Saturday, November 11, 2006

Meet the New Atheism, Same as the Old Atheism: A review of Richard Dawkin's "The God Delusion"

Richard Dawkins believes in the resurrection. He believes in it so much, that he is leading a crusade to convince others of it, and, like the revivalists of old, he has hit the circuit looking for converts. The resurrection Dawkins believes in is not the Resurrection (the one with a capital 'R'), but another kind altogether. His faith is not faith in God, but faith in science--or rather, Science. It is not the Resurrection of Christ he is preaching, but the resurrection of a movement.

With his new book, The God Delusion, Dawkins places himself at the head of what one journalist has called the "New Atheism." His book is one of several released over the last year that have attempted to reverse the rise of evangelical Christianity, and, to a lesser extent, fundamentalist Islam. He is the first person in the new atheist trinity, which includes Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, both of whom have written similar anti-religious tracts, and both of whom, like Dawkins, are filled with the spirit, and shouting their message from the street corners.

Before Dawkins begins the business of calling hellfire and brimstone down on the believers, however, he points his finger at those who pretend to be standing on the sidelines in the debate over the truth of religion and the existence of God. He first goes after the agnostics. With the earlier and more eloquent atheist George Bernard Shaw, Dawkins charges agnostics with the sin of being atheists without the courage of their convictions.

Well, most of them anyway. He makes a distinction between the kind of agnostic who temporarily suspends judgement until he has more evidence one way or another, and the kind of agnostic who believes that the question of God's existence is unanswerable. The first are the sheep, the second the goats. The first he can abide, but for the second he has little but disdain. It is this second school of thought that Dawkins refers to when he talks about the "poverty of agnosticism." It is here where Dawkins parts company with many of his allies in the scientific establishment, and it is here where Dawkins distinguishes himself from the great atheistic philosophies of the 20th century, returning instead to the 19th.

Although the title of "New" has been placed on his brand of atheism, Dawkins is an atheist of the old school. He is preachy, condescending, and a bit of a scold. Apparently impatient with philosophical subtleties, he seems to have shirked off the more sophisticated criticisms of early 2oth century philosophy. Beginning with Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, skeptical philosophers began to argue that religion was neither true nor false, but simply meaningless. This view received its most articulate treatment in A. J. Ayer's 1928 book, Language, Truth, and Logic. The first chapter of Ayer's book, "The End of Metaphysics," remains one of the few persuasive attacks on religious belief, although Ayer himself later gave up on much of the views expressed in the book. This view has dominated higher level discussions of religious truth questions ever since.

Dawkin's approach, however, harkens back to days of Robert Ingersoll, Joseph McCabe, and Joseph Lewis. He is not quite their equal in severity and lack of a sense of humor, but he rivals them in fervor. Like these stern atheists of old, Dawkins prefers to face religion head on, and his contempt for less direct approaches is transparent.

Dawkins first takes on Stephen Jay Gould, now conveniently dead (as are many of Dawkin's chosen opponents). Gould, a Harvard paleontologist and popular science writer, believed that religious questions such as the existence of God are simply not scientific questions, and that science cannot therefore adjudicate them. It is a version of the Two Truths doctrine of the medieval Arab philosopher Averroes, who held that there are truths of reason and truths of faith, and that truths in one sphere may be falsehoods in the other.

"[T]o cite old cliches," Dawkins quotes Gould as saying, "science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven." Dawkins will have none of it: "What are these ultimate questions," he asks, "in whose presence religion is an honored guest and science must respectfully slink away?" Dawkins denies that there can be two truths, one for science and one for religion: "... a universe with a creative superintendent would be a very different kind of universe from one without. Why is that not a scientific matter?"

In fact, Dawkins castigates the American scientific establishment for assuming this Two Truths doctrine in their debate with the Intelligent Design movement, denouncing the National Center for Science Education and their ilk as the "Neville Chamberlain School of Evolutionists." On this question, ironically, Dawkins is on the side of the Intelligent Design movement--and Christianity in general. Religious truth claims make a difference in the world, but while Christianity maintains the claims are true, Dawkins pronounces them false.

Dawkins summarizes the argument of his book this way:
Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God...is a delusion; and, as later chapters show, a pernicious delusion.

