Friday, April 20, 2007

Words of comfort

As Pharyngula recently noted, Dinesh D'Souza has written a characteristically appalling opinion piece on the absence of atheists providing comfort to the bereaved Virginia students:

"The atheist writer Richard Dawkins has observed that according to the findings of modern science, the universe has all the properties of a system that is utterly devoid of meaning. The main characteristic of the universe is pitiless indifference. Dawkins further argues that we human beings are simply agglomerations of molecules, assembled into functional units over millennia of natural selection, and as for the soul--well, that's an illusion!"

Over at Daily Kos, an atheist professor at Virginia Tech has written a beautiful and moving response:

"We atheists do not believe in gods, or angels, or demons, or souls that endure, or a meeting place after all is said and done where more can be said and done and the point of it all revealed. We don't believe in the possibility of redemption after our lives, but the necessity of compassion in our lives. We believe in people, in their joys and pains, in their good ideas and their wit and wisdom. We believe in human rights and dignity, and we know what it is for those to be trampled on by brutes and vandals. We may believe that the universe is pitilessly indifferent but we know that friends and strangers alike most certainly are not. We despise atrocity, not because a god tells us that it is wrong, but because if not massacre then nothing could be wrong."


"You can find us next week in the bloodied classrooms of a violated campus, trying to piece our thoughts and lives and studies back together.

With or without a belief in a god, with or without your asinine bigotry, we will make progress, we will breathe life back into our university, I will succeed in explaining this or that point, slowly, eventually, in a ham-handed way, at risk of tears half-way through, my students will come to feel comfortable again in a classroom with no windows or escape route, and hell yes we will prevail.

You see Mr D'Souza, I am an atheist professor at Virginia Tech and a man of great faith. Not faith in your god. Faith in my people."


  1. I would say that professor handled it very well. "Assinine bigotry" pretty well sums it up. And nothing like spewing divisive venom to help people heal from a tragedy, eh?

  2. "Vermont students"?

  3. If I wasn't already married to a professor, I'd go for that one.

  4. Whoops, thanks for catching that typo. s/Vermont/Virginia/

  5. D'Souza is among theism's more pathetic creatures. His problem is this. When tragedies like Virginia Tech occur, God has a bad habit of not putting in an appearance, saving lives and all that. This inaction is, of course, due to his nonexistence. But believers cannot handle that blunt reality, and concoct all manner of wild justifications and rationalizations for why "a loving God" allows such tragedies to occur. The psychological addiction to belief in an invisible man is far stronger than mere reality can overcome.

    D'Souza knows that atheists do have an annoying habit of bringing this stuff up. So his solution is to try and do an end-run around us, going on the offensive against us before we have a chance to point out to anyone that God did every bit as good a job of nothing in responding to this tragedy as he has done in all others, and that perhaps believing in this pixie is a foolish waste of time that prevents people from coming up with real solutions to real problems. Atheism will always be superior to theism, which only offers people the "solution" to hide under their blankets and clasp their hands in prayer, in this regard.

    D'Souza simply wants to shoot the messenger, which says more about the weakness of his own feeble beliefs than about the behavior of atheists in response to tragedy, which has always been, in my experience, warm, sympathetic, and pragmatic.

  6. I’m bored waiting for another apologist. Let’s make pretend.

    “Atheism will always be superior to theism…”

    So much for all that talk about equality. So you DO want an atheocracy after all. You’re a cult same as any other “ism”. Atheism, ha! More like plagiarism… of the devil!!!

    “…which only offers people the "solution" to hide under their blankets and clasp their hands in prayer”

    Oh yeah? And what do you offer other than just telling people to shut up and deal with it? Just deal with the cruel, pitiless universe. At least we give people a cruel, pitiless entity to fear and worship.

    …Well, that was fun.

    By the way, if a robot is telling you about Genesis, here is a paradox to make his head explode:

    God is perfect.
    Perfection cannot be improved upon.
    God creates man in His own image.
    Adam is lonely and requires a companion.
    God creates woman, also in His own image, but with boobies!
    God has improved upon perfection.

    Thank you, thank you. I came up with that one all my own.


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