The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Fanaticism

December 26, 2005 | 25 Comments

Jeff Nall declares war on the war on Christmas. He’s upset that Brian Flemming is promoting a documentary which, rather than simply conceding that all belief systems are equal, attacks the truth of Christianity. Nall fears that Flemming is playing into the hands the religious fanatics who raise money by promoting the myth that there are people who actually disagree with the core premises of religion and would like to drive it out of the public square:

The sooner atheists realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, “all-knowing” mentality of the Religious Right, the sooner they can move beyond religion and form a truly vibrant freethought movement. One would do well to remember the lesson of the Enlightenment wasn’t that the enemy of reason was/is belief in God. It’s that religious fanaticism, or any other fanaticism for that matter, is the true enemy of rational minds.

Not that Nall actually believes this to be true — for that, too would be arrogant fanaticism. But he nevertheless makes suggestions on how to combat the enemy (not that there’sreally an enemy, mind you). Instead of attacking the truth of their principles (fruitless, since there’s no such thing as truth), we should call them names and attack their motives. Thus, Nall notes that “most sensible people have treated such half-witted rhetoric [of Bill O’Reilly and Jerry Falwell] accordingly,” and approves of the tactics of Joe Conn and Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who both dismiss Falwell’s half-witted rhetoric as part of a “fundraising mechanism.”

There’s a lot I could say about why Nall is wrong. But why bother with reason? Every sensible person can see that he’s just a half-witted fundraiser.

Comments

25 Responses to “Fanaticism”

  1. Mookie
    December 26th, 2005 @ 2:15 pm

    Nah, let’s keep telling them they are stupid idiots and wrong. How else are they going to know?

  2. Nokot
    December 26th, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

    “…a group of college students at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) made headlines with their “Smut for Smut” event, in when (sic) they gave away pornography in exchange for religious scripture…”

    For more info on that event:
    http://www.atheistagenda.org/projects/smut_for_smut

  3. REV_HOLY_FIRE
    December 26th, 2005 @ 5:09 pm

    YOU ATHEISTS ARE THE STUPID IDIOTS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO INDULGE IN YOUR STUPIDITY.

    EVOLUTION IS BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!

  4. snap crafter
    December 26th, 2005 @ 5:18 pm

    That would hurt, if you didn’t type in all caps like a yahoo.

    Bullshit eh? well I suppose a YEC would know a little something about ‘bullshit’

  5. Kafkaesquí
    December 26th, 2005 @ 10:50 pm

    I also like the non sequitur about evolution at the end of REV’s comment. Perhaps it’s Nall in disguise?

  6. Kevin
    December 27th, 2005 @ 2:21 am

    I also agree. A message written in CAPS gives me a headache.

  7. Matt
    December 27th, 2005 @ 10:00 am

    while I agree that they are stupid and wrong, and attacking the truth of their principles is a good idea from a certain perspective, such attacks can often make theists deaf to any other arguments we might make, such as keeping church and state separate. Nall’s indirect approach at least offers an opportunity to show the cracks in religion’s very leaky armor. Get people to realize what the true motives of the religious right are, and they’ll start to question everything they say, and perhaps even the dogma they spout. The religious right has been using similar tactics for decades now, and it’s been successful to the degree that many religious moderates are now saying that we should “teach the controversy” about evolution or that we should “give both sides equal time” in the classroom.

    Frontal assaults can be effective, but sometimes guerrilla tactics or flanking maneuvers to chip away at the “enemy” are the most effective. This is one of those case where I think both may be called for.

  8. Daryl McCullough
    December 27th, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    Raving Atheist writes: “…rather than simply conceding that all belief systems are equal…” Where does Nall say that? Sorry, I don’t see where this venom towards Nall is coming from. And Kafkaesquí’s comment makes no sense whatsoever. Nall thinks that evolution is bullshit? Where did you get that impression?

