woe be to theologically unschooled heathens?

For appearance of factual correctness, insult both sides of argument regardless of facts, rinse, repeat, sell book.

empty suits
Illustration by Nadja Jovanovic

What’s the worst way to pitch your book in an opinion column of a major website? Why to insult your audience and call them stupid, arrogant, unsophisticated, and glib. Sure, it’s perfect for the masochist demographic but it’s not exactly going to endear CFI’s John Shook to atheists and agonistics. After declaring that anyone with a middle school education should be able to see right through any argument for a deity, he decided to turn on a dime and berate atheists as theologically unsophisticated philistines who should be ashamed of their lack of appreciation of vague meanderings by people who claim to be experts on the supernatural and who simply can’t offer us any concrete evidence for their religious beliefs by the very definition of what they do. And as if Shook tried to make himself an even better target for well-deserved ridicule, he chose the Huffington Post as his promotional platform, that refuge of New Age woo, quackery and pseudoscience, and proclaimed

Atheists are getting a reputation for being a bunch of know-nothings. They know nothing of God, and not much more about religion, and they seem proud of their ignorance. […] Astonished that intellectual defenses of religion are still maintained, many prominent atheists disparage theology. They either dismiss the subject as irrelevant, or, if they bother to acknowledge it, slim refutations of outdated arguments for a medieval God seem enough.

Well, the important thing here is that Shook found a way to feel superior to both atheists and fundamentalists as he tells us to reach for the vague and fluffy tomes of trendy theologians who spew out word salad science and cosmological buzzwords lifted from New Age woo-meisters to learn what theology is really all about. And that’s the intellectual defense of religion in which Shook wants to rub our noses? A mix of airy pseudoscience to justify one’s personal beliefs? We’ve already addressed the idea of a quantum deity and spent countless posts debunking pseudoscientific cosmology and biology. Other than that, there really isn’t much that modern theology has to offer, and the fact of the matter is that they’re trying to defend something with no evidence, just what if scenarios written from the standpoint of a layperson who picked up some trendy science jargon. And if you start digging under all that fancy language, you’ll find that the theological arguments haven’t changed over the last millennia. We still have appeals to emotion, circular logic stating that morality must be divine, plus the tired, ancient first cause argument used since the dawn of religion.

Of course, while he gives such a deep bow to those who labor on long winded treatises about the Emperor’s new invisible silken boxers, Shook is shilling for what amounts to a cliff notes to today’s theistic navel-gazing along with ready rebuttals. Now, is it just me, or is it ironic that the very same person who spends a good deal of time insulting modern atheists who see past the theological ruse and offer hard facts in return as insults to the legacy of free thought, telling them how badly they need a deep understanding of religious obfuscation, is basically trying to pitch his version of the fundamentalist cut-and-paste talking points resource? This is what the CFI sponsors? Hypocritical loudmouths who can’t seem to understand the line between facts and woo in the name of justifying religious dogma? Today’s image of the CFI, is that of a bipolar organization which tries to argue against teaching the age of the Earth in science class, then spins around and declares that every religious person is basically a terrorist in waiting as it opposes the “Ground-Zero” mosque? If I sponsored this organization, I would be calling to cancel my membership right about now.

# politics // atheism / atheist / cfi / new atheists / religion

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