Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
No government can tell the Pope what to say… but the Pope tells governments what to say all the time. Incidentally, the thing people are asking the Pope to say is an apology for the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools… something he’s already admitted to. Fuck him, and fuck his stooge.
As infuriated as most Canadian atheists are with the Pope’s sleazy, craven avoidance of responsibility in refusing to apologize and make reparations for residential schools, we shouldn’t forget the real victims here… the ones for whom the apology would mean the most.
Yet another bullshit term we have to be on the lookout for, along with “cultural Marxism”.
Michael Coren asks whether the Christian left and Christian right can find common ground on tolerance and social justice. The answer is “no”, but Coren can rest assured the left will win in the long run in any case, as older generations of Christians die off.
I frickin’ love this article. It starts with an infuriating tale of injustice with the Catholic Church getting off scot-free from having to pay liability for sexual abuse of children under their care because of the technicality that the Church itself and the group managing the orphanage were two different legal entities. (Love the zinger:
go forth and incorporate.) But then it makes delicious lemonade out of that by pointing out that if the management entity isn’t really the Church… why should it be tax free?
There were a couple of stories this week that were… challenging… for atheists. This is the first. Don’t be fooled by the publishing date; this was no April Fool’s joke. It’s hard to know where to begin here. What we have, in essence, is Julian Baggini pompously lecturing atheists for thinking believers are all crazy or stupid… because he apparently believes atheists are all crazy or stupid. It’s strawman Inception. While I have no doubt there are some idiot atheists on the fringes who seriously believe that all believers are crazy or stupid, every atheist I’ve ever spoken to in my entire life – online and off – recognizes that of course there are brilliant and perfectly reasonable believers, because they compartmentalize. I could even name a dozen brilliant people who are very open about their faith without even stopping to think; here’s a freebie: Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project and devout Methodist. We only use crazy/stupid as a shorthand when making memes or jokes, where sacrificing precision for rhetorical impact is SOP (and we’re not going to stop). The beliefs are crazy/stupid, but not necessarily the people – at least not in their activities that don’t involve their faith… which is virtually all their activities.
 “Chris Hadfield: The astronaut’s guide to flat Earth theory” (Video: 3:30)
Astronaut Chris Hadfield gives his opinion on how to deal with flat-Earthers. In summary: “Fuck ’em.”
This satirical article requires a bit of background: this week the Pope not only refused to apologize for the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools abuses (mentioned in several other items this week), he was also apparently misquoted by an atheist journalist as saying there is no hell. It takes a certain kind of journalist to see the connection between the two stories… not necessarily a good kind of journalist, but the kind of journalist that’s courageous enough to be like Tim Fontaine.
This was the other article that really stirred up the atheist community this week, but unlike the Baggini article, this one isn’t unintentionally self-parody; it actually makes an point. Most of the backlash to the article I saw was righteous indignation at that the idea that “all”, “most”, or even just “many” atheists are
veeringalt-right, because those just aren’t true. Yes, sure, but… thing is… that’s not what Stedman said. Go ahead and re-read his article if you don’t believe me. All he said was
too manyare, and most aren’t speaking out against it all that much, if at all. The latter is pretty obviously true – just look around the atheosphere, especially the big names… you won’t find all that much sustained, vigorous condemnation of the alt-right and their beliefs; at most just the odd, token, wishy-washy, handwavey attempt to distance oneself from it without being too critical. As for the first part … well, I can sum the rebuttal to that up with an actual conversation I had. Them:
How can Stedman sayMe:
too manyatheists are alt-right. Where’s his numbers? Where’s his data?
Are there any atheists who have gone alt-right?Them:
Well, yeah, there are a few.Me:
Well, that’s… too… fucking… many!And anyway, Stedman’s real thesis isn’t about the numbers of atheists veering alt-right, it’s about the fact that our community is a place that’s at least passively allowing it to happen, and at worst, creating the cultural medium that allows the bacterial growth of the alt-right. (Disclosure: I wrote an article where it seems I largely absolved the atheist community of responsibility for the alt-right. In hindsight, I don’t think I made it quite clear enough that I was specifically focusing on just the Canadian atheist community. Our situation and culture is very different from our American brethren. The Canadian community wasn’t nearly as responsible for the racist, fascist, and nationalist leanings of what is now the alt-right. However, we are very much guilty of contributing anti-Muslim bigotry – perhaps more so than the Americans. (We also contributed a lot of anti-feminism, but that was only mentioned tangentially, because the article was already very long with the two topics I had in mind to compare and contrast (white nationalism and anti-Muslim bigotry). Perhaps that’s something that should be explored in a future article.))
This is the first of two responses (interestingly, both Patheos blogs) to Stedman’s article about atheism
veering toward the alt-right, and in my opinion the lesser of the two. Its strengths are rebutting some of the “facts” Stedman offers, and I do agree with its final assessment that atheism as healthier than a lot of the recent negative opinion pieces suggest. (That is to say, we’re not nearly as bad off as it’s become chic to claim, what with all the histrionic announcements of people “walking away” from the movement because it’s allegedly beyond saving… but we do have serious problems to face.) Where it falls down is that it seems to be woefully out of touch both with huge segments of the atheist universe – one merely needs to search “atheism” on YouTube, for example, to see that alt-right attitudes are rampant among people speaking out under the term “atheist” explicitly (and if you pooh-pooh using YouTube as an example, ask any woman or minority on Twitter who’s ever spoken up out of line with alt-right talking points in atheist circles how their view of the atheist community looks) – and also woefully out of touch with what we know about the history of the alt-right. There is a very clear lineage tracing the alt-right back to the “ElevatorGate” fiasco involving atheist activist Rebecca Watson and some very stupid commentary by Richard Dawkins. (It also makes the embarrassingly obvious comprehension error that so many did, conflating
too manywith “most”.) In ignoring the experiences of vast swaths of the community, and ignoring the evidence of the atheist community’s guilt in the forging of the alt-right, this response – while it does have its merits – ultimately has very little value.
I think I read somewhere else that she later claimed she hadn’t actually read the book and didn’t realize how… Nazi… it was, despite waving it around in the video and even calling it “edgy”. Whatever.
Holy shit this is incredible. Noah Berlatsky has put together the ultimate resource for Jordan Peterson. If you ever run across someone trying to function under the delusion that Peterson is not a crank, this is your Machinery’s Handbook to setting them straight.
This is the second response to the
atheism veering toward the alt-rightarticle, and as much a response to the first response. This one is a much deeper and more thoughtful take on the original argument, and delves into what aspects of the atheist community might actually be the source of the problem. It even offers solutions. Most importantly, it makes the point that so many atheists miss when reading critiques like Stedman’s: when someone identifies problems in our community, your first response should not be to defensively rebut them them… your first response should be to consider how they may be fixed.
Canadian Atheist’s Weekly Update depends on the submissions of readers like you. If you see anything on the Internet that you think might be of interest to CA readers, please take a minute to make a submission.