The Triumph of Reason

kellym78's picture

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 Response to Katha Pollitt's "The Atheist's Dilemma"

From The Nation, Dec 3, 2007

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071203/pollitt

In this issue of The Nation, Katha Pollitt posits that what people like to refer to as the "New Atheism" is destined for failure. She argues that the devout will not be persuaded by atheists, particularly those like Sam Harris, who "[think] religion is completely stupid." She goes on further to admonish us for not appreciating the so-called moderates of any faith. Ms. Pollitt is demonstrating her ignorance of the effectiveness of the atheist "movement" (although I hesitate to use that word) and the reason why even the moderate religious acolytes need to be called to account for their beliefs.

Ms. Pollitt is correct in some regards with respect to the most devout believers. Those people are not likely to be persuaded by anybody, and confrontation with atheists generally serves to push them further into their delusion and reinforces their belief. Cognitive dissonance can work either way, depending on how much one has at stake. I do not believe that a change in tactics or attitude will affect those types of people.

Moderate believers simply compound the problem by providing respectability and cover for the extremists of their ilk. Do I appreciate the more accepting people among the faithful? Sure. Ultimately, though, they are still responsible for perpetuating and propagating their worldview. If we could get to the point where the cafeteria Christians and Muslims are taken out of the equation, we could effectively stamp out the religious violence that occurs every day because it would be acceptable to excoriate faith-based belief systems. We could do exactly what Sam Harris talks about in his book, The End of Faith, which describes the effectiveness of ridicule as a tool for social change. As long as it is taboo to criticize religion, that will be impossible.

Her conclusion is that only the "angry teenager" would be persuaded by this type of argumentation, but I know for a fact that this is not true. With billions of Christians and Muslims in the world, it is difficult to gauge how many individuals are impacted by any particular meme, but the only way to change society is to change the people who make up the society. Being likely the most confrontational, and to some, offensive, group of atheists out there, we receive letters of hate, threats—and thanks. Many people have told us personally that we changed their lives with our in-your-face approach. We want to make it seem ludicrous to believe in fairy tales, and that does work for some people.

If Ms. Pollitt is looking for a one-track route to de-conversion, she'll likely be looking from now until the day that she dies. Every person is different and will respond to the arguments against religion in many ways. That doesn't change the fact that her assertion that we won't change anybody's mind is absolutely incorrect, and with hundreds of people that I could use as examples, I can only fathom how many have been influenced by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et al.

It is odd that she turns around and uses an argument very similar to Sam Harris' recent speech and article, "The End of Atheism." She claims that once you have denounced religion and come out as a nonbeliever, you have nullified any potential influence you could have had. To some, it's true. An atheist is put into a box, usually the stereotypical definition of evil baby-blood drinkers who are angry at god. The way to change that is to reclaim the word "atheist." Come out to your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors so that they will realize how ridiculous it is to perpetuate that caricature. Atheists who kow-tow to that are just as guilty as the religious when they hide behind other, less-offensive labels.

What will the outcome of this "Golden Age of Atheism" be? Nobody knows. There are many who, like Ms. Pollitt, would like to convince us that being the silent minority is the correct tactic. They would like to see us shut-up and sit-down—just let everybody believe whatever they want to—it's a personal issue. She wants to know if "art can succeed where atheism cannot." Where is it that "atheism" cannot succeed? Is not the author of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" just as much of an atheist as I? He is just using a different approach. Atheists will succeed once we stop arguing with each other and start taking the danger that religion poses to the future of humanity seriously.

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This piece is part of a year long series (ends Oct 31, 2008) that Kelly of the Rational Response Squad will be writing to address theist talking heads in the media. Kelly is a Psychology major, co-host of the RRS Radio show, and has been featured on ABC debating Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. All articles may be reprinted in any major media publication or any blog. All articles will be submitted by Kelly or an assistant to the major media outlet that initially published the story as well as to the author of the original piece(when possible). Reprints are encouraged in blogs and must link to source. Reprints in media will be thanked in our book, so please alert us if you repost any story. Media outlets may shorten articles if necessary without removing context. Upon completion, a book and documentary will be made about the year (ending Oct. 31, 2008) and our plight to have dishonest argumentation countered with rational and factual answers in the press. If you would like Kelly to address any major media story from a theist talking head, please post a link to the article in her blog. We welcome messages from leading atheists asking us to refute stories attacking them and their views. At the end of the year the writings will be given some bulk, some supporting citations, and edits from a publisher to be compiled in a book. The book will include a documentary DVD shot from Sapient's vantage point as he works alongside Kelly, asking her questions about the project as it moves along.

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Zombie's picture

Another great post kelly.

