David Wong’s Cracked post a big miss. Part 2

The second part of my response to David Wong’s article. Part 1 can be found here.

5. Your point of view is legitimately offensive to them
In this statement, Wong makes a very sweeping generalization for both the religious and the rationalist. I can say with confidence I am not ‘legitimately offended’ by Christianity. To go on to suggest that everyone likes the idea of an all-powerful creator shows a bit of ignorance on Wong’s part, given one of the prime modern atheist commentators says the exact opposite.

Wong in this subheading makes the claim you can have a truthful comment that is also offensive, and that atheists commit these truths to Christians. That’s not necessarily startling, what is surprising however is Wong’s assumption that an evidence-less faith based Christian ‘truths’ have equal validity to rational (in his own words) thought out ‘truths’. I would think it prudent to consider something to at least possess factual potential before making a statement that even if it is a truth, it can still be offensive.

6. We tend to exaggerate the other guy

Wong here states that atheists tend to exaggerate the potential for Christian harm to science, and Christians tend to exaggerate the potential for atheist immoral behavior. He points to America being ‘full of Christians’ but nevertheless a technological and scientific superpower compared with other countries as reason to suggest that Christians reject only some science and overall are not likely to cause much more trouble than that. History is rife with examples with this simply not being the case– to humanity’s scientific (and moral) detriment. America is indeed a technological superpower, one that has (and everyone manages to forget this) ingrained secularism which is miles ahead of practically any other countries who rely more heavily on religious and/or heroic right. This reveals another point- how much more progress could we have made if we weren’t as religious? This question will fortunately but belatedly be revealed throughout the next few centuries.

Wong is correct to note that reduced religious observance results in statistically noticeable reductions in crime. The rejection of some science by Christians seems irksome, given that it is obvious selective acceptance but Wong only acknowledges and does not defend.

7. We tend to exaggerate about ourselves too

This point went over my head. I personally try and defend my real position, not some blown out of proportion one. I must point out however that Wong makes a few more errors and generalizations. He ignores what should be evident- that Christianity changes because of morality and not vice versa, but also states atheists are not completely rational creatures (which is of course true).  His suggestion that neuroscientists believe free will to be an impossible concept is flat out wrong- neuroscience may have had some understanding of decision making. Hell, Wong’s idea of how free will (or lack thereof) is very basic. His story of the atheist professor making too strong a demand to someone to do anything, even if free will does not happen, ignores the science of Psychology and operant conditioning. I’m not saying free will does or does not exist, we simply do not know even within a physical universe. Wong’s criticism of the ‘mind’ harkens back to mind-body dualism and it is perfectly reasonable, rational and potentially scientific to discuss such an artifact. No debate points lost.

8. Focusing on negatives makes you stupid

I’ll agree that the focus on Westboro Baptist Church is unreasonably magnified. I hope that the attention can only be attributed to same desire for people to witness freaks at a Side Show. However the suggestion that modern Christians in America don’t have any beef with homosexuals is flat out wrong. Ignoring the useless and problematic interventions that occur, at the very least until recently prejudice against homosexuals was ingrained in the military. But it’s not like America has had laws against homosexual behavior in civil matters right? Oh wait, sodomy laws were repealed in 2004 for 13 states when the Federal government had to step in. Anti-homosexual laws were innately Christian. Think it’s just a gradual progression towards rationality? Homosexuality in other, highly advanced cultures was completely acceptable before Christianity stepped in (even without rational reasons to do so). Homosexuality in some countries today continues to be persecuted with death based on religious grounds. How rational and fair is that?

9. Both sides have brought good to the table

Wong makes two gross assumptions by suggesting religion a) is not as bad as basic human behavior and b) is somehow the origin of morality and sacred-ness. Morality as I have described before, is innate and good to start with. Basic human behavior of survival seems inherently better to me than say, the Crusades, or persecuting Jews, or child sacrifice but maybe that’s just me. Again, he suggests that logic and rationality cannot work together which is of course ridiculous, and he shoots himself on the foot by previously noticing reduced religious observance results in less crime. I won’t really dwell on this fallacious subheading, given that Wong tries to say that, given the chance, we would be participating in genocidal wars as much as possible.

10. You’ll never harass the other side out of existence

I actually don’t have a huge problem with this one. Atheists do have to be rational human beings, Christians do really need to get a grip. But this is not a convincing ploy, this is just basic human  courtesy and civilization.

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~ by freeze43 on December 29, 2010.

2 Responses to “David Wong’s Cracked post a big miss. Part 2”

  1. Wong in this subheading makes the claim you can have a truthful comment that is also offensive, and that atheists commit these truths to Christians.

    Eliezer Yudkowsky: Reality has been around since long before you showed up. Don’t go calling it nasty names like “bizarre” or “incredible”.

    (In other words, anybody who finds themselves “offended” by the very nature of reality has a bit of a problem.)

    I personally try and defend my real position, not some blown out of proportion one.

    I’m with you on this one. It’s beyond me how you could possibly “exaggerate” the claim that no gods exist even if you wanted to. (“No, they like REALLLLLY don’t exist.”)

    Homosexuality in some countries today continues to be persecuted with death based on religious grounds. How rational and fair is that?

    Damn straight. I wonder if Wong would say “focusing on negatives makes you stupid” in other situations. “Oh Dr. King, you and your obsession with racism…stop focusing on the negatives!”

  2. […] Part 2 is here. Rate this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

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