Atheism, Religion

Why Richard Dawkins & the New Atheists Do No Speak For Me

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There is no “Atheist Movement”, there are only people who lives without the need for, or a belief in, a deity or “supernatural power” and who seek reason and peace. Movement “A”theists (and they desperately want that capital A) only seek to empower themselves and to find a place in the existing power structure. They want the same influence that Christians have had in the halls of power, the Universities and the boardrooms for generations and they are willing to cater to the worst impulses of their followers to achieve this.

Case in point, Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins, PhD, the biologist and scientific educator, has played his part in making atheists respectful and taken seriously by the establishment in Western cultural and governmental institutions. His scientific theories are interesting and have added much to the popular understanding of science. Richard Dawkins the man however, the leader of an atheist “movement”, is another matter entirely. He is just another in a long line of powerful, elite, rich white men who have decided that the gravitas granted them by their standing and education gives them the the right to pontificate on everything from torture to date rape. Richard Dawkins twitter (@RichardDawkins) is filled with “logic” based analyses of pretty much anything and everything that pops into his head.

Oddly enough this has recently been rape. He goes on about how terrible it is that men who rape women when they are drunk and cannot remember the whole incident have their “lives ruined”. He goes on about how date rape is not as serious as violent stranger rape and is generally an ass to anyone who would try to get him to see how his “logic” is anything but when applied to such a complex and painful topic as sexual assault. It is not so much the content of what he says, which is bad enough, but the fact that he feels that his position in popular culture and the New Atheist movement gives him the right to act as a moral arbiter of issues that will never affect him as a powerful rich white heterosexual man. It is the sort of privilege that he does not recognize he possesses and in fact does not even recognize as privilege. This is no different than the mindset of many men in various other movements, be they Christian, Jewish, Islamic or any number of secular fields.

Dawkins has made Ayaan Hirsi Ali in particular, and anti-Islamism in general, one of his pet causes. He has tended to attack and shame any atheists or secular group that has any problem with Mrs. Hirsi Ali’s anti-Muslim and Western Imperial apologist tendencies. This recent tweet shows how he takes his position of authority rather too seriously, to the point of almost seeming to “excommunicate” secular groups that do not toe the Anti-Islamic line:

“Inviting a speaker [like Ayaan Hirsi Ali] is not “disrespecting” anybody. I, however, hereby disrespect Yale Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics” (https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/511279615844048896

Dawkins seems to have little time for feminists unless they are explicitly anti-religious or anti-Islamic. The fact that Mrs. Ali is the partner of fellow white pro-Western Imperialism master of the Universe Niall Ferguson may have something to do with his affinity for her cause.

Dawkins has also defended and played apologist for philosopher and New Atheist fixture Sam Harris. Harris has some interesting things to say in the fields of philosophy and neuro-biology but his views on Muslims and civil rights are troubling to say the least. Mr. Harris has stated that

“torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror”, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html

Mr. Harris has also posed extensive thought experiments about the nature of torture in a crisis that have more in common with a plot from the show 24 then anything approaching reality or scientific understanding of torture. Mr. Dawkins has not been shy in his defense of Mr. Harris, a man who believes as he does that Islam in general is a threat to the “West” and secular society. This sort of support for the apologists for big government programs that violate civil liberties is troubling and betrays a sense of moral superiority that is troubling and odd in someone who wishes to reject the power and influence of religion in public life. The New Atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens and his defense of the brutal US/UK invasion of Iraq, seem to have an affinity for Neo-Liberal and Neo-Conservative policies, especially regarding the so called “war on terrorism”. It leads me to wonder if they realize that they are defending the institutions that are most infiltrated and influenced by the same messianic and power-based religious ideology they attack in other forums? Writer and moral philosopher Chris Hedges had this to say about the New Atheists

“I was stunned at how the very chauvinism and bigotry and intolerance that they condemn in the Christian Right they embrace under the guise of atheism [...] they also create a binary worldview of us and them.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMcd_yWL2DM]

