Thursday, May 06, 2010

Religion as Ideological Aristocracy

Atheists: Feel our anger

On another blog, I came across a message from a commenter. The commenter, it turns out, is a theist just getting started with a new blog of his own. Indeed the theist is a bona fide pastor at a church.

His first post attempts to answer why atheists are "so angry." His answer is that it's basically a massive case of SIWOTI:
Atheist Angry Reason #1: In their minds we are basing our lives, worldviews, and important life decisions on the equivalent of a fairy tale.
I took the bait and responded, thusly:
I am an atheist -- and I suppose a new atheist, at that -- and I've always been puzzled by the charge of being angry. I don't think it's so and tend to view the charge as a what religious apologists do to rationalize and minimize atheist arguments. So, I think you are mistaking blunt talk and lack of deference for anger. Even from those folks you link to [Dawkins, Hitchins, P.Z. Myers] -- I don't receive that as anger at all.

I also disagree with what you construct as the target of atheist "anger" -- your belief in a fairy tale. The specific content of your belief is a smaller part of the issue, in my opinion. The big issue, as I see it, is the free pass given to religious figures and religious teachings to be taken as authorities on subjects they know very little about. What the Bible, for example, may or may not say about the origins of the universe and the nature of humanity is simply irrelevant to contemporary public policy. People like Pastor Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach have no special expertise or moral authority on matters of abortion, stem cell research, AIDS, the environment, natural disasters, or anything else outside. The special place given to religion and to religious leaders is something I think everyone should be concerned about.

So, I think you are playing rhetorical games with the phantom "atheist anger" and the focus on "fairy tales." Neither of these are the point. The point is that we live in a world today where we must take a hard look at the ideological aristocracy to which religion belongs. Personally, I want to see that aristocracy dismantled.
I think the term "ideological aristocracy" is quite apt. Religion is an Ancien Regime that needs to be toppled. Some sects, such as Roman Catholicism, are doing a nice job toppling themselves.


  1. So I took the bait and asked, " Why do you think religion is an Ancien Regime that needs to be toppled?"

    It sounds impressive in French.

  2. > People like Pastor Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach have no special expertise or moral authority

    I think most religious people would agree with you there. I don't know much about the standing of the first two, but Shmuley Boteach is not seen as any sort of authority by Orthodox Jews.

  3. Hey Larry, thanks for taking the time to respond to me on your own blog!

    I respond to what you say here in this comment:

    Thanks for the interaction!

  4. Hi Mark,

    It's hard to read tone in an online environment, but you seem irked that I have captured my response to you here in my "place."

    The link takes any reader to your blog. Our discussion there has been enjoyable and fruitful. But I also want to have some of the points retained here. These are my personal notes on matters.

    Is that OK?

  5. Larry,

    By no means am I irked that you have captured your response to me here in your "place"!! I'm glad you did! Sorry that I came off negatively that way.

    I have to admit though that I'm not sure about your tone :( Are you mad that I posted a link to my response on my blog or are you just clarifying that you would rather me respond here in your comment section? Or just not to comment at all?

    I'm sorry, as someone new to blogging I'm not entirely sure on good blogging etiquette!


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