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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Despite evidence to the contrary, it turns out that I have style.

Or, more accurately, I have a style. I have come to this realization courtesy of the good boys and girls at Conservapedia and their extremely helpful article "atheistic style." I was unaware that atheists had a distinct style, especially given that we're so incredibly diverse, but as Conservapedia is the "trustworthy encyclopedia" I suppose it must be true. Some of you may be wondering what this style is so allow me to enlighten you by listing the elements of atheistic style below, with my own reactions mingled within.

Atheistic Style According to Conservapedia:

1. a refusal to recognize how democracy relied on Christianity, and how no atheistic culture has lasting democracy.

Well, considering that democracy really got its start in ancient Greece, thus predating the birth of Christ by at least four centuries, I think the atheists may have a point on this one. Not sure what to say about that "atheistic culture" bit, to be honest.

2. a refusal to credit the role played by faith in great contributions of many people, such as Isaac Newton.

Probably a fair point although, at the same time, it's mirrored by a theistic refusal to recognize the role of faith in many atrocities and inequities. Can we just say we're both biased and call it even?

3. a general disbelief of unseen and unquantifiable concepts, such as love, intrinsic beauty and fidelity.

Huh? Seriously? I believe in love just fine (ask my wife) although I think it has its origins in the brain. Fidelity... um... my sense of loyalty and duty is just fine, thank you. As for intrinsic beauty, well, you've got me there but haven't we pretty much been in agreement that beauty is in the eye of the beholder for about 2,300 years? I do admit, however, that I'm skeptical about unobservable entities like god, satan, angels, bigfoot, and the lochness monster but that's a little different from "love" and "fidelity."

4. a belief that atheists are somehow smarter than those having faith, downplaying contributions by Christians.

Naw, not smarter. More ornery, yes, but not necessarily any smarter. We probably do downplay the contributions of Christians sometimes, though.

5. a belief that humans are smarter today than 100 and 1000 years ago.

No. Absolutely not. Better educated, better nourished, healthier, yes, but not smarter.

6. a view that most of science is known and understood, in contrast to Isaac Newton's view that little is understood.

Again, no. I think quite a bit remains to be understood. That said we have some pretty kickass models so any new revelations are going to have to somehow accomodate a growing mountain of scientific data and verified theory.

7. a focus on materialism, and a devotion to relativism in many forms.

Not sure what this means, really. I am a materialist atheist but Buddhists are, arguably, non-materialist atheists so this claim lacks face validity. The whole "devotion to relativism" thing is a red herring as well. There are plenty of atheists who believe in moral absolutes, they're just not absolutes rooted in an invisible supreme being.

8. a generally pessimistic or depressed view of life.

Sorry, folks, I can't stop laughing at this long enough to respond to it.

9. among scientists, a belief in never-detected gravitons, black holes, dark matter, super strings and life in outer space.

Woah, woah, woah: in point 3 above we were said to generally disbelieve in the unseen. Now we're characterized by our willingness to believe in the unseen? Shit, it's no mean trick to do both. Besides, that "never-detected" bit is just wrong. We know dark matter or something like it exists since... you know... our galaxy doesn't fly apart. When there is as much evidence for angels as there is for dark matter, we can talk. As for black holes... hellloooooo nurse! The case for super strings and extraterrestrial life isn't as strong but, then again, I don't think there are many scientists who would claim that it is.

10. belief in the Nobel Prize, universities and newspapers as oracles of truth.

No, I don't think any of the above are oracles of truth. I think at best they can produce facts but I define truth a little differently than that. Besides, I don't think anyone is an infallible source of "truth." And if there's a defining characteristic of a lot of atheists, it's that we don't tend to just take people at their word.

11. overreliance on hearsay and a perception (often wrong) of what most people think.

There's so much irony in here that I frankly couldn't cut through it with a monoblade.

12. an insistence on censoring prayer from the classrom.

Actually no. I just don't think it should be compulsory. It's hardly censorship to insist that people not be compelled to do something.


And, there you have it: the elements of atheistic style according to Conservapedia. I know I feel more enlightened.

Now, some of you are probably feeling left-out. We're not all atheists here and, as such, you may wish you had a style of your own. Well, thanks to Conservapedia, you might as they also have equally superb* articles on Liberal style and Christian syle. Check them out and weep for our future!

And then, just maybe, let's all recognize once more the intrinsic danger of promulgating horrid stereotypes.


* i.e. "craptacular."

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