There are several problems with his argument that ultimately make The God Delusion a great disappointment. The first is his tendency to avoid proving his own theses in favor of simply assuming them and hoping the reader will find the implications of them as attractive and self-evident as he does. The scientist in him wants to test the predictability of his theory, in this case with speculative theories of how things might have come about solely by virtue of material conditions. He uses this method in his discussion of the origin of religion and of morality, and it falls flat.

His entire discussion of the origin of religion requires you to have previously accepted his naturalistic world view. "Knowing that we are products of Darwinian evolution..." he begins, and then we are off to the races. "The proximate cause of religion might be hyperactivity in a particular node of the brain," he declares. But the ultimate cause, he thinks, lies in his theory that religion is "a byproduct of something else." He then launches into various theories of what religious belief may have been useful for, all of which are pure speculation.

Dawkin's whole discussion of the naturalistic explanation of religion assumes that such an explanation renders the beliefs thus explained illusory. But if a naturalistic explanation for a belief renders it illusory, and all beliefs can be explained naturalistically, then atheism too can be explained naturalistically, and is therefore illusory. He who lives by naturalistic explanations must die by them.

All of Dawkin's explanations seem stifled and contrived by his own ideological materialism. He uses his naturalistic world view as a Procrustean bed into which he tries to fit everything, however much he has to hack and stretch it to fit. And what a small bed it is.

The second problem with Dawkin's book is the condescending tone with which he dismisses the arguments of those with whom he disagrees. One religious argument is "amusing, if rather pathetic," another "a joke," another "silly," and another "a grotesque piece of reasoning." This glib attitude particularly plagues the section of the book dealing with the traditional arguments for Christianity.

St. Thomas's cosmological arguments for God's existence--that the universe requires an explanation--"are easily...exposed as vacuous." Anselm's ontological argument for God's existence is "infantile." And William Paley's design argument, he says, Charles Darwin "blows out of the water."

And where simple pejoratives won't do, and arguments actually employed, Dawkins fails to impress. In response to C. S. Lewis's trilemma--that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or God Himself--Dawkins simply posits the possibility that Jesus was honestly mistaken, despite the fact that anyone familiar with the force of this argument knows that is certainly not a possibility. And besides, "historically it is complete nonsense." Dawkins asserts that there is no good historical evidence that Jesus thought he was divine, but his response to the wealth of evidence that he did is nowhere to be found. He questions the historical existence of Jesus, a belief that has few adherents outside its friendly home in liberal theological seminaries.

In the end, Dawkins admits that Jesus probably existed, but that the Biblical documents are unreliable, his only argument being that "reputable" Biblical scholars (undoubtedly defined as those with whom Dawkins agrees) question them.

Somehow it all seems too easy.

Even if you didn't recognize the lack of philosophical sophistication in Dawkin's attempted refutations, you notice immediately that Dawkins has trouble even conceiving how anyone could ever have been convinced by these arguments. This is not only an intellectual weakness in Dawkin's approach, but a rhetorical one. Somehow, you are more persuaded by the detractors of a position who appreciate the strength of their opponents positions than those, like Dawkins, who don't. You feel as if the person hasn't really confronted the power of the arguments against his own position, and you therefore wonder how it would affect his opinion if he did.

In too many cases in the book Dawkins is justified in his dismissiveness toward the arguments he takes on, but only because he has cherry picked the weakest arguments for theism. And this is the third great deficiency of the book.

Outside of a few places in the second section of the book, Dawkins boxes at shadows that seem a poor imitation of historic theism. A close inspection of the index reveals how little familiarity Dawkins has with modern Christian apologetics. He mentions only a small handful of great modern Christian thinkers. There is even a passing mention of G. K. Chesterton. But none of these are carefully considered.

He admits Lewis into his book briefly (and, as we said, dismissively), but where is J. Gresham Machan, Cornelius Van Til, and John Warwick Montgomery, or, more contemporaneously, Alvin Plantinga, J. P. Moreland, and Francis Beckwith? They are glaringly absent. Instead, Dawkins prefers to take on the likes of Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, Jesse Helms, and Fred Phelps, the fundamentalist minister of Westboro Baptist Church who pickets funerals with signs saying that "fags" are "going to Hell". These names constitute a sort of religious bum-of-the-month club that allows Dawkins to avoid fighting the real contenders.

How convenient.

In his debate with the atheist philosopher C.E.M. Joad (who later became a Christian) in the first part of the 20th century, Catholic writer Arnold Lunn pointed out that a position must be judged on the basis of the strongest arguments for it, not the weakest ones you can find.

