Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pernicious Accommodationism

Isn't this enough?
Won't you shut up now?
What's your problem?
What more do you want?

Will you never be happy?

How often have we heard these kinds of questions directed at atheists from apologists, or their hand-puppets, accommodationists?

Well, here it is again.

Dvorsky Vilifies Atheists

The First Psychosis

I'm going to let you in on a not so carefully hidden secret: the Abrahamic "Binding of Isaac" story is about the primacy of God, all other priorities rescinded. Read that again: All other priorities rescinded. That includes the lives of one's own children. That the final murder was "prevented" is of no relevance. The essential betrayal of humanity, represented by Abraham's willingness to murder his own child, is the point of the story - not whether the child actually died. Of course, there are many children who do not fare so well in their parents' test of faith. Madeline Kara Neumann is one example.

Homicide by Prayer

Kara Neuman died of diabetic ketoacidosis. Juvenile diabetes. See the picture above? Kara Neumann was a human being, not a statistic, and not a chess-piece in some ideological game about parents' versus childrens' rights.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels leads to acidity of the blood and vital organs shut down, resulting in death. It is very likely Kara was "ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness." These are the words of the Everest Metro Police Chief, reporting on the autopsy of the 11 year old girl.

The family believed in “divine healing” by trusting the Lord, Leilani Neumann, Kara's mother, said. “I just felt that, you know, my faith was being tested. I never went through an experience like that before in my life and I just thought, man, this is the ultimate test,” she said. “We just started praying and praying and praying over her.’

Kara's mother didn't think about seeking medical help for Kara. Leilani Neumann felt that her, Leilani's, faith was being tested. Kara was a means to an end, in Leilani's view. It was a test that Kara failed. Where was Kara during this struggle? Remember her, the 11 year old girl? She was busy dying of a treatable, controllable, and well understood medical condition.

A parent placing her own faith above the well-being of her child. Sound familiar? Kara Neuman's story is not an isolated case. Prayer healing is a well-known and pernicious affliction that claims children's lives on a seemingly regular basis. Want to know the harm of prayer? There it is. And behind it all is a psychosis that has its roots in the primacy of God - a deliberate distancing of oneself from humanity.

Humanistic Anti-Humanism? Seriously?

Why mention the "Binding of Isaac" story with respect to Dvorsky's article? Because one of the priorities rescinded is humanism. This story is precisely about relegating humanism and humanity to a distant back burner, behind God. It is precisely about overriding all mere human considerations in favour of something that is, by definition, extra-human.

The Abrahamic religions wear their anti-humanism on their sleeves, for all to see, but this does not mean this is unique to the Abahamic trinity of holy horrors. God, itself, is a symbol of a normative ideal, for which, they say, humanity is to strive to achieve, you know, from our intrinsically flawed and lowly state. In most cases, it is impossible to achieve this presumably exalted state. In one religion, God is not anthropomorphized, but the exalted state (Bodhi) is intrinsically unverifiable. In all cases, mere humanity is denigrated - in all cases we are taught to view humanity as metaphysically, and normatively, perhaps inexorable and necessarily flawed.

And people call that "humanism?" By what stretch of the imagination is anti-human ideology, wallowing in eternal hatred of humanity's lowly state, "humanism?" Remember, how in a previous post, I spoke of religion annexing human qualities into its perverted lexicon? There it is again, another example - a "humanism" that has nothing to do with humans, and instead focuses on the extra-human. Imagine that.

The Wrong Reasons

People point at the "good" done by "religious humanism." The charity. Meanwhile, churches are shutting down charity services rather than help those in need because some of those helped might be homosexuals - you know, humans. Why? Because homosexuality is against their religious bigotry. If your reason for helping humans is not humans, then you are doing it for the wrong reason.

And the reason matters. Otherwise, we get charity services being shut down on the basis of bigotry.

The Accommodationist Rot

So, how do I see Dvorsky and his article?

Dvorsky is just another bought and paid for, worthless accommodationist telling atheists, "Don't you think you've gone far enough now?" Meanwhile he is still using religious, absolutism-laced language, and is still perpetuating, indeed promoting, stigma against atheists.

Accommodationists are the rot from within, advancing anti-human apologist ideology and trying to paint atheists as the aggressors against poor, besieged religion. At least with apologists you know where they stand. Accommodationists are not even that honest. Skeptic and humanist groups and associations are infested with these pernicious liars.

They pretend to be the rational center against all extremes, but it is remarkable how one "extreme" gets all of the sympathy and the other all of the bile. That is not a reasonable middle ground - that is open advocacy of the extreme that seeks to keep us slaves of a hobbled mentality forever, while trying to silence those who would examine, critique and advocate against that slavery.

No, we atheists are not done yet because the job is unfinished. Religion still holds our human qualities in thrall, including our humaneness, as if religions own them, and religion is still fundamentally anti-humanist. We aren't even close to done yet. Until the primacy of God over mere humans is done away with, the job is not done. Not by a long shot.

Humanism must be about humans - of humans, by humans, and for humans. Nothing else will suffice.

I'm an atheist, but...

"I'm against religion, but...." Dvorsky, you are the problem, because you seek to enable anti-humanist mentalities and ideologies, by vilifying atheism. Can you say "perpetuating stigma?" Sure. I knew you could. Dvorsky is as bad, or worse, than the accommodationists that infest the "scientific skeptic" organizations, making sure that the worst, biggest, most dangerous "woo" of them all remains "beyond the scope" of skeptical inquiry. Well, not on this blog. I accept no limitations on the scope of inquiry and have no respect to the disingenuous liars who do. Nor do I respect accommodationists who say things like "I'm an atheist, but..." and then go on to vilify atheists. The religious right's hand is so firmly wedged up Dvorsky's ass that his speech is right-handed.

