One last lesson for “atheist” Curtis White: It’s about the evidence, stupidJuly 9, 2013
This will be the last time I write anything for Curtis White. He’s already got much more attention than he deserves. I already pointed out a spectacular shot he placed in his own foot in a disgraceful and inaccurate hatchet-job on the late Christopher Hitchens. Here I will deal with a very popular and straight-forward error that White naturally felt compelled to jump the queue of religious apologists and theologians, and make as well.
Like Hitchens, I am an atheist, if to be an atheist means not believing in a CEO God who sits outside his creation…
and then accuses Hitchens in God is not Great of reducing religion to a “series of criminal anecdotes.”
In the process, however, virtually all of the real history of religious thought, as well as historical and textual scholarship, is simply ignored as if it never existed. Not for Hitchens the rich cross-cultural fertilization of the Levant by Helenistic, Jewish, and Manichaean thought….
Leave aside the fact that White didn’t read the book closely enough to notice that it frequently celebrates the influence of Greek philosophy on both Judaism and Christianity, and laments that more of it was not carried further into human history.
Instead, let us move on to the fact that the central issue here is that… (ahem…)
THERE IS NO GOOD EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF ANY FREAKING GODDAM GODS AT ALL (/caps lock)
It doesn’t matter whether your god is a nasty horrid CEO God, or some non-dualistic pantheist God that usually involves name-dropping Spinoza.
The evidence that is not there for the CEO God is also not there for a pantheistic Spinozan God.
True, Hitchens did not specifically address the particular nebulous version of God that Curtis White may or may not at times believe in. And neither did Richard Dawkins (who White also takes a few ill-directed swings at), but don’t be such a flabby layabout. Don’t just sit there smugly and say “I don’t believe in that CEO God either.” Think for yourself man. Check how your non-CEO God stacks up against the arguments against the existence of gods in general.
And maybe indeed a case could be made that at times Hitchens (and maybe more frequently Dawkins) tend to overstate the dangers of religious belief. (If my internet was working at home and I wasn’t writing this in a hot stuffy internet cafe, I might even have sought out the opening sequence to one of Dawkins’ documentaries where he argues that a procession of believers at Lourdes is a slippery slope to suicide bombing, but I won’t. Anyway, Curtis White should have done that, and if he didn’t bother why should I?)
But White and many others conflate the two issues. Pretty much the whole of science fails to suggest any kind of god. And the more clearly any idea of God is imagined, the more clear the evidence against it becomes.
White fails to deal with any of this at all. But it’s an issue of central importance to the whole argument. If there is no good evidence for God’s existence, there is also no good reason for believers to have political or personal power over me or anyone else. This, above all is the reason that Hitchens was so uncompromising.
And some believers — some — are also courageous enough to ponder these issues deeply and sincerely. Curtis White, in that short extract from his absurdly titled book The Science Delusion, demonstrates he is not in that category.
Posted by Yakaru