When reason and logic are used in furtherance of the same goals that are espoused by the religious, cultural and governmental powers that be then it may be time to question if what these men are trying to popularize is in fact free-thought at all, or merely another way for the powerful to couch their ideology, misogyny and power aims in a new and more up-to-date form of moral apologia. People who seek out an alternative to the dogmatic, chauvinistic, misogynist and violent religious sects that dominate the world do not need more heavy-handed and morally superior musings from men who benefit, knowingly or not, from the privilege they make their bones attacking. Why do atheists need leaders at all? Why can’t we have a community of freethinking, privilege defying, open-hearted people who do not wish to impose a secular religion of unquestionable “logic”? Why must the same rich white faces keep on telling us what is in our own interest? These are questions we must all struggle with and find our own answers to.

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poetry

The Dinner Party

John_F._Francis_-_A_Still_life_with_Pineapple,_Oranges,_and_Nuts

Nothing good ever comes from a garden

Only pale serpents and overripe fruit

God himself not much of a game warden

Jerk his on pego he’ll unsheath a toot

 

A cup of Port in the hand of Falstaff

A dragonfly drowns in my consomme

The chambermaid’s the wait-staff

The tablecloth, soaked with rum, en flambe

 

I reach for my grandfather’s revolver

The one engraved with the goldleafed griffin

Sous chef flashes her enormous cleaver

My resolve, and my bowels, start to loosen

 

Twas then that I jumped to a conclusion

With irresistible rich auburn hair

I kissed every false flag and illusion

For dessert ate a delightful eclair

 

After supper retired to the study
Smoked an assortment of quite useless plants

The Bishop! what an old fuddy-duddy

Under his vestments suspendered pants

 

Then we played an asinine parlour game

Something dull involving a pineapple

Earl of Lincoln one each round all the same

Or, wait, maybe it was a crab-apple?

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poetry

Runner On the Grain

Vincent_Van_Gogh-Seminatore_al_tramonto

Greed stretched lengthwise across a verdant land

Brother love and community smothered

Blood soaked from Atlantic to Pacific sands

good earth with malice, like kudzu, covered

 

The evil of expansion manifest

Destiny built upon a trail of tears

A debt the toiling people must attest

A nation and a dream held in arrears

 

The United States of America

Larceny on a monumental scale

We the People, skillful propaganda

Ravaged brown bodies, chained, put up for sale

 

I am an heir to this wretched estate

These foul riches corrupt my sorry soul

A privilege purchased, and an unearned fate

My comfort maintained by a racial dole

 

Founding fathers who delighted in rape

God bless their genius and their lying tongues

Freedom never allows its slaves escape

Liberty crushes the life from their lungs

 

Where are you resting tonight Nat Turner?

We need your honor and your stubborn will

The rich slept in beds blood-soaked by murder

We must wrest them hence for they lay there still

 

How long the road to Pottawatomie?

The sun low in a sanguinary sky

John Brown held up a mirror for us to see

A nation clothed in nothing much too shy

 

Salvation is a runner on the grain

Chased by a fearful abomination

Trampling over a fruitful stolen plain

Seeking peace from perverse domination

 

We never were a city ‘pon a hill

We’re a crypt built to hold ten million graves

This mausoleum is expanding still

Manufactured by freedom’s toiling slaves

 

Our paradise is purchased with our sins

Empire steeped in megalomania

Self-righteous power rots us from within

Behold this, your Pax Americana!

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poetry

Lilith’s Mass

lilith

We blaspheme, moiling hard for Baphomet

Incanting frontward back gospel and hymn

Babylon’s mistress, splay upon the tablet

Host baking in the heat of her tight quim

 

Darkling priests prone before the reredos

Scenes of lusty life painted on its front

Fulsome orisons lauding libidos

Men bathing in the mead of woman’s cunt

 

Burst forth from the folds of generation

Waves of robust pleasure exalt the mass

Those gathered give cum as their devotion

As each in turn embugger Lilith’s ass

 

Hail the Lord of Light and open fucking

Give thanks for Baalath’s pleasant endowment

We all owe our existence to loving

And to our nature which is pleasure bent

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Philosophy

Culpability of Kings (Part II)

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Archelaus: What is a just law?

