The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day



Awhile back (a long while), someone named Chris commented on my Reading List page (which I have to update) that I should read The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day. Since it’s free to download I agreed, but so far I haven’t gotten past the first chapter. I thought I would write about the first section of the first chapter, and then maybe you can tell me if it’s even worth my time to keep reading.

 

The first chapter is called A Pride of Atheists (barf). Below is the text of the book in black, and my comments in red.

 ***

don’t care if you go to Hell. Shit! Well that’s one way to kick off your book.

 

God does, assuming He exists and assuming you know the mind of God, or He okay this is only the second “He” in this chapter and I’m already annoyed at the capitalizing of the word “he”…God cares about me but he’ll hold it against me if I don’t capitalize a pronoun? wouldn’t have bothered sending His Son to save you from it. Jesus Christ does, too, assuming he existed, if you’ll accept for the sake of argument that he went to all the trouble of incarnating as a man, dying on the cross, and being resurrected from the dead in order to hand you a Get Out of Hell Free card. Is God not omnipotent? He really had to go to all that trouble to give me a Get Out of Hell Free card? And if he went to all that trouble why is my ticket out of hell so conditional? Free my ass!

 

 

Me, not so much. I don’t know you. I don’t owe you anything. I don’t know you either, Vox Day, but if I thought you were going to hell I would care. I’d be absolutely outraged. Nobody deserves eternal torment. While as a Christian I am called to share the Good News with you, I can’t force you to accept it. Horse, water, drink, and all that. Barf.

 

So, it’s all on you. Your soul is not my responsibility.

 

I am a Christian. I’m also a libertarian. I believe in free will and in allowing you to exercise it. I believe that our free will is a gift from our Creator and that He expects us to use it. I believe in living and letting live. If you’ll leave me alone, I’ll be delighted to do you the courtesy of leaving you alone in return. I have no inherent problem with atheists or agnostics, I have no problem with Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Pastafarians, and I have no problem with the crazies who believe that humanity is the result of ancient alien breeding experiments. To be honest, I rather like the crazies—their theories are usually the most entertaining of the lot. I believe what I believe, you believe what you believe, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t both be perfectly cool with that. Sure, fine, I can go along with that.

 

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are not so much cool with that. Wha?? Wrong, they’re fine with letting people believe what they want too. Just because they choose to talk about atheism and criticize religion doesn’t mean that they want to force their views onto other people. Richard Dawkins was even part of an ad campaign that encouraged letting children choose for themselves what they believe, rather than labelling them from birth as Christians or Muslims or atheists, etc.

 

I’m not asking you to respect my beliefs. Good, I don’t. So far I don’t particularly respect you either. I mean, you just basically told me that you’ll be fine with it if I go to Hell. Why should you? Maybe you think I’m insane because I believe that Jesus is coming back one of these days, but does my insanity actually affect you in any material way? Not insane, but perhaps misguided. But it’s your prerogative if you think zombie Jesus is coming back. Is my religious madness really all that much more out there than my faith that the Minnesota Vikings will win the Super Bowl someday? Umm yeah the idea that some guy that’s the son of God but is also God who died 2000 years ago is going to come back to life and bring everyone up to heaven with him is kinda way more out there than the possibility that the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. Go Vikings! Talk about the substance of things hoped for . . . Vegas will give you better odds on J.C. this year. Who’s in the house? J.C.! As for your beliefs, I really don’t care if you want to question God’s existence or criticize the Pope or deny the Holocaust or declare that Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet. Every member of humanity is at least a little bit crazy in his own special way, some just happen to make it a little more obvious than others. True dat, yo.

 

Vox’s First Law: Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity. I guess that’s supposed to be funny or cute or something, but it just doesn’t really work.

