Framing the Wrong Answer

Mathew Nisbit at Framing Science asks a pertinent question of us Atheists, and then proceeds to piss all over everyone who has an answer. But you can’t be an apologist for theists and not get something wrong. First, the pertinent question: “How do we make sense of human values and how do we move forward in a post-religious age?”

He’s actually quoting someone else (Philip Kitcher, who has a new book Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith), but it is a common question I’ve heard asked by a variety of people. Now, the something wrong:

As I’ve argued, one of the reasons I find the New Atheist PR campaign so troubling is that it is has radicalized a movement that feeds on anger and fear and that offers little more than complaints and attacks.New Atheism turns on a binary discourse of us vs. them. In the rhetoric of the New Atheist movement, you’re either with us or your against us.

There are a number of problems with this short paragraph but the main one is pretty glaring: Pissing off religious people is easy. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous. As if we weren’t so strident and there, Theists would respect our freedoms and wishes to exist, eventually. In time. Once they get used to us being, you know, around. So yes, pissing off religious people– how easy is it? You don’t even have to call them out on their fairy tale nonsense, their history of repression and violence, or their adherence to outdated and reactionary ideas. Hell, where I live, you can do it just by buying beer on Sunday. If we New Atheists (who are a lot like the Old Atheists, only more vocal, which is Mathew’s real gripe) come off as tad angry, it’s because we’ve gotten tired of being told we’re bad people and treated like second class citizens because we don’t believe in the popular fairy tales of the day. There’s only so many times you can be called Evil and treated by older relatives like puppies who have just messed on the rug because you don’t want to get up early on Sunday and go play Eat the Magic Carpenter with them, before you just decide to be the asshole they already think you are by having the lack of decorum not to drink wine while pretending it’s the blood of their imaginary friend.

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