Controversy: The Vox Day Quote
Updated to clean up some awkward phrasing (9/21/11 @ 8:30am EDT)
Alex has had some strong words to say regarding my recent posting of a Vox Day quote and labeling it as the best quote ever.
He said the quote was ignorant and stupid. I told everyone that it was meant humorously and to please lighten up. Then, he said posting the quote makes me look stupid:
Oh, I always have fun, however that shouldn’t justify stupidity. And it’s a bit scary that the quote is supposed to be awesome in a theistic perspective; you’re embracing unsubstantiated and stupid claims, said in a poor way, using words he doesn’t understand. And you think that is awesome? No, Cory, it makes you look stupid next to it, and hopefully that isn’t what you intended.
And then he tries to shame me into investigating why by bringing up my recent declaration that I seek truth.
But, I don’t think the quote is stupid or that it makes me look stupid. I’m going to examine why that is, but first, I would like to whine.
Why do I have to justify everything I do to atheists? None of them justify a single argument, even when I’ve asked. All I ever seem to get is the whole burden-of-proof-is-on-me-the-theist talking point. Fine. But in a court case, the defense still presents an argument. So man up and stop asserting stuff with no justification.
The reason I whined about that is because that is all Alex does. Specifically, between two comments in that post, he asserts that the quote:
- is a remarkably stupid example of argument from ignorance
- demonstrates poor understanding of the concepts touched on
- makes unsubstantiated assertions
- misuses “esoteric”
- states its point poorly
None of his own claims are substantiated, yet I’m about to expound on why I think this is a great quote. Fine, let’s get this over with.
First, I believe this quote is meant humorously. If not, then there is a problem. If Vox is being funny, then great. I think it is really, really funny. It’s funny because, shock and surprise, we theists really do think atheists are profoundly wrong!
If this is meant as a humorous aside, then it was directed at fellow believers. Thus, assertion works well because we all already believe, wholeheartedly and beyond a reasonable doubt, that atheists are dead wrong.
I am saying that they [atheists] are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect.
Agreed. Atheists are wrong. If they were not “reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect,” then ministries like this would not exist.
Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong.
Yes, Dawkins has been refuted numerous times — especially where his conception of God is concerned. If God were a material and contingent being, then Dawkins refuted him nicely. God is neither, so The God Delusion stands as a spectacle to laugh at rather than a philosophical work to be taken seriously.
Dennett is more complex in his treatment of religion, and someone I’m more apt to take seriously. But I can’t comment much more than that, as generic as that is, because I haven’t read Breaking the Spell. I’ve wanted to, even if I am familiar with the argument that evolution produced religion (I don’t particularly find it convincing, but I want to read Dennett’s work because he is the only philosopher of the group and thus the best-equipped to propose and defend such an argument).
Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong.
One of the reasons why I think this quote is meant as humor. Hitchens is a drinker, and there has been at least one YouTube video I’m aware of showing him as an angry drunk trying to fight a priest. He had to be carried out by the police.
I’ve never cheated on my wife, but I window shop more frequently than I should. So draw a cartoon of me at my computer blogging about the sinfulness of masturbation in the first frame, then in the second frame show me oogling a bikini-clad woman as I think, “Take a mental snapshot for later… heh, heh, heh.” Or, since I’m a Calvinist, I could think, “If I jerk it while thinking about her later, God foreordained it so he really can’t hold it against me…”
The captions could be funnier, but I digress. I’m a public figure (of sorts), and thus I have opened myself to being parodied — gently and viciously. And, the Hitch is a drinker and is open to a mocking comment like Vox’s, just as I would be open to being painted as a voyeur or a womanizer while writing that both are sins in some Christian Apologist SNL-like sketch.
Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong.
As above. This is hilarious because of the non sequitur aspect. Being French has nothing to do with right or wrong. Neither does being drunk have an impact on right or wrong (though drunk people do have a tendency to misread reality).
Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.
This is the funniest of the group. I’m sorry, but I fail to see how “esoteric” is used incorrectly. “Esoteric” means “hidden, secret, open only to a select few.” Basically, Vox is saying that to calculate how wrong Harris is, we’d have to invent whole new mathematics never thought of, and I believe it is said with some humorous panache. Esoteric helps accomplish that.
Now, if this was not meant humorously, and Vox was not just trying for a chuckle from fellow believers, I could see why Alex says this quote makes Vox (and me, by reposting it) look stupid. That could well be the case: that Vox meant this seriously. I only have the quote, not the context in which he said it. If someone could offer the context, that might be illuminating.
Here’s the bottom line. The quote assumes that atheists are wrong. That’s not really controversial among believers, because we do believe that atheists are very, very, very wrong. Instead of saying why atheists are wrong — not necessary when directed at believers — the quote pokes some fun at prominent atheists.
So, are the exceptions taken to this quote that:
- A theist made a statement that pokes fun at atheists
- A theist assumed atheists were wrong without offering an argument
- The quote is structured and stated inelegantly and awkwardly
- Vox Day is an idiot, and anything he says should be classified as such
If I’m still missing it, please argue and don’t offer bald assertions! I’ve defended my position, please do me the same courtesy if I’m missing something.