Taking a Look at Atheists

When I was an atheist I was the laziest of atheists. I belonged to no clubs, attended no “freethinkers” debates or functions or anything like that. Although I did have one of those stupid Darwin fish with leg things on the back of my car in the early 90’s…  but I happened upon that in some store. I thought Madalyn Murray O’Hair repugnant, Dawkins and Harris intellectually nonintellectual. Hitchens I liked, not his arguments, but I just enjoyed him in a debate. But I came across these people over a span of decades by chance, and they had nothing to offer except vacuous arguments and grossly erroneous logic.

Atheism meant nothing for the same reason that Nothing means nothing to me. Meaning atheism is a negative concept, it denotes the absence of a something, namely, theism.

And for the same reason I never got involved in attacking the “other side”. Quite frankly I was indifferent to the other side. Until recently I had never had any real contact with either “side” atheist or theist. I simply could not get interested in the Bible – not even enough to attack it. Or to debate with a religious person. I am not claiming it never happened, but I never actively pursued it. But I was an atheist, I did hang out with atheists, and I did belong to a pseudo-philosophical school that was atheist, Objectivism. So I have been exposed to a lot of atheist thinking, including my own of course, and what atheists think of themselves and the other side.

And I have become interested in the whole debate now.

And boy, am I learning a lot. Over at a place called Strange Notions is an article about a much touted study that claims atheists are more intelligent than theists. Neither the study nor the article about it interests me here, but the comments do. The first comment is from a 42Oolon who claims the following:

“Some atheists maintain their non-belief comes through superior intelligence” I have never encountered such a statement from an atheist much less a serious atheists activist or promoter. It is not fair to make these unreferenced comments. How could we defend ourselves?

How can he defend himself? He can’t because his claim is a confession of either dishonesty or living under a rock. I have heard the claim of superior intelligence in one form or another countless times. This is the essence of the modern atheist attitude. There is only one atheist explanation of the theist – the theist lacks something. A lot of the newer, hipster atheists claim the theist lacks brains – a lot of them. Perusing that website one encounters a repeating mantra that goes like this: You, theist, are a slavish, gullible idiot who believes in fairytales because you are an idiot with a Bronze Age brain. Your mind is a stunted piece of jelly that spews out dogmatic slogans and hateful prejudice from a so-called holy book you’ve never read, but we have.  

I read an article once that discussed an interesting fact about Thomas Pynchon’s book, Gravity’s Rainbow. It seems to be the book that many have claimed to have read but few have. I would bet far fewer have read the Bible on both sides than have claimed. Though the intentional implication of the “we’ve read it, and you haven’t” claim is that no one can read the thing and still walk away not an atheist, and those that do are idiots. How do I know this? Because I was an atheist. You spend any time out there and you will encounter it.

Ayn Rand (at 2:15 in video) calls the theist’s lack a psychological weakness, that they lack a certain psychological strength. An explanation that I found even as an atheist to be much more palatable. You can’t look at the geniuses of history and their faith and then claim they lack intelligence. Because then the question becomes, “in comparison to what?”

But the claim to superior intelligence, vastly superior intelligence, and the stupidity of the opposition is the ruling attitude and faith of the modern atheist. 

I am not saying they haven’t been given fuel for such beliefs – two words, Robertson, Westboro.

I don’t like to have single sources. Remember the claim of the Strange Notions commenter was “I have never encountered such a statement from an atheist much less a serious atheists activist or promoter.”

Here is the forum site Atheist Forums. Countless instances here. That was Atheist Forums.org, here at Atheist Forums.com, it took me less than 30 seconds to come to a discussion that made 4 comments on how stupid Christians are on the first page of a 20 page discussion.

Over at the Huffington Post, the very first commenter on their article  makes the following statement:

No surprise here. Anyone who believes the collection of folk tales known as the Bible couldn’t be too bright.

It took me all of 5 minutes to find this stuff.

As for the activists and promoters, it permeates everything they say, and I have found no evidence they try to reign in their followers. For that is what they are, followers as sure as Christ had them.

Finally, I found a curious paragraph in one of the articles on the study.

What makes these results remarkable is not just that these gifted folks were less religious, something that is seen among elite scientists as well, but that 60 percent of the Termites reported receiving “very strict” or “considerable” religious training while 33 percent received little training. Thus, almost all of the gifted Termites grew up to be less religious.

One has to wonder if that Jesuit saying isn’t at work here in principle:

‘Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,’

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4 responses to “Taking a Look at Atheists

  • taichiwawa

    Pynchon begins Gravity’s Rainbow with a quote, “Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.” How upbeat, we may think — until we see the quote is from Werner von Braun, the architect of the Nazi’s V2 rocket project. But then our very next thought is, “but didn’t we — you know, the good guys — develop our own super-weapon, a weapon that killed more innocent civilians in just two instances than all the V2s ever launched? Our train of thought does not stop there…

    Some will say that Pynchon is an athiest and there are plenty of quotes they can pull from his writing to back their claim. But I think he’s just playing with all sides of things, exposing the absurdities, but, paradoxically, crafting them into a form (art) where they contribute to the vitality of the whole. Such is life, no?

    Does this mean I believe everything is relative? No. But I don’t think things are simple. Simplicity has its place, but too much of it is boring.

    One of my favorite poems:

    Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Glory be to God for dappled things—
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
    And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise him.

    • bensira587

      As you know I was one of the ones who could not get through Gravity’s Rainbow, unlike the people in the article I referenced (but could not locate) I admit to it being too dense for me to get through.

      Things, in general, are not simple, but it is our nature to simplify, and it is hard to remember the complexity that is the reality.

      How is that for simplification?

      I love that poem, haven’t read it in years. I have a hard time focusing on the subject of it as I tend to fixate on its structure.

  • sylvietheolog

    Hi, I just read the last article from David Warren, and it is about high-brow atheists’ intellectual pretensions and the conversion to Catholicism of a Laura Keynes. I think you might like it.
    http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2013/08/19/descension/

    • bensira587

      Very interesting. I agree with Warren in part on that being the effect of the new atheists. They have a hold, however, on the philosophically corruptible – or corrupted.

      I was completely repelled by them even when I was a fully fledged atheist.

      Although I always loved watching Hitchens in a debate.

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