More In Defense of Ridicule *Sigh*

There seems to be a great amount of (willful?) misunderstanding about my defense of ridicule. It's as if people don't even try to understand. The fact that we laugh at ridiculous beliefs is not going away, nor is the social pressure to conform to one's peers. Several important people agree with me and/or have used ridicule successfully. Without needing to write a whole book on the nuances and uses of ridicule, or on what constitutes good ridicule (which might end up being in the eye of the beholder), let's look at three concrete examples below. I like concrete examples. They work when I don't want to waste time chasing the rabbit of endless qualifications down the rabbit hole.

Chris Matheson's new book is a comedy about God from the biblical texts themselves, titled: The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate). I provided a sample of his book right here. It holds up for ridicule the God of the Bible. I wrote a blurb for it. It's laugh out loud funny. Read it and tell me what Chris did wrong, and/or about its effectiveness. My claim is that it's funny because with keen insight Chris accurately teaches us what's supposedly going on behind the scenes.

Since reading is a chore to some people, let's try two posters I think are funny. They're funny to me regardless of whether or not I share them. They're funny to almost all atheists. These kinds of things are what we laugh about at conferences. They are accurate and insightful.

One more, which I think is funnier than the poster above:

I don't ridicule religious beliefs much at all. If you think I do then count the words used. I dare say they would be below 1% of what I do. Apart from the three concrete examples above, I'm not ridiculing anything here. Rather I'm making an argument in defense of people who ridicule effectively. Not everyone does this effectively because there must be some truth to it, and I don't personally approve of slamming people in person. Hell, almost all of my family and friends are Christian believers!

Now to answer some criticisms:


1. An education does not entitle one to be a jerk. If I got a degree in nutrition this would not give me some kind of permit to ridicule and mock fat people. Ridicule is always rude and unfortunate behavior.

John Loftus:

What? Seriously folks? In order to ward off any ridicule he might receive for his beliefs kenneth must dismiss all ridicule!? Did he just say that? He must never laugh. He's a boring dull stick in the mud, a party pooper. We need him so the song says, right? Oh, and some ridicule is rude and some of it isn't. Does he not know this? Take the concrete examples above. Only the last one might be considered rude. However, given my education level I think it's right on the money. This isn't the place to make that case, but it's what I can argue for and do. It highlights either ignorance or willful ignorance. The use of the word "stupid" while harsh, highlights this ignorance with a punchline that makes this ignorance funny to me and to others, since faith makes otherwise brilliant people to look stupid.

You don't like it, eh? So what!? It's the truth. [For the record, I'm against ridiculing obese people.]


2. Ridicule betrays a lack of humility. I'm amazed that atheists would use ridicule at all considering that they have done so incredibly poor in public debates. If the truth was so obvious, WLC, Dinesh, Lennox, and others shouldn't be having the success that they have. Sure, all sides have lost a debate here and there, but atheist scholars look downright foolish in many of these exchanges. That doesn't mean that atheism is wrong, but it is certainly a case for humility.

John Loftus:

No one does everything well nor should we expect that of anyone. Any informed person knows debates don't settle the issues being debated anyway. There are people like Chris Matheson and there are people like Hector Avalos. But the truth is that anyone who is pretending to know with 100% certainty how the universe originated and that there was a person who was 100% God and 100% man--with everything divine and human included leaving nothing essential out--is arrogant beyond reason. Reasonable atheists think exclusively in terms of the probabilities based on the available evidence. They are a humble lot, not willing to state they know anything beyond what the evidence shows until the evidence is there. We are unwilling to say how the universe originated until the evidence tells us. Believers jump over chasms of reasonable doubt to believe in arrogant certainties.


3. Learn from those beating you in the market place of ideas. Theists are not winning converts by ridiculing their intellectual opponents. They win converts through charity and living in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. If atheism has anything to offer the world, we need to SEE it in your life. Show us the fruit. Ridicule will not help advance your cause.

John Loftus:

It's news to learn theists are beating us in the marketplace. Strike one. Christian theists are indeed ridiculing us though. Strike two. Winning people to Christianity by good deeds of kindness is winning converts through persuasion not argumentation. Persuasion. That's how effective ridicule works too. It persuades the non-committed. It's using peer pressure to get the non-committed to agree with those who are laughing. Strike three you're out.

And for the record, what you see online are atheists who argue, like I do. We live good lives outside of arguing on sites like these. So tell ya what kenneth, stop Christians from ostracizing atheists, boycotting our businesses, and making up reasons to fire us simply because we're atheists and then more of us will come out of the closet. You will see how we live good lives when that happens. You are just not paying attention here.

Gakusei Don:

Your latest comments against Lowder haven't done you any favours. JP Holding has isolated himself as a source for serious material because of his constant ridicule. I think the same that has happened to JP Holding will eventually happen to you, John. As soon as your name gets raised, people will start bringing up your character, i.e. "isn't that the guy who ridicules all the time?" Ridicule eventually carries its own punishment.

John Loftus:

Jeff Lowder is dishonest and a hypocrite. If you don't care about this, then okay. I'm not talking about one incident or one occasion, but a habit of acts depicting a character of dishonesty and hypocrisy.

I agree with you about JP Holding, that's he's isolated himself. But just because we agree doesn't mean much. I for one, haven't paid any attention to him in a few years because there are bigger fish to fry. He's also a hack. So there is no comparison between us. I also agree he uses constant ridicule. I don't. So again, there is no comparison between us. Since you got those things wrong I see no reason anyone should take your prediction seriously either.

Nonetheless, does ridicule carry its own punishment? How did George Carlin suffer any punishment? How will Chris Matheson? Bill Maher? Jon Stewart? Stephen Colbert? They're comedians.

What about me? I'm an intellectual, yes. But my aim is not to reach the Christian philosophers or biblical scholars. They cannot be helped.

I want to reach intelligent believers in the pews, along with university students. I cannot reach all believers by any stretch, and I know this. If I tried I wouldn't be effective at all.

The campaign of Christian ridicule against atheists starts the minute an atheist blog is created, or an atheist book is published. Christians will ridicule us. They do this so they don't have to take us seriously. The only ones they don't ridicule are atheist philosophers and biblical scholars they don't understand! But I aim to be understood. That's why I keep it as simple as I can. Because I keep it simple the misinformed will conclude I'm ignorant. Christians don't have the courage to read our works anyway. But if they still feel justified in dismissing me, after publishing seven critically acclaimed books in seven years, then the willful ignorance is strong with them, very strong. They probably couldn't be helped no matter what I did.

Still as I've said, it takes all kinds. I am of one kind. Lowder is of another kind (I never said he doesn't make an impact). I find atheists who criticize me do so because they want me to do what they do. They have a cookie-cutter mentality. "Do as I do, and I do it right." My guess, Gakusei Don, is you're no exception. But I'm not you, nor am I Lowder. That's a good thing since neither of you have accomplished what I have done, and it takes someone with my passion and education (which is a great combo) to do this. Because I get things done ignorant haters such as you and Lowder show up. Unfortunately, it's what haters do.