  9. REV_HOLY_FIRE
    December 27th, 2005 @ 3:01 pm

    I’M A HALF-WITTED CHRISTIAN ASS MAGGOT WITH A HEAD FOR AN ASS AND ASS FOR A HEAD. IT WAS WRITTEN THAT WAY IN REVELATIONS SOMEWHERE. BLESS JEEZNUTZ.

  10. The Raving Atheist
    December 27th, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

    Raving Atheist writes: “…rather than simply conceding that all belief systems are equal…” Where does Nall say that? Sorry, I don’t see where this venom towards Nall is coming from.

    Nall says that atheists should “realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, ‘all-knowing’ mentality of the Religious Right.” Plainly, Nall wants atheists to concede that their beliefs are no better than those of the fundamentalists. In Nall’s book, there is no such thing as actually “knowing” anything — to claim so would be presumptive arrogance of some sort. It’s as if he said that “doctors should realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, ‘all-knowing’ mentality of faith healers.” But doctors are perfectly entitled to do so, and to declare war on faith healing. Medicine and quackery just aren’t equal, and it’s more arrogant to claim that they are than to correctly claim that medicine is superior.

  11. thorngod
    December 27th, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

    MATT, Comment 6: “Frontal assaults and guerrila tactics…both may be called for.” -reminded me of something from a grade-C western I saw as a kid. The marshall is sending Lash Larue to clean out the rowdies in another town. “Will you go as Lash Larue,” the marshall asks, “or as the Cheyenne Kid.” “It’ll probably take a combination of both,” replies Lash. … While I agree that militant spiritualism deserves all the frontal assaults and guerrila tactics one can level against it, I find questions concerning how best to attack the wingnuts about as humorous as the lines from that movie. There are no arguments and no insults you can hit them with that will cause a dent in their armor. If you can compel their children to attend public schools from an early age, and can compel their teachers to eschew all superstitional instruction, you just may make a little headway in the next generation…. Efforts of reason are best directed at Barry Lynn et al, at adherents of watered-down versions of the faith, and at Sunday Christians, as these have already strayed from The Word and may be susceptible to further deprogramming. If you can accomplish just this much I will then be willing to join you in assaulting Islam and Voodooism.

  12. Daryl McCullough
    December 27th, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    Nall says that atheists should “realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, ‘all-knowing’ mentality of the Religious Right.” Plainly, Nall wants atheists to concede that their beliefs are no better than those of the fundamentalists.

    You say “plainly”, but I certainly don’t see that he is saying that. He’s comparing “antics and attitudes”, not beliefs.

  13. The Raving Atheist
    December 27th, 2005 @ 4:56 pm

    You say “plainly”, but I certainly don’t see that he is saying that. He’s comparing “antics and attitudes”, not beliefs.

    Antics and attitudes which mirror [an]. . . ‘all-knowing’ mentality.” He’s saying that we shouldn’t take the attitude that our mentality — i.e. beliefs — are superior to those of the fundamentalists. And “taking an attitude of superiority” about something is just a shorthand for saying that one is insisting that it’s true.

    Why is Nall attacking Flemming at all? O’Reilly et al have complained about a “war on Christmas,” i.e., an attack on a specific religion intended to drive it out of the public square. Flemming has admitted that he is trying to do precisely that with a documentary that shows that Jesus was just one in a long line of mythic martyrs-Gods. Unless Nall believes in the myth, or thinks it’s plausible enough to be debatable, he should be attacking O’Reilly and Lynn for not actively joining the war and ridding America of superstition.

  14. Daryl McCullough
    December 27th, 2005 @ 5:19 pm

    He’s saying that we shouldn’t take the attitude that our mentality — i.e. beliefs — are superior to those of the fundamentalists.

    You keep saying that he’s saying things that he isn’t actually saying.

  15. REV_HOLY_FIRE
    December 27th, 2005 @ 6:35 pm

    EVOLUTION IS A FALSE DOCTRINE AND YOU KNOW IT.
    IT\’S A PILE OF SHIT!!!!
    EVOLUTION IS BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. REV_HOLY_FIRE
    December 27th, 2005 @ 7:30 pm

    I KNOW EVOLUTION ISN’T PERFECT, ONLY BECAUSE BULLSHIT LIKE MYSELF IS PRODUCED IN THE PROCESS. ONLY THING I KNOW IS HOW TO SMELL LIKE ASSHOLE.

