I write in response to the “Open Letter to the Atheist Community”, written by Rabbi Adam Jacobs, for the Huffington Post. The original article can be found here.
This man is quite intelligent, well spoken, and is fairly rational and reasonable for a man who also believes in God. It is unfortunate that his talent should be spent here, and not in pursuit of higher reason, and on behalf of the intellectual curiosity he may well be starving himself of as a result of adhering to doctrines of faith.
I applaud what he frames his underlying point (hands off, we have big guns too) with, which are fairly reasonable calls to end conflict between groups of people, making the overall tone one of presumed righteousness, which is effectively an attempt at a tactical defense. Above reproach? I think not. Agreeable? Certainly! I, also, wish very much to end conflict, but until we begin to see any actual success in this, my Atheist rhetoric will contain sharp edges, so I recommend putting on your thick-skin.
He launches into bold claims, such as “there are no true Atheists”, and illustrates these claims by providing one side of the falsifiability concept, or seems to, but neglects to finish the concept with the equal and opposite side to the coin. I counter with that side: “There are true Atheists”, which is, in fact, provable, because to be a TRUE Atheist, one does not have to have total knowledge of the universe, but one must have the firm BELIEF that there is no god. If you had to have knowledge of the whole universe to be a true Atheist, then by that logic, a vegetarian might be required to have knowledge of every single plant species that exists, or an auto mechanic would need to know everything about every automobile in existence. Therefore, this is an irrational line of thinking which plainly concludes that only God himself would be a true Atheist.
An Atheist is someone who believes that there is no god, so yes, there are true Atheists. You are reading one. This counter-point is aimed at his first point, and also makes the rest of that entire paragraph pointless to respond to, as its premise is now moot. Though I must once again compliment this man on his persuasive writing ability, and his creativity. This reads well, and to the non-confrontational, non-critically thinking mind, seems soothing and just.
Ill pause to respond to his assertion that there is anything published anywhere which is a “great” rebuttal to Dawkins’ “Ultimate 747 Argument”. My response? tl;dr
Dont know what that means? Google. Ive spent enough time on that.
Yes, there are many great scientists, philosophers, etc who are also theists. History and reality shows us this. Lets not forget, even some of the greatest scientific minds in history also held odd superstitions or believed in very unlikely things, such as Sir Isaac Newton, who was a devout Christian and wrote millions of words of Biblical commentary, but also handed science one of its greatest discoveries. Newton strove to achieve total conviction in God by understanding the laws of science and of the universe. He actually believed the laws of physics were the direct implications of a God, and so worked tirelessly and brilliantly to prove what eventually(and ironically) turned out to be useful, not in proving the beauty of his imagined God, but as one of the many bits of ammunition found within the canon of scientifically motivated Atheism. My point here is that smart people can also be a part of the God delusion, just like any other type of person. Drawing attention to the many great theists in society is unnecessary and does nothing to move the argument forward. This isn’t really an argument at all.
The author moves on to admit that he has taken steps backward from Atheism, to Judaism, which is a fairly humiliating thing to admit among some circles. He then questions the motivation of Atheists to, in so many words, do the things that we do for our cause. Ill take a second to address his question of “Wouldn’t it make much more sense to just chuckle knowingly to yourselves and shake your heads at our folly in the way you might with children who believe they have magic powers?” You are partially correct. It would be much more sensible, or much easier, to just shake my head. However we both know it is *not* that simple. Am I taking a more difficult path in living my life as an outspoken Atheist? Indubitably! The business of urging the world towards a more rational future is not an easy business, but it is my business, and the business of those like me. There are too many reasons why just shaking my head doesn’t cut it, and those reasons are too obvious and apparent to need mentioning here. Its almost insulting to be made to consider them, still.
All in all, I find this ‘Open Letter’ to be not as open as the title suggests, and I find the author’s desire to be seen as magnanimous and righteous to be more patronizing than persuasive to his points. I respond now to his well written closing, which asks for acceptance and consideration of religion based on the fact that Darwin himself made notes which illustrate his own fear of God. This goes back to my earlier point, and that is that many smart, successful, creative, and powerful people have also been believers in the great lies fed to us by religion, and while they were champions among men, towering in intellectual capacity and creative output, they were all, still, nothing but human beings, and just as susceptible to fear and imbalance as the rest of us. It is not fair, nor even reasonable to cite this as a persuasion to open our minds to accepting the existence of religion. Let me remind you, accepting religion means accepting it as a whole, and I for one cannot swallow the side effects of that pill. Thank you, no.