Why New Atheists are the Dullest People in the World
Leah had a great post today…asking whether or not she is a RAGING RELIGION-AHOLIC. See, Leah…she’s not a believer…and yet, she is fascinated and interested in religion.
How could this be? It must be because she is indoctrinated! She must be brainwashed — brainwashed into supporting religion, even though it is so obviously false, and even she recognizes it is literally false.
Even though I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that cultural Mormonism is an illusion that cannot sustain itself, and that it in fact cannot exist in absence of a real religion to feed from…I guess I’m still enamored by the people who feed away.
So that’s one of the reasons why I like Leah’s post. Her blog’s description succinctly summarizes what she is about: she dares to be “a skeptic dipping her toes in religion, in an attempt to reclaim spirituality post-fundamentalism“. Take that religious believers. I will reclaim spirituality from you!
So, I thought I’d post her post to reddit, both to the r/exmo and to r/atheism. I suspected there would be different responses, but I didn’t anticipate what would come.
brillientk89 (who I believe I’ve reddit sparred with before) came out swinging.
Science tells me that my emotions are caused by biochemical reactions, but that doesn’t help me navigate my emotional life the way a good story or ritual does.
I’m sorry you feel that you need nice stories to make you feel better about your existence. Maybe you should see a therapist.
In other words, according to brillient, if someone recognizes they have emotional needs and tries to fulfill these emotional needs through reasonable means, then really, they should see a therapist.
What baffles me about this is that if we take brillient’s idea to its extreme, it would simply medicalize normal human appreciation of the arts. Do you like stories? Rituals? You must need therapy.
In fact, as he says later:
I’ve come to the realization, thanks in part to Douglas Adams, that life might make no sense or have any greater purpose but that need not stop us from enjoying it and helping others enjoy it. No fables are required. It’s hard to accept the reality that we just don’t know, that this life is probably all there is, but it is easier in the long run once you accept that reality. There is a beauty to life and the universe without making anything up.
In other words, you should enjoy the *factual* parts of life, even if *factually*, there is *literally* no purpose to life. It’s hard to accept that fact, but you should just accept it. No stories, no fables, no myths. Accept the beauty of the drab reality.
…the only intriguing thing about this is…I’m pretty sure Douglas Adams was a pretty awesome novelist. so, apparently, he understood the value of fable and myth in crafting the entire world (and indeed, universe) of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So, I called him out on it:
I guess you’re not a fan of novels, poems, etc., Because “there is a beauty to life and the universe without making anything up,” so you probably don’t like the entire idea of “fiction,” do you?
If she, or anyone else, needs pretty fictions to keep their mind occupied from dealing with the often harsh realities of existence then fine. So long as they recognize it is fiction. She seems to be able to do this but she is in the minority I think.
…I do dislike the vast majority of fiction because I think it’s pretty worthless and I do generally tend to read nonfiction because I find it interesting and hope to learn something. I think literature and poetry (and the people that find so much deeper meaning in it) are usually pretentious and foolish. I genuinely hate walking through art museums. I’d much rather take a walk in nature which is typically where I have most of my spiritual experiences.
However, some fiction is masterfully done as a commentary on reality (Nineteen Eighty Four, To Kill a Mockingbird) or as clever entertainment with philosophical or scientific roots (HHGTG, Star Trek) or as satire (Huckleberry Finn, Monty Python) or as just pure imaginative entertainment (Harry Potter). I typically give things that are humorous a pass because laughter is a great way to deal with all manner of things.
I don’t think fiction is worthless and I often enjoy it. I just think it’s foolish to gain too much deeper meaning from it and think people in general spend too much time on fictions of one kind or another and not enough time confronting reality and learning. I know people who can name off movies and movie stars like they’ve got a degree in it, but couldn’t tell you what’s going on in the world. In other words, a lot of people tend too much time feeling and not enough time thinking. Or too much time imagining fantasy and not enough time imagining how to improve reality. They spend more time avoiding problems than solving them.
So, he begins by saying that her appreciation of the arts is a way to “keep her mind occupied from dealing with the often harsh realities of existence.” It is a crutch. An opiate of the masses, if you will.
But the Glorious New Atheist Ubermensch recognizes MOST fiction for what it is: worthless and incapable of providing learning. Literature and poetry is usually pretentious and foolish.
…the thing is, he recognizes that SOME fiction may make a “commentary on reality” (I guess the rest of fiction is 100% disconnected from any reality whatsoever), and some may be “clever entertainment” or “pure imaginative entertainment.” It is good to “give things that are humorous a pass because laughter is a great way to deal with all manner of things.”
The worst thing is…every example he mentions has…at BEST, influenced the literary canon for half a century. If he deigned to include Shakespeare or someone similar, then he could reach back to half a millennium of human literary accomplishment.
BUT what he fails to realize is that religions have influenced and inspired humanity for far longer than that. How can he then say — just because he believes religion isn’t literally true — that it hasn’t made a “commentary on reality”? Or that it isn’t worth our attention? It has truly been the lens by which reality was viewed in some way, shape, or fashion, for most of human civilization.
He directly contradicts himself in the next paragraph…he doesn’t think fiction is worthless (except for the “vast majority” of it which is “pretty worthless”) and he often enjoys it.
…then again, maybe he’s not contradicting himself. Maybe there simply is a difference between his “enjoyment” and the “worth of fiction” and the worthless, pretentious, foolish fiction he derides.
But from my analysis, all I can figure out is that he is a Philistine at best (would he even get the reference)? He likes fiction because of the laughs. Because of the entertainment. He despises those who think deeply about their fictitious works, who try to “gain deeper meaning from it.” He thinks these people spend time in fiction to escape confrontations with reality and learning.
If we have to have brillientk89’s world or a world of fiction, then I’d rather have a world of fiction.