Monday, March 26, 2012

Fox's Larry Allen Taunton Needs a Reality Check

Either Larry Allen Taunton is the worst prophet of all times or else he's a dishonest shill for those who hate the fact that atheists exist. His article, "The Rally For Nothing In Particular" is so full of falsehoods and stupidity that he ought to be feeling really ashamed of himself and issuing apologies right now. But he won't, I'm almost sure, because his job is to blow smoke up people's asses for Fox News - not talk about truth.

So as people prepare to gather on the National Mall to celebrate their belief in nothingness, we might reasonably wonder what they want.

If he had waited to attend  the rally rather than writing the article ahead of time, he would have known what we wanted. We had flags flying high promoting our values - reason, diversity, compassion, etc. Our speakers articulated clearly what we want - a better world for everybody that is guided by reason instead of superstition. We want religion to be held accountable for the harm it does and to be treated like every other institute instead of given special accommodation.

Finding abuses of religion is low hanging fruit—the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, self-detonating Muslim extremists, snake-handlers, etc.—and Dawkins and his ilk have made a fortune peddling it. 

If religious abuse is low-hanging fruit, then let me ask an important and very telling question: why is it still hanging there for us to pick it? Why hasn't religion, that wannabe bastion of morality, cleaned up its own act already? The answer is obvious - they don't care about the abuses until someone exposes them and puts their feet to the fire. Sometimes the faithful (who I believe are more moral than their leaders and their gods) do this but often it is us atheists who must dare to shine that light in the darkness. 

Also, we aren't the ones profiting from religious abuse. The religious institutions, the megapastors, and the televangelists are the ones who profit while the followers suffer. So don't you dare accuse us of profiting off the misery of others, Taunton, you horrible little man.

Paradoxically, it has become a kind of religion, a Church of Unbelief complete with a saint (Christopher Hitchens), a high priest (Richard Dawkins), and holy writ (anything Dawkins writes). And now, with the political nature of this rally, Dawkins is set to become the Pat Robertson of atheism.

Atheism is not a religion and it's a shame I even have to repeat that. Hitchens is not our saint. He was anti-choice (according to some - I have not read it for myself) and pro-war in Iraq. I do not agree with either of those positions. Hitchens was an important voice but he is not a saint, a preacher, or a martyr for any cause. Likewise, Dawkins is not a high priest. Many of us were appalled by his out-of-place response to Rebecca Watson during Elevatorgate. I've read some of Dawkins' books but not all of them. They are interesting but they are not "holy writ." I'm pretty sure if Dawkins thought he was going to be the next Pat Robertson, he'd slit his own throat and bleed out all over the floor. 

But there is something not quite right about all of this. Christianity, whatever the faults of its adherents, has a rich intellectual tradition that has a comprehensive view of life.

It has given rise to the West as we know it. Our laws, arts, governments, and the very framework of our thought find their meaning in Christianity. Take for example the central premise of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal.”

Christianity, like Islam, has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Enlightenment era. And to suggest that the Declaration of Independence means nothing without the light of Christianity is to be so obtuse and so stupid as to not warrant serious thought. The idea that we are equal is the antithesis of the Bible until you get to that one passage allegedly written by Paul and then promptly dismissed as nonsense by later church fathers. Jews were better than Gentiles. Men were better than women. Straights were better than gays. Masters were better than slaves. To deny this is to deny the very words of the Bible.

That not withstanding, atheism does have a history—a bad history. By conservative estimates, the twentieth century, an experiment in secular governance, witnessed the deaths of more than 100 million people. That is more than all the religious wars in all previous centuries combined.

And here we go with more of this nonsense: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, etc. For the love of all that's true, has Taunton not yet figured out that Hitler used Christianity (in particular Catholicism) to perpetuate his garbage? Stalin and other dictators held up their philosophies of communism as the state-enforced religion to perpetuate their garbage. Those of us at the Reason Rally (with few or no exceptions) do not want a state-enforced religion. THAT'S THE WHOLE GODDAMNED POINT. We don't want to force people to believe like us;  we just want the freedom and the equal opportunity that religious people have in this world. Communist values are not the same as humanist values and Taunton would do well to figure that out before he shows his stupidity even more.

If, for instance, you do not believe in God, you are likely to conclude that man is a temporal being meant to serve the state, an eternal institution. This is the view of the communist world. Sacrificing a few million people for the sake of building socialist paradise was always deemed an acceptable price to pay.

If, on the other hand, you believe in a just, benevolent God who made man in his own image, you will likely draw a very different conclusion: man is an eternal being that the state, a temporal institution, is meant to serve.

Bullshit. Humanists and many atheists believe that since there is probably no god and just this one life, we need to spend it making the world a better place. We champion freedom and justice in this life, not some imaginary paradise after death. Life is important to us and, unlike too many religions, no holy book can justify the taking of it.

On the other hand, if you believe in the Bible god, you might get the idea that you have some special place in creation that gives you superiority or dominance. You might think it's ok to destroy unbelievers, suppress believers who don't believe exactly as you do, or else purge from your ranks those who don't measure up to your standards. That's the fruit of "my way or the highway" religion.

Proponents of a society free from religious influence can point to no nation or civilization that was founded upon atheism that we might call even remotely good. The story of those regimes is well documented and may be summarized in a word—murderous.

What they can point to are secular societies that are still running off of their accumulated Christian capital. But beware. When the fumes in that tank are spent, tyranny cannot be far away.

Nice try, Taunton, but the truth is that religion has ruled this world for millenia and its fruits have been tyranny and evil. Good religious people have chosen to be good in spite of the evil doctrines spread across the pages of their holy books. They are better than their evil "do as I say, not as I do" gods. America once had this brilliant notion that people could be more free and more prosperous if the government minded its own business about religion. That foolish men like Taunton try to turn this doctrine on its head and demand that we bow to Christianity shows their true goal - to tell whatever lies it takes to force us to submit once more to their rule. If there is one thing he should have learned from the Reason Rally, it's that we will not submit!

So as the rally for nothingness meets to celebrate, well, nothing in particular, reflect for a moment on the world they would give us. One need not imagine it. It has been done.

You wouldn't need to imagine it if you had just shown up at the Reason Rally and listened to what we had to say instead of making up shit and flinging it at us to see what would stick. You're a disgrace and a liar in my opinion, Mr. Taunton, and you owe every atheist who was at that rally an apology. We won't hold our breath though because we know all too well how people like you act.