 

All I ask, all the vast majority of the billions of people of faith on the planet ask, is to be left alone to believe what we choose to believe and live how we decide to live. That’s fine by me, if only people were content just believing what they choose to believe. Unfortunately many believers want their faith to dictate what gets taught in the science classroom, or they want to decide who can legally marry or whether a woman can choose whether or not to stay pregnant. In some places peoples’ beliefs lead to terrorism and extreme violence against women. People can believe what they want to believe, but once those beliefs start affecting other peoples’ rights, we have to speak out against it. But the Unholy Trinity have no intention of leaving me alone. Richard Dawkins accuses me of child abuse because I teach my children that God loves them even more than I do. I’m not really sure if I agree with Dawkins that labelling your kid as a Christian (or whatever religion) from birth is tantamount to child abuse, but if what you want is for people to believe what they choose to believe, shouldn’t you avoid teaching your kids that there’s a god and let them discover that for themselves? Shouldn’t you let them be exposed to many different religions and to the idea that there may be no god and let them make their own informed decision without your prodding? Sam Harris declares that I should not be tolerated and suggests that it might be ethical to kill me in preemptive self-defense. Um, what? Sam Harris said that Christians should be killed? I seriously doubt that…anyone know what he’s talking about here? Christopher Hitchens asserts that I am a form of human Drāno, poisoning everything I encounter. He said religion poisons everything, not you. And I would sooner compare you to the clog in the drain, because you’re trying to stop the discourse and have everyone shut up about their beliefs, wheras Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins want to get the debate flowing. A fourth New Atheist, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, is less judgmental, but even he, bless his heart, wants to save me from myself. At least he cares enough to want to save you, you don’t even care if he goes to hell!

 

And now we have a problem.

 

That’s why I’m writing this book. I’m not trying to convince you that God exists. Why not? If you convince atheists that God exists then they won’t be out there doing all those horrible things like talking about skepticism of religion and criticizing the Bible. I’m not trying to convince you to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I’m not even trying to convince you that religious people aren’t lunatics with low IQs who should be regarded with pity and contempt. But I am confident that I will convince you that this trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, are a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudo-scientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world. You won’t succeed if the rest of the book is as full of crap as this first little bit has been.

 

I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk he reminds me of Julian from the Trailer Park Boys, always a drink in hand, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong OMG, wrong and French?. 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. All I can do is roll my eyes here.

 

You make the call. Here’s what I think so far: the rest of this book will be a waste of my time.

 

 

***

 

Okay I’m back to black text now…so what do you think? Should I keep reading?

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18 Responses to “The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day”


  1. 1 Mom November 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Lindsay! Enjoyed your rant! Very well thought out!

    One comment about your statement “if what you want is for people to believe what they choose to believe, shouldn’t you avoid teaching your kids that there’s a god and let them discover that for themselves? Shouldn’t you let them be exposed to many different religions and to the idea that there may be no god and let them make their own informed decision without your prodding?” That would be ideal however, I think this is probably impossible to do if you believe in god and if you believe in a particular religion. If you are fully immersed in something it is quite difficult to think outside the box. You are surrounded by like minded people, notice only the books that confirm your beliefs, etc. Also, most people don’t give their faith much thought, unfortunately, so they don’t see the harm in embracing a particular set of traditions. I also think that the majority of people aren’t even concious of what they believe or profess to believe.

  2. 2 Soothsaber November 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I feel sorry for these people writing books full of non-sense. I am so glad to be out of that mindset. I don’t think I could finish reading it myself. I also find it troubling that the author shows no compassion for anyone who might be chosen (by a loving being) to burn in a fire for eternity. I would do about anything to extinguish a person who is set on fire. Throw a blanket on them, a bucket of water, yell, “stop, drop and roll!” anything. But to “not care” is kind of creepy and cold hearted. I always feel like Christians have my best interests in mind when they pray for me, but this person clearly does not. Even as a Christian I was very troubled by all of the souls eternally burning and relieved to know that it wasn’t so. You have to question the intentions of someone who doesn’t care if I burn. Looks like a complete waste of time that could be better spent becoming smarter with other books that involve reality, rather than a book that encourages ignorance and superstition.

