Selling atheism — and why it’s a fundamentally nonexistent product at the end of the day

Ricky Gervais distinguished himself well yesterday by savaging the same people who usually savage us, the ordinary Americans.  The video makes for somewhat uncomfortable viewing, since the victims of Hollywood’s barbs are usually sitting anonymously in theaters and living rooms, not in the same room in which the insults are being issued.  Hollywood’s stars expected a cute celebrity roast and got, instead an auto de fe.

Watching Gervais, who is a very talented man, got me thinking about another aspect of his performance — his aggressive atheism.  I understand atheism.  I was an atheist for most of my life, and have now moved to theism.  Although my theism is informed by being Jewish, the fact is that I don’t hew to practice or doctrine.  I float freely, acknowledging that atheism is a lonely place to be, and one that doesn’t explain the world before the Big Bang, but not ready to commit to any definitive view of God.

What I never was, though, was an aggressive atheist.  I never felt the need to proselyte my lack of religion.  After all, what in the world was I selling?  There was no alternative vision.  There was just plenty of nothing.  No meaning or morality in this life, and no hope for the afterlife.  More than that, I didn’t see that the world would be a better bargain if everyone thought as I did.  Sure, I’d like to get rid of poisonous religions (you know what I’m talking about), or poisonous practitioners of decent religions, but I didn’t see a virtue in going beyond that.

The fact is that, even in my most atheistic days, I never lost track of the incredible stability and safety that the modern Judeo-Christian tradition provides us.  Gone are the days of witch burning, homosexual stoning, wife beating, and nation conquering Judaism and Christianity.  What we have, instead, when we look at cultures that hew to the Judeo-Christian traditions, are law, justice, grace, morality, generosity, etc.  Sure, not all people rise to those standards at all times, but they are the standards by which we measure ourself.

What do practitioners of aggressive atheism — the ones who savage religion and belligerently advertise their lack of same — get at the end of the day?  Where do they see Western society if they achieve their goal of proselytizing all of us into a complete lack of faith?  Will we be more moral?  I doubt it.  More generous?  Probably not.  Find more meaning in our lives?  Get real.  Fear death less?  Not likely.  Get along with each other better?  It is to laugh.

Atheists are selling a travel destination that no one, least of all the atheists themselves, would ever want to visit, let alone call home.  If you’re a “sophisticate,” it can be fun and can make you feel like a really smart logician to point out inconsistencies in the Bible (both Old and New Testament), or to point to the hypocrisy that mere mortals periodically bring to their understanding of religion.  Nevertheless, that intellectual superiority doesn’t offer any substitute for what it seeks to destroy through ridicule and logical argument.

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Comments

  1. Charles Martel says

    BW, your discussion reminds me of “Faith of the Fatherless—The Psychology of Atheism,” a 1999 book by NYU psychology professor Paul C. Vitz, himself an atheist until his late 30s.

    Vitz looks at the childhoods of the modern era’s most notable atheists, dividing them between the ones whose fathers died early in their lives (abandonment)—Nietzsche, Hume, Sartre, Russell, Schopenauer—and those whose fathers were weak or abusive (bad father/uncaring father)—Hobbes, Voltaire, Freud, Wells, more.

    He then juxtaposes them to contemporaries who were believers, such as Wilberforce, Pascal, de Toqueville, Newman, Bonhoeffer, Schweitzer, Chesterton, etc.

    The difference between the groups, he posits, is in the fathering they experienced. Those with absent, unloving or distant fathers came to focus their resentments on the ultimate father, God.

    It could be worthwhile to look into Gervais’s past and see what some of his seminal emotional experiences were. (I’ll pass on doing it myself. Gervais and his observations don’t really interest me.)

    Anyway, I bring it up to say that most of the militant atheists I’ve ever run into are very bitter, brittle people. I think part of them realizes that they protest too much, and the adult part of them realizes that they are nowhere near to being up to the task of creating a coherent moral system that depends on something other than the point of a gun.

  2. Danny Lemieux says

    I add this not to contradict what Charles M’s excellent insight but to complement it.
    My father was a militant atheist until just before he passed. I saw his position as a need to declare Man’s and his supremacy over God’s. It is very difficult for many people to accept that they are anything but supreme themselves, much less beholden to a Supreme Being.
    Thanks be to God.

