TIA Tuesday: Wrapping up

We come at last to the section of TIA that I have been most looking forward to: the last chapter. Not because it’s deep, or significant, or even because it’s so short, but simply because it is the last. The book ends with one rather pointless sports story, and a tired rant. Speaking of the 2007 Italian victory over the English in the Champions League soccer match between AC Milan and Liverpool, Vox writes:

In addition to seeing the Italians take revenge for their previous defeat with a 2-0 victory, they witnessed Milan’s brilliant attacking midfielder, Kaká, declare his Christian faith with a t-shirt that read “I BELONG TO JESUS”…

The reason Kakà’s prayer resonated so profoundly with Christians and non-Christians alike was because it testified to a higher purpose in life. Very, very few of us will ever know such a moment of complete triumph, almost no one can hope to reach the pinnacle of his profession and know that the eyes of all the world are upon him at the very height of his youth and beauty. In a world full of paparazzi, celebrity magazines, and shallow people releasing sex tapes in a desperate bid for fifteen minutes of fame, it is astounding to see a man reject the mass public adulation he has merited in order to humbly give God the glory.

Yes, that’s right. Humility is the reason he’s flaunting his personal religion, drawing attention to himself apart from his team, and setting himself up for the mass public adulation of millions of Christians who aren’t necessarily even soccer fans, in addition to the acclaim he’s going to collect from sports fans in general.

Vox never quite gets around to explaining what this “higher purpose in life” is supposed to be. Based on the last chapter, I suppose our higher purpose is to serve as Non-Player Characters in the next round of God’s great celestial video game, assuming He can rack up a high enough score in the Material round. And assuming His mom doesn’t make him turn off the computer and go outside to play for a while.

Or perhaps this higher purpose is to demonstrate that the key ingredients for success are not determination, discipline, focus, strategy, and teamwork, because God cheats and gives unfair advantages to His favorite players. After all, if God were indeed responsible for the Italian victory in that 2007 soccer game, that means that one or more members of the Italian team owed their victory to the spiritual equivalent of banned performance-enhancing drugs. Technically, their victory should be disqualified on the grounds that they had too many people on the playing field (assuming that God is a person and was indeed on the field with them assisting in their play).

Or maybe the higher purpose is to prove that God rewards the superstitious and gullible, as long as they use rigged scorekeeping. How many here think that T-shirt would have come off at the end of the game if the English had won the match? There’s lots of Christian athletes who are not champions in their field. Do you think any of them stand up and say, “I belong to Jesus, and that’s why I’m in last place right now”?

Of course not, because the whole point of gullibility is making people want to believe whatever you say. Winners can do that better than losers, and that’s why Vox ends his book with the story of a superstitious winner, even though his victory would be fraudulent and undeserved if indeed it were true that he merely received it from God instead of earning it by teamwork and preparation. But who cares, eh? You’re not supposed to think about it, you’re just supposed to be too over-awed by the celebrity endorsement to realize that God is the one being made great by the sports star, instead of the other way around. Why would a real god even need celebrity endorsements? (And if He did, shouldn’t He just get Himself a sticker on a NASCAR racer?)

Vox follows up that example with another by the famous Christian minister and evangelist, Evander Holyfield.

Not long after I became a Christian, I watched Evander Holyfield walk fearlessly into the ring to meet Iron Mike Tyson, singing “Glory to Glory” and clearly unafraid of the terrible beating every boxing expert was sure he was about to receive. Like millions of fight fans, I watched Holyfield’s confident demeanor before the opening bell with fascination. It wasn’t his unexpected victory, but his entrance that made me want to understand the boldness exemplified by the faithful warrior that night.

Because God cares who punches whom harder, and therefore He fixed that fight just like He fixed the soccer match between England and Italy. If we all end up in heaven, and find the angels passing out boxing gloves instead of wings, that’s why. God likes watching us punch each other. It’s part of our Higher Purpose, keeping God entertained.

One senses that, having finished his book, Vox is vaguely dissatisfied with the result. In compensation, he closes his book by projecting his own feelings of fear and frustration onto the New Atheists.

The Unholy Trinity are deeply and profoundly afraid. They fear faith, they fear those who possess it, and they fear what science has created. They fear everything that cannot be forced to fit within their material reductionist model. They fear the future and they fear God even though they do not believe in Him. And most of all, they fear that which they cannot control and do not understand. The light shines in the face of their dark reason and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Vox’s own fear, which has flowered since 9/11, is that man is irrational, and now has the power of science, threatening us all with disaster. (Not that his has made him noticeably hostile to global warming deniers, however.) But a fear projected onto others is a fear disposed of, or at least repressed.

