Posted by: nuismera | May 1, 2009

Minding my own buisness

I’m really into local, sustainable business models, you should be too here’s a link to all the great places in stl: I was at northwest coffee co a couple months ago, sitting outside, sipping on my iced coffee and delving into McGrath’s Dawkin’s God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life in preparation for my upcoming presentation when a random guy comes up to me and asks what I’m reading. Now normally I am pretty rude to random men who approach me, most of the time I’d rather be left alone. But this guy, Eric, told me he had graduated from SLU, was a theology major, and had been pre-med. I know what you’re thinking, he was lying to me but I quizzed him over professors and I was satisfied he was telling the truth. So then I asked him what he’s doing with his life, had he gone to medical school?

The somewhat surprising answer was that he’d considered joining the preisthood, had not gone to med school as his parents had wanted, had read Dawkin’s along with some other new atheists and was now convinced that the only way to know anything was through the scientific method and scientifically verifiable “proof”. I smelled a good debate and since I love to argue I couldn’t resist pointing out that scientism was itself a worldview that had its place within a historical context. That he was making an ungrounded leap of faith in asserting the only kind of knowledge is scientific and that he should have realized this mistake if he had read any of the responses to The God Delusion or its counterparts. He proceeded to tell me that his mother had sent him some book but he’d yet to open it and hadn’t entertained any of the counterarguments. I’m sure you’re wondering what this engrossing story has to do with anything so here is my point so you won’t miss it: When did we stop thinking critically?

I used to puzzle over the response of some Catholic conservatives that adamantly opposed Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code-after all who in the world would really take a magical realm of wizards and witches or historical fiction as truth? What is wrong with a good story, some engaging prose and a diversion from reality-are we supposed to read bibliographies of the saints the rest of our lives and waste away in an imaginative coma? So it troubled me to hear that a college educated guy who had studied theology for years and was no doubt familiar with presumably some of the ways the new atheists misconstrue faith, belief and religion itself could fall into their trap and be convinced that their atheism was valid or somehow a solution to world problems. To me, the weakness of the arguments are glaring and if one is to seriously consider atheism as an intellectual endeavor it would more likely take the form of Nietzsche, or Camus, or someone a little less full of it. In summary then, my advice to Eric is stop being stupid-give the counterargument the same space you gave the new atheists and if you still buy into their crap then consider the implications of a world in which we killed God…



  1. I definitely agree with your view regarding the frustration and confusion that comes with encountering well-educated people who are unwilling to exercise the critical thinking skills they acquired and honed throughout their college education. And like you, I see the blatant and very fundamental weaknesses in the new atheist argument. I have some personal experience regarding obstinate atheists (and just narrow people in general) who refuse to genuinely consider other viewpoints, so let me suggest this: try to engage them. But if they don’t budge, then just smile, nod and let them go on their way (unless of course, you enjoy beating your head up against a wall 😉

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