Why This Atheist is Dismissive of Theology
For the purposes of this post I’m lumping theologians in with religious intellectuals of all stripes: Paul Tillich, Karen Armstrong, Shelby Spong, Alister McGrath, Marcus Borg, Chris Hedges, David Brooks, etc. Essentially, all those who keep claiming that atheists are only attacking the low-hanging, fundamentalist fruit of religious thought and ignoring the Sophisticated Theologians (as Jerry Coyne likes to call them). This is done to expedite the dismissal and not for lack of understanding or ignorance of your positions.
Sorry all you deep-thinking religious people, but it’s not that we are so incapable of engaging with your mind-crushingly profound thought — it’s that you are so easily dismissed. I actually have read your works, I’ve heard your arguments, I’ve engaged with your thought, so please quit making the facile, baseless argument that atheists are ignorant of your great insights. Most of us have engaged (though we often wish we hadn’t — there are certainly better uses of one’s time), but other atheists who have chosen not to engage, should not be shamed into wasting hours of their lives trying to digest your nonsense. Here is why you literally and figuratively “mean nothing” to me as an interlocutor, and why you are dismissed with and without prejudice:
1) What you espouse is simply not as profound, insightful, nor interesting as you like to think.
2) Theologians do not represent the prominent religious culture that concerns atheists. You are dismissed within your own religious milieu; why in the world should atheists care what you have to say if your own community doesn’t take you seriously?
3) For every theologian, there is a different theology. You guys love having it both ways.
4) Theology is purposefully opaque; anything can mean ANYTHING.
5) You have a premise problem which allows dismissal of anything that follows.
6) If you are looking to engage with atheists, you are barking up the wrong tree. You have millions of “choirs” to convince before you get to us.
7) Nearly everything you say is simply an expression of the human condition and your “other”, your “ground of being”, your “mysterious”, your “ineffable”, your “numinous”, are all perfectly fine discussions to be had among humans without invoking some superfluous supernatural component to these thoughts. Get over yourselves, you’re not that special.
8) You guys think you are engaging in and exercising humility while you prostrate yourselves before the ominous, mysterious, object of your existential yearning — but you are really just smug assholes.
9) You are utterly, completely, irrefutably, and irreconcilably boring.
For these 9 reasons I dismiss you. Except dammit, I just wasted my time enumerating reasons why I dismiss you. Oh well, from here on out, consider yourselves dismissed. Until you bother me enough to foolishly engage with you again, when I will probably break down and expand on the 9 reasons why you should be dismissed. Crap, this is reason #10 you should be dismissed, because you put me in the Catch-22 paradox of the theological dismissal by engagement. At least now I have a nice, round top ten list.
Posted on December 25, 2014, in Atheism, Religion and tagged Alister McGrath, Chris Hedges, david brooks, jerry coyne, karen armstrong, liberal christianity, Marcus Borg, paul tillich, religious intellectuals, Shelby Spong, theology. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.