Victoria Coren has used her piece in today’s Observer to argue that believers, ‘those with faith’ need to be more vocal about it. They need to stand up and be counted as people with faith AND intelligence.
I don’t get it.
“The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position. ”
Victoria Coren in The Observer
I should firstly frame my argument. I am not anti people believing in things, against people believing in god. People can think whatever they like, I reserve the right to take it into account as I form an opinion of them. In the same was as someone breaking in to me they are a lifelong Chelsea fan, a declaration of faith is a hurdle for me to get over but I am not going to caste someone out because they believe in something I do not.
It is just as hypocritical to declare that someone’s beliefs render them purposeless as it is to caste someone aside because of a lack of those same beliefs.
Ignorance is bliss
My point with Victoria Coren is how daft her point that “faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position” is. Strong faith is built upon a strong affinity with ignorance. Childish may be a slightly flippant term, but their is no denying that strong faith helps you remove yourself from decisions, act without bearing the whole responsibility. Atheism is not necessarily the smart and logical position, but in a zero-sum game beginning with birth and ending with death, it would seem fairly reasonable to label atheism at least smarter and more logical.
Victoria Coren highlights herself, Frank Skinner and Ian Hislop as intelligent people with faith. Well done to them. I have to say I consider them intelligent people despite their faith, but that is just me. The millions who hand themselves over to the church cannot be said to be in the same position.
You can easily discount the fundamentalists, it is a disservice to discount religious people because a few nutters blow themselves up over extreme beliefs. To return to the football analogy, should the few hooligans damn the whole crowd? However, the pews of most churches are home to many who embrace ridiculous ideas on many subjects; sexuality and feminism being key examples.
What you can consider is the ‘radical’ position of the Anglican church in accepting female priests. Radical to allow women to do a job that men have done for centuries? Careful, they’ll be letting them control the television remote next.
“For a man…is the image and glory of god; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.”
1 Corinthians 11:7-9
This is Paul explaining why women should wear head dresses when they enter the church. Woman was created for man, women are the glory of men? how can you be intelligent and not question this?
I could trawl the bible for countless examples of examples of hideous ignorance, of childish direction to go against human instinct but there are more than enough websites and blogs dedicated to that very past-time. My reason for wanting to write in response to Victoria Coren’s piece is that she has missed the point. The reason Dawkins’ work is worthwhile is not because he is promoting atheism as a smart and logical position. The answer is in the quote that starts this piece off;
“The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking.”
1] This quote from Coren is mind-bogglingly irritating, when asked about how to combat ‘clever atheists’ she suggests:
“Let them tell you it’s stupid to believe in something you can’t explain. Then ask them how an iPad works.”
As complicated as processors, circuit boards and computer chips may be, they can be explained pretty easily. Comparing them to putting your faith in the bible wildly undermines Corren’s assertion that she has faith and intelligence.
2] There are some letters uncapitalised in this piece for a reason.