Sunday, March 07, 2010

Better Yet, Let's Not

Enshrining of "Atheist heroes" seems an awful lot like canonization

Like an annoying rash that proves perpetually resilient to medicine, the Rational Response Squad just refuses to go away quietly, regardless of how many times it humiliates itself.

Indeed, Brian Sapient and company have proven to be particularly resilient to their numerous self-humiliations. Whether it's losing a televised debate to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, alienating relevant atheists by slandering them, or getting knocked the fuck out for financial impropriety (or mere incompetence), the Rational Response Squad has demonstrated a particular predilection for self-inflicted wounds.

They've also proven to be particularly adept at hypocrisy.

An intriguing case in point is the recent move to place "atheist heroes" on a pedestal. Sometimes the hilarity goes far deeper than the hypocrisy.

For example, in a recent post urging his followers to support "atheist heroes", Sapient draws attention to a campaign waged by a group at the University of Texas at San Antonio by the name of Atheist Agenda.

Sapient treats the group's "smut for smut" campaign -- in which they exchange religious scriptures for pornography -- as a recent development. The problem is that one of the videos Sapient links to is nearly fully one year old. But even beyond that, Sapient's treatment of the campaign falls into some basic logical pitfalls that only someone capable of losing to Kirk Cameron can be trusted to fall into.

Sapient extends his congratulations to Atheist Agenda for having "found a way to be controversial thereby grabbing attention and literally forcing theists to think".

But the problem for Sapient is that he, like his followers, have yet to grasp a very simple concept: ridicule is not really an argument. In fact ridicule, as the RRS has so often indulged themselves in it, is founded on the idea that the beliefs or viewpoints of others are unworthy of logical consideration -- a basic cop-out in the face of intillectual debate, and a strain of ad hominem argument that has become particularly virulent in modern discourse.

Ridicule does not force anyone to think. In fact, ridicule causes people to recoil, and leads to a discourse that is increasingly toxic and resistent to rational debate -- one that the Rational Response Squad actively and intentionally fosters.

But this isn't even the deepest depth of Sapient's folly.

It's become increasingly impossible to ignore the means by which atheism promotes itself using the same means as any other religion. They relentlessly proselytize. They continue to reserve for themselves the right to extol scientific works in manners akin to sacred texts. Now they're even enshrining their own heroes within the imagination of their cohorts -- an act tantamount to canonizing their own saints.

It's just another indulgence that fundamentalist atheists like Brian Sapient and the Rational Response Squad have granted themselves.

But if anyone begins to fear that the Rational Response Squad is being taken too seriously, they need fear not: they could always lose another debate to Kirk Cameron.

Bonus spankage - Enormous Thriving Plants' Audrey apparently takes exception to the idea that Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor would lose to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, and so wants to attempt to re-cast that entire debate to the topic of the "Crock-o-duck".

Contrary to what Audrey would like her readers to believe, that Sapient and O'Connor could manage to lose to someone who bases their argument on that kind of premise just reminds one how intellectually helpless Sapient and O'Connor really are.

There's a reason why their arsenal of argumentative tactics is limited to ridicule. Debating like grown-ups is simply too much work for someone whose intellectual gifts are as limited as Sapient's and O'Connor's -- or, for that matter, Audrey's.

As for Audrey, she's just trying to cover for a previous humiliation. Readers may make of that what they will.

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