Sunday, 5 December 2010

The trouble with atheists... they're just too damn smart

Victoria Coren embarrasses herself in the Observer this week, and not just by comparing the Archbishop of Canterbury to Patrick Swayze.

Apparently she's one of these "thinking" believers you (don't) hear so much about.
There is a new, false distinction between "believers" and "rationalists". The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position.
Apart from the rogue "false" (how on earth did that get there?), correct so far, except, Victoria, it's not just Dawkjns who's responsible for the prevalence of atheism today, it's more a consequence of greater education and questioning of the traditional religious authorities, who rather like their flocks childish and ignorant, thank you very much.
I interviewed the comedian Miranda Hart recently. She told me she believes in God but was nervous of being quoted on it.
"It's scary to say you're pro-God," she said. "Those clever atheists are terrifying."
"Oh, nonsense," I said. "Let them tell you it's stupid to believe in something you can't explain. Then ask them how an iPad works."
Ah, but we don't claim the iPad, marvellous invention that it is, to have created the entire universe in six days, capable of hearing the combined thoughts of 6 billion people simultaneously, and be waiting to pass judgement on our mortal souls when our bodies conk out.

The rest of the article comprises the usual, wheezing arguments against atheists - the only "logical" position is agnosticism (it isn't), religion isn't the only cause of violence (no, but it's bloody good at it), religion is the source of morality (it isn't), religion provides comfort and consolation to the dying (what, when you might have hell to look forward to?), human life would no longer be sacred (it never was in the first place).
Unfortunately, there seems to be no serious intellectual resistance. Last weekend, there was a huge religion v atheism debate in Canada. On the sceptics' side: the brilliant, witty, fast-thinking author Christopher Hitchens. On God's side: Tony Blair.
Terrific. That was hardly a match-up to challenge the idea that non-believers are rationalists and the faithful are self-righteous cranks with mad, starey eyes. You'd be better off sending in Gillian McKeith.
Not got the message yet? It's not a coincidence that the atheists are the smart ones.

I do have one thing in common with Coren, though. If I met the Archbishop of Canterbury, I'd probably be stumped for what to say to him as well.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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