 

Kallikrates: A law that will best satisfy the needs of the people and will preserve their lives and dignity.

 

Archelaus: But what of laws that will protect the people from harm?

 

Kallikrates: The people will come to harm or they will not. The law can only mitigate or enhance the effect of the harm done. No law will prevent harm, if by harm you mean violence done against the people from without as I assume you do.

 

Archelaus: I do indeed.

 

Kallikrates: There is no law issued from Athens that Persians will respect, at least not as long as they remain Persians. The Persians will act as Persians or they will not. If they will not then no law is needed to stay their actions, if they act as Persians then there is no law that will cause them to do otherwise. The only effect a law of Athens can have is upon Athenians.

 

Archelaus: I will grant you that, but, begging a pardon, so what? What of the culpability of kings?

 

Kallikrates: Now you ask the right question!

 

Archelaus: So give me the right answer then, my friend!

 

Kallikrates: Do you remember what I said of my son and his love for the fool Dionysus?

 

Archelaus: Yes, and I do not wholly understand why it is relevant to Pericles and his prerogative.

 

Kallikrates: Patience Archelaus. I am long winded but I do get to the point. My son loved the fool Dionysus for reasons that are his own. He could have just as easily had other reasons for not loving him. In much the same way the people of Athens will love or hate Pericles for whatever reasons are there own.

 

Archlaus: Yes, but they will also love him based on his deeds and words.

 

Kallikrates: Ah, but I say his deeds and words will be loved only so much as he is already loved. No act is on its own loved or unloved without the context of how the act is perceived by each man on his own terms. Pericles will impress many men in Athens with his martial prowess and skill and he will look a fool for the same reasons in the eyes of other men.

 

Archlaus: I see what you mean, but, what does is the point?

 

Kallikrates: The point is, the people will love or they will hate Pericles for their own reasons, individually. This will not be changed by his acts or by his words. For every convert to his cause there will be another lost to his enemies. Such is the way of men and those things that they love. In this way Pericles, and every other king or would be king, is like a beautiful youth: they will be loved, or they will not be loved.

 

Archelaus: I am beginning to understand what you mean. But, I have found a flaw in your logic.

 

Kallikrates: Have you now? Please, what flaw have you found?

 

Archelaus: Pericles is no king! Nor does he wish to be a king.

 

Kallikrates: I expected that was your problem with my argument. I shall answer your charge with a question: what is a king? Or at least, how would you describe a the characteristics of a king?

 

Archelaus: Well, a king is one with noble, proud blood who would deign to rule men. He is the best of men and rules by the royal prerogative.

 

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Philosophy

Culpability of Kings (Part I)

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Round about the time of Pericles there lived Archelaus, a man of learning and station with a sharp and lively mind, a leader of men and a orator of the highest order. One morning he took one of his walks in a lovely Athenian garden near his home. After wandering amongst the flowers and trees and honey bees he came to a bench looking out over a pool of cool clear water. On the bench was the teacher Kallikrates, a man of little wealth and even less tact, but nonetheless possessed of a great skill with rhetoric and political thought. Archelaus took a seat next to Kallikrates and struck up a conversation. This is what was said between the two men that day.

 

Archelaus: Good morning to you Kallikrates! It is a beautiful day and I have taken a break from my writing to come an enjoy what the gods have chosen to bestow upon us. I see you had the same idea.

 

Kallikrates: The day is good enough. It is not hot and it is not cold. I suppose that is enough to please any man. How goes your writing? What is the topic?

 

Archelaus: I have been asked by the great Pericles to write a dissertation on just leadership and execution of the law. I have been working on it now for the better part of a week and I have come to standstill. It is frustrating beyond measure!

 

Kallikrates: Leadership is a topic dear to many men but familiar to almost none.

