By Charles Redfern, first published July 28 on www.creedible.com
Try prying the lid off the mind of the enlightened and open-minded. Discover their pitch-black darkness while they spray clichés like squid’s ink.
Such is my reaction to the July 16th ABC News report of the annual American Atheists Convention, where the tolerant intolerantly snubbed intellectual primitives. Fellow Creedible Blogger Stephen Healey wrote about them in his July 24 column with his characteristic eloquence, compassion and understanding. I clicked on the link and read the report. My comeback: Pffffft!
Attorney Edwin Kagin, the organization’s national legal director, wielded a hair dryer labeled “Reason and Truth” to “de-baptize” non-believers ruing the splashes of their infancy. Okay. Fine. Whatever floats your boat, Ed. Baptists like me can even sympathize. But 24-year-old Cambridge Boxtermann was a hoot: “I was baptized Catholic. I don’t remember any of it at all … According to my mother I screamed like a banshee, and those are her words, so you can see that even as a young child I didn’t want to be baptized. I was born atheist and they were forcing me to become Catholic.”
I hate to pop your bubble, Cambridge, but roughly 90 percent of all babies scream when they’re baptized. And no one was forcing you into anything. Your parents were pledging they would raise you Catholic until you reached the age of decision-making. Using the language of “force” brings us into the land of absurdity and mocks your exclusive claim on Reason. Healey, nice guy that he is, gently noted something I’ll say with full-throttled sarcasm: Your parents did not consult you when you were conceived, which means they “forced” existence on you. You ought-a call a lawyer. Sue those anti-intellectuals because they did not arrange a pre-conception consultation. And the nerve of your mom at your birth: She actually “forced” you out of the womb when the nurses told her to “push!” Speed-dial that lawyer and file a second charge – and a third because she “forced” you to clean up your room when you were five and “forced” you to help your siblings unload the dishwasher.
The atheists then dived from absurdity into linguistic farce. Kagin accused strict fundamentalists of “child abuse” because they teach their kids creationism, then charged them with “terrorism” because they weaken our nation “and our understanding of science and things with which we can defend ourselves and progress.” Alluding to “abuse” and “terrorism” insults true victims, renders language meaningless, and, in an acceptable form of prejudice, paints all fundamentalists with the same brush. I know some fundamentalists. They nurture their kids in love and peace and teach them to cherish atheists – although they don’t force it on them, possibly in fear of litigation.
So here we go again. Words are used to stifle dialogue. Language, which should convey meaning, obscures it. Kagan is one more marcher in the epithet-spewing parade: “Democrats Are Commies!” … “Obama is un-American!” … “Conservatives Never Care!” … “Homophobes!” … “Heterophones!” … “Radicals!” … “Fascists!”
Shout! Snarl! Spit!
Let’s re-label that hair dryer. Call it for what it is: “Name-calling and Obfuscation.” And turn a blind eye to Kagan’s own logical inconsistency: He claims he has a good relationship with his fundamentalist son – who, by his definition, is an abusive terrorist. Where’s your “reasoning,” Ed? Do you favor sonny-jim merely because he’s the fruit of your loins? He’s the chance byproduct of one night’s passion, a highly developed glob of intelligent goo, the lucky result of one sperm’s exhausting journey. Why befriend the glob who looks like you while dismissing similar globs? Getting a little sentimental, are we?
It’s your right, oh American Atheists, to dismiss mounds of evidence – including the history of religious experience – and cling to your blind faith in an eternal void. But spare me your exclusive claim on Reason. Your own rhetoric shows you’re just as narrow-minded as the rest of us. Maybe even more so.