  3. 3 The Pick Man November 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    “You won’t succeed if the rest of the book is as full of crap as this first little bit has been.”

    “Here’s what I think so far: the rest of this book will be a waste of my time.”

    “Should I keep reading?” Why waste your time? With no evidence that the god he’s talking about exists anywhere other than in his, and other’s, minds that’s exactly what you would be doing.

    BTW:
    “I’m already annoyed at the capitalizing of the word “he”…God cares about me but he’ll hold it against me if I don’t capitalize a pronoun?”

    Where does capitalising the noun “god” come into this argument?

  4. 4 Gem Newman November 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    “Umm yeah the idea that some guy that’s the son of God but is also God who died 2000 years ago is going to come back to life and bring everyone up to heaven with him is kinda way more out there than the possibility that the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. Go Vikings!”

    That’s why I read this blog. That statement is so full of pure win!

    @The Pick Man: “God” is properly capitalised when it is used in place of a proper noun, much like “Dad” or “Mom”. So you can say, “My god is better than your god,” or, “God is the best god ever!”

  5. 5 Chelsea November 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Honestly, the book might be amusing if you haven’t heard all that crap before. If you have (as I suspect is the case), it will make you want to punch a baby.

    I used to read stupid things like that almost just because it was funny. But now I’m just so tired of it. Don’t they know that all their arguments have been debunked? They all sound like broken records.

  6. 6 mostraum November 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Don’t waste your time reading the rest. Go and read something good instead 🙂

  7. 7 Mike Oliver November 29, 2010 at 12:48 am

    As difficult as it might seem, I would read the book as a show of good faith. Otherwise you appear to dismiss their claims out of hand, which is what many religious folk do with our views. And then, some of them actually are familiar with the texts of skepticism. It seems as if Mr. Vox has some knowledge of the writers he’s attacking. Your writing a blog is a form of outreach, but I guess it depends on the level of commitment you have to contributing to the public skeptical discussion as to whether or not any particular thing is worth your time. If you gave even a cursory review and outlined his main points, it would be something that others could refer to in writing about skepticism. In short, you could create a resource. Even if others have already critiqued the same text, every voice is unique in style and insight, two things you have no shortage of. You have a marvelous way of making clear and direct statements that get right to the heart of an issue without excessive verbiage.

    In another way of looking at it, you could take the hit for the rest of us, and you wouldn’t even have to be nailed to a cross.

  8. 8 kevinbbg November 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    No, don’t keep reading. This guy is just obnoxious. He also makes the same mistake most Christians do, the thinks we care about authority like a Christian does. I’m sure he’s wrong but even if he was right, so what?

    We like these guys because they are publicly saying what we all say in private, they just have access to a bigger audience that most of us. The only one I read was Dawkins and I know he’s right, I knew everything he wrote was correct many years ago, although he did give me some insights into evolution.

  9. 9 kevinbbg November 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Soothsaber:

    I agree. I’ve long found it very disturbing that so many people are OK with the idea of someone burning in hell for eternity. I wouldn’t even wish that on Hitler, but I have heard from a number of Christians that they hope they can watch and gloat from heaven on the non-believers roasted in hell. That’s just creepy.

  10. 10 EnlightningLinZ November 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Mom – true, that’s what’s so problematic about telling people that teaching their religion to their kids is child abuse. If you truly believe that their kids will be punished if they aren’t taught your religion, then the moral thing to do is to teach them what you believe.

    Chelsea – I have a feeling it’ll all be stuff I’ve heard before, but you never know!

    Mike – I see your point and agree, obviously I’m not going to spend all my time reading things that I disagree with, but it’s important to read things that challenge your own views from time to time. I suppose this would be a good book to go through especially since it was recommended to me directly. I might just read a section every once in awhile and do a similar post on it.

    kevin – I know it pisses me off too when people think that atheists have their “prophets” or “gods” too, just because we refer to people like Dawkins or Hitchens often. Do they not realize that you can admire somebody or agree with them in one area without elevating them to a cult leader? I wouldn’t wish eternity in hell on Hitler either, and I agree that it’s disgusting how some Christians don’t even express pity for people who go to hell.

