A Screwtape take on the new atheists

A Screwtape take on the new atheists February 5, 2009

My colleague both at Patrick Henry College and at World Magazine, Les Sillars, has written a sly and funny take on the New Atheists in Salvo Magazine, a “Touchstone Magazine” venture for young people. In the Screwtapian form of an address at an atheists’ convention, it begins:

My dear fellow Brights, Beamers, Blazers, Brilliants, Gleamers, Incandescents, Resplendents, Radiants, Shimmerers, and Sparklers: Thank you all for being here tonight, and a special thanks to the Dixie Chicks for that heartwarming cover of “Imagine.” I choke up every time I hear those immortal words—“Imagine there’s no heaven.” Ladies, you are a credit to the cause, and . . .

(What’s that? Well, of course they are. Why else would they be here? Listen; if Hitchens can argue with a straight face that Martin Luther King, Jr., did his work “as a profound humanist” and that his “legacy has very little to do with his professed theology,” then we can certainly draft the Dixie Chicks.)

We’re here, as you know, to celebrate the two-year anniversary, give or take, of the rise of the New Atheists. We particularly honor Sam Harris for Letter to a Christian Nation, Christopher Hitchens for god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (by the way, Chris, you have a typo in there), and the always penetrating Richard Dawkins for his latest evisceration of idiocy, The God Delusion. Guys, outstanding work. America is the most oppressively theistic nation on earth, so you wrote books mocking and belittling the faith of millions—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—that became bestsellers and generated a ton of fawning media coverage. And you weren’t just preaching to the choir, no sir. Real atheists are as rare as transitional species, but your books dominated bestseller lists for months. You offered to slap the faith-heads upside their empty little noggins, and they lined up to pay for the privilege.

Nothing has been more harmful to humanity than religion, as you have pointed out, and you framed the question so effectively. Even between the different monotheisms—let alone between religions—there are huge disagreements about everything from the nature of “God” to the nature of reality to what it means to be human. They’re mutually contradictory, in fact, and the failings of one say nothing about the truth of any other, and yet you brilliantly combined your attacks into an all-encompassing tirade against “religion.” “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented,” writes Dawkins. Well said.

Hence, you guys can lump together Aztec human sacrifices, the jingoism of Judaism’s Yahweh, Islamic female circumcision, those absurd Christian teachings about hell, never mind the religious wars, and the only sane conclusion is that all those people are all crazy together. Assert that faith gives divine endorsement to any atrocity you can name, and you’ve tarred them all with the same brush. Practically everything bad that anybody anywhere has done can be tied, somehow, to religion, because most people in human history have been theists of one variety or another. It’s like taking target practice at the ground; you can’t miss.

It goes on. . . .Read the rest of it.

HT: Concordia TheoBLOGical Seminary

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