The Neosecularist

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Profanity, Ad Hominem Attacks, Tim Minchin and Reason

Tim Minchin made a fool of himself and of secularism at the Reason Rally last week, and showed himself to be the real bigot, by interjecting vulgar and coarse profanity aimed at the Pope.  If that statement bothers secularists, atheists and other non-believers – why?

Either secularists are above such emotional and disturbed displays or we are no better than those who spew ad hominem attacks at us for not being religious.  One cannot be a person of “reason” and rationality, and then turn around and become exactly the kind of depraved non-religious fundamentalist we, who are reasonable secularists, decry as being narrow-minded and bigoted.

How are we ever supposed to debate religious people, and win debates based on sound reason and rationality, if all we do is let our own emotions take over our intellectual prowess?  If the reality is that people are drawn to religion more because it is of great comfort to believe in something, rather than nothing, how does what Tim Minchin did, how does what any non-believer does, by mocking, ridiculing, debasing religion with mere ad hominem attacks, as opposed to sound logic and sagacity, bring those people still teetering on the edge of either accepting religion or secularism closer to secularism?  How do we engage with non-believers so as to enlighten them with provocative insight, instead of lighting them up with anger, fury and outrage?  What can we, as secularists, give to those people who want to believe in something, but don’t necessarily want to believe in the supernatural?  Or is there some idea being fostered that ad hominem attacks are a way of breaking the ice, so to speak?

We all agree – secularists and believers alike – that the decades of child abuse at the hands of priests was an abomination, and what the Catholic Church did by covering it up, how they covered it up and that they denied it for so long is also an atrocity.  Well, there are still over one billion Catholics in the world, and tens of millions right here in America.  They did not abandon their faith because of this scandal – what makes anyone think they would abandon their faith when atheists like Tim Minchin sling insults at them?  Or, does anyone really believe insults hold a curious and awesome power – more so than rational and reasonable thought?  If it is true that some religious people lose a portion or all of their faith from catastrophes, religious or otherwise, and from internal schisms – isn’t it true that Catholics, and all religious people, are strengthened in their faith when they witness secularists behaving badly, and in ways that mock their religious faith?

What exactly is “funny” about Minchin’s anti-Pope song, what precisely is the justification for it, how does it benefit us or secularism and how does it move secularism from out the shadows, and us from out of the “closets” which many non-believers still fear we are being trapped in, and portray us in a more positive light and a more attractive alternative to religion?  After-all, wasn’t the Reason Rally intended to be as a “coming out” party?

Will religious people, who listen to Tim’s song, have an “immaculate” inspiration and abandon their faith?  Are you, as secularists, driven to religion, and to be religious, when someone tells you, you are going to Hell for not being a believer?  If you said no, if you said that is ridiculous – why would anyone expect any religious person to drop their faith for secularism over Tim Minchin’s anti-Pope song?

There is a time and a place to vent ones anger, however intense, however obscure, with regards to religion, religious practices and whatever perceived dominance and control, and hold, people may think religion has.  A gathering of “intellectual” minds in a public square in order to showcase secularism, to demonstrate how and why secularism is more advanced and evolved than religion is not that place.  And yes, it is wrong to subject children to such language and such bigotry.  Imagine an anti-Islam rally.  Imagine a Tim Minchin like character singing not an anti-Pope song but an anti-Prophet Mohammad song.  Is there any doubt the MSM, you, perhaps, (those of you who support Tim Minchin’s song) would call that Islamophobia, bigotry, hate speech, etc.?  Somehow, when it is directed at Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, and anything non-Islamic, such bigotry and hate speech gets a pass.  We know why that is, don’t we?

Tim Minchin hates religion.  Fine.  But – why hate religion in the first place?  In other words, if you think you have a better and stronger position and alternative to religion, rather than focusing in on ad hominem attacks, take a particular religious issue and debate it rationally, challenge it and defend your position through logic and facts, rather than through the same emotional hysteria secularists accuse the religious of engaging in.  But if you still feel ad hominem attacks win debates – with myriad of juvenile attacks coming from the religious, directed at us, over the years and decades, are you willing to admit your own defeat and join a religion?  If not, do you really expect the religious to be, to feel, to act any differently when Tim Minchin insults them?

And, if you are more inspired to be secular through Tim Minchin’s song, his ad hominem attacks, just imagine all the cumulative waste of knowledge, foresight and provocative insight spoken, written and covered by secularists throughout the ages.  Isn’t it sad and pathetic to think about the time and energy of thousands of authors misspent looking for practical answers through reason and rationality, and critical thinking, when all they had to do to win their arguments every time was direct ad hominem attacks at their adversaries and their opponents?

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