Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Facial Hair Congregation and the Church of Knitters

It's very worrying that he thought it was a good point, but even more worrying that his audience did too.  They actually applauded the point!  I'm referring to a statement by Richard Dawkins in response to a question about evil done by atheist dictators in the 20th Century.  I will tell you what he said in a moment, but how anyone could deem it an intelligent response let alone adequate and applaudable is beyond me.  Maybe they were the type of people who would accept and applaud anything Richard Dawkins said - great examples of "free-thinkers", hmmmm.

Anyway, when Richard Dawkins was asked about the atrocities of atheist regimes he said he really thought Christians needed to do better than bring up such things.  Just because Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot happened to be atheists doesn't mean that atheism made them do it - he thought it was just a coincidence - atheism had nothing to do with anything they did.  He pointed out that Stalin and Hitler both had moustaches - does that mean that people with moustaches are evil?  The audience thought that was a knock out punch, but unfortunately his big swing totally missed the point.  Behaviour is motivated by what we believe to be true, it is influenced by the way we view reality.  Moustaches aren't a belief; facial hair is not a worldview.  Atheism is. 

It's a bit like how PZ Myers said that religion should be like knitting - something people do but shouldn't lobby parliament about or push on others.  Again, does knitting give you a view on the way the world is?  Does knitting provide a framework that seeks to fit reality?  Does knitting tell you anything about where we came from, why we're here, where we're going?  It tells you these people are not serious and therefore ought not to be taken seriously.  Even the big atheistic thinkers of the last century didn't lower themselves to petty, silly analogies about moustaches and knitting.  Christianity and atheism both give you a lens through which you view the world, and that view of the world affects how you live.  With the atheist dictators of the 20th Century it was their atheism (not their moustaches or like of knitting) that motivated them to shed blood, control minds, ban religious freedom and demolish church buildings.  There have been evils done in the name of Christianity, but Christians can show how such actions are in violation of Christianity - they don't fit the Christian worldview, they are wrong and the perpetrators will not get away with it.  The upright, harmless atheist cannot say to the Stalins of this world that they have violated the atheistic worldview - they haven't, their actions are in complete accord with a view that says there is no God to whom we are accountable, no intrinsic value of humans, no objective standard of morality, no transcendant purpose for being, no ultimate justice for the world, no eternal existence for anyone.  I'm just glad most atheists don't live consistent with their worldview.  Maybe it implies they don't really believe it's true...?