  3. Wolf Howling says

    Gervais performance was hilarious and absolutely brutal.  As you accurately put it, a comedic auto-de-fe.  It was South Park on steroids.  I’d love to read his hate mail today, no doubt from unnamed gay scientologists and Cher, among many others. 

    Your main point goes, I think, one of existential importance for our nation and, indeed, all Western Civilization.  History supports your conclusion that “Atheists are selling a travel destination that no one, least of all the atheists themselves, would ever want to visit, let alone call home.”  As I wrote before: 

    For the better part of two millennium, the Judeo-Christian ethic has provided a rock solid framework for morality at the heart of Western society – one that puts maximum value on each individual human life and one that provides moral clarity in such things as Christianity’s Golden Rule and Judaism’s “Great Commandment.” Take that mooring away from the ancient expressions of our deity and all morality then becomes dependant on what any particular person or government defines as the greater good.

    When governments and individuals can define by their whim what is moral or immoral, what is desirable and what is punishable, human life is almost inevitably devalued. Certainly Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot, between them responsible for the murder of well over a hundred million people in the 20th century, held to socialist belief systems that devalued human life and elevated in its stead political ideology. Many in the green movement argue that man is a parasite on the world and call for strictly limiting his impact using authoritarian means – including population control, forced sterilization and other such methods. Far less destructive but no less insidious are the new age religions – for but one example, mystic beliefs based on the book and movie The Secret, where one only needs to really believe – and maybe click their heels three times – and then the “universe will provide.” It certainly saves one the trouble of actually dealing with real world problems, at least until they come to crisis proportions. Or the neo-Druidism one can see in practice among the many robed figures gathered at Stonehenge each Equinox. Hopefully these modern day animists will not also seek to resurrect the Druidic custom of human sacrifice.

    The bottom line is, regardless whether one believes in Judaism or Christianity, we will pay a very heavy price indeed for jettisoning them as the bedrock of Western society. Yet that is precisely what the left has sought for over two centuries, promising in their stead a secular heaven on earth. Ironically, should they fully succeed, history teaches us that their promised earthly heaven will be far more likely to resemble biblical hell. 

  4. says

    In the ads leading up to the show, Gervais said he was going to insult everyone in sight.  Nice to see he kept his word.  As for him not being invited back, after they made the insults the focus of their ad campaign that would be the height of hypocrisy, now wouldn’t it?

  5. says

    I just wanted to clarify that I had no problem with Gervais’ performance.  Seeing someone with the courage to challenge Hollywood to its face was gratifying — although it’s still uncomfortable to see something like that happen, even if the target is due the attack.

    The Globes’ thing was just a springboard to a discussion about atheism, because Gervais has been making much of that lately, and it got me to wonder (as I have before with Christopher Hitchens) why people “sell” atheism.

    As for the “father” theory, that’s a fascinating one.  The two most aggressive atheists I know had either emotionally or physically absent fathers.

  6. says

    Not a religious person myself, but I have never understood the angry, crusading atheist mentality. I suspect it often has more to do with an assertion of intellectual superiority than a genuine desire to seek truth and communicate that truth to others.
     
    I’ve probably linked this here before, but in 1950 Arthur Koestler wrote an interesting novel focused on the West’s loss of civilizational self-confidence and especially on the consequences of the decline in religious faith. The protagonist, Hydie, is a young American woman, a former devout Catholic who has lost her faith, who falls hard for a committed Russian Communist. A big part of the attraction, Koestler makes clear, is that Fedya believes in *something*.
    Her thoughts travelled back to Sister Boutillot standing in the alley which led to the pond…Oh, if she could only go back to the infinite comfort of father confessors and mother superiors, of a well-ordered hierarchy which promised punishment and reward, and furnished the world with justice and meaning. If only one could go back! But she was under the curse of reason, which rejected whatever might quench her thirst without abolishing the gnawing of the urge; which rejected the answer without abolishing the question. For the place of God had become vacant and there was a draught blowing through the world as in an empty flat before the new tenants have arrived.
    Link: Sleeping with the enemy

  7. roylofquist says

    Dear Bookworm,
     
    The Big Bang is actually irrelevant to the question as to whether there is a god. Physically it was an extraordinarily simple quantum event. I seriously question whether such an event actually happened.
     