 

Archelaus: Pericles is a good man and he wishes to be made familiar with the topic. He wants to be a good and just leader of men. I do not wish to lead him down a bad path though so I have found fault with nearly all I have written so far. I cannot seem to grasp onto the basic issue: what is the balance between power and responsibility? What pains are there to assure the just execution of powers? I cannot reconcile the prerogative of power with the power of prerogative.

 

Kallikrates: Prerogative is the right word my friend so you are on the right path at least. Each class of man will take hold of the power promised him by tradition and by what is perceived as a natural right. The gods have their hierarchy, it is said, and man has his. The poor will sit down at the foot of the table and each man who has stepped further up the ladder of influence, or was at least born onto the appropriate rung thereof, will take his seat as befits the height he has attained. Pericles has a foot upon the highest wrong and therefore he will be able to reach out for the greatest power, he can claim the greatest prerogative.

 

Archelaus: So then I am right to bestow upon him, with my words, an acclimation of his authority and his wisdom? He seems to me a wise man, or at least a level headed one, but if he is like you say, at the heights of the ladder of influence as you so ingeniously described it, then has he earned the acclaim by right of striving or by right of birth? He is a great man but is he a great name? Should the people love him?

 

Kallikrates: You ask the wrong question. The people will love him or they will not love him. That is of no account. Doubtless there were millions upon millions who loved Xerxes, or through their fear or ignorance mistook their awe for love, but what did this affection say regarding the balance of his authority or the content of his deeds? I declare that there is little or no meaning in the love of man for a leader. Men will love what they will love. My son loves a youth by the name of Dionysus, a creature as beautiful and charismatic as he is cruel and stupid. My son will be driven by his love to do many things for this creature; sing songs, climb heights, excuse the basest of follies and the crassest of jokes and tricks. The love my son has for this Dionysus will do nothing to change the nature of the man. He either will or will not be what he is. If he is not he will have chosen a different path, perhaps in order to greater please and enhance the love shown by my son or for some other reason. But this will not prove that love can change a man nor will this prove that love is based upon virtue. My son does not see some inner virtue of Dionysus. My son loves what he sees and sees what he loves. He is a man and men will love what they will. And Dionysus will love what he does, iniquity and folly. Each will decide for himself what he will or will not love, if we believe that man has control over such things. Even if he does not have control, even if the gods dictate what a man will love, who will tell the gods what their place is to decide? The gods have their place on the ladder as well. They have their prerogative. Love does not decide prerogative nor will it settle the question of merit.

 

Archelaus: So I ask the wrong question. What, then, is the question I should be asking?

 

Kallikrates: What is the culpability of kings?

 

Archelaus: Culpability? What do you mean?

 

Kallikrates: If there is error made or a violence done against the law or against the trust or bodies of the people, to whom does the king answer, and to what degree shall he suffer?

 

Archelaus: Well he shall answer to the gods.

 

Kallikrates: Surely, but the justice of the gods has nothing to do with the justice of men. The gods will do what the gods will do. Man will do different, or else he would be of the gods.

 

Archelaus: I suppose that is true. So a king will answer to the people? To the laws?


Kallikrates: The king must answer to the laws of the people. These are the laws that govern the movement and the happiness and the comfort of people. The people will either be happy or they will not. If they are happy it will be through the just administration of the laws, and the only laws that can be justly administered are just laws.

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Tete de Poulet

schiele2

Edo equal onslaught sequel affront

Menage a deux never imbroglio

Do new the thing is odd sui encunt

He sings, “alack, please heed Benvolio!”

 

Fabrique du mal, wrenched upwards blessed red

Blaise Pascal holds it releases winter

Chaise bestride agape invites lonesome head

Plenum pensees, critic, a dissenter

 

Mum of words and yet ample of mumbles

Leche la chatte, I work in trade of kind

Your maw, a treat, and so soft it humbles  

A vessel for my milk is thus defined

 

I quibble with my thoughts of dark remorse

Supine with my prick hard-pressed to deflate

Warm dew speckled lips pout around the source

Pleased with my renown as a reprobate

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