During these past few months, I’ve been focusing on other projects and studies I feel are more pressing than the dated movement known as New Atheism (otherwise known as Fundy Atheism), but it’s been awhile since I’ve looked at what they’re arguing so I thought it’d be fun to clean up the house a little.
Fellow Christian apologist, J.P. Holding, on his youtube channel, Tekton TV recently struck down a fundy atheist YouTuber known as The Messianic Manic. He made a number of videos responding to Tekton regarding ancient law practices as recorded in the Biblical texts. His main complaint is one I’ve seen others using elsewhere, that is the Bible should be clear enough to be read and understood by everyone and one need not have to study ancient history and sociology to grasp it.
What this argument boils down to is nothing more than a self-obsessed ideology that God is obligated to address every problem we, as thinking intellectuals, should be able to find sufficient answers to if we’re diligent enough. The main requirement for salvation (John 3:16), however, is clearly understood by everyone who reads the texts. But what happens when this responsibility is refused? I’ll copy in italics below every comment out of over three hundred that have something of substance to say, and respond in plain text.
“So let me get this straight – your “divinely inspired” holy book requires in-depth knowledge of ancient middle eastern law, in order to interpret it correctly? Seems like god failed in his goal of spreading his message to “everyone.”‘
More accurately, the Bible sufficiently communicated its message to everyone but Doofus here. The Biblical texts were written by people who lived in what is known as an honor-shame based society. Everyone who lived in that culture would have understood the social customs inherent in the text perfectly fine. In the West, we have an abundance of resources from scholars credentialed in the social sciences. A book or two is enough to help us grasp it ourselves so it isn’t something that requires a lot of effort. We’re in the minority, but fundy atheists can’t get away from the mirror long enough to realize it. In reply to my response, a commenter said,
“It basically boils down to this: if you claim your god is perfect then he should have known that inspiring the Bible in its current version would lead to misunderstanding. You can ignore and dodge this all you want, but you have to remember – you are the ones that attached the “perfect” label to your god.”
This simply begs the question as it doesn’t attempt to show that what we have now isn’t perfect, or at least as logically possible to perfect one can get. I’ll explain more below.
“Question. What good is the bible if one is unable to read it and know what is the right thing to do?”
This question becomes nonsensical if the commenter pondered on it a little longer. What they’re demanding is something along the lines of an omniscient Bible. They want something that can cater to the whims and problems of every culture and individual to have ever existed and ever will exist. I would argue that what we have now is the closest to that that is logically possible, but a literal handbook of every human conflict and problem to have ever existed and ever will exist would be logistically impossible. With that said, we should show little sympathy to the modern reader who prefers to binge the Simpsons rather than study what’s most important.
But even that is too high a price as we see in this refusal to engage with the material.
“God, you are such an idiot. TMM asks why we need experts to explain a book that could have been written to not need experts to explain it. And who are YOU to say these “experts” are correct in their claimed knowledge? Or am I not allowed to question your statement that these “experts” know their stuff, or even that they are correct in their explanation? To quote Bill O’Reilly “You pinheads are just desperate.”
Rather than critically engaging with what scholars say on the matter, it seems easier for this commenter to wave them off with nothing more than a “How do they know?” concern. Maybe she’s desperate to avoid doing the legwork? Refusing to read scholarly material is not the same as critically questioning it. That’s not skepticism, that’s dogma, as another commenter backhandedly asked,
“Are the works written by secular scholars, working for secular institutions, or are they written by religious scholars, working for religious institutions?”
For this atheist, it seems books written by someone with an opposing view are biased, whilst one who shares their own is open-minded and objective. Once more, rejecting a critical work because it’s written by someone with an opposing view isn’t engaging with the material, it’s an evasion to avoid dealing with the arguments. Turning away everything written from an opposing perspective is a position no critical thinker would take seriously. Moreover, the works these guys often rely on to get their view of Christianity (i.e. that science opposes religion and that God will burn people in Hell for eternity) comes from Christian writers. They find no problem treating what they say as true as long as it conforms with what they want Christianity to be.