    Life is what requires a creator. To believe that life happened by accident requires a profound ignorance of both thermodynamics and its flower – information theory.
     
    Don’t have a clear picture of God? That’s they way He wants it.
     
    Regards,
    Roy
     
     
     

  8. says

    Roy:

    For me, the Big Bang matters so much for my theism, as opposed to my original atheism, because I do not believe that something can come from nothing.  I accept evolution all the way back to the Big Bang, but cannot account for what generated the explosion that brought our universe into being.  There must have been something before, and I’m willing to accept that this something may have been God, whether God the distant watchmaker, who just planted the seeds, or God the Father, who oversees each and every one of us.  For me, it’s enough to accept that THERE IS SOMETHING MORE.

  9. Danny Lemieux says

    Roy:
    Creation as per Genesis: On the first day God says, “Let there be light!” and light appears. On the second day God creates an expanse (firmament) to separate the waters above (the sky) from those below (the ocean/abyssos). On the third day God commands the waters below to recede and make dry land appear, and fills the earth with vegetation. God then puts lights in the sky to separate day from night to mark the seasons. On the fifth day, God creates sea creatures and birds of every kind and commands them to procreate. On the sixth day, God creates land creatures of every kind. Man and woman are created last, after the entire world is prepared for them.
    Creation as per the Big Bang: there is a flash of light which, by E = mc^2, condenses into matter in the form of solar dust, suns, planets and water…perfectly balanced to keep expanding at a finite rate rather than crumpling in upon itself. Planet earth forms, covered in water. Land appears, along with an atmosphere. Volcanoes cool. Clouds diminish. Sun breaks through. First life forms develop in the oceans and eventually colonize land. Man appears.
    The first was put to words by ancients shepherds. The second was developed independently by very smart, modern scientists.
    Amazing coincidence, no?
     

  10. roylofquist says

    Dear Bookworm,
     
    I understand that the big bang is your turning point.  You obviously have a greater understanding of the philosophical implications of the theory than most.
     
    Some quantum theorists posit that a spontaneous creation of universes is not excluded. All it requires is a really, really long time.  But then, a really long time isn’t when compared to infinity. Thus, there is a non-refutable (not scientific in the Popper definition) speculation that could account for the big bang.
     
    Life is a different matter.  None of the proffered explanations stand the smell test of science as we understand it.  If it’s not natural it is, by definition, supernatural.
     
    I’m being pedantic. In my log journey through atheism (longer than yours I’d wager) I tried to understand the world by reason and science. Those science guys are clever devils but life has ‘em stumped.
     
    I mentioned information theory. This is a brand new branch of knowledge, as these things go.  Most credit Alan Turing who started the whole thing during WWII.  Not the war, but rather the code breaking that significantly contributed to the end of the war. The most philosophicaly important lesson of IT is that many, if not most, problems are impossible to solve. Put a drop of cream in your coffee and predict the pattern after 5 seconds – Nobel Prize. We must accept that, although science will give us a lot more whizbang, completely understanding our world is forever out of our reach.
     
    I like that.  God did not create a puzzle for us to solve.  He may have created us to help him understand the puzzle. There, now I’ve gone really weird.
     
    Regards,
    Roy
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  11. Michael Adams says

    I’d like to add something to the discussion of the psychology of atheism. For a believer, disbelief is a sin.  To doubt, even for a moment, is to sin, which inspires guilt.  Guilt produces depression, and I know for an absolute fact that a depressed person often doubts even his own existence, and God just has to get in line. To give up trying to believe, to conclude that there is nothing there to be guilty for not believing, is one solution.  Anyone who challenges the premise on which this deal is based comes in for a heap of opprobrium. Hence, the angry or aggressive atheist. That is why we are not supposed to be angry at atheists.  They are doing the best that they can, and often suffer for doing so, whether from the scorn of others or from the shakiness of their “deal.”

  12. says

    As long as we never fall into a screeching fight about the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin, I’m quite content with the religious and philosophical discussions that take place here.  We may not agree, but we are polite in the face of each other’s differences.  And sometimes, perhaps, one of us will change another’s mind.  How cool would that be (assuming the change is for the better, of course)?

