Over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars the other day, Ed highlighted an inane post by orthodox Jewish blogger Elad Nehorai, who was using his own straw-man idea of atheism to argue that atheism is a religion. I filed it in my rainy day folder and figured I’d give my own take on it once I had a day off. Well, imagine my surprise when I went to the HuffPo to call up the original piece and found this lovely Editor’s Note:
Editor’s Note: This post has been removed at the request of the blogger.
Sigh. It seems Elad Nehorai not only writes idiotic things, but he also fails miserably at Internet 101. He may no longer want you to be able to read his words, but I have a differing opinion, so let’s go to the way-back-machine! (Yes, I love Google Cache.) Elad, you can press delete, but your idiocy never goes away:
OK, atheists. Let’s have a talk. Pull up a chair, sit down, relax.
There’s so much I want to say to you in so little time, so let’s just get straight to it.
Hmm. Condescending much? Although this chair is mighty comfy. Please, go on.
We’re not so different, you and I. Me, an Orthodox Jew. You, a non-believer. We both argue vehemently for our points of view, we both have a certain vision for the world, we both think we know the truth about life.
Okay. I could nitpick a little at the last part of that, since I (and most atheists I am aware of) don’t claim to know the “truth about life” but rather just look to where the evidence leads us, but go on, I’m listening.
I know that it may be hard to hear, but the truth is that atheism, while supposedly based around logic and intelligence, is a religion just like any other.
Now, please, I told you to relax. Have some tea.
But let’s be honest, it’s true.
Still condescending, but I’ll ignore that and give you a chance to flesh out your argument.
Let’s look at the arguments atheists make: they say there’s absolutely no evidence for the existence of G-d, and that the burden of proof is on the believers, etc., etc. Now, these are great arguments, and I will be the first to admit that my belief is beyond logic.
So we’re going to claim we are going to look at the arguments atheists make, and then completely ignore them all. *Sniffs* I think I smell a strawman coming up!
But atheism is not agnosticism. It doesn’t claim to simply point out the fallacies of belief. Instead, it has created a belief system out of not believing. It takes a defiant stance, saying that there is absolutely 100 percent no chance there is a god in the world.
So, let’s be honest, dear atheists. Do you really believe that your argument is based around science, around logic, when you say that there is absolutely no chance there is an intelligent design behind the universe?
As soon as anyone makes such a stance, and makes it unequivocal, they are going from the world of logic to the world of belief.
And there it is. Not only a strawman, but a strawman of Biblical proportions. I’m sure if you dig around enough you can find an atheist claiming that there is 100% no chance of there being a god. I’m also sure that with enough digging you can find idiots that believe just about anything. But seriously, find me a mainstream atheist making that claim. I’ll wait.
I lied, I won’t wait. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Myers, Stenger, Loftus, Barker, Price, Carrier, Avalos; the list goes on. Not one of these spotlighted atheists have ever claimed that there is a 100% chance that there is no god. We go where the evidence takes us. The evidence happens to be against the existence of a God, especially against any form of “personal” God. All of us are also open to new evidence. Dogmatic belief that there is 100% no chance of a God existing is an article of faith. Some atheists may indeed have this faith, but they by no means define “Atheism.” It’s easy to ignore peoples actual beliefs and build a strawman to beat on. Afterwards, you can even claim victory. Here, I’ll give it a try:
All Orthodox Jews spit on 8 year old girls while calling them “whores,” call molestation victims “sluts” while also spitting on them, and force female soldiers to the back of the bus while calling them “sluts”. Therefore, Orthodox Jews are all misogynists. What a stupid, hateful religion. For shame.
Of course, I don’t actually believe that all Orthodox Jews are misogynists with over active salivary glands and a penchant for calling women “sluts” and “whores.” Just as I don’t believe all Catholic priests are monsters lying in wait to skull fuck an altar boy. But damn, I sure can build me a strawman.
Tearing down a strawman may feel good. It also scores you points with those who share your beliefs, and may even win over a few uninformed observers. But you’ve lost the debate before it actually began, because you’ve chosen to ignore reality and substitute your own version.
If you want to read the rest of his strawman hit piece, by all means, have at it. Once again, here is the Google Cache link to the article. After the above quoted section, he continues to follow his false premise down the rabbit hole. It’s worth reading if only to see him call his own beliefs “insane” and for a gratuitous rip on Justin Bieber. But there is honestly no need for me to deal with anymore of it. His version of atheism has nothing to do with reality, and until he realizes that he has built a man out of straw, there is no use arguing with him.
Although I will leave you with one last quote from the article:
Atheism will never truly develop as a movement until it accepts it is a religion. A religion that should have churches and bibles and all that good stuff. Because you can’t take a stand in this world without something comparable to those institutions. Why do you think so many political movements have conventions and books and leaders? They’re beliefs! Religions! And that’s totally cool, that’s just the way it works with belief.
That sound you just heard was my head smashing off my keyboard in frustration. Carry on.