The God Delusion has received the usual plaudits from the expected sources. But criticism has come from places well outside the religious community. Two of the most stinging critiques have come from the philosopher Thomas Nagel, and literary critic Terry Eagleton. And indeed everything that Dawkin's attempts in The God Delusion has been done better in some other book. A reader interested in a naturalistic explanation of religion and a critical view of the historicity of Christianity will find it stated more convincingly in H. L. Mencken's Treatise on the Gods. Those who are looking for a philosophically sophisticated attack on theism would be better off with Ayer's Language, Truth, and Logic. And, ironically, a much better argument against design in nature from an evolutionary perspective is Dawkin's own Blind Watchmaker.

And speaking of Mencken, atheism's last great popularizer, Dawkins seems clearly to be trying to emulate him, but to little affect. Mencken's attacks on religion were informed with a real wit that Dawkins sorely lacks. Mencken also had a poetic sense of the world that seems missing in Dawkins. Without the aesthetic appeal of Mencken, Dawkin's condescension sounds more akin to the more pedestrian likes of Madelaine Murray O'Hair. It wouldn't sound entirely out of place in this book to hear Dawkins utter an O'Hair line such as, "Jesus wasn't worthly to lick my boots."

Mencken was the last of the old school atheists, who openly declared their opinion that religion was absurd, and spared no effort in running it down. Mencken considered religious adherents to be boobs, largely because he considered most everyone to be boobs. Dawkins, however, is more selective in his disdain, choosing to scorn only the believers.

This refusal to take religious views seriously prevents Dawkins from convincingly dealing with them, and it is this consideration that prevents us from judging atheism on the basis of Dawkin's book. If we did, we would only be engaging in the very behavior that mars Dawkin's book itself: judging a position by something less than the best arguments for it.

9 comments:

Brian said...

Yet another article along the lines of: an atheist publishes a public explanation of his/her views, and shows some enthusiasm for the idea, and suggests people might be amenable to atheism if they did some hard thinking. Therefore, so he/she is "a believer in atheism" is "evangelizing", and therefore "atheism is a religion".

Cue obligatory evangelical vocabulary: "tracts", "resurrection", "revivalist", "hellfire and brimstone". Aim: "tar atheists with the religion brush", so you can dismiss their position as just as irrational, subjective and evangelical as your own. Everyone is equally irrational, so that means you don't have any need to question anything - easy!

How original. Never seen that before. That'll make Dawkins quake in his Oxford brogues, eh? And here we were thinking that atheists don't believe in gods - all of them - and require substantive evidence before accepting any proposition. Heck, "The God Delusion" raises questions more than it provides answers, so it's not much good as an atheist tract anyway. It's too hard on the reader, expects them to think, and we can't have that, can we?

Martin Cothran said...

Okay. Well, first off, if Dawkins doesn't want to be described as religious in critiques of his book, then it would probably be a good idea not to title a whole section of his book, "A Deeply Religious Non-Believer." Bad move.

Second, it's interesting that you think you can divine my intentions in using a religious metaphor to describe crusading atheists(is that very scientific?), but you've got it all wrong. I don't think Dawkin's position is irrational or subjective, I just think it's incorrect. But it's definitely evangelical, and Dawkin's essentially admits that in the book.

You complain that atheism is too often characterized as religious, as if repeating something makes it less likely to be true. If you repeat a truth often enough, does it become a lie? And, if so, wouldn't it be a good idea to stop repeating that it's not true?

beepbeepitsme said...

Ken Miller - On Apes and Humans
http://beepbeepitsme.blogspot.com/2006/11/ken-miller-on-apes-and-humans.html

Aaron Kinney said...

Faith in science, eh Martin?

I agree with you completely. And I am sure that, like me, you will agree that baldness is just another hair color, and that having a healthy body is just another form of disease, and that atheism is just another religion, and that unwavering liberalism is just another fundamentalism, and that pacifism is just another kind of violence, ad nauseum.

You forgot the part where Dawkins, in his book, specifies the different definitions of the word religion. He notes when it is used literally and metaphorically, as a strict label and as a charged term.

Is his book evangelical? Yes. Dawkins is trying to dissuade people from a false belief. That is why it was written more towards the average Joe than towards the people with doctorates in theology. Indeed, Dawkins references the esteemed David Mills multiple times, whose book Atheist Universe was deliberately written simply and aimed at the layperson.

