TIA Tuesday: Fit accompli

We’re just about done with Chapter 7 of TIA, or as I like to call it, Road Rage on the Information Superhighway. Vox Day wants so badly to prove that atheists are factually wrong, but on the one issue that really matters—God’s existence—real world facts fail to support him. So instead he treats us to a long, spiteful rant in which he hurls every accusation he can think of against atheists in hopes that at least some of them will stick. Sadly, even if he succeeds in discrediting unbelievers, God still does not show up in real life. In the end, TIA is just an exercise in vindictive futility.

As we’ve seen before, Vox is more than willing to take any pretext he can think of to claim “proof” that atheists are evil, malodorous, inferior, unpleasant, and otherwise unfit for the respect one human ordinarily ought to grant to another. But that’s not enough to satisfy Vox’s thirst for vengeance. Nor is it enough to make the spurious accusation that atheism is to blame for the worst atrocities in human history. No, Vox must somehow implicate Harris himself in the actual, or at least potential, commission of similar atrocities.

[I]t is important to recall that Harris repeatedly defines atheism as being a lack of a belief, primarily a lack of belief in the existence of God. This allows him to inoculate atheism against the historical crimes of known atheists and blame them on the religious faithful in the following manner.

  1. Belief is required for action.
  2. Atheism is a lack of belief.
  3. Therefore, an individual’s atheism cannot cause him to act in a harmful manner.
  4. Belief is synonymous with faith
  5. Therefore, all negative actions stem from faith

It’s a truism! It is self-evident! Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. may have all been atheists, but because they are known to have taken action, they must have believed in something besides their atheism that caused them to act, therefore atheism cannot possibly be blamed for the actions of these so-called atheists. Hallelujah, peace on Earth is in our grasp! Of course, the only way to achieve it is to somehow get rid all of those troublemaking believers . . . now how would one go about doing that?

And this is where Harris ceases to be an amusing figure blundering about taking incompetent and illogical potshots at religion and becomes something ominous, something malicious, in which the shadowy seed of the atheists whose monstrous crimes he disavows can be discerned.

Wow, eh? From the “smoking gun” of Harris’s admitted tendency to define a lack of belief as a lack of belief, to the hysterical conclusion that Harris is secretly plotting “to somehow get rid of all those troublemaking believers,” thus “proving” himself to be a carrier of that same “shadowy seed” which, Vox insists, inevitably compels those who do not believe in Invisible People to commit the very worst deeds a human can commit.

Well, in for a dime, in for a dollar, I guess. If you’re going to pretend that people are motivated to commit genocide, cannibalism, ritual torture, and so on, just because of their lack of belief in Santa Claus or some other magical character, then you might as well leap to the conclusion that anyone who points out the religious motivations of 9/11 and abortion clinic bombings must be another mad atheist out to destroy the world. And if you need proof, why, Harris even recites the terrifying mantra of all true homicidal maniacs: “world government.”

Given his declarations that a diversity of religious beliefs cannot be tolerated, that every human being should not be free to believe whatever he wants and that the killing of those who harbor intolerable beliefs can be ethically justified, the following statement betrays the evil root of his hatred for religion, for the U.S. Constitution, and for the very concept of America itself.

“We can say it even more simply: we need a world government. . . . The diversity of our religious beliefs constitutes a primary obstacle here.”

A conspiracy nut’s wet dream, eh? Look, he actually came right out and said we need a world government (even if he never actually said any of those other things Vox attributes to him). Therefore he has an evil hatred of religion, of the U. S. Constitution, and of America itself, since of course none of those things would exist if mankind ever did succeed in building a united civilization that eliminated wars, poverty, and various other injustices and inequities. Harris is…is…is…well, maybe not the Antichrist in person, but gosh, could the real thing be worse?

While Vox goes and wipes the foam from his mouth and cleans up whatever other personal fluids might require his attention, let’s think seriously about his arguments here. Suppose Vox were right about Harris’s allegedly “evil” nature. Suppose we all agreed that Harris were a very bad man. What would that change? Would Al Qaeda wave politely and go home and stop bothering people? Would the Taliban start allowing women to go to school and to wear comfortable clothing in the hot weather? Would Christians give in and grant gays the freedom to marry the ones they love?

Of course not. Vox’s argument has nothing at all to do with the ways religion really does impact practical everyday life in God’s absence. It’s nothing but an ad hominem, a personal attack that aims no higher and that accomplishes no more than the simple, mean-spirited attempt to be hurtful. Like many others, Vox’s feelings were hurt by what atheists have written (not the least because no matter what their mistakes may be, they’re demonstrably right about the most important things). So what Vox wants more than anything else is to hurt Harris back.

He fails, of course. Such hysterical paranoia provokes more pity than pain. But sometimes it does one good to vent one’s frustrations. Perhaps, in some small way, Vox feels better now that he’s gotten that out of his system, and perhaps those who share his frustrations will experience a similar, vicarious catharsis. I hope so, because then this book would not be a total loss.

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