Mailvox: the double whammy

This may be well be my favorite critical email ever received, as KW manages to not only highlight several of my assertions about the more militant atheists, but to underline, italicize, and bold them as well:

I have been reading assorted texts on the internet and I came across a post that you made a long while back entitled “The socially autistic atheist”. I was particularly interested in your articles because I happen to be both an atheist and an aspie.

It seems to me that the purpose of these articles is to use an ad hominem attack against atheists by calling them “socially autistic” or saying that they have “autistic psychopathy”. You never refute or even address the arguments that these “socially autistic atheists” have in regard to religion or god. In essence, I believe that you are just being a giant asshat troll.

In a previous article you wrote this: Here’s an object lesson that perhaps might be capable of penetrating the skulls of even the most autistically psychopathic. (1) Do you dislike being described as a socially autistic asshole? (2) Would you like it any more if that description was scientifically proven to describe you accurately? (3) Would you consider it polite and/or socially acceptable for me to insist on always describing you to others as an autistic psychopath were this proven to be an accurate description of you?

I assume that this was a reaction to certain aspie atheists spreading the idea that belief in god is a delusion, or that people who believe in god are deluded. well to answer your questions:
1. No of course not. I think that an important distinction to make is that it is an attack on WHO I AM rather than an attack on WHAT I BELIEVE.
2. You are asking a question about a hypothetical scientific description where that hypothetical scientific description would not be scientific. It would however be a logical fallacy (an appeal to authority in this case).I’ll go ahead and say no.
3. No, and I would likely react violently to such discrimination.

Whenever an atheist says that god is a delusion, that is not an attack on any person. It is an attack on an idea. Unlike when you call me a “autistic psychopath”, which is very clearly an attack on who I am as a person. There is no moral equivalence for these statements. TL;DR you are a despicable person who resorts to fighting your intellectual opponents with ad hominem attacks.

I would have expected that you would have already been shamed into making an apology about statements such as this. You are not an expert on autism and you should shut your stupid fucking mouth in my opinion.

With disgust and contempt,

Naturally, I replied with all the kindness and moderation for which I am so justly known, considering that the poor lad has about the same chance of ever landing a girlfriend that I have of being named the premier of China. Let’s face it, I couldn’t not respond. I mean, how could I possibly resist the irony of being lectured on the niceties of correct social conventions by an atheist… an atheist with Asperger’s.

My dear boy,

I absolutely believe your claim to be both an atheist and an aspie. Only someone so intellectually handicapped would be so spectacularly stupid as to claim “You never refute or even address the arguments that these “socially autistic atheists” have in regard to religion or god.”

The fact that I have written and published an entire book on the subject that does precisely what you claim I have never done would appear to be sufficient to invalidate your assertion. You can even download a powerpoint slideshow that summarizes some of the more commonly heard arguments from the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris should you be so inclined. So, congratulations. In ten years of writing controversial op/ed columns and being the recipient of the most vehement forms of criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to godless Sciencebloggers, you have managed to write the single most ignorant email I have ever received. You do Asperger proud.

In respect of your handicap, I shall refrain from pointing out the additional errors you have committed in your response to my questions, although I do invite you to contemplate the moral basis for what you claim is a lack of moral equivalence between the various statements.

With no little amusement,

And now it’s time for the moral of the story. If you happen to suffer from atheism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or autism, the chances are exceedingly high that your ideas concerning what is and what is not socially acceptable behavior are not going to be in accordance with the societal norms of the neurotypical majority. Therefore, your offers to help others better understand proper social etiquette, however kindly intended they might be, are virtually guaranteed to go badly awry.

Mailvox: aspies and social autism

In which Van Rooinek objects to making a conceptual link between Asperger’s and atheism:

It’s utterly unfair to link “aspie” with “atheist”. An innate defect in social-situational awareness is no way synonymous with either atheism or an inability to grasp the Christian moral duty of charity. Aspie Christians have a tough enough time with fellow Christians assuming that our inevitable social faux pas are intentional sins rather than perceptual accidents; the equation of “aspie” with “atheist” is even more galling.

While I have no doubt that some will manage it, I find it hard to believe that anyone could miss the humor intrinsic in atheists being offended at being labeled socially autistic while aspies take offense at being tarred by association with atheism. Good times. But, since both groups observably have a somewhat difficult time in understanding various aspects of communication and social interaction, I will explain everything in a logical manner that even the most socially challenged individual should be able to follow.

