battling atheism with hackneyed clichés

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels teaches a master class in mindless, empty, hostile zealotry and stringing together supposedly fear-inducing buzzwords.
smoke from brain

Oh those uppity new atheists. Who could possibly turn down the chance to bash them while talking about his faith in a supernatural being watching over him? Certainly not a politician, in this case the governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels in an interview with a local news channel. The clichés fly quickly and furiously without even the slightest hint of an attempt to be diplomatic or insightful. It’s as if someone just handed Daniels a talking point memo of theistic canards and told him to read from the top when the softball questions begin. Perhaps one of the most ironic parts of his spiel is his emphasis on the humility of being a religious person while giving a big interview about his theological views. Sure, he’s humble. Especially when it’s all about him and his opinions.

During the navel gazing in which Daniels gladly engages on cue, he also goes off on one of the most vicious and demonstrably false theist canards of them all, blaming the sins of 20th century tyrants and dictators who used groundbreaking military technology to commit mass murder on a scale rarely seen before on atheism…

People who reject the idea of a God, who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm, have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications — which not all such folks have thought through because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists — Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth — because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Look everybody, it’s a holiday grab-bag of nonsense! Clearly somebody wasn’t thinking about the implications of what was coming out of his mouth because he just accused atheism of being a genocidal doctrine using a trio of dictators who were anything but atheists. Hitler was a Catholic who was never excommunicated. Stalin attended a Seminary to become an Orthodox priest and while he did order the ransacking of churches and an undeniably brutal campaign of repressions across the Soviet Union as the nation’s tyrant, his mass murders and work camps targeted everyone from doctors and scientists, to priests and writers. He wanted to show his total control over everyone and everything. Who his opponents happened to be was secondary. Mao’s motives were virtually identical and had nothing to do with atheism. In fact, Mao ascribed to Confucianism, an Eastern philosophy which emphasizes discipline and fairness, though one can successfully argue that Mao had a very different idea of what was fair than Confucius.

And here’s another little thing to remember when we’re talking about Stalin and Mao Zedong. Communism as practiced in the nations they terrorized and as detailed by Marx and Engels, had nothing to do with religion. In the entire Communist Manifesto, there’s not a word about faith or religious institutions. It was a purely societal and economic wish list by a duo who hashed out the entire thing in an Amsterdam coffee shop one afternoon. (No pun intended, really.) To mindlessly repeat these canards doesn’t show someone thinking things through or considering historical nuances, but one who simply parrots what he’s told by those who are only capable of feeling scorn for those who don’t agree with their views. And even more inexcusable is the mindless assertion that contempt for life somehow flows naturally from the idea that we’re not on this planet by some miracle.

If there’s nothing beyond the life we live on Earth, that makes it all the more precious. You don’t get to see your friends and loved ones who are no longer with us again in the afterlife, you don’t get to soar through the aether on angelic wings and you won’t get to spend an eternity coddled by a supernatural father figure. You get only one chance at life and that’s it. If anything, the idea that this life is just a transition between eternal paradise or immortality would naturally dictate that our lives are somehow less meaningful. That’s why the entire idea of a judgment in the netherworld was put into holy books; to keep people from crime and a cavalier attitude toward death by threatening them with the potential for eternal torture. Without an afterlife on which to rely, what you’ve been able to do with your existence matters because you don’t get to make up for all your follies elsewhere. And speaking of terrible arguments, here’s another one from earlier in Daniels’ interview…

The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we’re all children of a just God. It’s very important to at least my notion of what America’s about and should be about and I hope it’s reflected most of the time in the choices that we make…

Ah, yes. Equality in the eyes of God. Well maybe except for women who were treated as second class citizens in most Christian denominations and in some, still are. And gays because they’re filthy sinners who shouldn’t have any rights beyond existing. Or slaves which were not just legal but considered morally justified since the dawn of civilization. Or atheists and heretics who are going to Hell because they don’t believe exactly what you do. But otherwise, yes. Everybody’s equal in God’s eyes except the people we just mentioned. Maybe if those who wrote holy books cut down on the gods ordering people to conquer, rape and pillage in their name, there would be a tidbit of truth in Daniels’ assertion. But in reality, the idea of equality among all people is an idea of liberals and progressive thinkers, further reinforced by the theory of evolution which says that every human is valuable and we’re all a huge, extended family.

Yes, those amoral, godless, scientific atheist demons bent on mass murder are actually saying that we’re all imperfect, fallible creatures with humble origins, and deserve the same rights across the board. The theists, worried that humanists, atheists and agnostics are using their current sales pitch, throw out these desperate and infuriating putdowns and try to paint scientific inquiry and theological skepticism with the faces of modern history’s most reviled villains. Talk about a petty low blow. And to think, people of faith are supposed to be high above this sort of everyday political humdrum and mudslinging…

# politics // atheism / atheist / dogma / mudslinging / religion


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