Fanning the flames of intolerance…

Back in March of this year, the ABC’s Compass hosted a documentary titled The Atheists. While not agreeing with all the atheists represented (who would? – “herding cats” and all that), I think it was a pretty reasonable job. Given the interviewees.

The point of this post comes from one of the comments made in the documentary by Phillip Adams. In commenting on Dawkins and Hitchens, he claimed that while he didn’t disagree with any of their points, it was their tone that he disagreed with –  a tone that “fanned the flames of intolerance” (I paraphrase).

Well, who could disagree with that? (Shut-up and sit down in the back there. Yes I mean you.)

Much has been made of Dawkins’ “strident” tone, and often in public speaking in response to these claims Dawkins presents  a passage of the best candidate for strident prose from The God Delusion. This best candidate is the opening of the chapter ‘The God Hypothesis’.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

(The God Delusion, ‘The God Hypothesis’, Richard Dawkins, 2006)

The usual retort that Dawkins takes on tour goes that the passage was intended in jest, and that Dawkins thinks it’s actually quite funny. (If you laugh, I have a yard ruler with your backside’s name on it.)

Further to this, Dawkins has claimed that if it is strident, it’s only because of the source material he’s referring to (i.e. The Old Testament). Bah. Pish! Nothing of the sort. He’s just not reading the book right. It’s metaphor.

At any rate, like or hate his work, if there is any one candidate for Dawkins’ most strident, this is quite possibly it.

Now, here in front of me next to The God Delusion I have another candidate for “strident atheist” text. More Unspeakable Adams, by Phillip Adams (1981).

Much like Dawkins above quote, it was written and was intended to be read in good humour. Even if on the back cover, it jests about religious indignation.

“LAST DESPERATE OFFER! A limited edition of the book, soaked in kerosene, is available for outraged religious organisations. Bulk orders only.”

(More Unspeakable Adams, Phillip Adams, 1981)

Because we all know how religious organisations can become incensed at the slightest, fairest criticism. Indignation with wailing and gnashing of teeth and all that. Hardly a strident observation.

Let’s see, as with Dawkins, if we can’t quote mine a most-strident-passage from More Unspeakable Adams. 😉

“Lassie’s saintliness recalls the arguments I’d have with our religious instruction teacher, who regarded my insistence on her having a soul as blasphemy. But I knew she did, that she must, and that if there were a heaven and heavenly justice, she’d have to share in immortality… ‘God is dog backwards,’ offered Graeme Wrigley helpfully, only to earn instant excommunication from the class.”

Aghast! The horror! Aiieee! Strident!

Okay. Most of the book only has material that makes tangential reference to religion, as offensive as some of the content may be to religious prudes. Quote mining a lot of it to make it sound strident would require quite a bit of bad faith. I wouldn’t want you to mistake me for a creationist.

But forget strident anyway. What about fanning those flames of…. Oh wait. What’s this? ‘When God was Irish and Dr Mannix his deputy.’

That’s got to have potential.

“One of the great pleasures of a newspaper column is the mail it provokes. The unsigned obscenities, the death threats…”

Even without the Internet, it seems Adams can whip up the hatred as well as that dastardly PZ Myers!

“Fascinated by this revelation, I wrote back (‘Dear Mr Christ, I was most interested …’) seeking further details. This led to a flood of over 100 letters, each more deranged in its misogyny… Unfortunately Mr Christ also detailed his plans to murder some Sydney matrons, so I was forced to get in touch with a psychiatric service sponsored by the Presbyterian Church.”

Shrill! Intolerant! Flashing lights! Babies in peril!1!!

In the same league as Dawkins’-Most-Strident-Passage, don’t you think? But maybe you aren’t convinced. Yet.

Reading further, Adams provides “a glossary of terms used in convent schools in the 1950s’.”

Body, The: Did not exist except for Breasts (q.v.). A protestant delusion.
Breasts: Sister could not mention them without going red. It was a mortal sin if they showed.”

