Thursday, September 10, 2009

Atheistic Fundamentalism: Ridicule Them into Unbelief!

Anyone who doubts the evangelistic nature of certain fundamentalist atheists ought to pay attention to the musings of Richard Dawkins on his own website. This from a comment (comment #16) he wrote to a Jerry Coyne post at earlier this year:

Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

And so Dawkins advocates the use of ridicule and belittlement. How is this unlike a political party, fearing defeat on some policy debate, issuing a talking-points bulletin encouraging members to just make fun of the other side. Would anyone take such an approach seriously? Where I come from, such tactics are considered clear indicators of a lack of meaningful persuasive argument: “If I can’t rationally convince you, I’ll bludgeon you into agreeing with me using mockery and derision.”

Maybe he is right. When I read his book, expecting to encounter some meaningful challenges to my faith, I was utterly disappointed. I found no such arguments. Maybe he can shame me into apostasy with ridicule. Ah, but, if I find his arguments less than compelling, and I am also unmoved by his wisecracks, then of course he has a handy category for me: I’m just one of the “irremediable”. Nice.

Hey. Maybe it works the other way, too ...

Dr. Dawkins, wherever you are, look at this cartoon.

Listen to the masses of Christians laughing at you. Are you starting to believe yet? Keep looking; feel all that shame and embarrassment washing your atheism into oblivion. Is it working? No? Oh, I see — you're irremediable, too.