by Greg Krehbiel on 19 March 2008
I’m reading Vox Day’s The Irrational Atheist, which, if nothing else, is lively and fun to read. I’m only a chapter or two into it, but he’s making some pretty interesting points.
For example, he distinguishes “high church” atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, university professors and so on) from “low church” atheists — i.e., people who reliably report themselves as “no religion” or “secular” on surveys. Vox mentions several differences between the groups, but three caught my eye.
- their level of intolerance. Dawkins et al. are really upset at agnostics and other people who don’t believe but also don’t care. They want a crusade and a revolution, while the low-church atheists just want to get along.
- their desire to piss people off. Several interviewers, sympathetic to the “New Atheists” (as they’re called — although there’s almost nothing new in anything they say), remark how eager these people are to offend, and one reports wanting to smack Dawkins for his intolerance.
(Vox caricatures the low-church atheist as “I don’t believe because I haven’t been persuaded” and the high-church atheist as “I don’t believe because I’m a jerk.”)
- their possible tendency to autism. I find this particularly interesting, esp. since atheists are often complaining that religion is a mental disorder.
Vox’s only evidence of this claim is surveys on websites (which found atheists had a higher rating on an Asperger Quotient test than non-atheists), but, if you’ve interacted with atheists half as much as I have, the idea makes tons of sense.
Any sociology majors out there looking for a thesis?
Be that as it may, one of the things atheists crow about (as a response to the “you can’t be moral without God” argument) is their poor representation in prison. But that’s only if you’re talking about self-described “atheists.” If you include those who check “no religion,” “secular,” etc., (“low-church atheists”), the numbers completely reverse. They’re over-represented in prison. Substantially.
IOW, “atheists” aren’t in prison a lot because (generally speaking, of course) they’re pencil-necked geeks who wouldn’t have the guts to commit armed robbery. They’re effete university professors.
So yes, the highly educated High-Church Atheists stay out of jail, have lots of degrees and so on, while the Low-Church Atheists “are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, be depressed or obese,” etc., in addition to their criminal proclivities.
The bifurcation is analogous to the make-up of the Democratic party (what a surprise!). Even though it’s true that highly educated people tend to be Democratic, it’s also true that poorly educated people tend to be Democratic.
So far, the book confirms the words of the wise man. “The first to present his case seems just, until another comes along and examines him.” Or, atheist propaganda, like most propaganda, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
-- 2008-03-19 » Greg Krehbiel