First, let me address a common misunderstanding. The term “socially autistic” is not, as some have imagined, redundant even though autistic people are known to frequently have social difficulties. The reason is that in the English language, the adjective modifies the noun. As von Hayek elucidated in The Fatal Conceit, “social justice” is intrinsically different than “justice”, so “social autism” is therefore different than “autism”.

The observable difference between the behavior of militant atheists and autistic or aspie individuals is that whereas the latter behave in a neuro-atypical manner regardless of whether they are in a social situation or not, the atheist’s neuro-atypical behavior tends to be limited to the social spheres. This tends to indicate that the behavior is, at least some extent, a conscious choice on the atheist’s part, which only underlines the obnoxious nature of the behavior.

And that, obviously, is the crucial difference. The aspie cannot help his behavior; while the atheist may not be able to help his lack of belief, (which, as I have suggested, may stem from a related neurological disorder), he has no similar excuse for the reprehensible behavior that so often accompanies it.

What Van Rooinek would do well to understand and accept is that when non-aspies behave in a certain manner – the excessive literalism with which some students of Game receive the advice of the Game theoreticians to which he referred being but one example – it is perfectly reasonable to describe such behavior as aspie-like, or “aspie” for short. But there is no more condemnation to be inferred in such a description than there is in referring to a sighted person who simply cannot understand something being explained to him as “blind”.

Moreover, given the way in which aspies are predisposed, by virtue of their neurological handicap, to unintentionally offend others, they would be well-advised to be deliberately slow in taking offense, especially when it is unnecessary. Indeed, instead of being offended, they should be pleased by the sufficient awareness of their condition, and therefore recognition of their lack of culpability for any inadvertently maladroit behavior, that casual use of such an appellation indicates.

Mailvox: why yes, the racists are preferable

Unsurprisingly, Dodo fails to reach the correct conclusion concerning why so many people of different political, religious, and ideological stripes keep telling him to shut up:

I love it how I can come on this site and express some of the tamest liberal philosophy and get attacked from all sides, but this guy gets NO RESPONSE AT ALL. But you’re not racists, no.

I find it tremendously amusing that Dodo is whining about the way people react to him while simultaneously calling all of the thousands of daily readers here, including the black ones, racists. He is clearly incapable of realizing that it is his personality defects, and not his political views, that account for the hostile responses he provokes on a daily basis. Of course, it is not only that he is an annoying asshole, as he also makes a regular habit of producing asinine and uninformed comments that have no object except to be disagreeable. Even other atheists have complained about his repetitive idiocy.

The fact is that most people will quite understandably prefer the company of an open racist who keeps his opinion on racial matters to himself except when it is topical to that of an ignorant and unintelligent asshole who insists on constantly forcing his opinion on others no matter the subject. The fact that people tolerate a wide range of diverse opinions, some well outside the zone of the politically correct, while reacting harshly to Dodo’s expressed views does not mean that everyone agrees with any of those opinions or are racists, it merely proves what an exceptional and unmitigated asshole Dodo has shown himself to be.

Moreover, Dodo’s remark underlines his social autism. If he had any social skills at all, he would realize that silence very seldom denotes approval. I also find it interesting that some have inaccurately claimed that this blog is an echo chamber while others have seen fit to criticize the way in which I permit others to freely express their opinions, even on the most sensitive subjects. But if one simply looks at the rules of the blog, one will see that there is no rule which bars any political, ideological, or religious opinion of any kind.

Mailvox: atheist assistance

According to TN, it would appear to be not so much lacking as nonexistent:

My son-in-law and I went to Joplin, MO (about an hour from where I live) and spent a long day in the heart of the disaster area helping several people dig out and sort through what was left of their homes. There was not much to save. The pictures posted on several news sites can’t begin to tell the story.

While driving through the wreckage, we spotted Salvation Army, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and Mennonite volunteer work teams. Free child care services are being provided by a host of local churches. Local gyms and warehouse facilities are loaded with donated items from regional churches. Of course, local businesses and individuals shared as well.

Not once did I see one atheist-sponsored group or work team. Not one. They were busy that day snarking on the internet. Just pull up any Joplin or Oklahoma tornado story or YouTube video that has a comments section and you will find hundreds of examples of aspie athiests taking pot shots at any reference to prayer, Divine Intervention or miracle that was witnessed.