  13. Charles Martel says

    According to some Christian sects, angels cannot dance on the head of a pin because they are forbidden to dance. Could lead to intercourse, even though angels lack equipment.

  14. Danny Lemieux says

    But, but, CharlesM, it is the thought that counts.
    Michael Adams says, “For a believer, disbelief is a sin.  To doubt, even for a moment, is to sin, which inspires guilt.” That’s pretty harsh.
    Many of Christians don’t believe that. It is OK to have doubts and to inquire or even not to believe (although we believe it leaves the non-believer the loser). Some of Christianity’s greatest saints and thinkers began as non-believers.
    What is a sin, however, is to place yourself in opposition to God.
    I do agree with Michael’s logic progression, however.
     

  15. says

    That’s interesting about atheists being angry at God, because it’s an admission that there is a God.  Somehow it reminds me of the Jews’ furor at the fact that the Mormon Church was baptizing all of the dead, including Holocaust victims.  To be upset, you had to acknowledge that the baptism had meaning.  No disrespect to members of the LDS faith but, because I don’t accept the precepts of that faith, the acts they take with regard to their faith do not seem real to me.  If it makes them feel good to baptize the dead, let them.  The dead are God’s concerns.  He knows in which faith they died, and he decides what happens after life (if anything).

    Mostly, I’ve learned to appreciate it when people pray for me.  It’s an act of kindness, not an insult.

  16. JKB says

    It is one thing to not believe in God but the aggressive atheists seem to fear God might believe in them and so they must fight to deny his existence.
     
    Reading this post though, I considered that perhaps as Lula da Silva said “…necessary to first build capitalism, then make socialism, we must have something to distribute before doing so“ so it is with atheism.  It is necessary to have theism before you can have atheism, you must have something to deny.
     
     

  17. roylofquist says

    Dear Mr. Lemieux,
     
    Sorry, didn’t see you comment as I was busy answering Book.
     
    No, I don’t see it as a coincidence at all.  I have had epiphanies that truly surprised me, then realized Wow – so that’s what dad was trying to tell me.
     
    A major arrow in the militant atheists’ quiver is semantic game playing.  Kinda like Alinsky. To wit, the purportedly ridiculous assertion that the world was created in seven days. They seize upon the beliefs of the small minority of believers who assert that the Bible is inerrant.
     
    The first known written instances of the Bible date to about 900 BC.  Before that we assume that it was an oral tradition. Therefore, Genesis and The Psalms were committed to writing contemporaneously. Psalm 90: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” In that time thousand was the largest named number.  We see this in Revelations where large numbers are constructed by citing multiples of smaller numbers.  I think it is reasonable to assume that the writers of that time used thousand much as we use “gazillion” to infer an arbitrarily large number.  Genesis is spot on.
     
    Regards,
    Roy
     

     
     
     
     

  18. Wolf Howling says

    It may have happened while you were away, Book, but you and the Pope have something in common. You both embrace the Big Bang theory and for much the same reasons.  The Pope came out of the scientific closet on that one shortly after the start of the New Year. 

    I can understand agnosticism – who can look at events such as last week and wonder whether a benevolent God can exist and, if so, what his nature may be.  That is the story of Job, a story it seems too oft repeated in our world.  That said,  I have always thought that aethism requires a huge level of intellectual arrogance and pride.  To be utterly sure that there is no creator when one is unable to explain the obvious question of creating something out of nothing seems a gaping contradiction.     

    The flip side of that is I have always thought that those who read the Bible literally are equally arrogant in their own way.  The first two chapters of Genesis are given over to recounting two closely related, but fatally conflicting stories of creation.   That seems like a big clue for all who believe that the Bible was inspired writing as to how the Bible should be approached.
    .      

  19. Danny Lemieux says

    Wolf Howling comments that,
    That said,  I have always thought that aethism requires a huge level of intellectual arrogance and pride.
    I have taken to telling atheists that I commend them on their faith, because it takes a greater faith to believe there is no God, in the face of all the evidence, than to believe there is.
    Throws them for a loop every time. I love that look of confusion on their faces. Maybe it gets them thinking.

