stainedglassHave you ever read something and felt as if you’ve wandered into someone’s game of Broken Telephone? Have you read opinions or polemics that, though they may have made sense at one point, have been copied and memefied so many times by so many people that they have become distorted parodies?

Atheism on the internet feels like that.

What happens is that two factors start working in confluence:

1. People can’t think for themselves and can only repeat the arguments of other people
2. A “hive mind” that doesn’t tolerate dissent

The Marquis de Sade wrote a story while incarcerated called Dialogue entre un prêtre et un moribond, an interesting and concise manifesto of atheism framed as conversation between a priest and his dying charge. It’s been downhill since then. These days, you can read things like Why there is no god: Quick responses to some common theist arguments. They are very quick responses. It is recommended that you shout them at religious people out the window of a passing car because then they won’t have enough time to call you stupid.

1. “The Bible God is real.” He doesn’t discuss that at all, he just talks about mistakes and contradictions in the Bible. Clearly if a Jeremy Clarkson biography has logical errors then Clarkson himself vanishes from history. He talks about “selective interpretation”, as though the way we interpret the Bible has anything to do with the existence of God.

2. He argues that Jesus didn’t exist, and to back up his point links to a page that says Jesus existed. Safe to say that you’re not meant to click any of the links in this article. They often don’t back up what he’s saying at all. You’re meant to look at all those blue links and marvel at the author’s intelligence and rigour.

3. “The moment you disagree with a single instruction of the Bible…” No, thanks. There’s lots of ways to interpret the Bible. There are Christians who don’t believe everything in it comes from God, that it was influenced by the earthly politics of its time, or that various things in it have symbolic or metaphoric value.

5. In which we marvel at the shocking revelation that wealthy countries with lots of atheists are more peaceful than impoverished third world shitholes.

10. He uses George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one”…only it’s not presented as a quote. It’s included in the text without attribution or even quotation marks, as if he was the one who thought of it. I think this is generally his thought process. He doesn’t think for himself. Who needs to, when you can repeat memes and quotes and sound-bytes? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but doesn’t it get depressing spending your whole life regurgitating other peoples’ lines?

11. He could have just said “what does beauty have to do with God?” and left it there. He argues about something completely off the point, and misses an easy and obvious response.

It goes on like that for a while. There’s stuff about Christianity being a responsible for every bad thing in the past million years, and a reminder that the bad things done by atheists are not connected to their beliefs in any way. Heads we win, tails they lose. Everything he writes is…wonky. Unpersuasive. It gives every impression being bolted together from various pieces of intellectual detritus from an atheist forum where nobody ever disagrees with anyone. And it continues.

“Copay [sic] every fact on this page you wrote. Make website. Paste. Then. the sheer amount of fact in one internet place will explode, spreading logic throughout the land.
Genius.” — zinc55

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