I’m angry that these scams (that’s what I’ll call them) have such horrible effects on the world. I’m angry that millions of Catholic kids get permanently traumatized with visions of hell, and permanently riddled with guilt about “sins” like masturbation. I’m angry that priests, under cover of their own superior wisdom and spirituality, sexually victimize their flocks. I’m angry that mullahs are calling for their followers to kill innocent people, while other more “liberal” mullahs refrain from calls for murder but don’t decry those murders when they occur. I’m angry that thousands of Africans will die because the Pope and his priests won’t sanction condoms for their flock. I’m angry that many religions see, and treat, women as second-class citizens, stoning them, swathing them in burkas, or making them sit behind screens in the synagogue and purify themselves in ritual baths during menstruation. I’m angry at the stupid dogmatism that’s behind creationism, and behind the idea that even if evolution might have happened, God did it all. I’m angry at the faithful who dispute global warming, or environmental depredation, because they think God gave us stewardship over the earth. I’m angry at those people who oppose abortion or stem-cell research because of the absolutely stupid idea that a ball of cells is equivalent to a sentient person. I’m angry at the faithful who, on religious grounds, prevent suffering and terminally ill people from deciding to end their own lives. I’m angry that one of the greatest pleasures of being human, the act of sex, is subject to insane restrictions and prohibitions by many faiths — especially when it’s between two people of the same gender.I'm also pissed off, though not in a deep, permanent way, just in a kind of pissed off way, whenever people of reason (but not others) are held to ridiculous and literal-minded standards of propriety. I'm pissed off whenever there's a fuss over the meaning of a word like "delusion", "bogus", or "scam", with no sensitivity to what is actually being conveyed to reasonable people in the relevant context. Whether or not religions are literally "scams", whatever the literal meaning of that word actually is, they're certainly bogus. Is that better?
And I’m angry that religious people try to suppress freedom of speech when it deals with religion, trying to prevent us from calling attention to all this damage.
What is the proper response to all this religiously-inspired nonsense? Anger, of course. No, you don’t have to be a red-faced, sputtering jerk when confronting the faithful, but controlled anger is without doubt the right response to a form of superstition that wreaks uncountable harms on humanity. And not “transitory” anger, either — permanent anger.
Nor need anger turn you into a sour, embittered, and ineffective person. I’ve met the Big Four atheists — Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens — and they’re all delightful people, with not a trace of bitterness. They turn on the anger only when it’s appropriate. I’d rather have a beer with any of them than with a “non-angry” accommodationist like Chris Mooney. Really, in the end it’s the accommodationists who are angry — at us! They pretend to be oh-so-nice people, but underneath are deeply angry and aggressive because we’re not listening to them.
- Russell Blackford
- Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).
Friday, January 14, 2011
Jerry Coyne is angry - and rightly so
I'll come back to this great post by Jerry Coyne, but for now: