewer things left unexplained (see my earlier point about God being a method to explain volcanoes), to the fact that educated, intellectual people are more willing think for themselves and dissent from popular opinion which overwhelmingly believes in God (ignorant, uneducated people tend to go with the flow and not disagree with popular opinion), to a variety of other reasons. I’m reminded of Einstein and Thomas Jefferson in these regards. Einstein believed in God, but not a moralistic, personal, human-interested God that grants eternal life. Thomas Jefferson believed in God, but dismissed the miracles of the New Testament (actually cutting them out of the Bible with scissors). While they weren’t atheists, they both dissented from popular opinion and thought for themselves – something neither of them would have done if they had been of average or below average intelligence. This trait of thinking for oneself and dissenting from popular opinion, which is connected to intelligence, also leads people to disbelieve in God.
7. I laughed at the “eye” and “childbirth” arguments. It’s explained by biology and evolution. Funny how people always insert “God” whenever they get to something they don’t understand. Ancient humans did the same thing with storms, volcanos, and even the Sun (the Greeks believed that the Sun is actually a chariot driven across the sky by a god).
8. Father Jonathan says that the reason these atheist books are on the best seller list is because believers buy them to understand it. I doubt that. Personally, I never buy a book that I disagree with – I don’t want to drive up sales, increase profits, or lead publishers to believe that publishing that type of book is a good move. (I will read it in the bookstore or at the library.) Besides, if believers were truly buying up these books, one would expect The God Delusion to have a lower rating on Amazon (70% of the reviews of this book on Amazon gave it 4 or 5 stars).