  20. Mike Devx says

    Book said,
    For me, the Big Bang matters so much for my theism, as opposed to my original atheism, because I do not believe that something can come from nothing.  I accept evolution all the way back to the Big Bang, but cannot account for what generated the explosion that brought our universe into being.  There must have been something before [...]

    I’m definitely just a hobbyist when it comes to the Big Bang, but it seems to me that “time” itself is a dimension that emerged from the Big Bang, and its nature is closely tied to the speed of light.

    So it appears to me that the concept of “a time before the Big Bang” is non-sensical, because time itself did not exist “prior to the Big Bang”.  There was no “prior to the Big Bang”.  t-zero, occurred at the moment of the big bang.  There was no “t-minus-one”.

    Which could provide context to the concept that God is timeless and is everywhere and everywhen.  If God created the Big Bang, then God created time itself, at least as we understand it.

    Ow my head.  I actually hope I’m wrong about this.

    Another one of my personal “odd-ball understandings”, is that God likely deliberately created a non-deterministic Universe.  The whole thing is NOT one vast Turing machine where all the dominos are endlessly falling in proscribed patterns everywhere.

    Would God deliberately create a Universe in which He could not predict “the future” from any given point in time; a Universe that is not predictable?  Why not?  I think that’s the case.

    It would explain a lot, concerning free will vs predestination; and the mysteries of quantum mechanics and apparent violations of cause and effect at the quantum level.  Ow my head again.

  21. stanley says

    This is still on subject, though not about atheism. I had not heard of this Ricky Gervais and don’t watch emmys or oscars or whatever. But this review in an English paper: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1348067/Golden-Globes-2011-Ricky-Gervaiss-risqu-attack-self-loving-Tinseltown.html, was, as they English say “spot on”! It was hilarious. I saw some clips on the inet and what he did strip these hollywood types down to the bare skin and show how foolish they were. It was like they were behind the screen of a TSA x-ray. Seeing the faces of these stars while he was lampooning them was great! Took them totally by surprise and put them out of character.

  22. MacG says

    Michael Adams “I’d like to add something to the discussion of the psychology of atheism. For a believer, disbelief is a sin.  To doubt, even for a moment, is to sin, which inspires guilt.  Guilt produces depression, and I know for an absolute fact that a depressed person often doubts even his own existence, and God just has to get in line.”
    This makes me think of the second or third condition of the parable of the seed and the sower:
     
    “Hear then the parable of the sower.
    “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.
    “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
    “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
    “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
    As far as the endless cycle of guilt the bible is clear:
    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
    We have the guilt when we do not believe and do not cut ourselves the slack that God wants to impart to restore a proper relationship with him.  When we say we have sinned (missed the mark) too badly and there is no forgiveness we disbelieve God and the afore mentioned guilt cycle will remain.
    “    18″Come now, and (A)let us reason together,”
    Says the LORD,
    “(B)Though your sins are as scarlet,
    They will be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They will be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18
     

  23. MacG says

    Book,  The Big Bang is not unlike the account in Genesis there was nothing there there was something.  It took me  awhile to understand that those words were written not as 21st century science book but rather a relationship book, an account of God, man, what caused the break up and how to get back together.  So while the writings may not contain accurate scientific data (even though those brilliant science types still erroneously say the sun sets and the sun rises) it is true for its purposes.
     
     
     

