So-called science blog gushes over “Atheist Delusions”

Ever have one of those moments where you think you’ve found something interesting and new, but it turns out to be the same old nonsense everyone else is peddling?

I found a blog on Patheos called “Science on Religion”, and I thought it sounded pretty good. It looked like either an atheist or a liberal Christian blog, based on the artwork and name. I thought it could give an interesting perspective.

It turns out it’s an excuse for Christians to crow about how real science is done by Christians, and bash atheists.

Go and read their review of a book called “Atheist Delusions”. It’s laughably bad, and continually makes assertions that just make you facepalm.

To start us off the reviewer, Nicholas C. DiDonato, explains that the book really doesn’t deal with Dawkins or Hitchens because “they are, to put it bluntly, beneath him. He easily and casually dismisses them in the first few chapters in order to set up his main task: understanding the revolution Hart claims Christianity brought to the West.”

Well. I’m glad we established right away the importance of respect for opinions not our own.

DiDonato says,

the new atheists rely on Christian ethical values in their own morality. Hart finds laughable the idea that ethical values appear out of sheer reason or mere thinking—instead, they are products of culture.

So Western civilization owes all of its advances to the Christian religion. Nothing that grew out of culture in spite of religion. No, the guys with the holy book that says women should stay silent and faith is more important than reason are responsible for all science we have today.

Secular ideas of “freedom” teach that one can do whatever one wants, he claims, provided no one gets hurt. He then immediately forgets this “no one gets hurt” disclaimer and pronounces,

the consequences of the modern, sovereign nation-state are rather unsurprising: genocides, eugenics, chattel slavery, targeting of civilians in war, and so forth. For Hart, the 20th century showed that the secular state knows no limits to murder and destruction. Again, Hart explains this because nations are “free” to choose without any rhyme or reason.

Yeah, because chattel slavery was committed by atheists, not fully supported and justified by ministers of Jesus using the Christian Bible. And Hitler wasn’t religious either, right? And targeting civilians in war—the bombing of Dresden totally wasn’t carried out by Christians.

DiDonato then talks about Galileo, and Greek “science”. The Greeks didn’t really do science, he says; many ideas they came up with were wrong, so it is good that Christianity stamped it out. Plus, Galileo wasn’t really persecuted, he was slapped on the wrist; and it happened because Galileo was a big jerk, not because the church was anti-science.

I call BS on this claim, as well. No matter what reason the church had for silencing Galileo, the fact remains that they threatened him with torture and kept him under house arrest for life because they didn’t like his views. Science shouldn’t be determined by what the people in power decide we should believe. It should be decided on the facts, plain and simple. There’s no need to censor or torture anyone; people who are wrong will be proved wrong by the evidence.

Unfortunately, this is all too brief a summary, for Hart covers other issues in the history of Christianity and science, as well as book burnings, religious wars, religious intolerance, and a variety of other popular misconceptions.

In other words—Yeah, if you just read this book, you would see it totally rips those atheists apart! Haha, go us!

Hart characterizes the pagan culture in which Christianity emerged as a “glorious sadness.” People saw fate as ultimate and ultimately oppressive….By contrast, Christianity, according to Hart, introduced the unnatural, absurd, and almost self-evidently false idea that all people are equal.

DiDonato says Christianity is better than the superstitions of first-century Rome. This might be true. It does not follow, though, that Christianity is the best worldview and will remain so for all time. I would argue that the newer form of Christianity, where women are equal and slavery is not allowed, is better than the old Christianity that burned heretics at the stake. Furthermore, a post-Christian belief system that rejects the flaws of Christianity but keeps its good moral lessons is better still.

Even more intriguing, Hart sees with the end of Christianity a return to magical thinking (in an earlier chapter he made clear how historically the Church has combated magic)… By “magic” Hart does not mean a return to astrology or spellcraft, but of the mistake of equating power with possibility. In other words, the belief that the power to do something means one knows (1) what one is doing, (2) whether one should do it, and (3) whether other truths should take priority over this power. Hart, of course, refers here to science.

Oh, I see! So your statement makes total sense, provided that “magic” doesn’t actually mean “magic,” but instead means “whatever the hell I decided it means at this moment.”

Because, see, I think it’s great that Christianity fights some forms of superstition, which is what I would call “magic” — but I think science is better at fighting superstition than religion. When you believe in holy weeping statues, and your belief is so strong that you end up drinking sewer water that you think will cure illnesses, that’s magical thinking. Science—more specifically, rationality and observation—puts a stop to that, not religion. When you let both of your children die, one at a time, because you think prayer is better than medical care, that’s magical thinking. When your greatest book itself prescribes holy oil and magic words as a cure for all disease, that’s magical thinking.  

I don’t get it? Why say that "magic" means "irresponsible use of power"? Why not just say "irresponsible use of power" to begin with? That’s like if I said, “I’m afraid of leprechauns. And by leprechauns, I don’t mean little red-headed elves. I mean oligarchs who use their wealth to control the government, overriding the will of the people. So you see, it’s very logical to be afraid of leprechauns.”

In short, this Science on Religion foundation is here advocating the idea you can’t have science without religion—and one religion in particular.

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