Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Shape Of The Earth And Of New Atheism

"The world is a sphere can only be colored in so many ways."

Have you heard it colored this way? If the New Atheists were even slightly acquainted with Hebrew and Greek, they'd know that those Bible passages mentioning the shape of the Earth can be understood to refer to various shapes including spheres. In other words, although New Atheists love to insist that the authors of the Bible all believed that the Earth was flat, it's far from clear that this is the case. And that's one way -- one of many -- that we who are familiar with ancient languages and have gone round and round with Dawkins & Co on subjects like the Biblical descriptions of the Earth know that the New Atheists not only aren't familiar with ancient languages, they don't want to become familiar with them.

If they learned a little Hebrew and Greek and Latin and Coptic and Aramaic, they might learn some new things. And they definitely don't seem interested in learning new things when it comes to Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their holy books. They know everything they feel they need to know. They're set. They're done.

They're stupid.

Luke Savage knows what I'm talking about. Here are a few tidbits from his recent and delicious takedown of New Atheism's Islamophobia :

"[...]it is a crude, reductive, and highly selective critique[...]Its leading exponents wear a variety of ideological garbs, but their espoused politics range from those of right-leaning liberals to proto-fascist demagogues of the European far-right[...]The title of Hitchens’s bestselling book tells us something about the priorities and focus of the New Atheist movement ('God is Not Great' is clearly intended to be a facetious inversion of the common Arabic phrase Allahu Akbar, which translates as 'God is Great,' something which he no doubt thought was both hilarious and iconoclastic). Without exception, an overwhelming preoccupation with Islam infuses the whole discourse, even as it posits itself as a disinterested scientific critique of religion as such[...]Sam Harris’s much-discussed October appearance on 'Real Time with Bill Maher' — a crude spectacle in which he pigeonholed most Muslims as 'jihadists,' 'Islamists, or 'conservatives' — merely complements a lengthy record of Islamic demonology from him and other leading figures in the New Atheist movement[...]For the New Atheists, then, all religions are equally bad — but Islam is more equally bad[...]The excessive focus on Islam as something at once monolithic and exceptionally bad, whose backwards followers need to have their rights in democratic societies suppressed and their home countries subjected to a Western-led civilizing process, cannot be called anything other than racist[...]

I highly recommend the entire article. And I would just add that the crudity and ignorance which New Atheists apply to Islam, they apply to most of the rest of the world as well. (It's amazing to me that several of the leading New Atheists are competent or brilliant biologists -- how can they be so sensible, so informed, and so eager to learn about one scientific discipline, and about absolutely nothing else?)

I don't highly recommend this absurdly over-optimistic piece in the Spectator declaring that Richard Dawkins has lost. But if you despise the New Atheists and want to comfort yourself with a daydream that they're about to blow away like dry leaves, then by all means read it.

I, on the other hand, am cursed with an aversion to illusion. We're going to be dealing with these chumps for a while.

I also don't like that the Spectator refers to the atheists who are done with the New Atheists as New New Atheists, rather than Steven Bollinger Can Haz Nobel Atheists.

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