  24. Beachbum says

    This claim, by the author of this blog, is totally without evidence. I was born an atheist and have had the misfortune of witnessing, with an open mind, the descent of a once great country into the pit of fascism that actually started well before I was born. It truly pains me that so many people in this country are so ignorant. So ignorant of history, political science, their own religions, etc., while, at the same time, being so arrogant as to conflate that ignorance with knowledge.
    I know that some of you are thinking that, for one misconception or another, an atheist could not have an open mind, nothing could be further from the truth. First, as I was born atheist, I looked for years for the evidence that would convince me: Mainly, that I was not crazy but merely ill informed, and next, that there was hope for an after life. I never found any—ever. Then I realized there was no evidence—at all. Why else would the flocks need faith? If they had evidence, they wouldn’t need faith would they? Secondly, an open mind is in evidence when that mind accepts evidence that is contrary to currently held opinions or biases, an opinion is not evidence of anything but itself. In other words, it is a critically thinking, as well as, open mind that discourages opinion while accepting evidence.
    Now, my main point of this comment is that atheists are not taking us anywhere that we have not been dwelling in since the dawn of man. The author’s uncritical pious bias shines through on this point. Morality is a culturally innate part of being human that has its roots in our evolutionary history, and this is quite obvious to anyone—with an open mind. If you’re a “bookworm” try, The Moral Animal by Robert Wright or The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. This may show the open minded among you that there has never been a deity involved in our morality, yet the claims of all too human authoritarian types have used divine authority for the most heinous crimes against humanity known.
    It is not your imagined deity I have a problem with—it does not exist. It’s not even the pious followers that bleat behind the self-important shepherd, the self-indulgent sophist, ecstatic evangelist or theocratic tyrant. It is those they follow and their claim of divine authority, supernatural supremacy, and pious superiority that I, like those Giants of the Enlightenment, our Founding Fathers, diligently resist.

  25. MacG says

    Beachbum perhaps you missed the qualifying statement that Book made :”What I never was, though, was an aggressive atheist”  Aggressive atheism  ala Penn and Teller, Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins etc. who have closed off their minds having gained so much knowledge that they know for a FACT that there is no God.  Never mind that these individuals (collectively) know less than 10% of all things in the universe.  She clearly was not talking about Atheists that are civil about it as she was as you being civil about your post, though condescending regarding your beliefs you lets us eat our spiritual cake.

  26. says

    Conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) posits the existence of an aeon preceding our Big Bang ‘B’, whose conformal infinity ‘I’ is identified, conformally, with ‘B’, now regarded as a spacelike 3-surface. Black-hole encounters, within bound galactic clusters in that previous aeon, would have the observable effect, in our CMB sky, of families of concentric circles over which the temperature variance is anomalously low, the centre of each such family representing the point of ‘I’ at which the cluster converges. These centres appear as fairly randomly distributed fixed points in our CMB sky. The analysis of Wilkinson Microwave Background Probe’s (WMAP) cosmic microwave background 7-year maps does indeed reveal such concentric circles, of up to 6{\sigma} significance. This is confirmed when the same analysis is applied to BOOMERanG98 data, eliminating the possibility of an instrumental cause for the effects. These observational predictions of CCC would not be easily explained within standard inflationary cosmology.


    In other words, the universe has heat graphs that have been charted that show concentric rings of high entropic conditions (close to zero variance in temperature) at specific intervals. The intervals are too close for expansion big Bang theory, so they posit multiple Big Bangs.

    Basically, you can think of it as God tinkering with things and attempting to get a solution by developing intelligent life in the universe. When things don’t work out, restart.

    With enough processing power, you can predict things that will happen in time. But God may have just created a universe as a huge simulation instead of attempting to predict what he could produce. This gets us to the point of if humanity can obtain the powers of God, we would have to be all wise and all knowing. We are far from such, yet the impulse to take God’s Throne is still with us. Look at your fellow atheists as one example, though they are not nearly the least.

  27. says

    Never mind that these individuals (collectively) know less than 10% of all things in the universe.

    It’s more like .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%

  28. Gringo says

    Beachbum
    This claim, by the author of this blog, is totally without evidence. I was born an atheist and have had the misfortune of witnessing, with an open mind, the descent of a once great country into the pit of fascism that actually started well before I was born.
     
    Yadi, yadi, yada. How old is that old Tom Wolfe quote about fascism always descending on the US but always landing in Europe? At least 40 years old, I would venture. I can still hear the SDS types screaming  “FASCIST..FASCIST..FASCIST.” The old “America is turning Fascist” meme is much older.  Popular Front types were shouting it in the Thirties. Fascist, schmascist. It gets a little boring. Can’t you come up with something more original, something a little less dated?
     
    Disclosure: once an atheist, now an agnostic. Never a churchgoer.

    It truly pains me that so many people in this country are so ignorant. So ignorant of history, political science, their own religions, etc., while, at the same time, being so arrogant as to conflate that ignorance with knowledge.
     
    And always the person who talks about others being ignorant and arrogant is oh-so-knowledgeable, overflowing with the milk of human kindness, with nary a touch of arrogance.
     