Another great post kelly. Smiling

Sarah Stringer's picture

Er...Is there a reason why

Er...Is there a reason why all the comments made to this blog other than this one person's one sentence applaud have been removed?

I'm on timeout because I broke many rules of this website.

kellym78's picture

Maybe if you actually read

Maybe if you actually read anything other than this one thread, you would have seen that our server crashed and we lost two weeks worth of data. This entire post was gone along with all of the comments. The fact that your immediate assumption was that we purposely deleted everything except for one comment is arrogant and presumptuous. You have not presented any argument that hasn't been soundly refuted and there would be no reason for us to delete posts that only serve to demonstrate the absurdity of your logic. Feel free to repost them if it's that important to you. Trust me; we're not threatened by any of what you had to say.

Sarah Stringer

Sarah Stringer wrote:
Er...Is there a reason why all the comments made to this blog other than this one person's one sentence applaud have been removed?

You flatter yourself. 

Zombie's picture

Sarah Stringer

Sarah Stringer wrote:
Er...Is there a reason why all the comments made to this blog other than this one person's one sentence applaud have been removed?

Whats wrong with applause for a blog that one respects? Smiling 

Morte alla tyrannus et dei

dave805's picture

Nice post kelly

Nice post kelly

Alberto's picture

  You know just because

 

You know just because atheists have never experinced God to their satisfaction, does not prove others haven't. Just because He doesn't exist in your world, does not prove His non-existence in other peoples worlds. Why do you presume to be the center of the universe?  There is more to the universe then YOU. Many millions, if not billions, have experienced God. Why do you people, who are only a minority, persist in your attacks? I submit God is irrational to a mind polluted with sin. But He is very rational to a mind infused by the Spirit. Saint Paul tells us that the "natural" / carnal man CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit of God. As long as you continue a life of sin, you will NEVER understand! Its that simple.

 

You need to get on your knees before God in humility, repent of your sins and beg His forgiveness.

 

God does not dwell in proud minds.

 

God cannot be found though a mind contaminated with the stain of sin.

 

Sin darkens the mind. God's presence leaves the mind. It has always been this way and always will be this way.

 

You will never understand and find God untill you become HUMBLE.

 

 That's why Jesus praised the faith of little children.

 

A proud mind will never find God.

 

"Blessed are the HUMBLE, for their is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:2).

 

God exists, but you can't see Him from where you are and the state you are in. Sin drives Him from the mind and heart.

 

Kelly talks about removing certain concepts from the world.

 

But they should only be removed if they are useless, like atheism.

 

Many millions have benefitted from theism. Theism actually works if ones applies its principles.

 

It gives the one thing science and technology have never been able to give:

 

"MEANING"!

It turns sinners into saints.

 

On a second note: I would like to hook up one of the rational responders for a radio debate with someone I know. Mail me if you are interested.

My signature is stupid like you know who.

Alberto's picture

kellym78 wrote: Maybe if

kellym78 wrote:
Maybe if you actually read anything other than this one thread, you would have seen that our server crashed and we lost two weeks worth of data. This entire post was gone along with all of the comments. The fact that your immediate assumption was that we purposely deleted everything except for one comment is arrogant and presumptuous. You have not presented any argument that hasn't been soundly refuted and there would be no reason for us to delete posts that only serve to demonstrate the absurdity of your logic. Feel free to repost them if it's that important to you. Trust me; we're not threatened by any of what you had to say.

 

No they haven't been refuted Kelly. No matter how much you say that, it will not become true. Dawkin's, for example, is too chicken to debate William Lane Craig. The latter has offered more then once. Atheism does not have a workable worldview.

My signature is stupid like you know who.

Alberto's picture

 And atheism is NOT

 And atheism is NOT reasonable. Read-up.

 

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

  • Craig, William Lane. "The Existence of God." In Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Rev. ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994.
  • _____. The Existence of God & the Beginning of the Universe. San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1979.
  • _____. The Kalam Cosmological Argument. New York: Macmillan, 1979.
  • _____. "Philosophical and Scientific Pointers to Creatio Ex Nihilo." Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. 32 (March 1980): 5-13.
  • _____, and Q. Smith. Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
  • Corduan, Winfried. No Doubt about It: The Case for Christianity. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1997.
  • Davis, Stephen T. God, Reason and Theistic Proofs. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
  • Dembski, William A. The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • _____, ed. Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998.
  • Geisler, Norman. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976.
  • _____, and Winfried Corduan. Philosophy of Religion. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988.
  • _____, and Ron Brooks. When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990.
  • Hackett, Stuart C. The Resurrection of Theism: Prolegomena to Christian Apology. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957, 1982.
  • Miethe, Terry L., and Gary R. Habermas. Why Believe? God Exists! Rethinking the Case for God and Christianity. Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993.
  • Montgomery, John Warwick, ed. Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question. Dallas: Probe Books, 1991.
  • Moreland, J.P. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.
  • _____, ed. The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  • Plantinga, Alvin. God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967.
  • _____, and Nicholas Wolterstorff, eds. Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.
  • Ross, Hugh. The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1993.
  • Sproul, R.C., John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley. Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and A Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
  • Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1979.