Bertrand Russell once said that he had spent his entire life searching in vain for evidence that Man is a rational animal. What the Unholy Trinity have failed to take into account in constructing their collective case against religion is the fact that Man is not, and never will be, entirely rational. Even if it were to be conceded that Man is nothing but a talking beast evolved through Natural Selection from a common ancestor shared with fish, squirrels, and monkeys, observation tells us that human beings seldom, if ever, act on a completely rational basis. Reason is a useful tool, but it will never suffice to define Man in his entirety, nor, by will or by force, can Man convert himself into a being of pure rationality this side of the Singularity. Indeed, for conclusive proof of Man’s fundamental irrationality, one need look no further than The God Delusion, The End of Faith, and god is not Great.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are living evidence that Man’s dreams will always rule his intellect; he will always possess faith, hope, and love. Reason is no substitute for religion; it can never be.

And with that final, defiant rant, plus a cited but not quoted passage from the end of Revelation, TIA sputters to a close. I’ve read worse books, but not many, and very few that I would have bothered reading through to the end. Fortunately, it’s over now, and if my insignificant contribution spares even one person the time they might otherwise have wasted on it, then it will have been worth the effort.

 
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Posted in TIA, Unapologetics. 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “TIA Tuesday: Wrapping up”

  1. pboyfloyd Says:

    Moral?

    Two triumphant endings are better than one?

  2. Arthur Says:

    It’s the end of an era. Vox Day led me to this site. Sigh.

    Let the record show that I came for the Vox, but I’m staying for the modus ponens.

  3. John Morales Says:

    Rapier-like snark skillfully and lightly wielded. Nice.

    Yes, in my simplistic, sub-Mensa opinion, I find the Deacon is honest, modest, cogent and direct – the antithesis of VD.
    So it’s with no sense of hypocrisy that I write this:
    VD:

    What the Unholy Trinity have failed to take into account in constructing their collective case against religion is the fact that Man is not, and never will be, entirely rational.

    Such misplaced arrogance, to foolishly patronise his betters. Heh.

    Deacon, I have before and will no doubt again point others to your TIA posts when the issue arises.
    I doff my (metaphorical) hat to you.

  4. harebell Says:

    Weird logic by VD because Kaka was in fact a player in 2005.
    His god thought so highly of his level of devotion then that he allowed Milan to ease to a 3-0 lead at the half only to let Liverpool score 3 in the second half and beat the Italians after extra time in a penalty shoot out.
    To me, it would appear that Kaka’s god is a sadistic petty bastard with an evil sense of humour. But I didn’t hear Kaka give the big man upstairs the credit for losing that one. Maybe he didn’t have his magic t-shirt on or maybe god was too busy working on who would win all the high school basketball/football games in the USA at the time.

  5. Nemo Says:

    Geez, what kind of Christian believes in the Singularity?

  6. Galloway Says:

    VD: “Reason is no substitute for religion; it can never be. ”

    Convoluted logic at its best. Turn it around 180º to make it correct: Religion is no substitute for reason; it can never be.

    VD: “Rev 22:20-21″ : “He who testifies to these things says ” Surely I am coming quickly. . . ”

    Quickly ? 2000+ years and counting. The religious man reads this and has no problem with ‘quickly’ = 2000 years. The ‘rational’ man reads this and concludes: false prophesy.

    Deacon Duncan: “I’ve read worse books, but not many , and very few that I would have bothered reading through to the end. Fortunately, it’s over now, and if my insignificant contribution spares even one person the time they might otherwise have wasted on it, then it will have been worth the effort.”

    It was like watching an impending train wreck. You know it’s going to be bad, but you just can’t turn away. Deacon, your astute analysis made Vox’s book enjoyable to me because I couldn’t wait for you to take vox apart, point by point. Thank you Deacon for a penetrating and sometimes profound dissection of Vox’s convoluted logic. When the book first came out, no skeptic would touch it. Brent Rasmussen ran up the white flag early. PZ Meyers chose to ignore it. Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, etc. little, if any, response. You and you alone took on Vox Day head-on , point-by-point, chapter-by-chapter and IMHO , you won. No small victory – Vox is smart and can be philosophically complex.Vox complains a lot about PZ and the big 3 refusing to debate him. I think you could take him. (Vox may think so too – probably why he has ignored your review. ) Great job !

