Dwight Longenecker: leapfrogging the obvious to call atheists stupid.

Patheos’ selling point is that they are all about the conversation between faiths.  So far, I’m actually impressed with them.  They seem to give their writers tenure immediately, with the freedom to criticize as we please.

So, in keeping with that tradition, we have Patheos blogger Dwight Longenecker directing the conversation at people like yours truly with his post “Stupid Atheists”.  It’s the next in a continuation of Catholics whining, right on the heels of Bill Donahue.  He’s talking about American Atheists’ new billboard in Times Square (which I wrote about here).

What’s hilarious about this ill-thought out campaign is that the atheists keep telling us they are only interested in evidence. They only want the facts ma’am. They’re thinkers. They’re rational. blah blah blah.

They’re opposed to “myths”. They don’t like make believe. They think it’s a form of child abuse to tell children stories about big sugar daddies in the sky who will give them everything they want. Religion is, they say, an infantile belief system to bring comfort to the frightened, weak minded babies. The atheists tell us they’re down on fairy tales. They don’t believe in magic sky fairies.

But they want to keep a magic elf who lives at the North Pole and flies through the sky with dancing reindeer? They want to keep the fat fairy man who comes down the chimney of every home in the world in one night while drinking Coca Cola? They want to keep jolly old St Nick who lays a finger beside his nose ’cause ’twas the night before Christmas? They don’t want a God who judges, but they want the old man in the red suit who keeps a list of who’s naughty and nice and checks it twice? They don’t like a God who makes his little children feel good, but they want the happy elf who has his bag full of goodies for all the good boys and girls? Do these atheists tell their children there is such a person as Santa Claus? Do they abuse their little ones with such obvious lies?

There is a distinction to be made which was slapping-you-in-the-face obvious to everybody but Dwight Longenecker.  We’re not saying that indulging in fantasy when you’re young is terrible.  Few, if any, take issue with fantastic stories “making little children feel good.”  What we are saying is that an inability in adults to abandon Santa Claus-grade fantasy is irresponsible and embarrassing.

Were Christianity in the same boat as Santa, where if someone hadn’t managed to figure out that it was bullshit by the time they were seven we made it a point to tell them “Hey, if you keep going on believing this then people will consider you to be intellectually unqualified for the job shoveling dirt” then it would draw less of our ire.  But it’s not, and that’s where the abuse comes in.

But that’s not the only place the two differ.  If, instead of a Santa being a jolly man who leaves presents, the myth was that children must worship Santa and believe that Santa really brings them gifts, and that the kids must leave “Santa” 10% of their income with the milk and cookies so Santa can protect child rapists and discriminate against 10% of their friends who will grow up to love people Santa doesn’t like, or else Santa is really going to burn them for ever and ever, it stops being acceptable, even if it’s fantasy and even if it’s understood that kids won’t believe it into adulthood.

If it’s expected they will believe it into adulthood, then it’s just fucking sick.

What’s more, there’s no Constitutional separation of Santa and state, and nobody is using their personal interpretation of Santa’s will to generate legislation that should be exclusively informed by, y’know, reality.

Nobody is saying “Santa is real, Jesus is not.”  That would be silly, and Longenecker’s disdain would be justified if somebody really was saying that we should believe in one equally ridiculous fantasy but not the other.  Of course, it’s Christians who are actually doing this.

In the meantime they dub the crucified Jesus Christ a “myth”? In fact, of the two images, Jesus Christ crucified is just about as far from a myth as you could get. It’s about as mythical as a photograph of an Auschwitz corpse or one of those black and white photos of a lynched negro hanging from a tree. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is a bare, hard historical fact. The Romans crucified people. It wasn’t pretty. It happened to Jesus of Nazareth. No myth there.

The only contemporary account of it is in the bible.

And what’s more, even if Jesus existed and was crucified, that’s not the part being asserted as a myth.  It’s the whole rising from the dead line of bullshit.  There is no evidence for this aside of the word of people in the Christian cult.  This is evidence for Jesus’ divinity on par with presents under the tree being evidence for Santa.  In both cases, it’s the work of human beings doing what the mythical figure should be doing.

The crazy and stupid thing about this campaign is that it is, well, so crazy and stupid.

When somebody who believes in a talking snake, people rising from the dead, a global flood, etc., calls you crazy and stupid, you can only search for an oxygen tank so you don’t wind up drowning in the irony.  When you earnestly believe that an organization with a history of protecting child rapists should be the moral example for the whole human race, you’ve abdicated your credibility in recognizing stupidity elsewhere.

If they wanted to make their point they could have tried to picture the things about Christianity and Christmas that do seem more mythical and difficult to believe–like the shepherds and angels and wise men with a star or some such.

Because that’s more outlandish than rising from the dead or a virgin birth.

Then again, maybe the ad is just what it should be and we should rejoice because anyone with half a brain who sees it and thinks things through will realize how vapid the atheists are who thought it up in the first place.

If they made any mistake, it was trusting oblivious people with an axe to grind, like Dwight Longenecker, to wrestle with the obvious and to come out on top.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Carys Birch

    I read Fr. Dwight sometimes… when I feel like I can stand it. You have to have a very thick skin for ridicule to comment over there though.

    • Carys Birch

      I should clarify… I read him to see who he’s targeting this time. Not because I can think of a single area where we agree. He writes like a sledgehammer.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        He writes like a very dull sledgehammer.NO, wait…

    • Artor

      If the ridicule is ridiculous itself, it doesn’t carry much sting.

  • http://improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

    Dwight Longenecker is the dumbest person I’ve seen online all day. Someone that dumb really shouldn’t be calling other people stupid… or really even saying things where other people can hear or read them.