Intolerant! Flames! Air-raid siren! Gngggggg!!!

God: The senior male Catholic. Of Irish extraction. Definitely not Italian. Ranked above Archbishop Mannix.”

You can’t imply they’re racist! Next you’ll be calling them paedophile-lovers! Intolera-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-RAGE!

Hell: For Jews and other pagans, including most Protestants. Also for Catholic girls who did not believe what the priests told them.”

What would Catholic girl, Madeleine Bunting think? BIGOTRY!

Proddy dogs: State school children of both sexes. God did not love them enough to make them Catholics.”

Well, that’s all I need to see! Case closed! He may talk all tolerant, but never forget; Phillip Adams is a card-carrying, religiously bigoted member of the New Atheist Internationale! (The book has “communism” written in it!)

Disagree with “fanning the flames of intolerance”, indeed!

~ Bruce

Rob Smith: A Hymn For All Your Neglected Greyhounds

I’m currently plodding around the back-end of my Internet communications, consolidating accounts, redirecting subscriptions and so on in preparation for a better blogging experience. All the while, light shows are popping up in people’s yards around my neighbourhood and I’m too busy to blog about it at the moment. So in the Christmas spirit, Rob Smith makes his fourth guest appearance here at Thinkers’ Podium.

Rob here again folks. Look, I know I run a charity that sings hymns for neglected greyhounds, but this hymn is for the readers. Let’s not take the piss too far, eh?

It’s not like I sing to the greyhounds. I sing for them!

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Rob Smith returns: The Top 10 Ways To Tell You’ve Watched Too Much Glenn Beck

To be honest, I’ve been catching up with too much stuff that I’ve neglected elsewhere to be bothered tending to this blog right away. Thankfully I’ve got mates. Rob Smith gives me a break in his third guest appearance at Thinkers’ Podium.

Hi again everyone. I’m Rob, if you don’t know or remember me. The theology student from STFU with a charity for neglected greyhounds.

I’ll forgive you for forgetting me because it’s been so long since my last post, not because Jesus whispers in my ear that I should. (Seriously, where do you atheists get this stuff?)

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Rob Smith on ‘Worship at the temple of Onan’

Young men and women, have you ever felt guilty for your need to pleasure yourself? Have you ever felt guilty because of need arising before marriage? It could just be that you’ve been misled as to what The Bible alludes to. Rob Smith spills the beans in his second guest appearance at Thinkers’ Podium.

Hi everyone. I’m Rob, as you probably guessed from the introduction. Between work and running my unregistered charity, Hymns for Neglected Greyhounds, I pitch in as a youth group elder at the Uniting Way Church of The Blessed Tree. I’m also a part-time external student studying theology at the Sydney Theology of Faith University (STFU).

Obviously I’m not a theologian yet, but I do get quite a lot of young adults coming to me and asking if it’s okay to masturbate, or engage in pre-marital sex. So as Bruce says, I’ll spill the beans. (And to keep Bruce and Tipper happy, I’ll put all the smut over the fold.)

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How to talk to an arrogant New Atheist – Rob’s First Post!

Ever wondered just how to deal with that arrogant, intolerant New Atheist that heckles you so? Maybe you have one for a neighbour, or sadly, one of your family. Maybe you chat around the blogs and forums and keep running into them.

They can be very frustrating, these New Atheists. What with their mocking and what not.

Hi. I’m Rob. I’ve been allowed to use Bruce’s WordPress account to write this post.

I’m not a theologian, but I do like to read a bit of liberal theology from time to time. I love Jim Wallis and I think Obama marks a defining moment in the history of religion. I’ve been an on-and-off again elder at youth group and in my spare time I organise the unregistered charity, Hymns for Neglected Greyhounds.

I’m not a blogger, otherwise I’d have written this somewhere else. (Gee am I glad that Bruce is just an ordinary atheist and not a New Atheist, otherwise I’d never have gotten around to posting this. Perhaps I can coax his defection to liberal theism at a later point. Kidding!)

On with my first post!

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