The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day

Hello Winnipeg Skeptics, I’m Lindsay! I’m pleased to be joining this blog as a contributor, and I thought I’d briefly introduce myself before getting on with my first post. I was a Christian my whole life until 2008, when I started doubting my religion. This led me to skepticism of all sorts of claims that I used to buy into, and I’ve been interested in the skeptical movement ever since. I started a blog about a year and a half ago, and I mostly write about atheism, as well as general topics of interest to skeptics.

The following is cross-posted from Struck by Enlightning.

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Awhile back (a long while), someone named Chris commented on my Reading List page (which I have to update) that I should read The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day. Since it’s free to download I agreed, but so far I haven’t gotten past the first chapter. I thought I would write about the first section of the first chapter, and then maybe you can tell me if it’s even worth my time to keep reading.

The first chapter is called A Pride of Atheists (barf). Below is the text of the book in black, and my comments in red.

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I don’t care if you go to Hell. Shit! Well that’s one way to kick off your book.

God does, assuming He exists and assuming you know the mind of God, or He okay this is only the second “He” in this chapter and I’m already annoyed at the capitalizing of the word “he”…God cares about me but he’ll hold it against me if I don’t capitalize a pronoun? wouldn’t have bothered sending His Son to save you from it. Jesus Christ does, too, assuming he existed, if you’ll accept for the sake of argument that he went to all the trouble of incarnating as a man, dying on the cross, and being resurrected from the dead in order to hand you a Get Out of Hell Free card. Is God not omnipotent? He really had to go to all that trouble to give me a Get Out of Hell Free card? And if he went to all that trouble why is my ticket out of hell so conditional? Free my ass!

Me, not so much. I don’t know you. I don’t owe you anything. I don’t know you either, Vox Day, but if I thought you were going to hell I would care. I’d be absolutely outraged. Nobody deserves eternal torment. While as a Christian I am called to share the Good News with you, I can’t force you to accept it. Horse, water, drink, and all that. Barf.

So, it’s all on you. Your soul is not my responsibility.

I am a Christian. I’m also a libertarian. I believe in free will and in allowing you to exercise it. I believe that our free will is a gift from our Creator and that He expects us to use it. I believe in living and letting live. If you’ll leave me alone, I’ll be delighted to do you the courtesy of leaving you alone in return. I have no inherent problem with atheists or agnostics, I have no problem with Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Pastafarians, and I have no problem with the crazies who believe that humanity is the result of ancient alien breeding experiments. To be honest, I rather like the crazies—their theories are usually the most entertaining of the lot. I believe what I believe, you believe what you believe, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t both be perfectly cool with that. Sure, fine, I can go along with that.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are not so much cool with that. Wha?? Wrong, they’re fine with letting people believe what they want too. Just because they choose to talk about atheism and criticize religion doesn’t mean that they want to force their views onto other people. Richard Dawkins was even part of an ad campaign that encouraged letting children choose for themselves what they believe, rather than labelling them from birth as Christians or Muslims or atheists, etc.

I’m not asking you to respect my beliefs. Good, I don’t. So far I don’t particularly respect you either. I mean, you just basically told me that you’ll be fine with it if I go to Hell. Why should you? Maybe you think I’m insane because I believe that Jesus is coming back one of these days, but does my insanity actually affect you in any material way? Not insane, but perhaps misguided. But it’s your prerogative if you think zombie Jesus is coming back. Is my religious madness really all that much more out there than my faith that the Minnesota Vikings will win the Super Bowl someday? Umm yeah the idea that some guy that’s the son of God but is also God who died 2000 years ago is going to come back to life and bring everyone up to heaven with him is kinda way more out there than the possibility that the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. Go Vikings! Talk about the substance of things hoped for . . . Vegas will give you better odds on J.C. this year. Who’s in the house? J.C.! As for your beliefs, I really don’t care if you want to question God’s existence or criticize the Pope or deny the Holocaust or declare that Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet. Every member of humanity is at least a little bit crazy in his own special way, some just happen to make it a little more obvious than others. True dat, yo.

