Father Dwight Longenecker (a Patheos blogger in the Catholic channel) has developed a new Christian apologetic, the Argument from Dullness. Here it is: atheism is really dull.
That’s it. There’s not really any substantive conclusion like “God exists” or “The gospel story is historically accurate” like the typical apologetic.
I may have instigated this groundbreaking new argument. I wrote two posts about the new Pew study showing how religion would change over the next 35 years and had a few discouraging words for a commentary Longenecker had written. I alerted him in case he wanted to respond. Nope. He finds theism/atheism arguments to be dull—“one gigantic yawn,” he said.
So I like intellectual arguments and discussion, and he doesn’t. That’s fine. But apparently that inspired him to respond with “Atheism is Just So… Dull.”
Here’s the problem as Father Dwight sees it.
[Atheists are] all so serious all the time. So unimaginative. So pedantic and literal and dull.
I mean, what can be more tiresome than someone who’s always rabbiting on about “Facts” or “Evidence” or “Arguments for the Existence of God . . .”
Yeah, that’s atheists all over—trying to sift reality from nonsense. It’s a thankless job, but someone has to do it. You certainly aren’t. You make the incredible claims and don’t much care to back them up with evidence, and the atheists must hold you to account.
Stop being so seriously dangerous to society, and we won’t have to be so serious in return. You’re a clown saying, “Turn that frown upside down!” but we’re cleaning up your mess. For example:
- “In God We Trust” as a motto in a country governed by a secular constitution
- Christianity in government, with politicians climbing over each other to show how Christian they are and bragging how little they care about science plus a de facto religious test for public office.
- Creationism in schools
- Ken Ham’s Ark project allowed to both discriminate in hiring and get state tax benefits
- pedophile priests
- Catholic takeover of hospitals, where Catholic dogma overrides patients’ needs
- Catholic opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage
The wall of separation between church and state is a dike leaking with a thousand constitutional insults. Father Dwight is the Cat in the Hat who leaves a wake of destruction, but he’s fun! Who cares whether his supernatural worldview is correct?
Religion is interesting!
Dwight lists examples of how fun religion is, but atheists can see eccentric religions as an anthropologist just like any Catholic.
- “We have Christmas with all that good stuff like presents and St Nicholas and Black Peter”! (You mean the Black Peter who hauls off bad children in a sack back home to Spain? Yeah, fun.)
- “They swim naked in the Ganges and say [it’s] something holy—and are they wrong?” (Hemant Mehta said: “Yes, they’re completely wrong. I’ve been to the Ganges. It ain’t holy. It’s disgusting.”)
- Jews have cool hats! And Catholics have fun hats, too! (Don’t forget the dresses. You do know that everyone else is laughing at Catholics’ outlandish clergy, not with them, right? They look like wizards.)
- “Snake handlers and people who speak in tongues and faith healers and televangelists”! (Yeah—Protestantism’s greatest hits. These are no asset.)
- “Even the wacko religions are more interesting than atheism”! He lists Mormons’ special underwear, Scientologists’ e-meters, and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ obsession with the End. (You want wacko? How about a pope that rejected condom use to help prevent the spread of HIV? Or the Catholic hierarchy that moves pedophile priests around to avoid prosecution? Or a church that thinks nothing about the carrying capacity of the earth and fights against not just abortions but contraception as well?)
- Cathedrals! (Each is a celebration of Man’s inventiveness and skill.)
- “Show me an atheist building as wonderfully kooky as a Baroque church”! (I give you the Large Hadron Collider—$10 billion of shameless awesomeness.)
Atheism is one big denial of most everything that is infinite, that is wonderful, that is far out and unbelievable and unbelievably true. Religion, on the other hand, is interesting because, rather than close down all that is infinite and wonderful and strange and inexplicable it opens up to all that.
Wrong. Religion is mental shackles, it’s blinders, it’s make-believe. Drop religion to see reality clearly. Read stories of ex-Christians who are much happier now that they can follow the evidence where it leads rather than shoulder religion’s cognitive dissonance.
Religion is constrained by Man’s limited imagination. Replace the God goggles with science glasses and you get the universe.
And atheism is boring
Father Dwight’s initial post got pushback from the Friendly Atheist and Danthropology, so he published a rebuttal in which he doubled down on his original position: Christianity is fun, while atheism is “mind crushingly boring.”
This is one of the distinctive marks of a true religion: [its] followers are joyful. They know how to laugh.
Hey there, starving boy—here’s a Bible and a happy-face shirt! Now let’s see a smile!
Joyful is nice, but don’t give me that in place of accuracy. I hate to be a buzz kill, but is it true? First show me that your supernatural beliefs are correct—y’know, sift through all that boring argumentation and evidence—and then we’ll have something to celebrate.
[Believers] take God seriously, but they do not take themselves seriously.
You think this describes all Christians? You need to get out more.
[Believers] laugh at the human foibles and frailties in their religion.
That’s what you take from the Bible? The Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the genocide of the Canaanites, advice on how to beat slaves—each a reason for a good chuckle? You’ve got a god cobbled together from human foibles and frailties.
Don’t have such a dangerous religion and we’ll have more to laugh at.
because we rely on evidence and reason
to decipher the truth is hardly a criticism at all.
It’s a sign that the best your side has to offer
is creative fiction.
— Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/27/15.)
Image from Tao WU, CC license