Matt Stone: "Neoatheists Are Setting Atheism Back A Decade"

The usually genius co-creators of South Park Matt Stone and Trey Parker are profiled in a post on Esquire.com and they are harsh on Richard Dawkins and all-soft on religion:

As they told In Focus magazine a few years ago, “What we’re sick of — and it’s getting even worse — is you either like Michael Moore or you wanna fuckin’ go overseas and shoot Iraqis… We find just as many things to rip on the left as we do on the right. People on the far left and the far right are the same exact person to us.”

Consider, too, The Book of Mormon. For a play that includes the insertion of a holy text up a missionary’s rectum, it actually offers a nuanced view of religion. Mormonism may be odd, but it produces kind, thoughtful, mostly happy people. “They always look like they’re just about to break out into song anyways,” Stone has said.

Religion has its upsides — a position that rankles hardcore atheists such as Richard Dawkins.

“He’s such a dick,” said Stone. “You read his book and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I agree with that. But it’s the most dicky way to put it… I think the neoatheists have set atheism back a few decades. And I’m a self-described atheist.”

The profile goes on:

“I’m concerned about people being happy,” said Stone. “With religion I was always like, Does it matter if it’s true if it makes you happy?”

“As storytellers for fifteen years, we started looking at religions for their stories,” Parker said.

Stone illustrated the idea with the Parable of the Hipster Coffee Guy. Recently, Stone was at a New York hotel that was trying very hard to be cool. It had stuffed animal heads on the walls and exposed brass pipes. “I don’t know if <em>Luddite</em> is the right word, but it was back-to-basics. The guy making the coffee had a beard and tattoos. And I’m sitting there going, ‘What the fuck. I’m too old for this. This is not my scene.’ And then I drank the coffee, and I’m like, ‘Holy shit. That’s amazing.’

“And it made me think there’s something about dressing up and playing the part. To me, that’s religion. You can write down how to make the perfect cup of coffee. But to make it really good, you have to play something fictional, you have to dress up, you have to think, This is the most important thing.”

He continued, “The pride of the hipster food movement is sort of annoying, but it fascinates me. And the by-products are fucking great.”

I’m pressed for time—I have to be flying out the door in ten minutes, so I’ll just have to throw this chum in the tank and let you guys have at it yourselves. Enjoy!

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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