Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Best They've Got

Once upon a time some atheists wrote some books. Some religious people don’t like these books. So some of them wrote some books too. They also wrote articles, columns, and blog posts, too.

All the responses to the books that the hallowed atheists have written that I have read have one thing in common. Lies. They are full of lies and misrepresentations.

Norris Burkes has written something called Turn a deaf ear to whispers of hatred. Even the title is despicable. I’ll come back to why this is so a little later.

Norris Burkes is a civilian hospital chaplain and an Air Force Guard chaplain. He of all people should not be lying to other people. But he does.

Here is lie number one:

But more often than not, people ignore the whisper of hate, which is where we get our word “ignore-ance.”
I have googled the etymology of the word ignorance. Nothing I found says what Burkes claims. If someone finds something which proves what he has written is true, please let me know, and I will correct this.

Burkes then goes on and claims that the big three of book-writing atheists are “infectious carriers” of hatred.
In the world of religion, I’ve yet to see more infectious carriers than I’ve seen in the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. These evangelical atheists would have you believe that all our problems stem from all forms of religious faith.

In his Dec. 3, 2006, New York Times op-ed piece, columnist Nicholas Kristof pleads for a “Truce on Religion.”

Criticizing what he calls “an increasingly assertive, often obnoxious atheist offensive,” Kristof identifies Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” as leading the “Charge of the Atheist Brigade.”

“It’s a militant, in-your-face brand of atheism,” Kristof writes. “Such discrimination on the basis of (non) belief is insidious and intolerant, and undermines our ability to have far-reaching discussions about faith and politics.”
Now, let’s go back and look at the title that Burkes chose. Turn a deaf ear to whispers of hatred. What kind of discussion can you have about faith and politics when one side refuses to even listen to the other?

“These evangelical atheists would have you believe that all our problems stem from all forms of religious faith.” This is an outright lie. Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins claim that some of our problems come from religious faith, not all of them.

I can’t speak for all atheists, but I can speak for myself. This atheist is “on the offensive” because I’m tired of being lied to by hypocrites. The hypocrites who aren’t supposed to lie. The hypocrites who resort to calling other people names when they lie. Let’s be clear about something here. Religion is by its definition and practice “insidious and intolerant.” I would not describe atheists as insidious, but we can be intolerant of religion and religious people. So what? Each side can be intolerant of the other. It goes with the territory. Get used to it.

Burkes quotes Nicholas Kristof:
“Every time I travel in the poorest parts of Africa, I see missionary hospitals ... churches (that) galvanize their members to support soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics that otherwise would not exist. Religious constituencies have pushed for more action on AIDS, malaria, sex trafficking and Darfur’s genocide, and believers often give large proportions of their incomes to charities that are a lifeline to the neediest.”
As far as I know, no atheist is denying the good things that religious people have done. We just don’t think that doing good and charitable work requires a belief in a god. Simple as that. So the Kristof quote is totally irrelevant to the point that Burkes is trying to make. Which I see as another lie from Burkes.

Here is more from Burkes:
Kristof concludes, “We’ve suffered enough from religious intolerance that the last thing the world needs is irreligious intolerance.”

Amen, Kristof. We can’t allow intolerance of either kind. We must allow room for the conversation.
This is a typically arrogant viewpoint that atheists must deal with when faced with those of faith. Absolutely no empathy with the other side. How rude can you be? The thought of showing tolerance toward the atheist never, ever enters their small, closed minds. “We must allow room for the conversation.” Again, I remind you of the title: Turn a deaf ear to whispers of hatred. The only conversation that Burkes will tolerate is a one-sided one. He gets to talk. Don’t ever listen to those goddamned atheists.

Burkes does at least have some awareness:
Fortunately, I have friends and readers who are the kind of atheists who put the human in “humanist.” When I ask them what they want from the faithful, they tell me two things. First, they are tired of people making the assumption that an atheist can’t possibly be a moral, upstanding, civic-minded person and not believe in God.
It is a myth that atheists have no morals. It is a good thing that Burkes is aware of this.

Burkes closes with something else I agree with. A call to end all the hate. Perhaps Mr. Burkes could start with himself. First, he could stop hating atheists. Second, he could encourage others to stop hating atheists. Try to love your enemies. Love for Hitchens! Love for Harris! Love for Dawkins!

Yes, let’s try to end all the hate. However, before we can do that, we need to end all the lies.

I doubt that people like Burkes will do that. Lies are the best they’ve got.

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