Monday, October 4, 2010

John Mark Reynolds: "Atheists; Mere Kings of Trivia"

Much has been made about the Pew Forum survey released last week announcing that atheists and agnostics score higher on religious knowledge than mainstream religious believers. Of course, this was trumpeted far and wide by non-believers of all persuasions, particularly since religious apologists accuse atheists of not understanding the religions they criticize. No, we atheists understand faith-based religion just fine; that's why we aren't religious.

And as you would expect, the responses from religious believers to the survey was equally heated. Was it to apologize for assuming that atheists and agnostics are uninformed about religion? Did they express surprise that, for example, the majority of religious believers didn't know that Mother Teresa was Catholic. Did anyone commit to bridging the divide between believers and non-believers by engaging in meaningful dialogue and understanding?

No, mostly they just continued the atheist bashing.

The majority of responses I've seen ran along the lines of, "Sure, you atheists might know a lot about religious doctrine, but you don't really know anything about religion because you haven't spent years in prayer and meditation. Like I have." This complaining about head knowledge versus heart knowledge is jealousy, and P.Z. Myers Courtier's Reply says it all.

The most amusing response has to be from John Mark Reynolds, philosophy professor at Biola, writing for the On Faith blog, who writes:
As a boutique belief system in the United States, atheism has a good many advantages. There are so few atheists and agnostics that they do not run all the risks of a populist movement.

Get that? Suddenly it's an advantage to be small in numbers. This is, of course, just silly. There are more non-believers in America than there are Jews, or Muslims, or most other religious groups other than Christians and their spin-offs (Mormons, etc.) and yet non-believers scored higher than all of those other groups as well. So why are non-believers so knowledgeable about religion?
Not for [atheists] is the burden of dealing with the masses of a global population, their idiosyncrasies, worries and all. Since Christians make up three-quarters or more of the American general population, we have the burden of accounting for almost everybody's problems.

Poor Christians. They have to spend so much time serving in soup kitchens and cleaning bed pans in AIDS shelters that they just don't have the time to learn that Martin Luther is the founder of the Protestantism.

Reynolds continues the rant against atheists by dissing the music of Dan Barker, of all things, and by accusing us of moving to gated enclaves where the only believers allowed inside are the help.

There's a name for people like Reynolds, one that everyone knows but that no one likes to be called--"Sore Loser."

1 comment:

lightsleeper said...

To me, this phenomenon is entirely clear: you become an atheist by educating yourself about a great many topics, not least religion.

I unlearned Christianity by studying it. By reading the Bible, by puzzling out the logic of its implications, by comparing its morality to my own.

Evolution is inescapable if you study it, Religion is untenable if you study it. This is why so many clergy are agnostic.