Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where Is H.L. Mencken When We Need Him?

Mojoey over at Deep Thoughts has created an Atheist Blogroll, listing over 100 sites of interest to us nonbelievers. I’m proud and pleased to be included.

I don’t disply his whole list here, however, because I don’t find every one of those blogs interesting. I’m particularly bored by two kinds of subject matter:

The Same Scientific Arguments for Evolution
Those of us who are gonna get it, already get it. There’s no point in repeating the same facts, over and over, ad nauseam, as if some fundamentalist from the blogosphere is going to stumble across one of our pages, smack him- or herself in the head, and say, “Oh, now I see!”

Most of us atheists have grabbed the mantle of science and wrapped ourselves in it. But, let’s face it: it’s not necessary to be an expert in biology, geology, paleontology, zoology, or any other kind of –ology to be reasonably certain that nature’s ways do not need the overlay of a higher power. Most of us are just not qualified to rattle off scientific evidence to academic poseurs. While I, for instance, love and admire books like The Selfish Gene and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea—to name just two of dozens I’ve read on the subject—and like to think that I’m fairly well-versed in neo-Darwinian studies, I’m not convinced that I’ve digested all the complex data to the point where I can speak persuasively on a theoretical level, a la Dawkins or Dennett. Nor am I interested in doing so. Why would I be, when they’ve already done the job so eloquently themselves? If a creationist hasn’t had an “aha” moment by now, I’m not likely to be the one who’ll open his or her non-created eyes. And, pssst. Neither are you.

Because really, it’s almost 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species. I don’t think it’s necessary to follow every single argument presented by the scientific community since then to accept the overwhelming evidence against Genesis, just as I don’t believe one needs to have studied meteorology to suspect that Zeus has nothing to do with thunderbolts. Although I’ve long forgotten Newton’s formulas and have only a dim understanding of Einstein’s improvements to them, I still know that if I trip at the top of a flight of stairs, I will wind up, somehow, at the bottom—and that the cause of my fall will be the attraction of gravity, not sin. But don’t ask me to prove this with well-articulated theory; my intelligence was not designed that way. That’s why I’m happy to leave the fine points of science to the scientists, particularly those rare few who write wittily and well.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant in selecting our school boards and other educational leaders. We must fight the theocrats whenever necessary. But we don’t have to keep re-enacting the Scopes trial amongst ourselves, do we?

Philosophical Disputations with Believers
Give it up! It’s a waste of time! The Christian Nation is not reading your Letters to them with any intent to ponder your ideas. They know the Truth; it’s printed in their bibles and whatever-elses they use to spread the god meme from generation to generation. Most of us wouldn’t consider spending even five minutes explaining why we feel that “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” isn’t true. Yet, many of us atheists love nothing better than to score illusory intellectual points against the moronarchists.

But faith always trumps facts, because it’s shown to its best advantage when the facts contradict it. So while we may find it great fun to yammer on about the ontological, cosmological, teleological, and other arguments for the existence of god, and to try to blow them up in the believers’ smug faces—really, whom are we kidding? Most religious folk do not have a love of, or even a casual affection for, wisdom. They wouldn’t recognize a philosophical argument if it bit them in the metaphysical ass.

We all know (or we should) that our blogs are, for the most part, read by one another. Let’s try to entertain and enlighten ourselves, to call for political or legal action when it’s necessary, and to share the hilarious and/or frightening idiocy that greets us every day. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we can hawk our wares in the so-called free marketplace of ideas, when we’ve really just found ourselves stuck in the medieval bazaar of ignorance.


BlackSun said...

Good points. I do think though, that sometimes, we can convince people who are on the margins. I've read several letters recently from former believers who deconverted after reading Harris or Dawkins.

It is a combination of information and a social support network that may help some believers.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Oy gevalt. I should hope you don't find my blog a boring read.
Albeit, I do do two of those dances which bore you.
Though, to my credit, I have changed 1 life that I know of, he was already an atheist, but 2 other factors in his life he was keeping under wraps, he decided to 'come out' on both.
You can only change the world 1 mind at a time, they say.