As one survivor told me, “129 of us died, but thousands more would have if God hadn’t been with us.” I understood what he meant, but sadly, non-believers would only laugh.

I’m going back in a few days. There’s much more to be done.

I’m told that PZ Myers would very much have liked to help the unfortunate people of Joplin, but he was too busy desecrating Cheez-Its and posting snarky comments about Ken Ham’s Creation Museum. To be fair, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science did put out an appeal for money, which was sent to the American Red Cross.

In any event, I congratulate TN, his son-in-law, and those who are dedicating their time and effort to help those who are in need. It should never be forgotten that that is one of the core commandments of Jesus Christ.

Godlessness is more than a-theism

One thing I always enjoy about atheists is the shameless way they perform the Atheist Dance. They are such hopelessly muddled thinkers that they constantly define and redefine words as it happens to suit them at the moment, not infrequently contradicting themselves multiple times in a single article, blog post, or book. An atheist will claim that there is absolutely nothing that can be determined about him by the mere fact of his atheism except for his non-belief in a creator God, then immediately turn around and insist that of course he doesn’t believe in the power of crystals or Noah’s Flood… because he is an atheist and therefore obviously doesn’t believe in anything insufficiently “proven” by science… except for historical events that a sufficient number of people believe to be true… except for those related to religion. And so forth.

The observation that most atheism is little more than a juvenile psychological disorder tends to be supported by the fact that left-wing politics are far more central to most atheists, including some of the most outspoken ones, than their “atheism”, whatever that might actually happen to be. Consider the Fowl Atheist’s recent statement that godless goals are progressive goals:

All the big shots in the secular organizations I’ve met seem like rather progressive individuals who would agree entirely with Watson’s [radically pro-abortion] position, and I’ve seen some published statements here and there that support such liberal (i.e., rational) causes as women’s rights and gay rights and equality in general, but otherwise, these particular civil rights issues seem more assumed than advocated by the major organizations — they certainly don’t oppose them. I can understand how a non-profit might have to tread carefully on political claims (they can’t come out and damn the Republican party, after all), but Watson has a point.

Maybe there should be more overt activism for civil rights in general, in addition to the more focused attention given to atheist/humanist issues. Freethought movements should be about human dignity and freedom in all domains, not just religion. We should own these issues; we need to be on the right side of history….

Of course, such a move would piss off the libertarian/conservative wing of the atheist movement, but I can’t see a down side to jettisoning them, anyway.

That’s fine with me. I’d quite pleased to have libertarian atheists and conservative atheists on my side; they are proof that godlessness is not completely antithetical to political sanity. And it is amusing that PZ thinks that murdering unborn children is “the right side of history”; I have absolutely no doubt that the atheists of the future will be denying that pro-abortion equalitarians were motivated by their atheism in much the same way that atheists today deny that rabidly murderous Communists were motivated by their atheism.

Calling a feminist a feminazi is an insult to the German National Socialist Workers Party. The feminists and equalitarians have FAR more blood on their hands than the National Socialists ever did. Consider that in India, there are only 893 girls born for every 1,000 boys. In China, the girl/boy birth ratio is .855. And the more educated and wealthy a woman is, the more likely it is that she will murder her daughter.

“That decrease was even more marked in families where the mothers were wealthier and had 10 or more years of education compared with a poor and uneducated mothers – presumably because the wealthy are more easily able to obtain illegal abortions.”

In the name of progress and equality, up to 12 million Indian girls have been slaughtered in the last 30 years. This is not about human freedom and dignity, it is not “the right side of history”. It is nothing less than the greatest crime yet committed by humanity against itself. These progressive atheists and equalitarians will forever bear the curse of the hundreds of millions of innocents whose deaths they have not only demanded, but celebrated.

Mailvox: now, who said atheists are fat?

A few days ago, one of the less intellectually gifted atheists here was insisting that atheists are not anymore inclined to be overweight than anyone else. That may or may not be true, but it’s hard not to notice that one of the many Biblical precepts rejected by militant atheists of the evangelical variety is the notion of the human body being a temple of God.

PZ’s response to Pharyngula readers pointing out the obvious in this picture was more than a little amusing: “Cinnamonbite and MonkeyBoy are hereby invited to submit photographs of themselves so I can post them and everyone can imagine all kinds of hideous things about them.”

