Sunday, June 7, 2015

Return Of The Son Of You May Already Not Be A New Atheist, Or: Atheists Against New Atheists Chronicles, Part Whatever

To be entirely clear. I'm not entirely joking when I suggest that it might be nice to have an atheist brand with big scary capital letters to publicly oppose the New Atheists. I don't seriously expect such a movement to be named after me (although that too would be nice), but I simply don't want Dawkins and Harris and their flying monkeys to monopolize the public presence of atheism. And of course selling as many books as they do would be groovy. (And the Nobel and yada yada.) Surely the number of atheists who see the gaping holes in the New Atheists' education is large. Maybe most of them aren't joiners, but if I (and others) can offer something which is explicitly atheist and emphatically Not THOSE Atheists! it might have some sort of unity -- and perhaps even some usefulness -- as a movement. Movements like these may seem rather European to some of you Amurrkins, but what's wrong with that? and in case you haven't noticed, a lot of my audience as well as a lot of what I read is already European -- if not downright Australian, Asian or Latin Amurrkin.

Realistically, I think something along the lines of "Not Those Atheists!" has a much better chance as a brand than "Steven Bollinger Can Haz Nobel Athesists." I'm assuming that many others share my 2-stage experience of learning that there was a thing called New Atheism and thinking: Oh, good! and then getting to know it and thinking: Oh, no! No, no, no! This won't do at all! NOOOOOOO!!!

Some might be quite reluctant to identify with any atheist movement because it is, strictly speaking, impossible to know with certainty that there is no God. And of course you're right about that, but God is no different in that respect than anything else: strictly speaking, no one knows anything with absolute certainty. And yet, in my opinion at least, the verb "to know" has not yet become completely useless, and until it has I will continue to sneer at agnostics and to behave as if there's no reason to debate the existence of God. And it's not as if you have to pay memberships dues or sign a loyalty oath or actually do anything at all about any of this. You will not be literally branded with hot irons, rest assured.

Some of you enjoyed the way that I slipped Jeff Foxworthy into the previous post. Speaking of Foxworthy in this context: to many jackanapes on either side of the theist/atheist divide, there is only one crucial fact about Foxworthy: he is a Christian. The jackanapes will either be Foxworthy fans or despise him based on that one fact, the same way they divide up the rest of the world: Them that's with us and them that's agin us. To me he seems like someone who sort of fell ass-backwards into a billion dollars, on the basis of one stand-up routine, or one 2-liner pattern for a routine. As David Spade has put it, "If you, mumble mumble mumble, then it is within the realm of the conceivable that you, bla bla bla bla bla." But I don't begrudge Foxworthy that. I begrudge Dan Brown his billion dollars but I don't begrudge Foxworthy his. (For the record, Foxworthy insists that it is not his money, but the Lord's.) It's a good 2-liner pattern. It's iconic. People get mad at Jackson Pollack because he got rich splattering paint. I think Pollack is great because we look at the world differently because of the way Pollack splattered paint.

And my point was: I didn't stop thinking about Foxworthy after: "he is a Christian." And if this doohicky I'm plugging ever does amount to a movement, it will be a movement which is about not ceasing to think at some certain point.

Has there ever actually been such a movement? I'm not asking at all rhetorically, I'm wondering out loud.

So be sure to vote for me,


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