    If you consider me ignorant of the latest politically correct narratives de jour emanating from the social “sciences,” or from the critical theory folk,  I would consider that a compliment.
    Disclosure: STEM background.
     

  29. MacG says

    Y, I was trying to be kind :) and also hinting that in the outer 90% of their knowledge just might be something that they cannot fathom (not that I can either as I see things though a dark glass).  See it’s like ruling out the number 4 then asking about 2+2.  Welll we know it’s NOT 4…let’s see now…what’s 2 the square root of? uh 2 must not be a prime number…and so on.  We on hte creation side of things have our set of apriori assumptions based on observations too but we know what number two is the square root of ;)

  30. Danny Lemieux says

    Ah, ’tis truly frustrating to be marooned on an island of lofty erudition surrounded by harsh seas of ignorance, I venture, with naught but gulls to provide clear-thinking appreciation for one’s gifts to mankind.

  31. Charles Martel says

    Speaking as a fascist, I find that the major decision of my day, given that I am the result of a totally spontaneous, totally random, totally meaningless universe, is whether I want to walk around all day on my knuckles, or at least pretend when I go out to pick up the mail that I’m truly bipedal.

  32. says

    A power cut me off. My comment had 34 was supposed to have another row or two of 0s, followed by a 1 and a percent sign.
     
    MacG,
     
    Thinking is at a premium these days. So I think they are just waiting for their welfare/union checks so that they can pay for their thinking.

  33. MacG says

    Danny Lemieux
    Ah, ’tis truly frustrating to be marooned on an island of lofty erudition surrounded by harsh seas of ignorance, I venture, with naught but gulls to provide clear-thinking appreciation for one’s gifts to mankind.

    Out yonder in flyover country they have themselves a sayin’ “It’s hard to soar with Eagles when you’re surrounded by Turkeys”.

  34. Charles Martel says

    “Y (#39):  I’m the wrong person to ask.  I’m so out of it that I no longer recognize most of the people in People Magazine.”

    Book, I cause my wife no end of smirks when I ask whose celebrity face is on the screen when we see a movie or TV promo.

    I’m not totally hopeless. I instantly recognize Sandra Bullock (her slow, stately, immensely dignified working her way down bleacher steps while in high heels in “Blindside” was about as good a pierce of acting as I’ve ever seen), and I know Charlie Sheen’s mug. After that it gets vague for me. I sorta recognize Matt Damon and Glenyth Paltrow (the latter because her attempt to play hick in “Country Strong” was so nausea-inducingly bad), and probably would know Cher under any number of incisions, tucks, abrasions and lifts.

    Lindsay Lohan is becoming a bit of a problem for me, though. Now that she is 42 going on 51, it’s harder to see that it’s her when her face shows up in People.

  35. says

    Charles: The other night, on Leno, we watched “Ross the Intern” (a strange, but charming character) interview celebrities before the Globes. I did not recognize a single one.  It’s not just that I’m getting old.  It’s also that they’re somewhat generic.  Old actors had “hooks” — recognizable qualities that made them bread and butter for mimics.  How can one mimic Brad Pitt or Zac Ephron?

    In this regard, they are completely distinct from Charles Boyer or John Wayne or Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, or any of the other easily distinguishable classic stars.

  36. Michael Adams says

    Gringo, I really do try to keep up, just a bit, with the idiocy du jour, but I don’t try very hard.  It is, after all, idiocy.
    As for the “Celebrities” that we don’t know, Book, Book. Book, we don’t know because they do not matter.  They are of no consequence, are interchangeable if one dies or fails. The only correlation between  age and not knowing is that I am getting smarter, over time.  Slowly, perhaps.  It will take a LOT of time.  Nevertheless, smarter. Need evidence?   I know who Brad Pitt is.  The latter ones, I do not know.  QED, progress!

  37. says

    Old actors had “hooks” — recognizable qualities that made them bread and butter for mimics.

    That’s cause they had something to sell. An image of beauty or strength or character.

    It’s much the same in Japanese tv. There’s a “look” associated with the characters, that is tied in with their personality/character/role (protagonist/antagonist/sidekick).

    The new actors don’t have “hooks”, because they have nothing to sell. Except their bodies. Sex appeal.

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