Dear Charles Lewis: You call that thinking?

You need to back to school. Holy Post has a lovely piece about how we, atheists, don’t really understand religion or believers, and by lovely I mean something closer to “go fuck yourself”:

You know who they are: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and the rest of their dreary crew who are out to prove how stupid religious people are.

I’m wondering if Charles Lewis has even read these books. The general premise is not to prove how stupid religious people are but to prove how stupid religious ideas are. They ask that we treat religious belief in the same way we treat every other idea in the world. I don’t believe Buddha, Genghis Khan, or the avatars of Vishnu were born of a virgin. I don’t believe Mohammed flew to heaven on wingĂ©d horse. I don’t believe in wizardry, magic spells, or flying reindeer. I don’t believe in Zeus, Wotan, Thor, Athena, the Easter Bunny, or Unicorns. And neither do must people.

But there are many Christians who believe Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, rose from the dead. The real question is why do you believe such things. There are only a few such reasons, and none of them are reasonable: The Bible or some authority figure told you it was true. And I shouldn’t have to tell you why these reasons are mindless.

He continues:

But the [perennial debate between atheists and believers] is useless for one simple reason: most atheists do not have a clue what religion is about. They see religious people as blind sheep following a series of incomprehensible rules and dogmas and then scoff at their lack of enlightenment. They find the flaw in the painting and say it is all now ruined. Atheists are utopians who believe a perfect society can be built if only religion was not in the way.

I’m almost positive Mr. Lewis is familiar with the recent Pew Research Center’s Religious Knowledge Survey. So, we know about the religions (on average). He must mean we don’t understand the esoteric revelatory nature of religion, because the physics of walking on water and the biology of raising the dead are well understood, and no, not from the bible. But here’s the thing: Why would I understand something personally revealed to someone else if there is no objective way to determine its veracity besides revelations? I could tell it was revealed to me that potatoes can talk, but if I can’t demonstrate that “fact”, you shouldn’t believe me.

And since when are atheists utopians?:

Religious faith is, precisely because we are still-evolving creatures, ineradicable. It will never die out, or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other.–Christopher Hitchens

That sounds pretty non-utopian to me. I know that humans are not perfect, I try not to persecute them for making understandable mistakes which is more than I can say for the bible.

Finally,

Atheists are under the ridiculous illusion that religious people think that all they have to do is call out to God and help will be on the way. If it were so, Jesus never would have gone up on the cross. The crucifixion is not a contradiction and the anti-religious cannot get their heads around that. Faith is not the avoidance of trouble, it is facing it head on and then finding holiness.

No, we believe that if you claim prayer works (or make any positive claim), you should be able to demonstrate that it is more effective than placebos or doing nothing, which it’s not. Also, Jesus went up on the cross because he (allegedly) decided he wanted a blood sacrifice of himself to himself for sins he knew were going to happen as a result of his own creative perfection(?).

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