Will she hold out? Can she hold out? This was the thought rattling around my brain-pan while reading this opinion piece by one Sarah Elizabeth or “S.E.” Cupp, ex-atheist in training. Well, that last part is pure speculation. But given her conservative political leanings, I have to wonder how far she can parlay her atheist street cred before the diabolical urge to go religious — like everyone who signs her paychecks — takes over.
I was originally going to write her an email about this, since the address is left on the article, but that’ll just get ignored or worse. This way is more fun. So I will copy what I had planned to write to her here instead. That way, someone might actually read it. heh.
I read with interest your recent opinion piece exhorting the ‘new atheists’ to embrace humility and stop with the insults, snark and condescension…while applying said insults, snark and condescension quite liberally. I hope it isn’t too snarky of me, but I found that rather amusing. Especially the mention of “more than 95% of the world finds some meaning in faith”, as if what is true were a popularity contest.
You mention having gone back to school to study religious beliefs you say you know little about. Have you learned anything interesting about them? Is it a ‘spiritual’ quest? Is that what it means to be on a ‘spiritual’ quest? Have you learned answers about questions like ‘is there more to life than this?’ Or have you shared my experience in that regard, and learned about the statements of faith offered in lieu of answers?
It seems odd to me that while you cite such apparently condescending statements as “Religion is my bitch.” or “Yes it is a myth. Deal with it. All delusions are myths.” …only to conclude from these that the rejections are not of faith itself but rejection of its adherents. Where is that to be found precisely? I see attacks on religion. On myths. On delusions. Are you reading something into these statements? If so, are you sure it’s even there? Or is an attack on religion equivalent to attacking a religious person? Since when were ideas given a free pass? The bible does not cry when I bash it, any more than it would cry when a fundamentalist believer thumps it.
I think this idea that ‘new atheists’ are willfully ignorant of some important truth is wrong on two counts: the data suggests that they are not willfully ignorant of religion; and no important truths from it have been demonstrated. Did you miss this Pew poll from a few months back perhaps? Why should atheists and agnostics score highly on religious knowledge tests if they are as ignorant as you claim? What don’t they know? Or is it just that they don’t treat it as important or special?
Finally, as you are a lifelong atheist, I’d like to know what you would say to the genocide survivor you cite, Immaculee Ilibagiza. Would you tell her that her faith in Jesus makes the religion true? Have you converted yet? If not, why not? Do you find it untrue? Delusional? Just don’t want to say?
Or perhaps you’d have enough tact to leave it alone, if said faith isn’t brandished as a rhetorical club. It seems a bit sad that you would use it in such a way, while she apparently hasn’t. Yet.
I always find hypocrisy amusing to point out in the process of busting an argument down to its component atoms, and S.E. Cupp’s article is rife with it. What is the point exactly of attacking snark as bad…with snark? If snark is bad, yours is too! And if yours is not bad, then what’s wrong with theirs?
I also figure I would toss in a term like ‘liberal’ just to make a conservative squirm when it applies to them. Malice aforethought, I has it.
The Pew poll dates back to September, first spotted through Pharyngula as PZ Myers gleefully bashes the ‘know-nothing atheist’ straw man with it. Reality, it is a real slap to the face sometimes for the credulous.
But the genocide survivor is an interesting case, and were it not for this conservative using it like a club on me, I really would be curious to know Cupp’s answers about that.
In the end, if she is still an atheist, she must think the poor victim is…wrong! People find ways to cope with adversity, religion beats the ‘deal with it’ of atheism if you can get past the nonsense of it…I can’t blame the woman for hoping for ultimate meaning and justice when the world certainly isn’t offering any. But there is a certain justice to the grave, to the heat death of the universe, to oblivion.
Of course, religion’s offer of deferred justice, meaning, pleasure, what have you, contains something of a trap, which is why I am wary of it. How else could you get religious nutbags to fly planes into buildings? The promise of heaven is balm for the suffering, true; but it is also a means to make people suffer, too. To ruin this life or flat-out discard it in the vain hope for a better afterlife. And since this life seems to be all we have, I count this among the most outrageous ideas perpetrated by religion. How dare they con people into throwing away the one life we do have for some pipe-dream?
Anyway, the opinion writer is of course just hawking a book anyway, so who gives a damn. I suppose I do, in a way.
So, ex-atheist in training, that’s what I figure. Religion is the history eraser button. The beautiful, shiny button. The jolly, candy-like button. She already admits to possessing ‘Judeo-Christian values’ and admiring the Ten Commandments. She already admits to the strong atheistic foundation of drunken benders in college talking about Nietzsche. Somehow, I don’t think the leap of faith is going to be that much of a jump for Ms. Cupp.
Oh, sorry. There I go again with the snark.