So, the book below just popped into my life (how do things like this just ‘pop’ into my life anyway? Providence? Contingency? Accident? Amazon referrals?)
And I my first thought was, “Great. Just great. Not only do I have to worry about assholes trying to convert me to Christianity, now I have to worry about assholes trying to convert me to atheism. Why does everybody gotta be such a @#$%?”
It’s a legitimate question.
But, hey, at least the so-called new atheists (cue your best Paula Cole: “Where have all the good Nietzscheans gone?”) are radically different from all the religious practitioners they decry. Atheists would never refer to believers as subhuman, stupid, foolish, ignorant or idiotic.
Only religious people do that to others.
(If you want to keep believing that, never ever listen to Dawkins or Harris speak about religious people. And, truth be told, this is where I miss Hitchens the most. Though he was a terribly careless scholar, he was witty as all get out–which did not require him to be a jerk to make his point. Though, on occasion, he could be a tad pompous, but, as you well know, I’m okay with that.)
Granted, I’m not saying that’s what Boghossian does in his new book, A Manual for Creating Atheists. Not at all. Actually, he seems like a pretty cool dude. Anyone who teaches the Socratic method to prison inmates can’t be too shabby. No, it’s his recent converts and disciples that are doing it.
This makes me wonder if this particular stripe of atheism fits the definition of a meme or, better yet–if I may subvert a pejorative description I learned from Richard Dawkins–a virus? If so, it appears that the virus is indeed spreading. Just look at the booming sales of Peter Boghossian’s book–along with the books of Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, Hitchens, Shermer . . . wait, there’s a trend here . . . what is it? Oh, if only I were a brilliant objective non-deluded purely cognitive free-thinking ‘bright’ I would be able to discover the truth!
“Alas, fear not loyal readers!” (I just snagged that phrase from a 60’s issue of X-Men–I now own the first and second appearance of Polaris!) I have just scored an interview with Brother Pete where we will make all kinds of fun of one another, discuss the proper use of the Socratic method (I prefer the Wittgensteinian method or, at the very least, the Evan Dorkin method), and, more importantly, provide him the space to convert any of you kids who are on, under, or even straddling the fence as to why you should be an atheist.
So, tune in next time for . . .
How to Create An ________ (hint: it begins with an ‘a’): Part Deus! (Get it? See what I did there. Okay, okay.)
PS: Here’s hoping he succeeds . . . at least with me. Matthew 5-7 is brutal. I need a respectable way out.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.