In many cases, the distinction doesn’t even make a difference. What The Messianic Manic was objecting to in his video were ancient law codes. It’s a social matter and whether one is religious or not social functions doesn’t change. This next one is my favourite.
“If your man-made deity actually existed, and if your favoured work of ancient mythology truly were the “Word of God”, then we can expect certain things.
One of the things is: No shameless lies and excuses in the name of God (=apologetics) are needed to preserve the illusion of a true faith.
“But what do we see? The exact opposite of that! And precisely BECAUSE the Bible is definitely nothing but the word and work of man, it is the reason for why it gives the impression that it is the word of man. But to preserve faith, apologetics is needed. Your perceived stupidity is thus NOT our ignorance about your childish superstition, but ignorance about your ridiculous excuses to preserve your faith we don’t know until you come up with them. So, you are disingenuous when you equate those two stupidities to make it look as though TMM were ignorant about your beloved little superstition.
“If the Bible WERE the “Word of God”, then it would be IMPOSSIBLE to see it as anything BUT the “Word of God”. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to understand it only when we take into consideration the time and culture of the people back then because no such circumstances would exist in the first place (eternal law codes instead of ancient law codes, one eternal language instead of ancient languages, one eternal culture instead of ancient cultures).”
Firstly, the majority of theologians claim that God used fallible man to compose the Biblical canon, so the “exact opposite” is what the Bible itself tells us to expect. God uses crooked man to make straight lines.
In the second paragraph, our commenter makes quite the blunder by attacking the discipline of apologetics. Apologetics is the discipline of defending and affirming a belief through intellectual reason. Our commenter says this is wrong and that Christians do this, so the only conclusion is that atheism shouldn’t use apologetics and people should buy into it blindly. Why ask intelligent questions and seek answers if the mere appearance of a belief seems reasonable or unreasonable? It’s not a wonder many refuse to engage scholarly works.
One could give the commenter the benefit of the doubt and say it was simply an unintentional mistake, but the third paragraph brings his argument to a logical conclusion. Here, the commenter not only shoots down intellectual doubt and pursuit, he argues that God should have made a perfectly harmonious and complete human race from the beginning. Human diversity, individual achievement and progression, and passion are useless and irrelevant ideals as God should have filled us with infinite knowledge and perfection from the very beginning. As this commenter wants everything done and dusted why grow and learn? Why help and support your brother? Why show any responsibility at all? Our commenter has taken a number of essential values that make us human and wants them replaced with a metaphorical couch. A lazy, purposeless existence for nothing but a Bible that’s easier to understand. It was a wonder he didn’t tell us God should wipe our bottoms after a trip to the bathroom as well. After the exchange, I proceeded to thank the commenter for his honesty and thus left him to his devices (I never got a reply). This is where the line of reasoning I’ve explored throughout this post ends.
The last comment I want to point to is a common fundy atheist argument: when in doubt, resort to bigotry.
“Ok lets get it straight the only evidence one should is except is hard physical evidence that has been tested. not a book written thousands of year ago by goat herders that didn’t even know anything about basic hygiene. nothing short of that will convince me. so no i do not want to debate you on this because you have noting a but a book written by simple people that don’t even know to wipe there ass”
I apologize for the language but I don’t wish to give this commenter any more dignity than what his/her comment deserves, so I left it as is. The majority of comments on Tekton’s page complain about his harsh language and satirical delivery, but when a comment one would expect from a KKK member is a common argument amongst fundy atheists, should we really take their complaints seriously?
This look into the “skeptic” community only reaffirms what I concluded awhile back. New Atheism simply has nothing new to argue. It’s the same old soundbites recycled again and again by ignorant clowns who hold themselves with a smug and condescending posture. It’s pretty funny when you think about it.