The Atheist Assault on Higher Learning: O yea, Free Thinkers!

Of course I've met many atheists in school who were part of the history of ideas program where I did my doctoral work. Most of them would not fall into the category of which I speak. But the those on the net tend to be non academics (maybe working class or white collar business or probably most of them are computer people). Few of them really seem to have any background in anything like Arts and Humanities. They are all very opinionated about how evil useless and stupid arts and humanities are, but they will express a fondness for art because it's pretty. Yet they have nothing but total contempt for any sort of idea that emerges from the realms of human thought governed by arts and humanities as a discipline.

Let's face it, most atheists on the internet think that the only form of knowledge is science. I suspect his is becasue very few of them went beyond the sophomore level in college and most of them are products of trade schools, the kind that advertise "you don't have to waste years learning all that book stuff just get 'hand's on' professional computer learning." Despite this bias against any form of knowledge that doesn't cater to their reductionism, they still feel that they know all about the things they have never studied.

Here is an example of one of them, Ross, who in the comment section demonstrates his utter contempt for any sort of liberal arts ideas:

First he quotes me to show what he's going to attack:


You said,

Of cousre if you are willing to only examine the surface, like a good little reductionist, then of course you are going to create the illusion that there's no God.

You never have to see what you do not wish to see.

I suppose he thought I was saying that he's not bright because he mistakes the term "shallow" for an appraisal of his intellectual abilities. Nothing was further from my mind. I admit I should have used more careful wording not to convey that impression. I just wasn't careful enough. What I really had in mind was that as materialist most atheists believe on in the surface of reality. A rose is a rose is a rose it has has no larger significance, no symbolic value relating to any higher metaphysical meaning. Everything is on the surface. There are elements we don't see but not because they are in other other dimensions or made out of spirit, but just because they are too tiny. In my mind this is surface level because its cutting off a connection with anything beyond, behind or above the material level.

Of course he's been angered because thinks I've said he's not deep as a thinker, which I did not mean to say. I apologize for creating that impression, but I think we can learn a lot from the nature of his response.

His first statement demonstrates true contempt for any form of thinking now sanctified by the ideology Dawkinista reductionism:

There is no reason to go beyond the surface in theology or philosophy of religion. Christianity has had lots of time, most of two millenia, to show even superficially that it offers hope to believers. It doesn't. You can shroud all your pretentions in obscurantist schlock, but in the end, whether you argue at the deepest levels your near-PhD can take you or stick to the shallows where the failures and defects of Christianity are well-lit, you will, just like every other failure of a theologian before you, arrive at nothing of use to practicing believers. You might have an article accepted for publication, but - and you know this to be true - it will, in all likelihood, never even be referenced unless you do it yourself.

Only someone who has never studied these subjects would try to say this. He's saying he doesn't have to study Philosophy because he knows it's stupid. We have seen this voiced in other ways around the net. The major one is the fallacious "Courtier's Reply" which is nothing more than a broad indictment that "your source of knowledge is not sanctioned by my ideology." As I put it on my blog:

Again their reasoning is quite circular since the reasons they would give for reducing religion to superstition don't' apply to modern sophisticated theology, but the fact that it can be labeled "theology" and they don't even know what that means, they stipulate that it must be stupid. So even though their reasons don't apply they just demand that they must do so any way.

Again they are merely stipulating truth and insisting they are right without any just reasons. It's idiotic to try and criticize a whole field you know nothing about. To make up for appalling ignorance they imply a third rate gimmick that is actually made up of two informal fallacies: ipsie dixit and circular reasoning. (Ibid: see link above)

This reminds me of an argument I had with an atheist once who asserted that all Christian theology is a about a big man in the sky, and ti's stupid to believe in a big man in the sky. I answered that Paul Tillich's theology explicitly denyies that God is a big man or even a being at all. Process theology certainly denys that as well (based upon Whitehead it defines God as a "community of occasions"--don't ask). This guy asserted that I was lying. I told him well I sutdied theology andyou apparenlty have not. He then said that's just the "Couriter's Reply" as though I had committed some kind of fallacy of logic. I repeated, "you are factally in error i gave two examples of schools of thoguht in theology that expclitly contradict what you calaim all Christian theology is about. He merely retorted that it didn't count because theology is stupid so whatever the answer is it must be wrong. So he expclictly just refussed to to accept a documented fatual correction to his error on the grounds that he can basically say anything he wants and doesn't have to know what he's talking about because he's armed with the catch phrase "Courtier's Reply."

