Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chuck's Rage

Chuck Norris is parlaying his onscreen portrayals of hyperviolent dumbasses into a second career as a public intellectual, one who is currently fighting-mad at atheism:

[A]nti-religious (and particularly anti-Christian) bigotry is in vogue these days. But I, for one, am neither amused by intolerant verbiage nor passive about my politics. There is absolutely no justification for these atheists' written revile. And if they want to keep using hate-filled language against theists and particularly Christians, then they shouldn't be surprised when they meet up with a yuletide (verbal) roundhouse kick.

Anyone can spew religious distain, but is that what America's founders created our rights for? Just because they post such verbal vomit, does that demonstrate intellectual superiority or the type of moral decency our founders hoped we would perpetuate?
There are just so many things to learn from this passage: that disdain is spelled with a t; that revile is a noun; that anti-Christian bigotry is in vogue (albeit not necessarily en vogue); that Chuck Norris's onscreen portrayals of violent dumbasses was not, strictly speaking, acting.

He does, I'll allow, skitter the boundaries of a valid point when he writes that
atheists are free to believe, speak and post whatever they want. This is America – and that's their First Amendment right. But, to do so with harassment and hatred under the guise of free speech is despicable. An anti-religious poster filled with spite is in no way equated with a religious symbol like a nativity.
A less histrionic and self-pitying version of this might be to say that atheists do ourselves no favors by exercising our rights to post holiday-themed displays only to convey messages that violate the spirit of the holidays. Perhaps Christmas-Hanukkah-New Years-Festivus is not the time nor place to point out that religion is false and counterproductive, however true that might be? Granted, something like this would be a valid counterpoint to a public display that stressed the importance of Jesus or another religious figure to the holiday, e.g., "Jesus is the reason for the season," but "religion enslaves minds" is a pretty glaring rhetorical mismatch for "Merry Christmas."

Whatever valid point Chuck Norris made above he quickly erased with this, among other things:
For to say God in no way exists is to say every religious leader in any age was delusional at best. And not one prayer, not one cry to God in crisis ... on any continent in any era of human history has ever been answered. Not one! Atheists must conclude that billions and billions and billions of so-called alleged answered prayers throughout history were not real – but wishful thinking, coincidences or something else. For, if just one answer were a result of divine intervention, God would exist and atheism vanquished. Is that reasonable? Rational? That premise alone rules atheism preposterous and foolish.
Is it a premise or a conclusion, Chuck? Either way, yes: every prayer has been a message sent into the blank where a god is only imagined to be. Every instance of answered prayer has been wishful thinking, coincidence, or otherwise illusory. Nothing fails like prayer, even at Christmas.

(via Ed Brayton)


larryniven said...

This seems like a good a place as any for an entertaining anecdote that I've been waiting to tell:

Okay, so, back when I was in college, I took this class on beliefs (mostly because it sounded like the least work-intensive class that fulfilled the requirements that it did). And, unsurprisingly, one day in this class the topic turned to prayer. I was fortunate(?) enough to have a pretty hardcore believer in my class, who in fact had been converted from something like atheism by his girlfriend (already we're off to kind of a shaky start, I know). In defense of his faith, he told the following story (look! I'm just like Hamlet!):

He was chatting online with his g/f about some problem or other in her life, and he told us that he started praying for her because it was just that bad (can't remember at the moment what it was, but it's not really relevant). So, at the end of their conversation, she paused for a few seconds and asked if he had been praying for her, because all of a sudden she felt much better about the whole thing. So he was all, whoa, that's crazy, my prayer must've worked, God exists, etc.! And there I was in class, sitting and listening to him talking, and to be honest, for about a minute I was kind of like whoa myself.

...and then I thought about it again. This girl had been keeping a major issue to herself for who knows how long, finally tells a close personal relation about it, and attributes the resulting relief to prayer? Now, I had no way of knowing for sure that it was just the usual glad-I-got-that-off-my-chest kind of thing, but it really hit me how easy it is to quit thinking about stuff when you've found the answer that makes you feel good. I never brought it up, either in class or privately with the guy, but I really hope he figured it out, because I'm with you: prayer is only a half-step above horseshoes and rabbit's feet.

Dale said...

LN, I've heard similar stories and have found them momentarily compelling now and again. But they unravel upon a closer look.

The power of prayer is one of the major examples of people simply not being aware of the diversity of belief in the world. Lots of Christians have their "prayer works" stories, but so do lots of Muslims, lots of Hindus, etc. And of course it's wide open to selection bias -- how many prayers go unanswered but don't get talked about? Lots.

larryniven said...

Also true - it would've been really interesting if someone from a different religion had piped up, because that would have had elements both of agreement (yes, some prayer works) and of disagreement (no, your prayer doesn't work, or, at best, you're mistaken as to the reasons why). I would've just sounded like a jerk, though, and plus been an easy target, which I guess to some extent is what's happening now, what with most seizing upon the appearance of agreement even though, fundamentally, Christianity (e.g.) has the same beef with us as they do with Islam.