I find it extremely ironic that Kelly O’Connor of the Rational Response Squad takes offense to a Christian making a statement against her philosophical beliefs, but then goes on to write that atheists are under no obligation to respect the beliefs of others.
The proof is in the pudding. First, Kelly acts offended at this statement from Rev. Marty Fields:
They [atheists] keep writing books, one right after the other, rehashing the same old tired arguments that you heard in your freshman philosophy class. Atheists taking issue with those who believe in God is — of course — nothing new. The only difference is that now — with each new offering — they appear to be getting angrier. … and more desperate. (source)
Kelly responds with the following:
Marty Fields, who will not be addressed as “Reverend” here as I have no reverence for him or his ilk, wrote an op-ed entitled “Angry Atheists”. He starts out by accusing atheists of being philosophical dilettantes, using the “same old tired arguments that you heard in your freshman philosophy class.” Ironic, coming from a proponent of a religion that hasn’t come up with a new argument in 2000 years. I think that tops freshman year philosophy, eh? (source)
I’d say that sounds defensive. Now the irony:
In debates, Hitchens is respectful of his opponent, just as the example that he cited between Russell and Copleston. He has no obligation to be respectful of their beliefs or opinions, though, and neither do any of us. [emphasis added]
Yet, above, she seems to be angry for Fields not pulling punches when he talks about atheism.
Now the obvious objection here is that Kelly has a point, that Fields doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that is why she is so angry. Let’s examine Fields’s article, “Angry Atheists,” and see if he knows his stuff.
Contrary to what Kelly states in her article, Fields neither labels The End of Faith as the least offensive of the Four Horsemen’s books nor does he attack Christopher Hitchens personally. He lists the books in their order of publication. He labels Hitchens’s book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, as “both the most visceral and the angriest of all.” However, he doesn’t label Hitchens as such, nor does he make any character assessments.
I agree that atheism is declining in influence, mostly due to the anger and bitterness that is so evident within their attitudes and words. However, it is misleading to state that without considering Kelly’s rebuttal: “Atheism is increasing worldwide, a fact easily proven by population studies and surveys.” This is very true. Atheism, once representing 10% of the population, now represents 11% of the population–and I only see that number growing in the coming years. In five to ten years, they may represent 20-30% of the population–or more.
I also agree that atheists are starting to attack religious belief itself, and trying to make belief in God an object of ridicule. They’re trying to make it a taboo. Sort of like finding out someone’s super dirty secret and not being able to say that you really think that it’s wrong and that the secret holder should be ashamed. They try to make religious belief into that super dirty secret and relentlessly try to shame people who adhere to religious beliefs. The Rational Response Squad itself tries to classify theism as a mental disease or defect.
“Why am I here?” “Am I significant and valuable?” “Does life have meaning?” These are some of the questions that Fields proposes and says that the New Atheists (like the Four Horsemen) either ignore or assume that their idealistic naturalism can answer. Kelly, in top New Atheist form, also glosses over these questions. She doesn’t even point us to a resource that attempts to answer these important questions. She’s busy being angry.
I don’t think that she’s upset about Fields’s lack of knowledge on the subject of atheism. I don’t think that she’s upset that Fields believes that Jesus is the answer to all of the questions above. I think that so much of the article was right on target that Kelly has to retreat into defensive mode in order to continue to delude herself into believing two things: 1) that there is no God; and 2) that God isn’t calling her to repentance.
Instead of responding to theists, she should try responding in prayer to the One we speak for.
Tomorrow, I’ll consider part 2 of Kelly’s post, “Damn Right I’m Angry.” So far, I see no death blows being dealt to Christianity as the hype claimed. Maybe those are in part 2?