Then he gets into ad hominem attacks:

Your degree is largely useless to you and the rest of mankind. Your degree offers you no tools for adding to or augmenting the vast store of accumulated human knowledge.

It's pretty obvious that any Ph.D. is useless in his eyes unless the upshot of having it is to back his ideology. Dawkin's Ph.D. is good because science is the only valid from of knowledge. But if you study the history of science, that's invalid becuase it doesn't give you the sacred gatekeeping knowledge of the white lab coat guy. Of course if he knew Dawkins was reallly a Mesuieum keeper and that his chair was not earned but purchased it might some difference, but I doubt it.

He continues the Ad Hom:

So, you, the near-PhD, hang out on an obscure blog hoping beyond hope that someone will engage you in a way that will at least let you think your pursuing the near-PhD was not a complete waste of time. If it was anything beyond a waste of your time and money, you could solve or at least address some real problem facing humanity. You would not be left wrestling with issues that matter to none but the few helping you waste yet more time working through those fantasy issues over a few beers.
I am so very worred that it might have been a waste of time to learn things. Does not tell us his attitude, and the attitude of a segement of atheists, toward learning? Why would I have to worry that learning "might be" a waste? Why wouldn't I know up front if I thought learning was a value? Why would learning be a waste? Does this not tell us that his value is not leanring and knoweldge, his value sysetm places very low capital upon actually knowing, but rewards some sort of socail use, perhaps making money, but more probably confirming the ideology that he is brain washed upon. Knowledge is only of value in direct proportion to it's confirmation of the ideology, it's ability to assure him that God looks less and less likely, thus to freem him from the fear of hell. Actually knowing for the sake of possessing knolwedge is clearly not part of his value system. Neither is understanding the things he critcizies. In my view there is no greater intellectual sin than to criticize that of which of you have no knowledge. For the idieolgoue the ultimate criticism is that an idea is not sanctified byt he ideology.

Sadly, your near-PhD does not even provide you with the intellectual wherewithal to respond to my comments in context. It's obvious, J. L., that you did not even attempt to ascertain the context. You quote-mined for fragments that you could attack, then dove right in.
This said by the guy who failed even once provide any focuss upon the issues. This is the guy who focusses totally upon the ad hom and whose one great point of attack is that I studied a feild that his ideology does not jstifying as valid knowledge.

If you had a valuable degree in a useful discipline, you would have been able to discern that I was not in any way trying to disprove the existence of your Christian god. You should have been able to see that the data I noted simply clarified the point that while Christians make their self-serving claims, the veracity of those claims is simply not born out by the data.

Of course I said nothing to imply that proving the existence of God had anything to do wit the issue. He took it that way because, well for obvious reasons. Of course here he's trying to have it both ways by first asserting that it' snot about proving the existence of God then he tries to imply that somehow the data speaks agains the exitence of God. Of coruse ther eis no data against the existence of God, this is nothing more than the height of ignorance.

What is at issue bottom line in this venting of hatred? why do they have to drag their proloterian sense of supirior intellect into it every singel time as though understanding the truth of the universe is the ultimate proof of one'd intellectual worth. As though somehow one's metaphysics is determined by one's IQ? I think this has to do their sense of powerlessness. They hate Ph.D.'s and learning and education and liberal arts becuase they identify it with elites, with an education they are not able to obtain. I've noticed many times that the real venting of hatred agsint Christians by atheists is often linked to this sense of powerlessness. It caters tot he sense of being a total minoirty of being looked down upon for views that castigate the vast majority of humanity.

