Thursday, October 9, 2014

Follow-up on the Cult of Victor Strikes Again

Victor Reppert has replied to my earlier post, where I claimed that he misrepresented the words of Victor Stenger.
What I implied, I-S, is that Stenger has a motivation for using force to suppress religious belief, not that he has an advocated using it. Christianity doesn't teach that violence should be used to suppress opposing beliefs, but it is quite true that people who think that there is a great deal of stake in maintaining a particular religion have a motive for using force if the opportunity presents itself.
I would like to thank Victor for clarifying what he said, but he's still wrong in my opinion.  This is something that I have discussed at length previously on Reppert's own blog.  My views on this matter are consistent with published material by prominent atheists such as Russell Blackford (50 Great Myths About Atheism).  My advice to Victor and his cultists is: read and understand.

Atheism provides no motivation for using force or violence.  People fight for things they believe in, not for things they don't believe in.  They fight for ideologies.  Atheism is not an ideology.  That is not to say that an atheist can't have an ideology.  We've all heard the oft-repeated canard about millions of people being killed for atheism in Stalinist Russia.  But those people didn't die for atheism.  They died for an ideology: communism.

What do atheists believe?  Plenty of different things.  There is no ideology that is universal to atheists.  One ideology that is relatively prominent among atheists these days is humanism.  Humanism advocates freedom of religion, not religious suppression.  I know that Victor recently made a post on the Humanist Manifesto, where he took some statements out of context and implied that they advocate establishing a world government.  They do not.  They advocate an international community of cooperation, something more akin to the United Nations.  This is certainly not a call for atheists to establish some kind of dominant world-wide regime.  I urge everyone to read the entire document, not just Victor's out-of-context excerpts, to get a better understanding of what they actually believe.

But back to Victor Stenger.  Reppert appears to be putting words in Stenger's mouth:
"We are on the cusp of history. We can either abandon faith and embrace science, or we can hold on to faith and retreat to a new dark age. Everything depends on which way we turn at this critical time in history. That is why we have to work hard to achieve the end of faith, so the new Golden Age can be inaugurated, as opposed to a retreat into the benighted past."
If this is an actual quote, I could find no reference to it.  At any rate, it seems to be inconsistent with what I think Stenger (or any of today's prominent atheists) would have actually said or believed.  It is a further perpetuation of the myth that atheists want to create some kind of atheist caliphate, and toss all the Christians in concentration camps, (or perhaps to the lions).  And of course, as soon as they become capable of imposing this on the world, they would use force to accomplish it.

Give me a break.  If you can't understand what atheists are saying, let us speak for ourselves.


  1. Graham Veale makes this comment:

    "You're missing the point. If you think that religion is a "mental virus", or child abuse, or that it always tends towards intolerance, irrationality and conflict, then how do you justify religious liberty? How can a liberal state tolerate religion? Shouldn't it oppose religion just as it opposes racism?"

    I assume that he is referring to statements made by Peter Boghossian (mental virus) and Richard Dawkins (child abuse). I repeat what I said above: "My advice to Victor and his cultists is: read and understand." Graham shows no hint of comprehending the arguments that either of them have made. He says (of Boghossian):

    "his rhetoric could carry some rather serious consequences for public policy if anyone of importance took it seriously ... If we look to central Europe in the mid-Twentieth century, we will find political parties referring to various communities as bacteria and parasites which needed to be eliminated from the body of the nation. ... I just wish New Atheists would stop describing faith as a virus, or religious instruction as child-abuse, before someone with political power starts to listen."

    The problem is not that people might listen. The problem is that people like Graham refuse to listen. Perhaps if he bothered to read Boghossian's book, for example he would know that Boghossian advocates rational dialog as the means to eliminate this virus. Well, if I'm not mistaken, that is quite similar to what Graham advocates: "To use rational persuasion to communicate the central claims of Christianity and to encourage and equip the Church to respond to the questions raised by sceptics."

    So Graham, you can continue to follow Victor's lead, and engage in fear-mongering and distortion of their message. Or you can read their books, understand their message, and engage the actual arguments they make, if you disagree.

  2. A note for Papalinton:

    Happy to see you back. Good article you pointed out. And thanks for the encouraging words.