John Haught is a terrible philosopher
There’s a story on Salon.com entitled The Atheist Delusion in which theologian John Haught talks about his new book, “God and the New Atheism.”
He really doesn’t get it.
Here are some quotes from the article which I found to be particularly bad, followed by my responses.
My chief objection to the new atheists is that they are almost completely ignorant of what’s going on in the world of theology. They talk about the most fundamentalist and extremist versions of faith, and they hold these up as though they’re the normative, central core of faith. And they miss so many things. They miss the moral core of Judaism and Christianity — the theme of social justice, which takes those who are marginalized and brings them to the center of society. They give us an extreme caricature of faith and religion.
This crap again?
The new atheists don’t want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism.
Oh please, drama queen. But lets run with that anyway and see where it takes us. Suppose the implications were nihilism. So what? In what way does that make relgion true? All this says is you don’t like the implications. Since when does what’s true depend on what you like? It’s called Argument from Consequences and it’s a logically fallacy. Look it up, moron.
And they [Camus, Sartre, and Nietzshe] thought it would take tremendous courage to be an atheist. Sartre himself said atheism is an extremely cruel affair. He was implying that most people wouldn’t be able to look it squarely in the face. And my own belief is they themselves didn’t either. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus eventually realized that nihilism is not a space within which we can live our lives.
Again with the argument from consequences? What a moron.
And whatever happiness Camus thought we could attain comes from the sense of strength and courage that we feel in ourselves when we shake our fist at the gods. But none of the atheists — whether the hardcore or the new atheists — really examine where this courage comes from. What is its source?
They don’t discuss it (in books about religion) for the same reason they don’t discuss the reasons people like candy. Because it is completely freakin’ obvious! It’s like this, if a person is of the type to go into an existential funk if they don’t have such courage, and also are unable to believe ridiculous stories which would relieve them of the need to have such courage, and subsequently, oh, I don’t know, I suppose in your fantasy you imagine they become nihilists and commit suicide? Well, that’s a fine strategy for a set of DNA to go about propagating itself, isn’t it? People with such minds would soon find themselves vanishingly scarce. So this vast “courage,” which is actually only required to overcome a lifetime of brainwashing — if you were never brainwashed in the first place, no such courage is usually needed — is a direct product of evolution. Once again, this guy is a freakin’ moron.
You can have hope [as an atheist]. But the question is, can you justify the hope? I don’t have any objection to the idea that atheists can be good and morally upright people. But we need a worldview that is capable of justifying the confidence that we place in our minds, in truth, in goodness, in beauty. I argue that an atheistic worldview is not capable of justifying that confidence. Some sort of theological framework can justify our trust in meaning, in goodness, in reason.
Once again the argument from consequences — and once again, “consequences” which have not been shown to be actual consequences. And “we” need a worldview that blah blah… who is this “we” you speak of? I have no such need. And hope for what? For everlasting life? You’re kidding yourself, and if you need hope of that, well, you’re in a sad plight, but the sadness of your plight in no way makes your fantasies any more real. Don’t be such a whiny crybaby, grow up and face reality.
But that principle of scientific Puritanism is often violated by scientists who think that by dint of their scientific expertise, they are able to comment on such things as purpose. I consider that to be a great violation.
Yes, only theologians who have spent their lifetimes pondering ancient books of bullshit are qualified to comment on things like purpose, and whether any such thing exists. Because… well, no reason is given, this is just asserted. I call bullshit. The scientist is more qualified than the theologian in all areas of thinking because the scientist has demonstrated that unlike the theologian, he can tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.
The hidden assumption behind such a statement is often that faith is belief without evidence. Therefore, since there’s no scientific evidence for the divine, we should not believe in God. But that statement itself — that evidence is necessary — holds a further hidden premise that all evidence worth examining has to be scientific evidence. And beneath that assumption, there’s the deeper worldview — it’s a kind of dogma — that science is the only reliable way to truth. But that itself is a faith statement. It’s a deep faith commitment because there’s no way you can set up a series of scientific experiments to prove that science is the only reliable guide to truth. It’s a creed.
Ah, the old accusation, “you use faith too! You’re just as dumb as me!” He’s pulling a fast one here though. The thing is, science works, bitches. Faith most emphatically doesn’t work, given any sane definition of the word “work.” The Great Theologian will protest, “ah, but you cannot prove that my particular pet unfalsifiable claim is false, so nyah, nyah, nyah.” If that is the entirety of what the Great Theologian supposes is required for faith to be considered to “work,” then the Great Theologian is often out-thought by many an eight year old kid. I’ve addressed this at length before.
If you had a camera in the upper room when the disciples came together after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, we would not see it. I’m not the only one to say this. Even conservative Catholic theologians say that. Faith means taking the risk of being vulnerable and opening your heart to that which is most important. We trivialize the whole meaning of the Resurrection when we start asking, Is it scientifically verifiable? Science is simply not equipped to deal with the dimensions of purposefulness, love, compassion, forgiveness — all the feelings and experiences that accompanied the early community’s belief that Jesus is still alive. Science is simply not equipped to deal with that. We have to learn to read the universe at different levels. That means we have to overcome literalism not just in the Christian or Jewish or Islamic interpretations of scripture but also in the scientific exploration of the universe. There are levels of depth in the cosmos that science simply cannot reach by itself.
Now he’s just talking cross-eyed badger spit. Grow the fuck up, and learn to tell the difference between thinking and imagining, you muddle-headed moon-eyed dipshit.
And for those of you dear readers who may protest that my use of such words as “moron,” etc. constitute an ad hominem fallacy, well, you’d be right, if they formed a part of my arguments. They do not, they are just literary flourishes, gratuitous insults, for my own entertainment, not part of my argument.