A Comparison With the So-Called New Atheists and Some Christian Apologists

The Christian Century recently reviewed William Lobdell's book where Valerie Weaver-Zercher made an interesting comparison:
"Either you don't believe in God or you're a dope." This is how Newsweek's Lisa Miller sums up the thinking of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

Lobdell's deconversion narrative, Losing My Religion, refrains from both bombast and suggestions of dopiness. By his very choice of genre—memoir rather than apologia—Lobdell enters a different territory of the new atheism, one already inhabited by several other counter conversion narrators, including John Loftus...and Dan Barker. Link.
There are people on both sides of this debate who claim that anyone who disagrees is a "dope." My contention is that anyone who claims this is himself ignorant! Check out this post of mine and this one too. Yes, there are ignorant people on both sides of the fence. But just because someone disagrees does not mean that person is ignorant at all.

As I argue in my book [which is presently being reprinted], it's about seeing things differently along with WHY we should see things differently.

It might make someone feel good to think the other side is ignorant. It might make someone appear to be intelligent and also help him gain many followers. But to claim that anyone who disagrees is a "dope" is the height of ignorance in my opinion. I would never follow someone who made such a claim. I would never follow someone so cocksure of himself when ignorance is the rule and knowledge is the exception.

Now yes, I happen to agree with the so-called New Atheists and I appreciate all they have done to open up a debate on the issues. But my goal is to reach believers, not to chide them or to rally the skeptical troops (both worthy goals in and of themselves). Again. My aim is to reach believers, like Barker, Lobdell and others are attempting to do.

10 comments:

edson said...

There are some of those christians, like me for example, who believe slightly the opposite. That you either believe in God or you are a dope. I dont know how to tell this better, but that is what I believe.

I'm not really fooled by the fact that Dawkins is a famed scientist, or that Hitchens is a classic journalist or that Loftus is a philosopher, as long as someone vehemently denies that there is no such thing as God, as far as I'm concerned, he/she is a dope.

I cannot entertain the notion of seeing or interpreting things in "different" perspectives. This is as dangerous and lethal as saying objective morals or ideals do not exist. The right and the only correct way is to see things in the right perspectives.

We all have the same facts and we are supposed to interprete them rightly and correctly. Did the universe and life begin? The right and correct answer is YES and there is no way we can entertain a different answer. To do so is to behave irresponsibly, undisciplined and dishonest and this is what I call dopeness.

John W. Loftus said...

The reason I say it's all about seeing things differently is because I also think believers are brainwashed into seeing what they were raised to see. The available evidence does not appear to tip the scales into non-belief when we're dealing with a brainwashed mind. We must first help them see things differently. You'd know what I mean if you ever decided to truly investigate your faith by reading my book.

edson said...

And the reason I said it is dangerous to see facts differently instead of seeing it correctly is that it can lead a seemingly normal person to become effectually myopic when in reality he is not.

I do not believe a believer possess different facts from those possessed by a non believer. It is just a non believer has a myopic effect. They have eyes but cannot see effectively. This is due to the fact they see through a different perspective.

I'll buy your book, by the way.

Scott said...

Edson wrote: It is just a non believer has a myopic effect.

Interesting choice of words.

While it's not one I'd pick, it seems to fit your description of Christianity when you say

I cannot entertain the notion of seeing or interpreting things in "different" perspectives. This is as dangerous and lethal as saying objective morals or ideals do not exist. The right and the only correct way is to see things in the right perspectives.

For example, how much do you know about other religions? How much do you know about the history of religion?

I'm not 100% sure that God doesn't exist in some form. But is seems rather clear that the Abrahamic God does not exist as depicted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

God has evolved though many different forms and he continues to evolve today. To assume We all have the same facts and we are supposed to interprete them rightly and correctly. seems like a tall order for human beings given our biological limitations and our tendency to mold God to fit our physiological and cultural needs.

If you cannot put yourself in the shoes of others, then how can you hope to understand them? How can you in good conscious reject that which you refuse to entertain?

Mysterium Tremendum said...

I think John makes a good point though I wouldn't agree with him entirely. I think there are a number of good arguments on both sides. I don't think that the scales tip significantly in favor of atheism or theism. If we're going by the arguments alone I think agnosticism should get the nod.

On the theistic side we have the arguments from:

The laws of logic
The moral Law
The creation of the universe
The Fine-tuning of the universe
The Existence of consciousness

To name a few

On The other side we have:

The anti-creation argument
The Transcendent-Personal Argument
The argument from the mind’s dependence on the brain
The argument from evil and suffering
The argument from nonbelief
The argument from confusion
The argument from divine hiddeness

To name a few.

I don't think the scales tip far enough on either side.

Jason Long said...

The laws of logic
The moral Law
The creation of the universe
The Fine-tuning of the universe
The Existence of consciousness

There are reasonable non-theistic arguments for most of these, especially consciousness and morals from evolutionary theory. The fine-tuning theory is flat-out backwards since it is life that was fine tuned for the universe, not vice-versa. The creation is well explained by the big bang (back to the first millisecond anyway - afterwords it gets hypothetical, yet still better than 'god did it'). I'll leave logic for someone else.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi All,

I agree with Mysterium Tremendum. I think there are excellent arguments on both sides but each do not deliver the knock out blow to the other thus leaving agnosticism as the default.

Personally it all boils down to was Jesus real? And if so was he God?

I find arguing against these two points almost impossible so I fall down on belief.

Regards, Phil.

Steven Carr said...

Where does Dawkins claim that people who believe in God are 'dopes'?

He says many people are ignorant about evolution.

This is a fact.

And there is no personal fault in being ignorant about something.

Everybody is ignorant about lots of things (Google excepted)

edson said...

....seems like a tall order for human beings given our biological limitations and our tendency to mold God to fit our physiological and cultural needs.

In this thread I was not prepared to market the God of Abraham but you have forced me to do so and I'll do it. The God I was talking about here was a Deistic God, a rational, timeless potential singularity, capable of unleashing an ever expanding physical universe with its immense energy whose rationality is evidenced by the elements of life on some part(s?) of it. This is a fact, not to be seen differently but correctly. Believe in Deism and I'll not call you a dope.

how much do I know about other religions?

I know sufficiently. But the descriptions of God of Abraham, I believe, transcend geographic and socio-economic boundaries, and cultural heritage. Did Abraham hallucinate (or was a myth altogether)? May be yes, may be no. In my opinion, Abraham was real and did not hallucinate. If he is a myth, you have to solve the resulting problem of where did the Jewish race rise. If he did hallucinate, you have to solve the problem of why did he have to cut off his dick, a very painful thing to do at the old age (and heritage value of Jewish race).

Forget the mantra of “three monotheistic Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is erroneous used commonly by Christian haters intended to obscure the character of Abrahamic God, by equating Christianity to Judaism and Islam, both manmade religions. Judaism is manmade in the sense that if Jews want to be real Jews according to the Tanakh, they must perform sacrificial offerings, exactly according to the Law of Moses. Muslims need to tell us that if the Quran is the word of God, and Muhammad the prophet of God, why both deny a historical event that Jesus was not crucified?

MauricXe said...

@Steven Carr:

Dawkins calls religious people ignorant quite frequently.


Watch the end of this video:

Start at 3:50

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j7azahGrQg

And during his Bill Maher interview @4:00 he tells us Francis Collins isn't a bright guy because he believes in a talking snake.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tRpbkpNpgw

Of course you could say he only assaults certain types of religious beliefs, but I think its all the same given those stories demonstrate the power of God.