I'm sure that all suited up in your near-PhD, you've got a million proofs for a million gods. I'm sure that any day now, Christians will no longer use the word, "faith" because your proofs will give them reason to use the word "know." I'm sure that for all of your new and improved near-PhD efforts, all Christians will have lives so distinctly superior to that of any non-Christian, that all people will immediately convert to the one true religion headmastered by the one true god.

Doesn't this tell us more about his value system? I mean when I was in the working world in my youth I often found that people on jobs just refused to believe me.It seemed the basci procedure was to doubt what any worker told them. I asked an older worker why this would be the case an he said "they lie, so they expect you to lie. They steal so they expect you to steal." I see the same psychology going on here. The only thing "knolwedge" means to the ideolgoically motivated atheist is a standardized justification for belief system. Its' not a matter of learning, not a matter of expanding horizons, not a matter of straching yourself and seeking truth it's must a matter of justifying the ideology so you don't have to feel inferior anymore. This is his motive for learning, thus he expects it to be my motive for learning.

Millions of people are starving, J.L., and your imaginary god will not do anything about. You will, no doubt, tell me that Christians will do what they can and give the credit to their god, and attribute to god's will all the deaths. If all the time wasted getting near-PhD's and playing big fish on little blog were turned to useful human endeavors, perhaps fewer people would die. But, then if we actually took care of each other, there would be nothing for gods to do, and we know that theology near-PhD's working the religion industry would never stand for that.

I think this really proves my point about power. He equates the lack of social power with his atheism, and the presence of elitism and social oppression with the belief his ideology has singled out as the target of ridicule and the scapegoat for personal failings and the villain which explains the powerlessness they feel in society. Of course since history is not valid knowledge they are totally ignorant of the Christian left which goes back all the way to the Time Chrsit and finds Christians leading peasant revolts, contributing to socialist, liberation, and freedom movements from Johachin of Flora in the middle ages, to the Peasants of south Germany to the underground rail road to the abolition movement and w omen's suffrage to the civil rights movement to Obama, who is a total contradiction to everything this guy connects up with Christianity as a social ill. Not only are the Christian activist groups a total disproof of his statement (and a much more significant contributor to liberation if he only read some history and knew where to look for them) but theology as well. He's totally missed the 60, 70s, 80s and even 990s where liberation theology guided all of Latin America into revolution, and all of Western Europe into socialism and all of Asia into Min Jung theology and has created liberation and hope for people around the world. All of this escapes his notice because to know anything about it he would have to know something about the forces of knowledge that his ideology writes off as unjustified.

How can it be that a movement that bill itself as "free thought" is really based upon an ideology that excluded 90% of human knowledge as invalid and only sanctions the learning of a tiny sliver of what goes on in the academy? its' because they are not free. Knowledge is power. Instead of learning this they have told themselves and been told "only science is knowledge." Knowledge is power but the only true knowledge is science and the only true science is that which justifies a naturalistic view point. That is neither free nor knowledge. It is ideology. The atheist community is hard at work distributing an anti-intellectual gospel wrapped up in the phony garb of intellectuals. Gee if I studied history I might come with knowledge of another movement that told powerless people they could be powerful if hey eliminated a certain group that caused all their problems and stood in their way. But of cousre that's on the menu of valid knowledge so we can't learn about it.

It should be pretty obvious at this point why the ideology seeks to destroy all forms of knowledge save that which contributes to it's own propaganda. If one were to really learn history and the liberal arts one would see through the ideology.


John W. Loftus said…
I haven't followed the controversy here at all. I just want to stick up for my friend Joe Hinman. I called the registrar at the University of Texas at Dallas and Joe was indeed a Ph.D student in the history of ideas. That's true, so no one should doubt his credentials on this again.


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