A man who holds the Charles Simonyi Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University does not get there by being unfamiliar with more technical-minded works such as the Plantiga and Moreland that you mentioned (by the way Martin, it was your error to include Van Til in your list of implied theological heavyweights; he is nothing of the sort).

Dawkins is preachy, condescending, and a bit of a scold? Oh heaven forbid! I thank your imaginary God that he is being so. It is about time that heavyweight atheists fight fire with fire and appeal to the masses, in plain to understand language, and refuse to mince words.

For comparison, have you bothered to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and its short, dismissive, even glib treatment of polytheism and atheism? Probably not. All you care about is how Dawkins should keep his kid gloves on when dealing with the sensitivities and emotions of believers who, if Dawkins is right, are supporting incredibly evil and anti-human ideologies.

I, for one, have harsher words than "condescending" and "scold" for the theological heavyweights of the last few centuries. Dawkins is a true gentleman by comparison.

Remember that it is the religious tomes of the faithful which call for the death of infidels, nonbelievers, and those who would worship rival Gods.

Why dont you catalogue how many times Dawkins calls for the death of the faithful in his book BEFORE you start complaining about the hurt feelings that will be suffered by his gruff attitude.

It appears that much of your review consists of you disliking Dawkins and his book's objective from the start, and then looking for ways to support that circular premise/conclusion of yours. This is exactly what Dawkins warns about in this very book (not to mention countless other atheists, scientists, and secularists through the ages).

You claim that Dawkins uses "pure speculation" in theorizing the evolutionary utility in religious memes, totally ignoring the fact that Dawkins cites numerous respected works of others, such as Hinde, Boyer, and Atrand, who also promote the by-product theory.

You ignore the analogy of a moth to a flame, where the moths attraction to light DOES serve a useful purpose based on reality - but backfires when near a candle - in order for you to set up a strawman and make the ridiculous claim that ALL beliefs with naturalistic explanations are therefore illusory. PLEASE! Talk about a liberal fistful of straw combined with a rancid cup of illogic.

A naturalistic explanation for a belief does not a priori make that belief wrong. Dawkins point, which obviously went right over your head, is that this naturalistic explanation is damaging to the credibility of SUPERnatural beliefs, and helps explain their persistence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

If belief in gravity has a naturalistic explanation, would you, Martin, suppose that gravity, too, is false?

And I, for one, cannot understand why you give such respect to C.S. Lewis. Even as a Christian, I was not impressed by his works. Mere christianity and the Screwtape Letters are a chore, and give nothing to the body of evidence for God. Indeed, Mere Christianity wasnt even supposed to, and Lewis said so repeatedly both within his book and outside of it. The fact that you lament the omission of Van Til, and the only brief mention of Lewis, leads me to suspect your judgement of good defenses of theism, and accordingly, your book reviewing skills in general.

And at the end of your review, you imply that you are more amicable to scorn and condescention if it is less discriminately applied. How ridiculous. If you love everybody indiscriminately, it destroys the value of it. And if you hate everybody without discernment, then your hate becomes without merit.

And it seems that you suffer from hating everyone who isnt as wishy-washy in their convictions, or as sloppy in their thinking, as you are.

As a result, your dislike of Darwins attitude, his writing style, and his intent to appeal to a general audience, is without merit.

Martin Cothran said...

Well, the atheist party line is becoming very clear. When Dawkins fails in his attempts to do what he claims to do in the book--to disprove religious claims, just claim that he is aiming low, at the “average Joe,” the “layperson” more than “towards the people with doctorates in theology.” This, apparently, qualifies as a legitimate excuse for flawed argumentation.

Well, first of all, bad arguments don’t suddenly become good ones just because your audience changes. What atheists are saying boils down to this: the straw man fallacy is perfectly appropriate so long as your audience is unaware that you’re using it.

Wow. I’m sure you’ll be extending the same privilege to religious apologists real soon.

And, second, the book is very obviously not for the “average Joe.” How do we know this?

Because Dawkins says so.

Not only does Dawkins not say his book is intended for “laypersons,” but he says just the opposite. On p. 5 of “The God Delusion,” Dawkins states his intention in terms that should be clear enough for even “the masses” to understand: “If this book works as I intend, religious leaders who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” Nothing about laypersons. Many of these religious leaders, of course, hold doctorates in theology.

