Thursday, October 11, 2007

 

To the Walls!


First we had Dinesh D'Souza humping his new book as an antidote to the "New Atheists" and now David Kupelian, whose main claim to fame is that he is vice president and managing editor of WingNutDaily, is regaling us, in said electronic rag, with an extended commercial for his earlier book, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom.

Kupelian acknowledges the success of the New Atheists in grabbing public attention, even getting Americans "infatuated" with atheism, despite ... sigh ... America's supposed status as a "Christian nation." This infatuation is, in Kupelian's mind, shown by the fact that 45 percent of us would (gasp) be willing to vote for an atheist for president! Kupelian then pronounces on the cause of this falling away from the faith -- it's Mohammed's fault!

What is responsible for this blooming of atheism in America today?

Dennis Prager, the brilliant Jewish radio talker and columnist, ferrets out some key reasons.

"First and most significant," he points out, "is the amount of evil coming from within Islam." ...
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[T]he pathological fanaticism and hair-trigger violence exhibited by brainwashed jihadists around the world today are easily associated by atheists with all religions, especially when they call to mind abuses committed in past centuries – say, the Inquisition or the Salem witch trials – in the name of Christianity.
Oh, right!

Nobody could possibly be sick of the fanatical attempts by some to force their beliefs down everyone else's throat with the aid of our own tax money. And the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on top of our own losses, the millions more displaced due to the ethnic cleansing that has been tacitly condoned, the wasted treasury while many children in the richest country in the world can't get medical insurance –- all of which was supposedly blessed by George Bush's "higher father" -– wouldn't have anything to do with it!

To his credit ... if not greatly ... Kupelian does recognize that often Christian preachers, fund-raisers and their sidekicks bear "eerie, almost surreal" resemblance to the people portrayed mockingly in the film 2004 film "Saved," that mercilessly skewered evangelical Christianity. It goes down hill from there, however.

Kupelian quotes Stephen Prothero's bon mot (quite possibly deserved) that Christopher Hitchens, who claims that some of his best friends are believers:

... doesn't know much about his best friends. He writes about religious people the way northern racists used to talk about "Negroes" -- with feigned knowing and a sneer.
But Kupelian forfeits any right to criticize Hitchens because he turns right around and sneeringly feigns knowledge of scientists by claiming:

... evolution is a religion, full of incredible and unproven beliefs about man's origin, and by logical extension his destiny, and even his very nature. Any theory/philosophy – especially an unprovable one – having to do with explaining the origin, destiny and nature of man is, by definition, religious. If you don't get that, you're not thinking.
Normally, I'd bow to Kupelian's obvious expertise in not thinking but this time he not only doesn't get it, he is not within range enough of a clue to hit one with an ICBM.

He ridicules the rejection of Intelligent Design because "there are overwhelming academic and professional pressures to embrace evolution" within the current science establishment. Even if that was true (and it isn't ... if anyone had evidence against it on their side), it hardly constitutes support for ID, except by way of a false dichotomy. Kupelian's next attempt at bolstering ID is to trot out another logical fallacy of appeal to authority, claiming "history's greatest scientists, from Galileo to Newton" believed in it. Science always stops in the past with these people. Next, Kupelian drags out the ultimate argument ... the neutron bomb in his arsenal ... his personal incredulity and fear:

I conducted a little thought experiment a while back, while looking out over the Pacific from the Oregon coast. Drinking in the vast expanse of the ocean, the pounding surf, the seagulls, the salt air – ultimate serenity and ultimate power all in one timeless moment – I asked myself: How can one experience all this magnificence without believing in a Creator?

So I tried, just as an experiment mind you, to conceptualize the existence of the fantastic creation I was beholding, yet without a Creator. I consciously tried to adopt an atheistic worldview, even for just a minute, to see what it was like.

What I got was a headache, a psychic shock, a momentary taste of another realm – an empty, prideful, appalling dimension of hell-on-earth, masquerading as enlightenment and freedom.
Who could possibly stand in the face of that argument? ... when rolling on the floor laughing is so much easier?

The rest (and it does go on) includes a lengthy anecdote about C.W. Lewis' angst at the death of his wife and the doubts in providence it caused him. It is a nice tale but hardly relevant to the issue of belief vs. disbelief. So Lewis worked through great pain ... so did Darwin's bulldog, T. H. Huxley, who, wracked with grief at the death of his four-year-old son, nonetheless refused Charles Kingsley's proffered hope of a reunion in the hereafter. So did Darwin himself, after the death of his beloved daughter Annie, the event that probably killed the last of his faith. In fact, this is a story told by our entire species over its entire history. Little, if anything, points to faith being more than one of the answers, out of many, that humans have turned to in times of grief.

Scary enough is Kupelian's call for a Christian jihad by America:

[G]enuine belief in God – the God Who inspired the Holy Bible and sustained America's soldiers throughout all the righteous wars we have fought for freedom, not just for ourselves but for others too – is what has given strength and muscle and sinew to America up until now. And without genuine faith in God, we will never be able to defeat the Islamists in the coming battle.
But a true sense of this screed, a moment of clarity that defines it all, comes when Kupelian quotes Prager to the effect that it is difficult to distinguish between "a liberal Christian or Jew and a liberal secularist," because all three not only accept legal abortion and gay marriage but lastly, and presumably worst of all, "come close to holding pacifist beliefs ..."

Next thing you know, those people will be telling everybody to turn the other cheek.
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