Friday, 1 August 2014

Atheism Didn't Cause 'King Richard' to Tweet That!

Richard Dawkins in a picture that doesn't make him look like an evil ogre. (source)
I give Elissa Strauss over at the Jewish Daily Forward kudos for clarity. She gives a very concise illustration of an underlying malevolent sentiment which I have lately found to be obfuscated in current coverage of Richard Dawkins' most recent Twitter gaffe. Up to this point, I thought I would have to dig through the innuendo to get to the underlying implied messaging against atheists but Strauss makes it clear as day.

In her post, When Atheists Talk About Rape -- rather than 'when Dawkins talks about rape' -- not far below the requisite ugliest-and-most-unflattering-picture-of-Dawkins-one-can-find, she concludes with the following gross generalization.
Dawkins comments don’t just expose his own capability for misguided thinking, but of Atheism’s as well. His thoughts on rape reveal what happens when Atheism becomes as much an orthodoxy as any religion, a belief system through which all thoughts and feelings must be processed and any lingering subjectivity sidelined. This tendency hardly appears to a predominant one among Atheists, but it is clearly a risk just like it is in more literal-minded approaches to Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

Dawkins has faith in science and logic. He believes in finding order through categorization, logic and proof. Except the experience of something like rape, which happens to individuals in a wide variety of circumstances and is colored by their personal histories and emotional make-ups, just can’t be subjected to any scientific system. Sure we can work hard to find a societally-agreed upon definition of rape for our legal system, but the actual effect it has on a victim is something only that victim gets to decide.

As our society continues to polarize, or at least as the media reports it, into firm believers and non-believers, it is crucial that both sides make room for the subjective nature of the individual experience and don’t let whatever orthodoxies guide them to get in the way. Otherwise we find ourselves doing something like, eh, ranking rape.
Eh, a lack of belief in a god does not in any way affect opinion on rape. One need only look at popular atheist blogs and the Twitter machine to discover that the very largest group of those who were offended are very likely to be atheists -- you know, people who care what Dawkins tweets late at night.

And this religion of atheism. Do tell me more about how being certain we do not believe in a god turns us into inhuman, unfeeling, cold and scientific steel-hearted robots. I assume Elissa doesn't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (tomato sauce be upon him). I therefore feel sorry for her inevitable lack of emotional and spiritual depth.

One more thing. Dawkins is only the most famous atheists; the most influential atheist; the most followed, adored, revered, worshipped Pope of all atheists because a mostly hostile media have elected him to be so. They were also the ones to coin the term 'New Atheists.' There is nothing new about those who do not wish to grovel to any deity or man - we are called freethinkers and they have been around probably since the beginning. It's just that we no longer wish to remain silently accepting the unproven nonsense that is theism and we will now speak out -- even if we risk being called fundamentalists.

But then, this isn't really about Dawkins at all.

There is one point in Strauss' conclusion upon which both I and many many many atheists agree: the actual effect it has on a victim is something only that victim gets to decide. Although things like laws must, by nature, be objective, Dawkins' tweets did indeed lack sensitivity and non-believers were the very first ones to point this out.

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