August 02, 2007

The Stupid is Strong with This One

I have been trying all day to write an entry tearing apart what is easily one of the best examples of the worst kind of stupidity and willful ignorance I've seen float across the surface of the sewer that is anti-science, anti-reason authorship. I just can't do it. I don't particularly care to repeat myself, and everything this Olasky dunderhead brings up has been addressed time and time again, both in print and digital media. It really leaves me wondering why the anti-reason crowd bothers with it anymore; how many times can you read the same old thing, particularly when it's been shown to be nonsense? OK, I'm going to be really lazy about this. If anyone care to do a more thorough job, whether in comments here or at the site to which I'm linking, feel free. I'm only bothering because I can't let it slither by unchallenged.

Desperate Atheist Rage!
By Marvin Olasky

...These days, nothing stops atheistic caissons from rolling along the bookstore aisles. Maybe that's because atheists on average have small families and lots of discretionary doubloons jingling in their pockets...
Yes, maybe atheists have smaller families than religious fanatics. What a stinging charge! Why, they're violating the order to churn out enough babies to maintain a proper Bronze Age agrarian society! Burn!
...Here, for example, is Dawkins' view of God: "arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."
Dawkins didn't have to work too hard to come up with that, I'm sure. The Old Testament supplies more than enough support for his contention.
Harris also prefers exclamatory words such as "preposterous" to either reason or evidence. He asserts certainty about what he admits not knowing: "How the process of evolution got started is still a mystery, but that does not in the least suggest that a deity is likely to be lurking at the bottom of it all."
And the problem with that assertion is what, exactly? That it disagrees with a book you happen to believe in? There has as yet not been put forth so much as a testable hypothesis to the contrary.
...Yet Harris, for all his attacks on Intelligent Design, does not even understand the distinction between macro-evolution -- one kind of creature changing into another -- and micro-evolution. One of his proofs of theistic obtuseness is that "viruses like HIV, as well as a wide range of harmful bacteria, can be seen evolving right under our noses, developing resistance to antiviral and antibiotic drugs." No one claims that viruses don't evolve; the debate is whether they turn into something else...
Who exactly is having this "debate"? The point here is that there is NO difference between micro- and macro-evolution; it's merely a matter of scale. Traits change over time and the changes accumulate; small changes add up over long intervals. Again, not one anti-evolutionist pinhead has been able to demonstrate any reason that there should be a limit on the accumulation of new traits. If you accept micro-evolution, macro-evolution follows. Moreover, I've never heard anyone assert that "viruses" change into something else. This comes from the usual ignorance of what evolutionary theory predicts; it's a strawman, pure and simple. It's a very old, beaten-up strawman by now as it has been addressed hundreds of times over. I suppose that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start believing you... and numbskulls like this one aren't in the least bit concerned with scientific progress or valid understanding of nature. They just want to get paid.
..."How Religion Poisons Everything." The "everything" claim sounds improbable. Are 1.3 billion Muslims all murderers? Might Christianity have produced 50 percent evil and 50 percent good? If not, how about 30 percent? Ten percent? Will not Hitchens relent from his anger if five percent is good?...
Hmmm... perhaps someone could explain to Olasky how percentages and poisons work? If I give you a glass containing 95% pure water and 5% poison, then the whole glass of water is poisoned. See how that works out? And if I give you a glass that's 5% water and 95% poison, then you'd have to be utterly mentally deficient to drink the stuff. Not that I doubt that Olasky might well do it; he certainly seems to have swallowed some rather tainted Kool-Aid, judging by what he's written.
Hitchens calls "the whole racket of American evangelism a heartless con" -- but I've met hundreds of compassionate evangelicals who must be dumb, because they've spent their lives in a racket that's yielded them almost no money. They've adopted hard-to-place children, built AIDS orphanages in Africa, helped addicts and alcoholics turn their lives around, and much besides.
Hitchens is referring to evangelism, and to people like Pat Robertson and Ted Haggard. He's not saying that every single evangelical Christian is a con-artist. This is a willful misrepresentation. But that's OK; in Olasky's world, I'm sure that those who bear false witness are assured a place at the right hand of DA LAWD.
So pity the atheists: They're cornered and desperate.
I won't pity the atheists any more than I pity everyone else who is trying to get through life in a country that has been subverted by fundamentalist fanatics who are all too willing to start holy wars at the expense of the lives of the innocent. I'll pity everyone who lives in fear of the next fundamentalist bomb to be detonated in some market in Baghdad or some research laboratory in Colorado. If there's anything that not only atheists, but people of reason generally, are desperate about, it's the fact that fundamentalist movements the world over are destroying people's lives and threatening to tear down democracy in the name of hastening some insane Millennium by which to establish a kingdom of GAWD on Earth whose rules are nothing more than some form of Sharia. Yes, we're desperate, because reason is being chucked out the window and we know some history beyond the book some one sect considers authoritative. We know what's happened the last few times this crap has taken hold of a society. Just look at the garbage that Olafsky is writing, look at who is running the United States right now. These are, indeed, desperate times for reason.

I've already ended up writing much more than I intended to as a response to this which, I suppose, someone somewhere might read. I started reading through the comments to this column, too, but they're too damned depressing... not because I disagree with them, but because of what they say about the country and the world in which I, and perhaps you, live. There is little there to offer hope for our future and much to raise sad concern for a continued backslide into the Bronze Age. There is every ignorance and willful twisting of science, of mathematics, of plain old human decency.

Yeah, Olasky, you've really got those atheists on the ropes. I bet they'll be even more desperate when you manage to turn classrooms into cloisters and laboratories into chapels wherein the utterances of the One Mad God of Abraham are taken as the results of every experiment before its methods are even decided. Won't that just be the most glorious of days?

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