2008 September 06
“The God of the Old Testament is a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Richard Dawkins

Terence Meaden says:
Seeing that this is a perceptive, truthful observation that stands up to any amount of scrutiny, here is some sound advice.

Type it on to sticky labels and take them with you on your travels.

You may then put a sticker into every Gideon bible you encounter in order to help guide potential browsers towards the truth

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Dr. Meaden,
Great list.
I'm going to need much bigger stickers - or a very small font.
I always have time at the motel so maybe I'll use a yellow highliner to mark out the relavent passages and just list chapter and verse on the sticker.
Stickers like this. It's more readable when printed.

i am in, sir.
Richard Dawkins says, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

In the opening sentence of Chapter 2, Dawkins has ironically followed the model of Evelyn Waugh, one of the funniest writers of the twentieth century and a converted to Catholicism. His intention was closer to robust but humorous broadside than shrill polemic.

In the Preface to the paperback edition of The God Delusion, Dawkins writes:

“In public readings of the God Delusion this is the one passage that is guaranteed to get a good natured laugh, which is why my wife and I invariably use it as the warm-up act to break the ice with a new audience.”

When he was asked to tell why the humor works, Dawkins thinks it is “the incongruous mismatch between a subject that could have been stridently o vulgarly expressed, and the actual expression in a drawn-out list of Latinate or pseudo-scholarly words (Like “filicidal,” “megalomaniacal,” “pestilential”). He wanted to assimilate Waugh’s view of modernity. For him, the Modern Age has crazily destroyed and cannibalized what he finds supremely valuable: veneration for tradition and hierarchy; the aristocratic way of life. Perhaps, Dawkins is of a similar opinion.

Waugh was a genius per excellence, who has created a world peculiarly his own. The adjective "Waughsian" is too much of a tongue twister to have passed into our vocabulary, but a substitute phrase has "It's pure Evelyn Waugh." This expression evokes a riotously anarchic cosmos, in which only the outrageous can happen. When it does happen is outrageously diverting, people reason and behave with awesome inconsequence and lunatic logic.
I had an interesting conversation a while back with a theist I have regular Sunday discussions with that went something like this:

Me: If someone killed all the puppies and kittens and babies in the world would that be a good or a bad thing?

Theist: A bad thing. A very bad thing, of course. Evil.

Me: You wouldn't support them?

Theist: No, are you kidding?

Me: Even if you supported them beforehand?

Theist: No. I'd be annoyed with myself for making such a bad character judgment in the first place.

Me: Are you annoyed with yourself for supporting god?

Theist: What? God never killed all of the puppies and kittens and babies!

Me: So the puppies and kittens and babies survived the flood?

Theist: What? Yes of course... No... Wait... That's different.

Me: How is it different?

Theist: It's a trick question. You tricked me.

Me: How did I trick you?

Theist: There were dogs and cats on the ark, right?

Me: Puppies and kittens?

Theist: No, but that's not the point. Anyway, they're animals.

Me: Babies?

Theist: No, but its... the sins of the... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so...

Me: The babies had it coming?

Theist: Well, not the babies but... the parents were sinners and the apple doesn't fall far from... you know... but I can't question god's reasons can I?

Me: Not yet, but this is a good first step.

I have tried to revisit this subject with him many times since, but I barely get out the word puppies before he gets all apoplectic and tries to break his personal best time for subject changing. I know I struck a cord somewhere but I just need to get him to think about it some more. Right now he's trying to dodge a question I had on having a crisis of faith by saying his faith has been replaced with knowledge, but if I'm reading it right he is just hardening his position because he has seen its vulnerabilities and doesn't want to deal with them. My gut instinct is to confront his knowledge assertion head on. Part of me thinks that I should hold back and expose some more raw nerves first because he tends to shore up his castle when he can't give an answer that he believes in himself.

I guess my question for anyone would be, should I continue the attrition, or confront his 'knowledge'?
From my experience, Christians will find a way to explain away anything. Perhaps continue to find other ways to raise his consciousness? Let this one fester for a bit, and hopefully over time as they see more and more examples of their faith being misfounded they will begin to accept that you may be right. Anyways, we all hate pushy christians, so its no better to be a pushy atheist.
Rebeca, it's always hard to tell whether consciousness is being raised with the faithful. You can take them all the way through a reasoned discussion and agree on every single point of logic, only to find in the end that they have, as you say, "explained away" to themselves the points that conflict with their beliefs. This is a very intelligent and logical thinking guy too, but yet he drops the logic and intellect on points of faith, fully aware that he is doing so. For him the existence of god is an absolute certainty, so he sees any paradox, conflict or discrepancy as just something he doesn't know about god yet.

We're good friends and we both enjoy the discussions so there isn't anything pushy going on.
@tina goldberg "I hardly knew that this was exactly what I was doing to the people closest to me simply by being excited about my standpoint and frequently upset, annoyed and philosophically perplexed by the whole thing, until suddenly they started pulling away from their own arguments."

Isn't it strange! So many times I have been enthusiastically talking from a purely rational standpoint and all of a sudden you get that "Oh, I don't know about that" message and the next minute they are backing away, almost with their fingers in their ears!

I got the "atheism is a religion too" bomb the other day from my theist friend. I couldn't help but laugh very loudly, which I don't think was the reaction he expected. I asked him, "Are you a carpenter?". He replied, "No." I said, "So, that's your profession then. You're a non-carpenter." He waffled through a few losing streak points about requiring as much faith, then eventually conceded the point. A small victory, but I'm sure he'll be saying the same thing again in a few weeks once he's sterilized that valid point from his mind.
People, theist and non theist alike, tend to confuse atheism with anti-theism. Anti-theism can take on some of the characteristics of religion if there is a sense of "mission" in protecting ones non theistic belief system and converting theists to a non theistic world view. To use your non-carpenter example: suppose your friend was not only not a carpenter but believed that everything carpenters do could be done better by brick masons and steel workers. If he makes his living by convincing people to use carpentry free construction methods, then he could rightly be called a professional non-carpenter. By the same token, it is fair to call atheists who think it is their job to enlighten all theists about the falsity of religion religious in their atheism.
@ Arnold: I understand the direction of your point, but taking the non-carpenter example to such a specific level is completely moot. Is non-billionaire your level of wealth? Does it say non-pilot on your drivers license? Have you ever applied for a job as Not Fred Bloggs? Each example you use can be narrowed to specifics, but that does not dilute the point that you cannot just arbitrarily assert the nature of something because you want it to be so - it must meet the defining criteria, and atheism does not meet the defining criteria of a religion, no more than Christianity meets the criteria of a barbecue sauce.

Where you say: "Anti-theism can take on some of the characteristics of religion", I would suggest it would be more accurate to use "Anti-theists" instead. And even then, taking on "some" characteristics still falls short of meeting the criteria.

And where you say: "By the same token, it is fair to call atheists who think it is their job to enlighten all theists about the falsity of religion religious in their atheism." Maybe so, but it wouldn't be a robust use of logic beyond the confines of its own wordplay. You could just as easily use it to say it is fair to call Christians who don't believe in Zeuss atheists.
This is a random, but a realted question..Can you recycle Bibles? I have so many from my childhood ( and would take them from the drawer to get rid of one more) but I hate just throwing things out.
Everything can be recycled!

Why not pull a Ray Comfort and add a preface... or better yet how about a disclaimer page stating that all characters contained within are fictional and bear no intentional similarity to actual people living or dead.


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