I’m not sure what sort of pagan temples these bodies might indicate, but I must confess that the terms “Lovecraft”, “frog-like” and “Innsmouth” spring insensibly to mind.

The Brave Sir Robins of atheism

The Telegraph reports that Richard Dawkins is exhibiting some well-founded cowardice:

A war of words has broken out between the best selling author of The God Delusion, and his critics, who see his refusal to take on the American academic, William Lane Craig, as a “glaring” failure and a sign that he may be losing his nerve.

Prof Dawkins maintains that Prof Craig is not a figure worthy of his attention and has reportedly said that such a contest would “look good” on his opponent’s CV but not on his own. An emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, Prof Dawkins last year supported a plan to charge Pope Benedict XVI with crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests. Prof Craig is a research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, in California, and the author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles on Christianity. He has debated with leading thinkers including Daniel Dennett, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and Sam Harris.

Prof Craig is due to visit Britain in October this year. Four invitations to take part in public debates were sent to Prof Dawkins from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio.

Prof Dawkins declined them all. He told The Daily Telegraph that he had recently debated Prof Craig, in a boxing ring, in Mexico, and claimed he was not impressed by his opponent. His critics say this event was a six-person discussion, not a rigorous debate, but Prof Dawkins disagrees.

“I have no intention of assisting Craig in his relentless drive for self-promotion,” he said.

Some of Prof Dawkins’s contemporaries are not impressed. Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist, from Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to him urging him to reconsider his refusal to debate the existence of God with Prof Craig. In a letter to Prof Dawkins, Dr Came said: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part. I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

First, the idea that Dawkins would accuse anyone else of a “relentless drive for self-promotion” is amusing. Dawkins is one of the most self-promoting individuals on the planet. Even The God Delusion was little more than a belated attempt to jump on the atheist book bandwagon that Sam Harris and Michel Onfray got rolling. Second, it is encouraging that some atheists are intellectually honest enough to refuse to defend Dawkins’s clear cowardice. Third, note that the invitations Dawkins is rejecting are not coming from Craig, but from various organizations, including one with which Dawkins is affiliated as a vice-president.

Still, Dawkins is likely correct in asserting that the contest would look good on Craig’s CV and bad on his own, because the chances are good that Craig would destroy Dawkins in much the same way that he destroyed Harris. Of course, at his age, Dawkkins isn’t concerned about his CV so much as his legacy. Dawkins’s concerns don’t stem from Craig being a particularly formidable debater, although he is quite clearly a competent and successful one, but because he has presented as case against the existence of God that is absolutely full of factual and logical flaws that are easily exposed. Anyone who has read TIA and is quick enough to recognize Dawkins’s deceptive little bait-and-switches and call them out would be able to beat the man in a debate without too much trouble. This is because Dawkins is not only a coward, but as Melanie Philips has pointed out, “is sloppy and cavalier with both facts and reasoning to a disturbing degree.” The man is simply no longer a credible intellectual figure.

I have no doubt that Dawkins’s cheerleaders will attempt to justify his cowardice, just as PZ Myers’s fans attempted to justify everyone’s favorite community college professor’s repeated retreats from my debate challenges. And while the cheerleaders will loudly proclaim the deathless courage of their godless heroes, they know perfectly well that the reluctance to debate demonstrated by the likes of Dawkins and Myers whenever a formidable opponent presents himself is not founded on confidence in their intellectual prowess or positions, but rather the awarenesss that they cannot successfully defend their positions against competent opponents. Dawkins is avoiding a debate with Craig for precisely the same reasons Myers has been avoiding a debate with me. They are the Brave Sir Robins of atheism.

The Fowl Atheist recently confessed: “I’ll also cop to the obvious fact that, knowing that reason will not get through their skills, I’m happy to use emotional arguments as well. Passion is persuasive. Look at all those assertive Gnu/New Atheists — they are not making Spock-like dispassionate arguments only, although there is a strong rational core — we are hitting people in the gut and telling them to open their eyes. It gives us that unseemly aggressive reputation, but at the same time it’s a very effective way to let people know we think they are dead wrong.”

