Yes, I get these emails quite frequently, but this one was so full of repressed anger that I had to post it. This morning’s emailer was one “Ian Coombe”, and though you can find that name all over the Internet as an author and “decision-making strategist,” I’m not sure this is that guy. But I do think it’s his real name because his gmail address (not given) includes it. (While I don’t reveal real names of commenters here without permission, I don’t adhere to that for personal emails, especially if they’re aggressive and nasty.)
At any rate, Mr. Coombe’s email was headed “Lennox bashing,” which I suppose refers to my quarrels with John Lennox, including a post about his pathetic attempts to reconcile science with his Christianity. At the previous link I reproduced Lennox’s bona fides from Wikipedia.
John Lennox is a Northern Irish mathematician, bioethicist, and Christian apologist. He has written many books on religion, ethics, the relationship between science and faith (like his books, Has Science Buried God and Can Science Explain Everything), and has had public debates with atheists including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
I presume the peevish Mr. Coombe had read the post I mentioned (there are others, too), and was out to set me straight about my misguided criticism of religion and accommodationism.
I submit his email for your approval (or, more likely, disapproval):
There are many people in this world who derive strength from their religious faith especially today with so much suffering and lack of civility. We have lost our compass.
Perhaps your band of shallow atheist followers could develop a little empathy and or compassion for those who are not as sure of themselves and are content to grasp beliefs that work for them.
I always found the arrogance of Hitchins and others of his ilk astounding.
Perhaps the ‘evolution’ of quantum physics, quantum eraser and the fascination of quantum entanglement will reduce your followers smug out dated convictions and suggest new possibilities that would take them out of their sad black hole. It’s all plain sailing for them until personal tragedy strikes and then they search for a parachute, imaginary or otherwise, that doesn’t exist for them.
At the moment our world needs help from a source other than our own over blown egos and you’re not helping.
This is the old “you have to respect/embrace religion because it makes people feel good”, coupled with the old saw that “atheists turn to God in rough times.” The first was handily refuted by George Bernard Shaw, who said this:
“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.”
Or, as Richard Dawkins said in his interview that I discussed yesterday, “I think that truth actually is a genuine value. I believe that a true scientific outlook on the world would actually be best for the flourishing of humankind.” Religion is, to anybody with two neurons to rub together, a belief system lacking evidence, or, as Dawkins called it, a “delusion.”
Sadly, Mr Coombe conceives of atheism as a “conviction”, but it’s really not—except for diehard atheists who declar “I know that there’s no god.” If atheism is a claim, it’s simply a claim about evidence: “I don’t think there’s a god because I see no evidence for one.”
As for all of us atheists clinging to a “parachute” in times of personal tragedy—a parachute “imaginary or otherwise”—that’s a red herring. Yes, we all seek consolation in hard or tragic times, but I prefer to look to reality than to fiction. When a friend or relative dies, I am not consoled by thinking, “Well, he/she is with god, and I’ll meet them again someday.” That’s not only a false consolation, but one I find impossible to believe given my nature. Rather, we can be consoled by truths: that we had some good years with the person, that the person will persist in our memory, that the world may have been a better place because of that person, and so on.
But I digress. If you have a response to the email above, I’ll send it to Mr. Coombes tomorrow. Simply put it in the comments below (especially if you’re an atheist), and I’ll send him the link to this whole post tomorrow.