I find it curious that a prominent atheist would write a book he and his worldwide congregation claim is filled with convincing arguments for people he also claims are quite irrational. That just doesn’t seem to me to be a very rational thing to do. But what do I know? I’m just an unfortunate believer who doesn’t understand logic (It makes you wonder how I wrote three textbooks on the subject, doesn’t it?)

In fact, since I’m a believer (and therefore irrational), why do atheists keep offering me arguments? What good do they think it will do me? But there I go again, thinking I’ve seen an inconsistency when I can’t possibly detect one, being a believer.

I admire you atheists. To be able to simply define your opponents as a priori ignorant and irrational so you can dismiss them out of hand must be a comfortable position to be in. And then to be able to turn around and, ignoring that fact, act as if they were rational by arguing with them—well, I’m just so impressed.

And then there is the criticism of the people I mentioned (those who apparently cannot be so easily dismissed with guffaws and snide remarks) whose arguments Dawkin’s should have addressed: Plantiga, et al.. What’s the response I get? That you all aren’t impressed by them.

Of course. What was I thinking?

Aaron Kinney said...

Martin,

You said "When Dawkins fails in his attempts to do what he claims to do in the book--to disprove religious claims, just claim that he is aiming low, at the �average Joe,� the �layperson� more than �towards the people with doctorates in theology.� This, apparently, qualifies as a legitimate excuse for flawed argumentation."

Dont strawman me. Nowhere in your review did you give any real support for your claim that Dawkins failed to disprove religious claims. And when I speak of the layperson, I dont refer to the quality of Dawkins arguments, but the tone and writing style of his book.

Folks, it seems that Martin here is projecting. He is suffering the exact fate that he CLAIMS Dawkins suffers: Martin makes claims and fails to justify them.

Fortunately, Dawkins does not.

Martin, you also claim that Dawkins doesnt aim at people with doctorates in theology. While some of his targets may not have doctorates in theology (although others do), one thing is certain: most of his targets have a far better education than you or I.

Dawkins levels hammer blows at just about every religious scientist out there. Dawkins levels hammer blows also against every prominent religious leader alive today. Dawkins attacks the great prayer experiments. Dawkins attacks the Discovery Institute (how many people with doctorates in theology populate THAT organization)?

Dawkins attacks Aquinas, St Anselm, Francis Collins, Gregor Mendel, Stephen Unwin, Fred Hoyle, Behe, and thats just after skimming through a few pages in chapter 3.

Martin, you said "Well, first of all, bad arguments don�t suddenly become good ones just because your audience changes."

But you fail to establish where the bad arguments are.

Martin, you also said "Wow. I�m sure you�ll be extending the same privilege to religious apologists real soon."

Martin, you also said "And, second, the book is very obviously not for the �average Joe.� How do we know this?

Because Dawkins says so.

Not only does Dawkins not say his book is intended for �laypersons,� but he says just the opposite. On p. 5 of �The God Delusion,� Dawkins states his intention in terms that should be clear enough for even �the masses� to understand: �If this book works as I intend, religious leaders who open it will be atheists when they put it down.� Nothing about laypersons. Many of these religious leaders, of course, hold doctorates in theology."

Maybe Dawkins did say so, but the style of the book makes it clear, as well as its sales. It is selling currently at #3 on the amazon top ten, and is still flying off bookshelves all across the world. It is selling like a laypersons book. Ive also read quite a few atheistic and religious books, and I know a laypersons book when I read it.

Martin, if you want a book that ISNT geared towards laypersons by comparison, go have a read at David Ellers "Natural Atheism," and I think the distinction will become quite clear.

Martin: "I find it curious that a prominent atheist would write a book he and his worldwide congregation claim is filled with convincing arguments for people he also claims (as do many of the supporters of the book) are quite irrational. That just doesn�t seem to me to be a very rational thing to do. But what do I know? I�m just an unfortunate believer who doesn�t understand logic."

More unsupported assertions.

Since we are playing the unsupported assertion game, allow me to give you a contrary and equally fallacious mirror version of your argument: religious people have no good arguments for God in the first place, so Dawkins didnt have much to do or to disprove in the first place.

"In fact, since I�m a believer (and therefore irrational), why do atheists keep offering me arguments? What good do they think it will do me?"

Maybe youll join the crowd and become an atheist like so many of your theistic kin are doing nowadays. Havent you heard? God is just so passe nowadays... like the flat Earth, and ghosts, and all those other superstitions.

