. . . the intended recipients of [Craig's] "gift" are certain groups of believers,
and the gift is one of feeling a smug sense superiority over atheists.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
An Apologist's "Christmas Gift" to Atheists
The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year, where the largest chunk of the population is geared towards making themselves and those around them happy. For me, I like to buy people gifts, and I put a large amount of effort into finding the perfect thing for all of those in my life. Others give the gift of writing smug, half-assed, and pretentious articles for Fox News while mischaracterizing the alleged intended recipient of their "gift".
In his article, A Christmas gift for atheists -- five reasons why God exists, William Lane Craig gives very brief summaries of his usual five arguments: Cosmological, Teleological, Moral, Historical, and Experiential. These have been gone over more times than humans can count, and will continue to do so, but what caught me most perturbed was how he chose to chastise, categorize, and describe atheists:
"However, most atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!”
"In the case of a Christian who has no good reasons for what he believes, this slogan serves as an effective conversation-stopper. But if we have good reasons for our beliefs, then this slogan serves rather as a conversation-starter.
"The atheist who merely repeats this slogan after having been presented with arguments for God’s existence makes an empty assertion."
There are others who have been around the atheist block more than I have, but I'm still pretty familiar with atheism, both mainstream and alternative. I know of no atheist who could fit this description. A few might constantly harp on the fact that no good evidence exists, but they are all very familiar with arguments for the existence of God, especially Craig's, and have found them unconvincing throughout multiple presentations of said arguments.
Notice that Craig starts out his criticism by alluding to the "no evidence" mantra as "an effective conversation stopper" for those have no reasons. To me, this seems to insinuate (without directly saying) that atheists are doing this on purpose, as though the last thing we want to do is have a conversation about the existence of God. It's slimy; a way to bring about negative illustrations of atheists in the mind of the reader while not directly dictating the illustration.
Then he moves on to saying "Fear not fellow Christians, for I have way around this dastardly deed! I shall merely present them with evidence!" He regurgitates his terrible, long-ago refuted arguments and then finishes with this:
"The good thing is that atheists tend to be very passionate people and want to believe in something. If they would only put aside the slogans for a moment and reexamine their worldview in light of the best philosophical, scientific, and historical evidence we have today, then they, too, would find Christmas worth celebrating!"
I've seen backhanded compliments before, but this is a category all to itself. It's another use of the "atheists as " trope we see in most corners of Christian apologetics, and done so in a way to makes it seem as though Craig is actually complimenting atheists, when in reality the compliment is that they aren't really atheists, they're just people who let their passions get in the way of what they truly are and will one day recognize as the truth. I'm reminded of the South Park movie when Cartman decides to be nice to Kyle by telling him "he's not really a Jew" and an offended Kyle has to continue insisting he is. It's further insulting as it asserts that atheists don't find Christmas worth celebrating. Some don't (same with some Christians), but most of us do. The things we find worthy of celebrating are the things most Christians find worthy of celebrating, that being all of the non-Christian things co-opted from other religions like exchanges of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, adorning trees with pretty ornaments, and most of all the special time you spend with your family and friends. Craig is at least consistent; he always is sure to describe the atheist-theist comparison as far removed from reality as one can take it.
I would call Craig's article insidious if it wasn't so obvious; Dr. Craig can't get past the title without using a falsehood. This piece was in no way written for atheists; the intended recipients of his "gift" are certain groups of believers, and the gift is one of feeling a smug sense superiority over atheists. It's so very blatant as well, not a single sentence is actually addressing atheists directly, it's always "atheists are this" or "atheists do that". He refers to us as "they", not "you". This is a hack job of the highest order.
I really would have liked to have written something more positive for my favorite holiday of the year, but instead I had to feel insulted by an apologist who misses the very spirit of the holiday. I never thought I'd say this, but I expected better from William Lane Craig.