I’ve avoided writing much on religion and atheism because there are plenty of people on these internets that do a much better job of it, but when a review of David Adams Richards’ new book God Is. peppered with some of his pretty asinine quotes popped up in my RSS reader – well, I couldn’t resist.
I haven’t read the book, and based on several reviews I doubt I’ll be reading this, so this is not a review or critique of the actual book. For all I know the quotes may be out of context and the context given by the articles may be skewed, but having seen these same things said and written by others I’ve decided to address them as they are.
“I believe that all of us, even those who are atheists, seek God – or at the very least not one of us would be unhappy if God appeared and told us that the universe was actually His creation,” Richards writes in God Is.
And I believe this is where I say Richards is wrong because he is. Unless he’s decided that the many atheists saying “no, I’m not interested in this whole God business” are not part of “all of us”, he’s wrong. I don’t “seek God”, whatever that means, and in the unlikely situation that there is a God I doubt I would be pleased. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this, but the idea of an all-mighty creator watching over me is as annoying as my mother sitting behind and watching as I surf the internet.
But that part of the quote is just usual feel-good nonsense from the religious, it’s not really that offensive and ignorant. This is:
Oh, we might put him on trial for making it so hard, and get angry at Him, too, but we would be very happy that He is here. Well, He is.
I’m so insanely tired of religious people regurgitating the idea that atheist are just angry at God for making things hard. I’m guessing this partly originates from the fact that many atheists rightly use the problem of evil to demonstrate that some conceptions of God are self-contradictory. However, some dimwits seem to hear this as atheists being upset at God for their shitty lot in life. These dimwits are wrong and made of fail. I’m not going to claim that it’s impossible to be upset by something that doesn’t exist because I’ve been upset by fictional characters before. Hell, reading parts of the Bible make me pretty disgusted with the God character. That is, however, very different from actually acknowledging that a particular character exists. The anger I feel toward fictional characters is also different from anger at actual people and actual atrocities. [snark] But what can you expect from people who have a hard time telling fiction from reality[/snark].
Note the word in bold below, it’s important:
Richards uses incidents from his own life to underscore his belief that God is present in everyday life.
Others might call them coincidences or luck, like the day when he was a child and he was run over by a car. All four wheels missed him leaving him unhurt.
He also rolled a car end over end in his younger years driving at a 175 kilometres per hour and survived. In that case, his forgetfulness in not buckling up probably saved his life…”There are things that happen in life which seem to be absolutely ordained for us,” he says during an interview.
Seriously, can we stop selectively picking seemingly unlikely good things a giving God and/or that ritual goat sacrifice credit? I know we’re wired to see patterns everywhere and that when we’ve decided on a conclusion it’s easy to ignore contradicting evidence, but is it that hard to think up examples where we see patterns that don’t exist? Also, why is it that when these examples are brought up it’s always the good things being used as evidence for God’s plan? Sure there are the times when someone will console themselves after a tragedy by saying that God has a plan, but there’s always that undertone of tragedy being turned into a good thing.
Apparently, Richards also brings up Stalin and uses him as an example of what happens when you accept atheism. Because, you know, only atheists become a tyrannical, paranoid megalomaniac bent on killing millions of people. It’s not like there have ever been any Catholics who’ve committed atrocities, right? But that’s not the point. It’s not about whether people of X religious beliefs have done worse or better things. Using Stalin in this manner is like taking a sociopathic murderer as an example of what being human will lead to. It’s a dumb argument.
Richards also repeats the tired old refrain of religion is special and those mean atheist are well mean and disrespectful:
Richards staunchly defends “a person’s right to believe,” which he considers sacrosanct to a person’s humanity.
The glib comments of non-believers strike him as sanctimonious.
Really, that’s one great straw atheist being built there. I’m loving the implication that atheists want a world were people don’t have a right to believe whatever they wish. I’ve never seen that implied before and atheists have never ever said flat out that that’s not what they want.
But then again I have dealt with this all my life in my work, the idea that hubris and self-righteousness promotes sins against others. It’s the one thing humanity continually tries to overcome and that they overcome it by recognizing in themselves and others a universal truth and that if this is denied as Harris and Dawkins and Hitchens kind of mock it
*Yawn* So now we’re back to the whole “atheists can’t be moral” schtick because we don’t see the “universal truth”. It’s not like being moral is related to the way our brains work. Empathy and all those wacky feeling things our brains do don’t contribute to how we treat others. And hell, social constructs aren’t as meaningful as TEH TRUTH because we can all decide tomorrow that killing everyone we want is okay, even if we don’t actually do that. Who cares if there is no evidence that seeing TEH TRUTH makes you a better person.
“The church has done enormous harm in the world but that doesn’t mean that everyone who practises religion has done enormous harm,” he says.
If he means the Catholic Church, a correction should be made: The church is doing enormous harm in the world but that doesn’t mean that everyone who practises religion has done enormous harm. Now I agree. What he’s missing is that the many good religious people give money and time which supports the church in its endeavour to fuck over the world.
The Islamic fundamentalists have done harm but that doesn’t mean Islam has done harm … these things get very confused in our society. They get confused because there’s a benefit to those who want to confuse these things. I know many Catholics who are tremendous people and who have never done wrong.
Yes, the old argument the X religious extremists are bad, but that doesn’t mean that X religion is bad. Yeah, sure, the only thing that counts as X religion is that stuff that you picked out that’s made of fluff and cotton candy. Of course, this works only if you ignore the fact that the religious extremists are using the same texts and general frameworks and just picking out different parts to justify their actions. You can’t justify your cherry-picking any better than they can. Live with it.
The only time man pretends he does not need God is when he thinks or she thinks they are themselves God or are in a position of such comfort that God cannot trouble or touch them. Once the man or woman finds himself or herself in deep trouble or despair, they search for what was always there.
Now we’re back were we’ve started. Yes, tell me again, Mr. Richards, how you know what I believe better than I do. And while you’re at it why don’t you also tell me that I pretend to believe what I say I believe because I’m arrogant and think highly of myself. It’s not like assuming you know know better than me isn’t arrogant. You’re not a hypocrite at all. And no, the sentiment of “no atheists is foxholes” isn’t trite and stupid. All atheists have completely perfect lives filled with unicorn farts and lollipops. That’s why they don’t believe in God. If only they had shittier lives so they can see TEH TRUTH.
Conclusion: I. just. sadfja[pkl. Why are some people so full of fractal wrongness?