Note that PZ is readily admitting to “the obvious fact” of his use of logically invalid appeals to emotion. It is obvious, it always was obvious, and he is not the only New Atheist to rely upon them. But I must correct him: Myers provides emotional arguments in the place of reason due to the way in which his attempts at reason-based arguments tend to be inept and incorrect. See The Courier’s Reply for both proof and amusement. That’s why PZ is terrified to debate anyone who is his rational and intellectual superior and instead seeks out debates with half-educated creationists who couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag and don’t know how to deal with his naked appeals to emotion. What passes for PZ’s “reason” can’t get through our skills because his arguments are irrational and unfounded in correct fact and logic.

As for Spock-like dispassionate arguments and the claimed “rational core”, there isn’t a single New Atheist who reliably produces substantive logic-based arguments. Christopher Hitchens relies upon telling personal and historical anecdotes, Sam Harris usually asks leading questions before leaping to unsupported and incorrect conclusions, Richard Dawkins offers constant bait-and-switches in lieu of argument, and Daniel Dennett doesn’t even construct many direct arguments on the subject at all. None of them have managed to produce much of philosophical relevance that Jean Meslier hadn’t already articulated in 1729.

It seems the New Atheism is not on the rise

Contra the assertions of various factually- and logically-challenged individuals, the evangelical efforts of Richard Dawkins and his Scarlet-A campaign would appear to have fizzled:

A national UK survey out Monday found no traces of an “autism epidemic,” despite earlier reports that the developmental disorder has been rising quickly in recent decades. Researchers found nearly one percent of Britons older than 16 years have autism, a rate that is similar to that seen in children. Younger people were no more likely to be affected than older ones, however, which would have been expected if the condition were truly on the increase.

“It was surprising to all of us,” said Dr. Traolach Brugha, a psychiatrist at the University of Leicester, who worked on the study. “If this study is correct, it does put a big question mark over the autism epidemic.”

On a related note, I was more than a little amused to encounter John Keegan’s assertion of the way in which most people naturally “flee the company” of “the compulsively argumentative” while reading The Face of Battle today. But if it is not a mild form of autism that renders so many atheists completely incapable of recognizing it is their behavior that people despise and not their lack of belief, what else may serve to explain this compulsively argumentative truculence?

The atheist’s lament

Why, oh why, he wonders, do those stupid and evil Bible thumpers who know nothing about science, and shouldn’t be allowed to vote or raise their own children, dislike someone so objectively wonderful as me?

Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.

Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.

Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close.

It never ceases to be amusing when socially inept assholes take the trouble of listing the reasons why they believe people should like them. Never mind the fact that the guy shows himself to be both disagreeble and dishonest in the very article where he is lecturing America for not liking him.

It’s really not that hard to explain. No one likes people who offer them unsolicited advice, much less tell them what to do from an unwarranted position of assumed superiority. And as anyone who knows more than two or three atheists has experienced at one point or another, far too many atheists simply do not understand the concept of “live and let live”. No one hates atheists because they don’t believe in God; agnostics don’t believe in God either. People tend to dislike atheists because so many of them are socially autistic jerks who are simply a massive pain in the posterior. The whining about Christian incivility is as hilarious as it is untrue; many atheists are so emotionally undeveloped that they cannot bear to be treated in the same manner that they habitually treat everyone else.

If everyone thinks you are an obnoxious prick, the solution is not to attempt to argue them out of their opinion, but rather to stop behaving like an obnoxious prick. And to think these are the very people who believe they are more rational than everyone else.

NB: I am obviously not describing all atheists here. There are plenty of perfectly likeable and intelligent atheists who are quite willing to leave others to live and believe as they like. But if the gentleman writing in the Washington Post is going to attempt to defend the likeability of atheists in very broad and general terms, he must accept the validity of contrarian evidence given in the same manner.

Who could have guessed?

The long-term rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is further dismantling a cherished atheist belief in real time:

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, who is facing a difficult election next month, blamed the violence narrowly on what he called a “lunatic element,” but Devine, the historian, sees a more sinister threat.

“I think it’s ironic that in a post-Christian, secular society, the problem seems to be intensifying,” he said, adding: “What’s happened over the last few days is unprecedented. There have been riots, but sectarianism in Scotland has never had this violence and criminality.”

Of course, the situation is only ironic if you still subscribe to the inaccurate notion that religion is a primary cause of group conflict and war. Even when religion happens to serve as the marker for the inter-tribal violence, that doesn’t mean it can’t be mitigating the situation.