"And then there is the criticism of the people I mentioned (those who apparently cannot be so easily dismissed with guffaws and snide remarks) whose arguments Dawkin�s should have addressed: Plantiga, et al.. What�s the response I get? That you aren�t impressed by them."

Those old fogeys have been done to death, and as I noted before, you have a hard time discerning good theologians from crappy ones. Van Til? I hope for your sake that you merely parroted that name and didnt actually read any of his books, because if you did, and you still think he is a good theologian, then you are probably less intelligent than I gave you credit for. Hint: theres a good reason that no decent theologian refers to Van Til; theres a good reason he is barely ever invoked by people with doctorates in theology.

Your feeble attempts to justify your review will get you know where. And you should watch your condescending attitude, since condescention is obviously a topic that is very sensitive to you.

Martin Cothran said...

Aaron,

You said I failed to establish where the bad arguments are when I said that bad arguments don’t become good ones when the audience changes. I was, of course, talking about straw man argumentation. I discussed this extensively in my review.

In your last post, you said that Dawkins “levels hammer blows at just about every religious scientist out there.” Just about every religious scientist out there? Don’t think so.

Then you say that my charge that atheists, including Dawkins, say that religious believers are irrational is “unsupported.” Are you really challenging this? If I produce the quotes from Dawkins where he says this are you going to admit you were mistaken?

Here’s the problem. You make assertions, I produce the evidence showing you were mistaken, as I did about your assertion that Dawkins intended his book for lay people, and then you just go on to something else.

I’m only too happy to give you long lists of religious scientists who are not in Dawkins book (not that that would accomplish a great deal), and to give the quotes in which Dawkins says that believers are irrational (which are easily available in the book), but it is clear that it won’t make any difference to you.

You won’t admit you’re wrong no matter what evidence I produce. The irony here is that many atheists charge that religious belief is unfalsifiable, yet when it comes to your own arguments, there is literally no evidence you will accept that could possibly falsify it.

I don’t see any point in further discussion here. I think my review was not an unfair treatment of the atheist position. I said that Dawkin’s case was not a very good case for atheism, and I even, in the spirit of evenhandedness, cited other books that I thought made the case for atheism much better. I don’t remember any article by an atheist pointing out books that are better arguments for Christianity than the one they were reviewing.

contratimes said...

Dear Martin,

Thank you for this thoughtful post, and your gracious comments which follow.

It is interesting to note that Brian dismisses you as committing a tired, predictable argument: Brian might as well have called your argument the "Ho-hum Fallacy." Of course, Brian does not notice that he has committed a very ho-hum fallacy himself. I wonder if he realizes how often theists have heard his sort of ho-hum rebuttal before.

Moreover, I notice that Aaron Kinney believes Van Til is something of a lightweight. Fine. Perhaps he is. But if one is an atheist, are not all theologians lightweights? Is Aaron ready to defend that only certain theologians should engage the illustrious and transcendent Dr. Hawkins? Why? Who cares? If there is no THEOS, then there surely is no theology.

Aaron K. writes:

And at the end of your review, you imply that you are more amicable to scorn and condescention [sic] if it is less discriminately applied. How ridiculous. If you love everybody indiscriminately, it destroys the value of it. And if you hate everybody without discernment, then your hate becomes without merit.

I wonder what rational or scientific study proves Mr. Kinney's propositions here. If I love indiscriminately, Mr. Kinney has no place telling me that it is without merit. Plus it's a bit like saying that, since oxygen is available indiscriminately, it is valueless, or that time is worthless since every one has some. I may walk through the city handing out my billions to whomever, but it is hardly without value, at least to me. And I am all that matters, no? Who is Mr. Kinney, the atheist, to deny me the pleasure of determining for myself what is valuable? And if I hate everyone for whatever reason, or even for no reason, there is merit nonetheless: I get the pleasure of hating everyone on my own terms, upon the slightest whim.

Kinney adds:

And it seems that you suffer from hating everyone who isnt [sic] as wishy-washy in their convictions, or as sloppy in their thinking, as you are.

Hmm. Where, Martin, have you been the least bit hateful? I do not see it. Perhaps Mr. Kinney is clairvoyant (which is hard for a strict materialist to be), since he sees -- and draws conclusions from -- something not directly evident to his senses.

Of course, none of us is perfect.

Peace and mirth,

BG

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