So-called "skeptics" who artificially limit the scope of inquiry are not the friends of open and honest inquiry. So-called "humanists" who advocate for subjugating human concerns under the primacy of God are not friends of humanity.

Atheism & Humanism

Let's be clear: Atheism does not, itself, have humanist content. Atheism means lack of belief in god(s). Nothing more. However god(s) often do have perceived content, chief among them the primacy of the god. This is why theists think that atheism has content - because atheism doesn't affirm the content of god(s). This also ties in with the theist's inability to comprehend that atheism is a lack of belief; not a belief. Fallacy of false alternatives.

By removing the pernicious anti/extra-human ideal, atheism provides opportunity for humanism, opportunity denied us by theologies that assume the primacy of God. By removing God, we are free to see humans as something more than mere chaff in a dogmatic meat grinder. We are free to see them as ends in themselves, not just as disposable means to an end. That is a significant step forward. It is not the end of the story, but it is a start, a start we cannot have as long as we think humans are subordinate to god(s).

It is not time for humanism to move away from atheism. It is time for humanism to embrace atheism as a shrugging off of the anti-human ideal, a shrugging off that gives us room for humanity in our considerations, room to learn and grow, room to be joyfully, unashamedly human. It is an interesting thing that many, if not most, atheists end up having humanistic dispositions, despite the dire prognostications of the theistic. There is a reason for that. The essential religious hatred of humanity, centered in the primacy of God, is dismissed by atheists. We atheists have moved beyond that. Isn't it about time humanism moved away from humanity-hatred as well...?

Not according to Dvorsky.

Yeah, I know. Suggesting that humans take back their humanity is radical, and extreme, and evil...


  1. I can find nothing in Dvorsky's article in which he advocates accommodation for the "Binding of Isaac," prayer healing, or any of the other nasty behaviors associated with certain religious dogmas. In fact, I can find no accommodation of any sort of dogma anywhere within his line of argument. Neither do I find anywhere that he even hints that religion is entitled to hold "our human qualities in thrall."

    You're imputing a stance to Dvorsky that he simply does not hold, accusing him of collaborating with the enemy, merely for suggesting that the tactics of some within the atheist community probably run counter to our common strategic objectives.

    The ire with which you respond to his argument, second only perhaps to that which you reserve for the faithful, serves only to reinforce his point.

  2. Parker Whittle:

    The "Binding of Isaac" story is an example of the kind of mindset employed by the religions to distance people from humanity. Central to the Binding of Isaac story is the primacy of God, an anti-humanist principle if ever there was one. It is atheists who are the ones who do not believe in god(s) and who are therefore the ones dismissing the primacy of God and the associated anti-human dogmatic mentality.

    To attack, as Dvorsky does, atheists is to leave these kinds of psychotic mentalities unchecked, free to render their covert damage on our attitudes towards other human beings. The astute will notice that Dvorsky's article's title does not speak of humanism outgrowing a particular kind or flavour of atheism, of say a particular subgroup of atheists, but of outgrowing atheism as a sweeping generalization. Dvorsky does not check his targets. This is a common tactic of the accommodationist, as is your rhetoric, actually.

    What Dvorsky clearly is not representing is that the *any* critique is considered "facile and inflammatory" - as a personal attack - by the theist and his pity-motivated hand puppet accommodationist allies. Now I'd like to give Dvorsky the benefit of the doubt and think he simply doesn't realize the rhetorical methods used by the deliberately offended, but it is simply inconceivable that anyone who is an atheist or who is critical of religion could fail to have encountered this. Dvorsky's pointing at offence is to give the theists unmitigated license to employ this sordid methodology. A typical ploy of the accommodationist. In the mind of the accommodationist, the atheist is the bad guy for offending the poor little theist, not the theist for seeking to truncate any possible discussion of the subject matter by appealing to pity through big anime eyes welling up with tears.

    There is a reason I call accommodationists a covert rot from within. They pretend to be allies seeking to gain control over the conversation while actually working to subvert the essential, necessary work of recognizing and dealing with the concepts involved and they often do so by trying to flood any conversation with emotive fluff and appeals to emotion - much like the last paragraph of your post above.

    While I am dealing with content, the content of the primacy of God mentality exemplified by the Binding of Isaac story, the effects of such mentalities in terms of bigotry, the devaluation and hatred of humanity by comparison to ridiculous ideals, you are pointing at emotive stuff in an effort to discredit the author (me), not to argue the points. Your assessment of my ire, or lack thereof, (indeed my ire or lack thereof) is irrelevant to the points I make and I note that you address none of those. Your homework assignment is to figure out which fallacy of relevance you have committed here. Have fun.

    But there is actually something much darker at work in Dvorsky's material. It is common when trying to overcome previous ideologies to trot our skeptical tools - and then then try to put those tools away when the new ideology takes hold so as to prevent those very same tools from finding the very same flaws in the new ideology. Religion is about making humans a subservient consideration to a mere philosophy. Atheism is attacking that philosophy in a way that elevate humans above that mere philosophy. It serves us not at all to replace one dogma with another, and that it what Dvorsky seems to be seeking to do. "Quick, quick, stuff critical inquiry into prescriptivity as a control methodology back in the box before anyone sees how we rely on exactly the same stuff for our new dogma." Becoming a dogma, any dogma, takes the humans out of humanism.


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