Vox’s First Law: Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity. I guess that’s supposed to be funny or cute or something, but it just doesn’t really work.

All I ask, all the vast majority of the billions of people of faith on the planet ask, is to be left alone to believe what we choose to believe and live how we decide to live. That’s fine by me, if only people were content just believing what they choose to believe. Unfortunately many believers want their faith to dictate what gets taught in the science classroom, or they want to decide who can legally marry or whether a woman can choose whether or not to stay pregnant. In some places peoples’ beliefs lead to terrorism and extreme violence against women. People can believe what they want to believe, but once those beliefs start affecting other peoples’ rights, we have to speak out against it. But the Unholy Trinity have no intention of leaving me alone. Richard Dawkins accuses me of child abuse because I teach my children that God loves them even more than I do. I’m not really sure if I agree with Dawkins that labelling your kid as a Christian (or whatever religion) from birth is tantamount to child abuse, but if what you want is for people to believe what they choose to believe, shouldn’t you avoid teaching your kids that there’s a god and let them discover that for themselves? Shouldn’t you let them be exposed to many different religions and to the idea that there may be no god and let them make their own informed decision without your prodding? Sam Harris declares that I should not be tolerated and suggests that it might be ethical to kill me in preemptive self-defense. Um, what? Sam Harris said that Christians should be killed? I seriously doubt that…anyone know what he’s talking about here? Christopher Hitchens asserts that I am a form of human Drāno, poisoning everything I encounter. He said religion poisons everything, not you. And I would sooner compare you to the clog in the drain, because you’re trying to stop the discourse and have everyone shut up about their beliefs, wheras Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins want to get the debate flowing. A fourth New Atheist, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, is less judgmental, but even he, bless his heart, wants to save me from myself. At least he cares enough to want to save you, you don’t even care if he goes to hell!

And now we have a problem.

That’s why I’m writing this book. I’m not trying to convince you that God exists. Why not? If you convince atheists that God exists then they won’t be out there doing all those horrible things like talking about skepticism of religion and criticizing the Bible. I’m not trying to convince you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I’m not even trying to convince you that religious people aren’t lunatics with low IQs who should be regarded with pity and contempt. But I am confident that I will convince you that this trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, are a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudo-scientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world. You won’t succeed if the rest of the book is as full of crap as this first little bit has been.

I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk he reminds me of Julian from the Trailer Park Boys, always a drink in hand, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong OMG, wrong and French?. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness. All I can do is roll my eyes here.

You make the call. Here’s what I think so far: the rest of this book will be a waste of my time.

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Okay I’m back to black text now…so what do you think? Should I keep reading?

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13 thoughts on “The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day

  1. I get that he’s triyng to be funny, but that comes off to me as supremely arrogant.

    In fairness, I’ve never read anything by Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. They might be just as bad, although if their books are as their speeches, I doubt it.

    1. I don’t find Dawkins and Harris as sounding arrogant, but that could just be because I agree with them. Hitchens probably comes off sounding the most arrogant of the three, but isn’t that why people love Hitchens?

      1. Reading Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens is a great way to spend an evening. I find them to be well informed and level headed. We (my hunny and I) are currently going through Richard Dawkins – The Greatest Show on Earth. I find it to be quite Matter-of-factly, informed and, not arrogant to say the least. Hitchens does not strike me as arrogant but rather appalled at religious practices. I don’t blame him one bit for his choice of words and his mastery of the English language.

        Some to most religious practices seem to be disgusting and evil in every sense of the words. These authors/speakers show humanity the atrocities committed by the pious by not sugar coating the graphic images. It takes incredible courage as the zealots come out of the wood work with attempts to eliminate their voices as well as threats to their friends and family.

        Without these people we would still have a hush order against speaking on these topics. I will link more of my findings in greater detail when I release the blog post that I promised to write several weeks ago on the message boards of Winnipeg Skeptics. Stay tuned.