    IN THE MEANTIME I’LL BE LICKIN’ MY JEEZNUTZ WITH FREDDY PHELPS’ THUMB UP MY RESURRECTED SPHINCTOR.

  17. The Raving Atheist
    December 27th, 2005 @ 7:39 pm

    You keep saying that he’s saying things that he isn’t actually saying.

    If I were inclined to talk about the things Nall didn’t actually say, I’d probably point out his incredible cynicism in not mentioning that Barry Lynn, Americans United, the ADL etc all are the very forces behind all the litigation that constitutes the “War on Christmas” that Falwell is complaining about. Do you really think that Nall is serious when he pretends that all Lynn and Conn do is make judicious, soothing public statements? They’re the instigators! Lynn and Falwell have been at each others throats on TV and in the courts for twenty years, and the notion that Lynn is some sort of gentle peacemaker who Falwell might respect is nonsense. He’s promoting a religion as much as Falwell is — liberal ceremonial deism — and raises just as much money through that racket as Jerry does. If only he had the the guts to defend his dishwater theology on the merits.

  18. Paul
    December 27th, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

    Daryl, TRA isn’t not quoting the exact words of Nall, but TRA would claim (if I may be so bold) that his interpretation of their significance and meaning is accurate.

  19. Kafkaesquí
    December 27th, 2005 @ 10:58 pm

    Daryl McCullough: “And Kafkaesquí’s comment makes no sense whatsoever. Nall thinks that evolution is bullshit? Where did you get that impression?

    Would it help if I placed an ONLY KIDDING watermark on any comment meant to be taken in jest?

  20. Daryl McCullough
    December 28th, 2005 @ 11:12 am

    Raving Atheist: Well, I don’t interpret him as saying those things at all. Why don’t you ask him whether he meant to imply that no beliefs are any better than any other beliefs?

  21. Breakerslion
    December 28th, 2005 @ 11:47 am

    The raid against Santa’s toy factory went very badly sir. They were expecting us! I think we have a traitor in our midst! A lot of good, Independent Thinkers won’t be coming home tonight..

    I think that as long as human beings see the solution to their problems in declaring war on whatever-it-is, we have a bigger problem than anyone is addressing. That goes for bleating out that someone has started a war with you just because they strongly disagree too. What’s wrong with “questioning”, or “asserting”? Why couch everything in military terms like, “attack”, and “guerilla tactics” and “militant”? If this ever really becomes a war, armageddon outta here!

    One last thing: Whoever is doing the parody posts of Rev. Holy Fire, please stop. I’m laughing so hard I think I’m going to bust a rib!

  22. mike
    December 29th, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

    If anybody cares, I have to agree that Nall’s closing lecture (quoted in the post) is unnecessary and off the wall.

    But what do you do when your opponent shoots himself in the foot?

    It isn’t self-censorship for us just to laugh at the dumb sons of bitches, is it? I mean, they’re on TV being pissed off because store clerks are wishing them happy holidays. What more could you ask of them to get them to prove to millions of Americans what complete idiots (or hypocrits) they are?

  23. Tony
    January 1st, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

    If you can compel their children to attend public schools from an early age, and can compel their teachers to eschew all superstitional instruction, you just may make a little headway in the next generation….

    Then I guess we’d better fit you for one of those cool Ayatollah hats, because there isn’t a whole lot of difference between your tactics and those of the mullahs in Iran.

  24. Thorngod
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 9:31 am

    Tony, re “cool Ayatollah hats…” — I wasn’t advocating such measures. I was emphasizing the virtual impossibility of converting believers.

  25. Thorngod
    January 3rd, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    Tony, re “cool Ayatollah hats…” — I wasn’t advocating such measures. I was emphasizing the virtual impossibility of converting believers.

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