  7. Freidenker Says:

    I hereby chime in all the other congratulators. Very well played. This blog is a tiny beacon of reason in an ocean of ignorance.

  8. Mike Says:

    TIA is, truly, one of the worst books I have ever read. On every possible formal ground, it utterly fails. He jumps from topic to topic, drops red herrings like crazy, and individual sentences contradict themselves (though I admit these contradictions arise from poor writing and editing, rather than failures of thought).

    Vox is obviously an intelligent guy, but his intelligence is all raw. He has only allowed his mind to be shaped by those who he already agreed with, and that is a terrible waste.

  9. Modusoperandi Says:

    Kudos on the Vox depantsing…not that he’d admit it or provide a rebuttal of his own. Since he’s Dawkins “flea”, and you’re his, is Dawkins yours?

  10. valdemar Says:

    Treat yourself to some good books, now. Well done.

  11. Peter McKellar Says:

    Many thanks for the sacrifice Deacon. I never would have wasted my own time – but I too loved your commentary and take downs.

    Like another reader, I must thank Vox for existing, without his pusillanimous rants I never would have found the link to this site – his by comparison is a “register to comment” blog with the apparent regular commenters probably overwhelmed with their cleverness at managing the registration process. That’s one big quagmire of teh stoopid.

  12. Jor-El Says:

    “Vox is obviously an intelligent guy, but his intelligence is all raw. He has only allowed his mind to be shaped by those who he already agreed with, and that is a terrible waste.”

    Initially I thought this as well. Then I read some of his stuff and analyzed some of his beliefs. He often flummoxes himself with his own illogic; he has grave objections to evolution without understanding it; he thinks global warming is bunk without knowing the first thing about climate science and he think women should be demoted and deprived of suffrage because of a bizarre economic theory. These are not the ideas of an intelligent man. Theodore Beale is a stupid ignoramus.

  13. R. C. Moore Says:

    Vox Day is glib, not intelligent. The ability to generate enormous amounts of speech which seem to speak to a point is a talent (I consider Rush Limbaugh one of the best at this), but it appeals only those wishing to rehearse their own prejudices.

    The content is unable to meet the standards of the most basic logical or empirical analysis.

    It is often difficult (because I too like to have my biases confirmed), but I try hard to not confuse glibness with intelligence.

  14. bon tobias Says:

    Deacon Duncan saith:
    “Yes, that’s right. Humility is the reason he’s flaunting his personal religion, drawing attention to himself apart from his team, and setting himself up for the mass public adulation of millions of Christians who aren’t necessarily even soccer fans, in addition to the acclaim he’s going to collect from sports fans in general.”

    Maybe he should also stop “flaunting” HIS ATHLETIC SKILLS as well, drawing attention to himself apart from his team, and setting himself up for the mass public adulation of EVERYBODY…

  15. Arizona Atheist Says:

    I just finished reading each one of the posts in your rebuttal of Vox Day. Not bad at all. I find it hilarious how Vox announced his plans to thoroughly refute your counter-arguments but then just seemed to forget about it…

    Speaking of Vox, I recently finished (well, close enough) my chapter by chapter rebuttal of the book and I found some of the same flaws as you, though I found some you didn’t seem to catch. Two examples, if memory serves, are Vox’s claim that Harris’ examples of religious wars are actually not religious in nature are false. The fact is if you research those conflicts, they are religious, at least in part.

    Vox’s FBI statistics proving that religious doesn’t cause much conflict is also false. In fact, Vox distorted what the New Atheists were arguing and fudged the stats. The fact is religion in the second leading cause of hate crime, and not just in 2005, the date of the stats he cited.

    If you’d like to take a look at my contribution and give your opinion I’d really appreciate it.

    http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com/2011/02/irrational-atheist-refutation.html

    Thanks!

  16. Arizona Atheist Says:

    I thought I’d give you a heads up. I was recently contacted by Vox who read my review of his book and said that he is planning an e-book response to reviews of his book, including mine, yours, and Kelly’s from the RRS. I’m very curious what his replies will be…I just hope he leaves the insults at the door. I was polite to Vox in my review…I do not feel like being needlessly insulted (hell, I’ve had more than enough of that by Christians anyway. Don’t need any more).