My signature is stupid like you know who.

Little Roller Up First's picture

Alberto wrote: You know

Alberto wrote:
You know just because atheists have never experinced God to their satisfaction, does not prove others haven't.

Just because you haven't experienced Allah to your satisfaction doesn't prove millions of Muslims haven't.

Quote:
Just because He doesn't exist in your world, does not prove His non-existence in other peoples worlds.

Allah, Zeus, Thor, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Russel's Teapot, Vishnu, Sea-Man (who has the ability to talk to fish and breathe under water) , Jewish G_d and Xenu would like to have a word with you.

Quote:
Why do you presume to be the center of the universe? There is more to the universe then YOU.

This coming from someone who thinks humans are so important to Teh Creator Of The Universe, more so than any "kind" of other creature.

Quote:
Many millions, if not billions, have experienced God.

Are you a Catholic, since there are more Catholics than any other one sect of Christianity? Or are you a non-Catholic, since all their combined numbers are greater than that of the Catholics? (in other words, lol bandwagon fallacy)

Quote:
Why do you people, who are only a minority, persist in your attacks?

"Help, help, we're being repressed!!1"

Quote:
I submit God is irrational to a mind polluted with sin. But He is very rational to a mind infused by the Spirit. Saint Paul tells us that the "natural" / carnal man CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit of God. As long as you continue a life of sin, you will NEVER understand! Its that simple.

Is it necessary for you to insult our intelligence so plainly? You're basically telling us we cannot understand the answers to the questions we ask because we dare ask them in the first place!

 

Quote:
You need to get on your knees before God in humility, repent of your sins and beg His forgiveness.

Or else WHAT?

Quote:
God does not dwell in proud minds.

Quote:
God exists, but you can't see Him from where you are and the state you are in. Sin drives Him from the mind and heart.

So much for being all-powerful.

Quote:

Many millions have benefitted from theism. Theism actually works if ones applies its principles.

 

It gives the one thing science and technology have never been able to give:

 

"MEANING"!

It turns sinners into saints.

Who said science and technology need to give meaning to life? The meaning of life is to live. Without science and technology, we'd still be in the Dark Ages.

Also, I hope you're aware of the irony of lambasting technology ON THE INTERNET!

Good night, funny man, and thanks for the laughter.

kellym78's picture

Alberto wrote:   You know

Alberto wrote:

 

You know just because atheists have never experinced God to their satisfaction, does not prove others haven't. Just because He doesn't exist in your world, does not prove His non-existence in other peoples worlds. Why do you presume to be the center of the universe? There is more to the universe then YOU. Many millions, if not billions, have experienced God. Why do you people, who are only a minority, persist in your attacks?

First of all, you are presuming that none of us have had a "religious" experience, to which I would like to submit that all of the core members of RRS and many of our supporters are former christians. Secondly, experience proves nothing. Having a feeling or a sense of god is not objectively verifiable nor falsifiable, thereby making it a factually meaningless statement. Something either exists or it does not--there is no differentiation between your world and mine. 

I don't understand why you are claiming that I consider myself to be "the center of the universe", as I most certainly do not. Perhaps you are projecting your own arrogance onto me, as the christian worldview suffers from inherent anthropocentrism. The materialist worldview most certainly does not.

As to why we "attack" theism, I think that your pejorative usage of the label "minority" is a clue, along with the following statement. 

Quote:
I submit God is irrational to a mind polluted with sin. But He is very rational to a mind infused by the Spirit. Saint Paul tells us that the "natural" / carnal man CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit of God. As long as you continue a life of sin, you will NEVER understand! Its that simple.

So, my mind is polluted with sin and yours is clean? You are the one with a superiority complex. At any rate, objective evidence would be visible to all--sin pollution would have no effect on the ability to discern it. This is nothing short of theistic rhetoric, and frankly it is more offensive than anything that was written in my article.

Quote:
You need to get on your knees before God in humility, repent of your sins and beg His forgiveness.

You need to open your eyes and stop believing in fairy tales. 

 

Quote:
God does not dwell in proud minds.

I am proud of my mind. I feel pity for those who do not prize rationality and reason and instead continue to perpetuate harmful and destructive beliefs. 

