Saturday, November 27, 2010

Greta Christina's Recent Article in Alternet

Yesterday, Greta Christina posted an article in Alternet entitled "Why Religious Believers Are So Desperate for the Atheist Seal of Approval".

I really like Greta's writing and this article in particular, but I want to add a couple of thoughts that she may have left out on purpose (because, after all, not every article is meant to be an exhaustive treatment of its topic--those are called "books").

Greta's point, I think, was that the way some believers seek out atheists' approval for "their" religion is tantamount to an admission that, deep down, they know their religion is just as much nonsense as any other and they want an "objective" observer to tell them that this isn't true.

Greta says that this particular type of believer does this because he or she cares about the truth.  I think she is wrong about that.  I think they do this because they think that "groupthink" trumps any objective truth.

In addition, I would like to add that this is related to their way of thinking.  They don't think for themselves--their gold standard is "what everybody else thinks".  In the same vein, this is directly related to their need for group reinforcement (which is why they are so insistent on school prayer and invocations at government events) because they need to maintain the illusion that "everyone" believes this nonsense (and that those who don't are just crazy cranks).  This is necessary for their self-delusion--it quiets that voice of reason whispering to them--and for their egos--it quiets their insecurities and makes them feel like they're part of THE power structure. 

Finally, it is important to understand that this is the first step in the path to intolerance.  Greta came close to this point by describing how upset they get.  When they realize that someone simply will not reinforce their cherished delusion, they will try to force that person to do so using means of ever-increasing severity until they simply lose it and try to "get rid" of that person for being "evil" and "crazy".

I think this point was implicit in her conclusion where she told believers what to expect from us (and why) and that they should accept it, but I like to make the point that the threats are there and they are real.  Many atheists are in denial with regard to this.  It is important for us all to recognize that a monster is lurking:  the Mob.  It is important for us to see this so that we can protect ourselves and so that we can fight against it.

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