  11. 11 Mike Oliver December 3, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Well, not so much “important to read things that challenge your own views” as to “know what the other side is up to.” I often engage denialists and apologists online in controversial topics not because I have any hope of changing their minds, but in order to understand how they think. Far from keeping me awake at night, it helps me cope. I’d rather understand and get along than be dismissive, which just seems pissy. Granted this Vox guy probably isn’t one of the great theological thinkers, but I’ll bet there’s a ton of people out there reading his book and using his arguments.

  12. 12 Gary B December 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    I started following the Irrational Athiest thread when it was suggested by Chris as good reading material. I did manage to get through it althouth it was frequently like fingernails on a blackboard for me. I don’t think I”m like most athiests in that I have never identified with the Christian religeon or any other for that matter. The thing I found most odd about the book is that he tells us he is not attempting to convert us to a belief in god and then spends a lot of time in his book doing just that. I haven’t read any of the books by the “pride” he speaks of so I can’t really comment on them but I do think he (Vox) has to have a god to forgive him. Do a Google search on Vox Day and I think you might be a little appalled at what you find and realize that he needs a LOT of forgiveness. Take courage though in the fact there is no hell to burn in and the Vikings suck. Go Bears!

  13. 13 The Pick Man December 14, 2010 at 1:55 am

    The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day

    “This book fills a much-needed gap.” – Moses Hadas

  14. 14 Gary B December 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    What exactly is the gap that this fills? Indeed, what is a ‘much needed gap’? This is a screed written by someone who thinks his intelligence presents a perfect argument for misogeny, and all manner of discrimination in the name of his prefered ‘god’. It is simply the need for the worship of authority re-phrased yet again. That he self discribes himself as the “internet super intelligence” should give us all a clue.

  15. 15 The Pick Man December 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    @Gary
    I don’t disagree with a word you say. Moses Hadas was a master of the barbed comment. Look him up on Wikipedia.

    Note the hyphen in the quotation; it turns the adjective and verb into one adjective.

    Some of Moses’ other memorable quotes include:
    • “I have read your book and much like it.”
    • “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.”

    Compliments of the Season to all S-b-E readers.

  16. 16 Chris December 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Been awhile since I looked in here – busy month.

    Hope your holidays have been well.

    Your comments on the first chapter are eerily similar to those of other atheists who have vowed to refute it in “scathing chapter-by-chapter reviews.”

    The typical assumption seems to be that it MUST be a book that’s out to prove the existence of God – and disbelief at the statement that it isn’t.

    I’m not trying to convince you that God exists … I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect.”

    I see many comments that you shouldn’t continue reading it – which I find is the typical atheist mantra to reading anything that might challenge the current group of Atheistic high priests.

    You are of course, free to quit or continue, although as the original person who recommended it, I of course encourage you to continue.

    That said, there are some atheists who are sick of the first-blush response of atheists to theists – essentially shouting “That’s stupid!!” and also recommend reading this book completely.

    One is Brent Rasmussin, (http://www.unscrewingtheinscrutable.com/node/1727), who couldn’t find anything to argue against in it.

    I suppose you could argue all through the book if you ignore its stated purpose & instead cling to the idea that it is trying to prove the existence of God, an idea that is dispelled in the first chapter.

    But I’m sure you are fully capable of being able to rationally accept the premise of the book, rather than attempting to attribute a non-existent one to it in order to try to score irrelevant & unrelated points.

    Take care…

  17. 17 Will leFey January 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Well, if you had a thousand copies of this, you could use them to cross some gaps.


  1. 1 The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day « The Winnipeg Skeptics Trackback on November 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm

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