 

Quote:
God cannot be found though a mind contaminated with the stain of sin.

I would say that religion is the real contaminant. Your arrogant assertions and commands are proof of just how damaging it is. You need to cleanse your mind of the stain of religion. 

 

Quote:
Sin darkens the mind. God's presence leaves the mind. It has always been this way and always will be this way.

According to whom? The writers of the compilation of redacted mythologies known as the bible? 

 

Quote:
You will never understand and find God untill you become HUMBLE.

Your humility is very obvious in this post in which you presume to be the bearer of the One Truth™ and assert that you are not only correct, but we are infested with this disease of sinfulness.

/sarcasm 

 

Quote:
That's why Jesus praised the faith of little children.

Yes, because in order to believe in fairy tales, one must have the cognitive capacities of a child. Not looking too favorable for Team God right now. 

 

Quote:
A proud mind will never find God.

Care to keep repeating nonsense? 

 

Quote:
"Blessed are the HUMBLE, for their is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:2).

OOhh...a Buy-Bull verse. 

 

Quote:
God exists, but you can't see Him from where you are and the state you are in. Sin drives Him from the mind and heart.

As previously stated, if god existed, the evidence of his existence would be verifiable by anybody regardless of their state. Religion drives reason from the mind, and you are a perfect example as you sit here spewing your bullshit beliefs on everybody. 

 

Quote:
Kelly talks about removing certain concepts from the world.

But they should only be removed if they are useless, like atheism.

Many millions have benefitted from theism. Theism actually works if ones applies its principles.

Science, which has persisted despite much religious interference and subversion, has given the world the greatest developments it has ever known. Considering that the vast majority of scientists are non-theists, one can draw a corollary between the lack of dogmatic thinking and their ability to develop such advancements.

I propose this--next time you're sick, don't go to a doctor. Pray.

Next time you're in a car accident,  don't call an ambulance. Pray.

Next time you want to go to work, don't drive a car. Walk. God didn't give you the reciprocating piston engine--he gave you legs. Use them.

Get my point? 

 

Quote:
It gives the one thing science and technology have never been able to give:

 

"MEANING"!

I have plenty of meaning in my life. The difference between me and you is that I don't need an imaginary sky-daddy to give it to me.

Quote:
It turns sinners into saints.

O rly? Ted Haggard, Jimmy Bakker, Jesse Jackson, Kent Hovind, George Bush--all pillars of decency and good old fashioned family values. *ROFLMMFAO*

 

Quote:
On a second note: I would like to hook up one of the rational responders for a radio debate with someone I know. Mail me if you are interested.

We don't "debate". We have conversations. If he's anywhere as moronic as this post indicates you are, I think we'd all die from the sheer frustration of trying to talk sense into his thick skull. 

kellym78's picture

Alberto wrote: kellym78

Alberto wrote:

kellym78 wrote:
Maybe if you actually read anything other than this one thread, you would have seen that our server crashed and we lost two weeks worth of data. This entire post was gone along with all of the comments. The fact that your immediate assumption was that we purposely deleted everything except for one comment is arrogant and presumptuous. You have not presented any argument that hasn't been soundly refuted and there would be no reason for us to delete posts that only serve to demonstrate the absurdity of your logic. Feel free to repost them if it's that important to you. Trust me; we're not threatened by any of what you had to say.

 

No they haven't been refuted Kelly. No matter how much you say that, it will not become true. Dawkin's, for example, is too chicken to debate William Lane Craig. The latter has offered more then once. Atheism does not have a workable worldview.

No matter how much you say that god is real, it will not become true. Dawkins doesn't debate any creationists, not because he's "chicken", but because they aren't worth his time. Evolution is a fact--accept that or admit that you are a moron.

The only thing that you are correct about is that atheism doesn't have a "workable" worldview; in fact, atheism doesn't HAVE a worldview at all. It entails the lack of belief in gods and nothing more. 

kellym78's picture

Alberto wrote: And

Alberto wrote:

And atheism is NOT reasonable. Read-up.

 

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD...(long ass list of books)

 

I've read about 50% of those books. How many atheist books have you read? I've read the bible multiple times, I've read the entire New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,  I've read most of Strobel's nonsense, I've read Comfort, Zacharias, Craig, Geisler...do I need to continue?

This is a warning...one more post full of your insulting blathering with nothing to back it up will result in an asshat avatar. Keep it up and you're on the fast track to being banned. 

aiia's picture

Alberto wrote:  And

Alberto wrote:

 And atheism is NOT reasonable. Read-up.

~list of books snipped~

Are you a book salesman?

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.

Alberto's picture

    I don't understand

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Alberto's picture

kellym78 wrote: Alberto

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