  2. I don’t like the “new atheists” tag that some folks (mostly people opposed to the idea) label people. Dawkins, Hitchens etc. have been atheist for many years and have been out as such for many years. Just because there has been rise of people not afraid to say it outright is doesn’t make this a “new atheist” movement of some kind.

    1. The “new athiest” monikor isn’t completely accurate, since they aren’t selling anything that hasn’t been around for at least 1,000 years already.

      Still, the term simply describes the “latest wave” of atheist evangelists…

  3. Richard Dawkins accuses me of child abuse because I teach my children that God loves them even more than I do.

    No, that’s not at all what Dawkins says.

    Matt Dillahunty made a good point on The Atheist Experience yesterday, I think. We can probably all agree that telling your kid that he/she is a Christian isn’t child abuse to any measurable extent. But, telling a child that all human beings (including him/her) are inherently evil and deserving of suffering and death… that, I think constitutes child abuse. And there are many Christian denominations that teach that, at least at a core level.

  4. Can anyone give me some simple advice on how to respond to the Jehovah Witness? I find myself incoherent with frustration and rage with their perpetuation of ignorance.

    I did learn at the Skeptics Conference in Vegas last summer to ‘light a candle’, not swing a hammer, however, I find myself getting much to agitated for my own good whenever I engage in a debate.

    Some options:

    1. not answer the door
    2. use humor. such as?
    3.ask a simple question such as, “If God asked you, like he asked Abraham, to take his son up on the mountain to kill him, would you obey?”

    any ideas out there?

    1. My response will vary greatly based on mood. I have more experience with door-to-door Mormons than with JWs, but the approach is identical.

      If I’m feeling punchy, I’ll just open the door and say, “Hi, I’m a little busy having sex at the moment. Would you mind coming back later?” If you’re not in the mood, being honest is also a good approach: “I’m busy/not in the mood at the moment. Please remove yourselves from my property. No, I’m not interested in a free copy of The Watchtower.”

      If I’ve got a bit of time on my hands, I’ll take the Atheist Experience approach: “What do you believe, and why?” Usually they’ll assume that you already believe in a god and go from there. If you ask why you should believe in their god, you’ll usually get a response something along the lines of, “Well, where did this all come from?” or “Just look at the trees!” This is, of course, an argument from ignorance, which in effect states: “Whatever you can’t explain, God did it.” For a comprehensive look at counter-apologetics, I recommend visiting Iron Chariots.

      Hope this helps!

    2. Hi Dianne, I’ve never had a visit from a JW myself, but remember they’re at your house so you have no obligation to allow them to speak or to even open the door. But if you do want to have a conversation, here’s what I would suggest:

      -Stick to asking them questions and making them justify their beliefs rather than trying to refute everything they say. “How do you know?” can get you pretty far (how do you know Jesus said that? How do you know that’s what God wants? How do you know the Bible is true?). Every time they come back with a response keep asking them how they know – after all, it’s your eternal salvation on the line.

      -Be friendly and listen, take notes or even ask if you can record it. I think it’s a good opportunity to get a grasp on their arguments, you don’t always have to refute them. I did this once with a tea-partier cab driver, I just let him go on about his position and goaded him on a bit – it gave me some insight into how these people who look crazy on TV think about the world.

      -Propose a book exchange (my mom did it with some JWs that returned week after week). Say you’ll read the Watchtower if they’ll read Letter to a Christian Nation or some other book (the shorter the better). If they agree to it it could lead to some interesting discussions. If they don’t agree then ask them why you should be open to their world view if they’re not open to yours.

      Don’t get agitated, remember they’ve been indoctrinated so it’ll take a lot more than a conversation with you to change their mind – so don’t let yourself feel pressured to set them straight. Try to plant some seeds of doubt and let them figure it out for themselves. These people aren’t dumb, just a little misguided.

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