I blog over on the Chariots of Iron
site, and I just put up a long one over there, it was rather well thought out so i thought I'd mirror it here for AN users that don't visit our podcast site... and yes this has been a shameless plug for bot the blog and the podcast. The version there contains many links to some references. I don't mirror posts often, so I hope you enjoy this rant.
Today has been one of ups and downs and it’s not even noon yet. As every morning goes for me I check the blogs of fellow humanists and skeptics, as well as giving a glance over to the dozen or so science news feeds delivered straight to my iGoogle homepage. Today I spot this lovely post on PZ Myers blog, as well as this little gem on yahoo news. The latter is just one of those, “SCIENCE! It works, bitches!” moments that makes me marvel in the achievements achieved in the human pursuit of the workings of the universe. The first though is just another example of a disturbing trend going on in the editorial sections of the nations newspapers and magazines and reflected nightly in the pundit and other “talking heads” programs on cable television. That is “atheists are the cause of just about every horrible thing going on right now”.
Let’s face it folks, Atheism, for what it’s worth, is very “in vogue” at the moment. It is the topic of bestsellers, it is on the cable news shows (usually given a token “few words” in between some outspoken theist’s inane rambling) and, of course, all over the internet. While the Charioteers here are all long-time atheists we’re just jumping on the bandwagon of internet atheist activism, popularized by the aforementioned PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, The Infidel Guy, the Atheist Experience/Non-Prophets, and dozens of others. Atheist videos, and those by more liberal theists, refuting biblical literalism or the problems with god arguments are some of the more popular offerings on YouTube. In a sense, we here at Chariots of Iron are standing on the shoulders of giants (giants we’ve been standing next to, silently, for years).
We are part of a growing wave of atheists, vocal and proud who want our views to share an equal place in the national spotlight as those of theistic organizations. The big issue is, of course that atheism says very little about a persons stance on any issues other than the existence of a deity, thus we’re not a “camp”. I think the one thing most atheists can agree on is that they don’t want to see a public policy based solely on a religious text telling us it is right or wrong. It is not much, but at least it is something. However it hardly warrants the level of reaction coming from the other side, there has to be more to it than that.
For a long time theism, especially in the USA, has had a free ride. Their beliefs not held up to examination and held “sacred” even by those who did not follow them. However it is in this writer’s opinion that one thing changed all that. That thing folks, is the internet. For a long time priests and preachers have been a huge repository of religious information and people could easily be isolated from competing religious views. People would most often only associate with members of their own congregation in social gatherings and the information about their faith was carefully dispensed by the religious leaders. The internet makes keeping people ignorant a nearly impossible task. No longer does a curious individual need to go out of thier way in order to find opposing viewpoints. A theist website could get “pharyngulated” and all of a sudden a once insular community is inundated with opposing viewpoints. While many will reject them out of hand, some will become engaged, and of those some others may also become convinced.
The conversions and “deconversions” to and from atheism happen all the time, we hear about them and both sides like to prop them up as examples. There is a propaganda war going on between the new atheist movement and the established theistic juggernauts. The only thing the atheists have going for them are the facts. The theistic organizations know that demonstrable reality stands in opposition to their teachings so they have pulled out the lowest card they could possibly attempt to play, attempts to change the facts.
Lamar called me up last night, he and a friend had just finished watching one of the most deceptive and despicable pieces of motion picture dreck ever to crawl out of a camera and onto the screen, that is the Ben Stein delusion that is “Expelled”. I personally have not watched the whole thing beginning-to-end. I don’t think I’m capable of doing so, my propensity to shout at the screen, bouts of nausea and constant hair-pulling would make such a task nearly impossible. I think I have seen the whole movie though, in clips and excerpts, thankfully with some kind scientists pointing out the errors of the film along the way for me. The film is probably the biggest swing in the theist arguments against science and atheism. Yes, I said science, this is not just a war on atheism, but a war on science itself.
The theists are taking a Rovian “kitchen sink” approach to attacking atheism, that is throwing everything they can at atheism and seeing what sticks. The most common, and most despicable of this is blaming the horrid actions of Hitler, Stalin to their atheism.
There’s a couple of big problems with this, of course, the first being that Hitler wasn’t an atheist, his actions against the Jewish people were taken directly from his personal interpretation of scripture. This aside they will attempt to pin the eugenics programs of the Third Reich to evolution, and specifically to Darwin. Once again we run into a major problem. The idea of evolution had been around long before Darwin and his theory, animal breeders were using such methods for thousands of years prior to Darwin’s theory. As a matter of fact what Darwin’s theory proposes (and has held up to a century and a half of scrutiny and attack) is that natural competition for survival could produce the same type of results (and even more extreme results given enough time) that breeders produced artificially. While, On the origin of Species was (and still is) a widely popular book that injected these thoughts into the mainstream conciousness and thus inspired such horrid ideas as both eugenics and “social darwinism”, both these phenomenons are quite removed from Darwin’s theory. The truth of the matter is that Hitler himself rejected Darwin’s theory and was a avowed creationist.
Stalin was a horrible man, driven by a lust for power and control. Theist and atheist alike are not immune to the corruption that comes with power. Stalin’s murderous rampage was based on many factors many the struggle attempting to being the farmlands into collective control and the elimination of political rivals. Now, there are some killings of clergy in the Soviet Union, however historians agree that those churches in the soviet union were subject to forced destruction were also those that were critical of the Communist Party. In fact in 1943 Stalin came to an agreement with the Russian Orthodox Church which established it as the official church of the state. This was a great boon to the ROS who used its new influence within the party to help remove rival teachings.
For more on hitler and staling I’m going to reccomend a great book, that is Dr. Hector Avalos’ Fighting Words. I’ll also encourace you to keep listening to our podacst as we’ll be covering these topics in depth in future episodes.