First In A Continuing Series on The Double Standards The New Atheism Rests On
Going into the new atheist blogs is a waste of time if you expect to find a reasonable discussion on the topic of religion or much else. There isn’t much reason to be found among them and a lot less truth. Yesterday in the exchange laid out here, I came to realize that the recent foray I made was most usefully looked on as an anthropological field trip. I think you might see why.
It began when a fairly harmless comment which said something about an eminent physicist, who I won’t name because there were no direct quotes or citations given. He claimed that the physicist would tend to agree with Richard Dawkins that indoctrinating a child into religion was akin to child abuse. I asked about Quakers or parents who bring their children to Temple on the High Holy Days.... but that’s not the interesting part.
Here’s the exchange I had yesterday at The Intersection, with a commentator called “gillt”. Notice particularly that gillt isn’t happy with having materialists’ motives be the subject of even a polite question. Of course, attributing base, cowardly motives to religious believers is the bread and butter of the new atheism. I’ve edited my comments in a few places to clean up ambiguities and typos. Gillts are as they appeared. I should note that The Intersection is not a new atheist blog, though the owner is an atheist who is pretty fair and rational. The threads on the topic were dominated by new atheists.
AM: Maybe there's a peculiar habit that scientists get from trying to find universal properties of nature, that they tend to abstract away from the more complex and messy every day reality. That scientists, who gain status and a good salary from studying the material world would want to hold they, actually, had their hands on the ultimate reality, would hardly be surprising. People tend to focus on what brings them respect and admiration. You can understand how people with that kind of personal investment might resent those who deny that theirs is the last word on the subject. I wonder if anyone has ever studied that attitude that is so common among those in the sciences on that basis. Not presupposing that their materialism is correct, but seeing it as an anthropological phenomenon in the way that a Shaman might come to regard himself and his profession. Though people don't tend to have a high level of self-knowlege when it comes to that kind of thing. Too much reality is dangerous for their self-image.
I've had some respect for (the physicist) L. K. , I'd like to know what he'd say to that speculation.
gillt: McCarthy says "that scientists, who gain status and a good salary from studying the material world would want to hold they, actually, had their hands on the ultimate reality, would hardly be surprising."
Armchair psychology aside, this category better describes physicists, particularly retired physicists turned theologians like Polkinghorne.
AM: Armchair psychology aside
That would be aside the uniform attributions made here about the far larger and more diverse percentage of the population who believe in a huge range of religions.
Not so comfortable being the subject of that kind of speculation, is it. At least I was attributing a common habit to them instead of a form of depraved ignorance.
I'm finding the exemptions that scientists seem to want to carve out for themselves increasingly interesting. I think scientists would make a far better subject for anthropology than a sculptor who has been dead for c. 35,000 years.
gillt: A layman's unpublished thoughts probably shouldn't bother too many of us. Then again, who isn't an authority on the internet? You will get back to me with those exemptions, but only the interesting ones, no?
AM: You're bothered by which part of what I said, exactly?
How about being exempt from having motives other than strict adherence to evidence and the logical necessities of it in asserting the truth of a chosen ideology.
Then you can go on to exemption from assuming other people have as much right to make up their own minds about what they choose to believe.
(Then in response to someone else who stepped in) I meant gillt, who apparently was perturbed that someone might question the motives of a materialist choosing their ideology because it elevated their social and existential position in the scheme of things. Materialists are not to be questioned about their motivations.
Apparently that's another double standard that the new atheism will not see violated.
(Then back to gillt) And I really am amused by that use of the term "layman". That would be as opposed to the high priesthood of science, one supposes.
gillt: “priesthood?" Sad soul, even McCarthy's language is god-soaked. Nevermind that, what concerns me more is his anti-atheist holy crusade moving from amusing to tiredly cynical. It appears McCarthy simply can't stand the existence of a new atheist anywhere, ever; can't stand them so much he seems to confuse the comments section for a game of space invaders. Take'r easy `ol boy
AM: Actually, it was sarcasm soaked.
I haven't said a word about why someone shouldn't be an atheist or that they should believe in religion, just that they shouldn't be bigots.