Damon Linker has done an excellent job demonstrating just how much of an arrogant, ignorant, hypocritical asshole he can be. His recent piece in The Week, "Where are the honest atheists?", is so full of shit that is a feat that he has not collapsed from dehydration.
From the very first sentence he reveals himself to be grossly biased and disingenuous.
"Does the world really need another 'new atheist' manifesto?" It doesn't matter that books written from theistic points of view vastly out number those by atheists. The question only matters when aimed at non-believers. Books on angels alone are published with far more regularity than all atheists works combined (including works not about atheism). He follows up this thinly veiled bigotry with another idiotic and unsupportable statement, "The style of atheism rehearsed in these books has reached a dead end." Really? Atheists may not get published as easily but when they do their books sell. Linker is specifically attacking A.C. Grayling's newest book which is set to be released March 26th. Somehow I don't think publishers would bother unless they thought it would sell at least as well as his previous works.
Of course, his apparent lack of faith in the market place of ideas/free market isn't the worst thing about his piece. His ignorance, hypocrisy, and delusional double standards are even more blatant. What really seems to upset him about atheism and therefore atheists seems to come out in the third paragraph.
"If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic."
I have no problem admitting that Atheism is not all peaches and cream. Yes, there are disturbing aspects but that is true of any belief. Nothing is perfect. Linker also intentionally exaggerates and distorts. Why insist there can be no meaning even if you accept the randomness of nature? Why do we have to give up dignity the moment we realize that the odds of God or an after-life are low to the point of being nearly impossible? Why not place greater value on what you have while you have it?
Again, it is not atheism alone that has draw-backs. From my point of view anyone who truly believes in God would have to concede that we are all just meat puppets or else they are the ones being dishonest. The perfection of God is completely incompatible with the idea of Free Will. Simply being something or someone's play thing is rather disturbing. Then again, an idea or belief's pleasantness or disturbing nature has nothing to do with what is true. Honesty has no direct correlation with pleasantness. Children die horribly everyday. I hate that. I don't want it to be true but it is. Who's really being dishonest?
Linker's implication that wishful thinking is better than accepting reality as it is seems to be very ignorant, delusional, and disingenuous.
As I've already pointed out, he also refuses to hold himself or other theists to the same standards he seems to think he has a right to impose on atheists. Linker concludes with:
"That godlessness might be both true and terrible is something that the new atheists refuse to entertain, no doubt in part because they want to sell books — and greeting cards do a brisk business. But honesty requires more than sentimental, superficial happy talk, which is all readers will get from A.C. Grayling and his anti-religious comrades in arms."
It is true, though misleading, that atheists do not necessarily focus on the negative aspects of their beliefs. That does not mean they do not acknowledge them. I have read and heard atheists talk about how disturbing and scarey death can be. I cannot think of a single theist I have read the works of who even acknowledges the draw-backs of belief in God, the after-life, or other major metaphysical concepts. They certainly do not go out of their way to draw attention to such matters.
So, Mr. Linker if you want to drone on about the honesty/dishonesty of other I have just one suggestion: Look in the fucking mirror!