Of course it is hard for us Christians not to chuckle a little. Wasn't the end of religion supposed to bring something better? Instead of sitting back on their porches on these hot summer days and enjoyed a good banana split, they're having a church split that make us Presbyterians look positively civil. Nice to watch the "rocket's red glare" over someone else's straw-man laden barn, for a change.
And, let me hasten to add, "Don't say I didn't warn you:"
In a phrase he might have written while humming John Lennon's Imagine, Dawkins says he cannot think of any war fought in the name of atheism. Why would anyone fight 'for the sake of absense of belief?' A more scientific question would be, 'Do people who disbelieve in God fight any less?' . . . It may be that nations, like drunks in a bar, enjoy a good brawl once in a while. Need one explain aggression to a zoologist? (The Truth Behind the New Atheism, 2007, 200-1)
One is thus tempted to sit back and enjoy the mayhem. One might, indeed, appreciate glimmers of awareness that come to the likes of "thought activist" Mandy De Waal, in the Mail and Guardian:
Watching this vitriolic in-fighting and vituperative restaging of Salem in a community that associates itself with reason, intelligence and scepticism, was profoundly disappointing. It was almost as disappointing as witnessing a man as supremely intelligent as Dawkins being socially inept and irresponsible in his use of a vulgar metaphor to express his belief that “Elevatorgate”—as it now has become dubbed—was trivial.
Of course, theists are less "disappointed," because we never conceived Dawkins or his allies as being "supremely intelligent." PZ Myers is conducting a witch hunt? Well of course, today is a day of the week that ends in "y." What else would he be doing?
|Enlarge if your day has|
been too cheerful. This
is a sample of the
"rational inquiry" on
But this time, Dawkins and Myers are on opposite sides. Dawkins scoffed at Watson's supposed trauma, reminding her (in a crudely satirical post) of much worse treatment of women in Muslim countries. Meanwhile, PZ dons his Helmet of Feminist Salvation and has gone on a year-long Crusade, not against rapists, or against anyone who condones rape, but against any man or woman who suggests that women take precautions against rape. This, he insists, implicitly justifies the "Rape Culture" of America. And in setting the bounds of orthodoxy, his stalwartly righteous troops rage against any human scum who says women are well-advised to dress carefully at 3 in the morning on a downtown city street, verbally disembowing such barbarians in graphic and thorough terms.
As is usual ("they came for the Jews"), Gnus recognize the nasty character of their gurus, when the nastiness finally reigns down on their own tribes or persons. Thus, a disillusioned poster at Pharyungula reflects:
I’ve lost most of my interest in the “atheist movement” after reading about this subject for a year now.
Several spiteful, snearing comments followed, directed at the person guilty of this mild thought crime, or want of orthodox passion. In the same forum, I also came across the following expression of hopeless cynicism, by "Josh, official Spokegay," with which no one ventured to take issue:
I hate people so * much.
Not everyone can parlay despair into hip irony to easily as PZ.
The hatred, of course, we knew about. Knights on both sides of battle lines in the Elevator Wars, have long done their best to stoke hatred against believers. The world has seen such exercises in collective guilt many places and times, at witch hunts, in rhetoric among the Young Hegelians that led to the communist revolutions of the 20th Century, at Kristalnacht.
|Chairman Mao did OK.|
PZ Myers is not really a Nazi, and no one expects his minions to drive panzers across North Dakota, as he jokes. But the hatred he encourages and justifies, will no doubt be acted upon to hurt innocent people. That is the way of the world. One cannot dig a pit in the sidewalk, then disavow responsibility when people fall into it.
"I hate people so * much."
In the end, after reading hundreds of spiteful posts, especially on the morally-righteous, feminist side, I remember Dawkins' "Atheists for Jesus" t-shirt, and feel that what the Gnu movement really needs, after all, is nothing else than the love of Christ.
We don't always follow our own Master's difficult teachings ourselves: righteous indignation is too much fun. But in light of this quagmire of tiresome moral postering, self-righteousness, and hatred stretching out to the drearisome horizon, acres of posts with nary a touch of real kindness or good humor in sight, how glorious, how beautiful, those old verses -- "confess your sins, one to another," "give thanks in all things," "forgive those who spitefully use you," "love your enemies" are rendered.
Lord, bring healing to all of us who hate, as to those who hate us. We are, we prove empirically, with each new day and each new social movement, a race of sinners, truly in need of this Savior.