Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let's Increase The Polarity

The LA Times recently hosted a bizarre op-ed exchange. The first piece, "Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining", was written by Charlotte Allen. I am not familiar with Charlotte Allen but apparently since she authored the book, The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus, she's in a position to comment on atheists. I'm not familiar with her book either, but I did read a number of reviews which helped a little. The LA Times asked P.Z. Myers to respond to Charlotte Allen's piece. P.Z. Myers is well known for his uncompromising views. But I digress.

Charlotte Allen's op-ed piece is hardly a thoughtful contribution towards a healthy and robust discussion. She's nothing less than derisive towards atheists whom she claims are derisive towards religion and the religious. (She's not explicit but she appears to be speaking of Christianity and the Christian god.) Then she brings up a variety of examples of behaviors of atheists as if they were representative of all. Now if I were to follow her methodology of picking and choosing information about religion on the Internet I could say that Catholic religious leaders were child abusers, that Christians want to subjugate women or that Christians are racists. Just as there is no single organization or group that represents all religions, or all Christians, there is no like organization for atheists so it's easy to find examples that make either side look bad.

P.Z. Myers took a different tack in his response entitled "Why is Charlotte Allen so mad at atheists?". (I'm betting the editors titled both pieces.) He provides a more cogent and consequently more credible challenge yet still with an undertone of contempt which ever so slightly detracts and distracts.

Overall, I find Myers' piece provides far more food for thought than Allen's.

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