Thursday, March 13, 2014

The New Atheism As A New Dark Age

Last night at Salon, an atheist guy pulled what, I suspect, is something that that crowd sees as something of a coup de grace  meant to kill off Christianity and, so, God altogether.

urnso2 20 hours ago

Many religions teach what could be accepted at universal "rights".
A good example is "“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."

To which "happyhaze" soon added:

That's a humanistic precept which some religious have adopted.

Which is where I entered that discussion:

A "humanistic" precept?  No, it was not.  If it's anything, it's a Jewish precept, Hillel said it was the entire basis of The Law, in slightly different form. Humanism came about 1,400 years later and it was a movement within Christian culture.

Hillel's famous response to the wit who said he'd study The Law if Hillel could recite it while standing on one foot is often given as,

"That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, The rest is commentary. Go forth and study."

I didn't know it last night, but, by chance, the readings for the mass, today, contain the exact place where Jesus said the same thing.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.  This is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew, 7:12

So, to start with, the red herring that was soon brought up, that, somehow Christians claim some kind of originality and priority for the idea for Jesus is false.  Jesus said,  "This is the law and the prophets,"  saying exactly the same thing that Rabbi Hillel said.  No one who had read the gospel would have made the claim that Jesus was doing more than encapsulating The Law and the prophets.
One of the atheist boys, then, made an even more bizarre statement,

You're thinking of Matthew who came much, much later. So did Hillel.

As anyone who wanted to look could see that Hillel died in the very early years of the Common Era,  the idea that he got the idea from Jesus instead of the other way around is just stupid.

But stupidity is at the basis of so much of the widely copied and used atheist propaganda.  One participant gave a long laundry list of similar statements, beginning with Pittacus, alleged to have said something similar in 600 BCE. Though I wondered how reliable the provenance of the claim was, I pointed out that 600 BCE didn't have priority to the source of The Law.  Not that it would make any difference.  It is only in this ridiculous kind of atheist discourse that more than one source of an idea is taken to discredit the people who said it.   Multiple sourcing and attestation to an idea is generally taken to confirm its reliability, not a impeachment the credibility of someone who also has the idea.

Most absurd of all was the next to the last item in his list

"What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others." – Epictetus, circa 100 BCE

Anyone who was, at all, familiar with Epictetus or the sayings attributed to him would catch the glaring anachronism in that dating, putting him more than two centuries before one of his students assembled the Enchiridion.  He is believed to not have been born before 55 CE, well after Jesus is believed to have lived.  I mean, even the Wikipedia article on him, which probably has had some neo-atheist editing applied to it, got his position in history right.   Considering the comment thread this was attached to was one concerning the historical boner that Neil Degrasse Tyson pulled in Cosmos II, you'd think the atheist boys would at least be careful to vet the junk they pull from the cooky jar of new-atheist talking points.

But, this morning, I found a similar one concerning the Buddha and what seems to be a claim that he got his ideas from, of all places, the Mahabharata.  Considering that Buddha was hardly likely to have gotten a lot of his stuff from an epic glorifying war and strife, especially one that was part of the religious tradition from which his Dharma was a drastic departure.  And, even more especially, one whose date of composition is often estimated to be from three to six centuries after the Buddha's death.

Just about every, single time I'm confronted with these widely distributed atheist talking points that they are full of false statement, ideological inventions, wild inaccuracies, hysterically bizarre anachronisms, etc.  When you're confronted with those kinds of things, don't take them at face value because the currency of neo-atheist propaganda is full of bad coinage, lots of it minted well after it's supposed to have happened or been said.  As has been pointed out before, maybe this kind of thing can be expected to happen when people don't believe it's a sin to tell a lie.

See Also:  Possibly The Most Incompetent Atheist Argument in History.


  1. It's like arguing with Bill O'Reilly.

    You really can't fix stupid.

  2. It really is Bill O levels of stupidity. Don't they even know about google or wikipedia?