  • smrnda

    It is a well-established fact that the Romans crucified lots of people. It is not a well established fact that anybody they crucified came back from the dead.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Papa Dwight is not a bright guy.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Matthew Clayton accuses atheists of ignoring historical evidence for knowing the correct birth and death years of Tacitus.

  • Jay

    Oh god the comments on that blog entry. I don’t have the words to even characterize the sophistry, ignorance and outright lies being perpetrated by this priest and his followers. And when they run out of big words to say, they resort to mocking spelling and grammar. Class act, the lot of them.

    • Joey K

      Exactly, “I’m going to ignore your comment because you made one minor typo, obviously you can’t be trusted.” We give them evidence that they’re wrong, and they declare it void because we missed a comma. The really annoying thing is that they’ll dying “knowing” they’re right, and they’ll think we’re all going to hell until their dying breath.

  • http://improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

    Oh, and I’m sure that while the guy from the baby-raping club has no problem saying “stupid atheists” he’s bound to call for punitive action for anyone who responds in kind.

    • http://IAmDanMarshall.com Dan Marshall

      Well, he deleted my comments instead of approving them. It’s pretty clear that he can’t back up his positions, and instead has resorted to name-calling and insulting people for not using proper spelling/grammar.

  • http://IAmDanMarshall.com Dan Marshall

    That Dwight person is a real piece of work (and by “work” I mean “shit”). Just read some of his responses to the comments… total asshole.

  • Robert Karma

    Longenecker is German for clueless, dick-head. He is full of sound and fury yet signifies nothing of substance. There is no point of attempting to have a constructive conversation about religion or secular issues with obtuse, ignorant and vitriolic faith-based folks like Longenecker and his followers. They do not want to discuss evidence, facts or reality as they struggle to hold on to their faith like a drowning man to a piece of flotsam. Any attempts to toss them the lifeline of rational thought is rejected because they believe they must cling to their faith in the face of all of history being antithetic to their worldview.

    • Kodie

      I tried to post there a while ago and most of my comments were not approved. He can’t handle naysayers and prefers to be right by the power of moderation instead of supportable arguments.

    • Compuholic

      Longenecker is German for clueless, dick-head

      Is that a figure of speech I am unfamiliar with? Because “Longenecker” is not even a German word.

  • G.Shelley

    Apparently, he didn’t even stop for a second to wonder who the target of the poster was. David Silverman was on the Cognitive Dissonance podcast recently, and he explained it fairly well
    1) The media, because people are going to cover it, and others are going to respond, which will greatly increase awareness. They are also going to invite him onto more TV sows, and call aa for comments
    2) People who don’t actually believe, but just go through the motions

    What it is not aimed at, and what they don’t even care about, is the hardcore believers, especially the ones ignorant enough to think that the crucifixion is a hard historical fact

  • http://IAmDanMarshall.com Dan Marshall

    I also think it’s interesting that it seems like he has only approved comments left by people who do not fill out the website field, with the exception of a small handful of people who have catholic themed blogs. For someone with so much bluster, he sure seems scared to expose people to conflicting viewpoints.

    • http://IAmDanMarshall.com Dan Marshall

      I stand corrected. He approved one comment that I directed at him, because I didn’t expect it to be approved. Then he crowed about how he used it in a post where he creates a strawman of atheists and includes their (edited) comments.

  • Azkyroth

    The Bible is hardly a contemporary account; the earliest Gospel was written some time around 80 AD I think.

    • drew

      It’s pretty well accepted that Mark was written just prior to 70AD (between 66 and 69) because it obliquely references some events in the Roman-Jewish war in the context of a prophecy but fails to note that the temple would be destroyed in those prophecies (this occurred70AD). Matthew and Luke alter the prophecies to include the destruction of the temple, because writing later than the author of Mark they knew that the temple had been destroyed.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      The earliest is Mark wich is about 60-70 AD. Some of the Pauline epistles are earlier, during the 50′s but they say very little about Jesus’s life beyone a basic skeleton of: he taught, died, and resurected.

      But it is true that there are no contemporary accounts.

  • Edge SDMF

    In 2008, intelligence researcher Helmuth Nyborg demonstrated that atheists scored an average of 1.95 IQ points higher than agnostics, 3.82 points higher than liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than dogmatic persuasions. His results were published in the scientific journal Intelligence.

    • baal

      Even if those numbers are statistically significant, they are trivial compared to the normal range (68% of folks are in the 85-115 range. My own IQ varied by as much as 8 points depending on when I was tested (and I’m apparently very good at taking them. I score in the top 1%. From the quality of my comments, you may now down grade your views on the relevance of IQ :).

      As to D. Loungenecker, he is an example of why you should read with charity and not as picayunish nit-picker. It takes an extreme amount of small-mindedness to think that the billboard is asserting Santa is real.

  • Brian Westley

    Longenecker is an intellectual coward, and possibly a sociopath as he doesn’t appear to understand or have empathy.

  • Drakk

    >> If they wanted to make their point they could have tried to picture the things about Christianity and Christmas that do seem more mythical and difficult to believe–like the shepherds and angels and wise men with a star or some such.

    What, like this one?


    Oh, but wait, they whined about that one too.

  • Andrew Kohler

    “It’s about as mythical as a photograph of an Auschwitz corpse or one of those black and white photos of a lynched negro hanging from a tree.”

    Well, at least this incredibly offensive and galling comparison (um, “negro” !? and isn’t that word supposed to be capitalized, btw?) highlights one true thing: crucifixion was a vile, barbaric, disgraceful, and inhuman practice. Only he considers himself to have been saved by it, and to have been in some way a very beautiful thing when done to his god. It *had* to happen. What if it had *had* to happen that Jesus be hung from a tree, or killed in a concentration camp? I suppose this twerpsicle would have to be grateful for that, wouldn’t he?