Wednesday 26 October 2005

Cenk Uygur is wrong.

Amy Alkon has linked approvingly to this little diatribe from Cenk Uygur. She says it's eloquent, and she's half-right. If true eloquence includes the ability to persuade people to change their minds, crap like this fails the test abysmally. But Mr Uygur does do a very good job of clearly and precisely explaining to us all just how much of an arrogant twonk he is. Come to think of it, his writing is almost good enough to turn me religious, but, that being the opposite of his intention, I don't think that puts any points in his eloquence basket.

We live in a twisted world, where right is wrong and wrong reigns supreme. It is a chilling fact that most of the world's leaders believe in nonsensical fairytales about the nature of reality. They believe in Gods that do not exist, and religions that could not possibly be true. We are driven to war after war, violence on top of violence to appease madmen who believe in gory mythologies.

These men are called Christians, Muslims and Jews.

He then makes the same point again and again for another million or so paragraphs. We've heard it all before: religion is stupid, religious people are stupid, religious leaders cause wars; if only we had no religion, we wouldn't have wars. Oh, and anyone who voted for George W Bush is stupid — because Bush is religious. Call me suspicious, but I suspect Mr Uygur doesn't think quite the same about people who voted for the Christian John Kerry, the Christian Al Gore, or the Christian Bill Clinton.

Anyway, speaking as a staunch atheist, I think that Mr Uygur is deeply stupid.

First off, applying today's knowledge to the beliefs of our ancestors is a very stupid thing to do.

Mohammed was a pure charlatan -- and a good one at that.


Jesus is said to have said on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Because Jesus was insane and the God he thought would rescue him did not exist. And he died on that cross like a fool.

And so on. Anyone who has ever claimed to believe in a god, thinks Mr Uygur, was stupid or insane or lying.

In all of mankind's history, we have come up with only two good explanations for biological diversity: the theory of evolution, and some form of god. Prior to Darwin's publication, atheism was the stupid option. Science is the search for explanations for the universe. To refuse to consider giving any explanation at all for the existence and variety of every organism on Earth is not the scientific approach.

But that's really quite a minor quibble. Mr Uygur's real idiocy lies in his insistence that the reason we have so many disastrous wars, genocides, and sundry atrocities is that most of the world's leaders are religious.

It is possible — common, even — to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Let's just remind ourselves of which side were the theists and which were the atheists in the Cold War. And how about World War Two? One of Churchill's reasons for his determination never to surrender to or compromise with Nazism was his absolute dedication to the moral code that he believed mankind had received from God. Pol Pot? Mao? Atheists both. We were hearing a lot a couple of years ago about how Al Qaeda would never work with Saddam Hussein because he was a secular leader. His alleged secularism doesn't seem to have turned him peaceful, does it?

What's important in a leader is how they believe people should be treated, not which metaphysical and unprovable phenomena they believe exist. I don't look to the Prime Minister to inform me about the nature of the universe. Would you rather have a leader who doesn't believe in evolution but does believe in opposing fascists, or one who understands genetics and microbiology and thinks that his economic theories are worth sacrificing millions of lives for? No contest.

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