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Sep 19 2009

Sometimes the Journalists are Tediously Stupid

Okay, so maybe he’s not stupid, but at the very least he’s disingenuous. My personal opinion is that he’s a bit of a prick as well, but that’s just my opinion.

The journalist in question is one Ed West, a “journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture.” The Telegraph recently published an article by Mr. West entitled A nightmare for Richard Dawkins: statistics show that atheists are a dying breed.

The author describes his (rather snarky) response to another article, being commentary by Julian Baggini, published in The Guardian. Mr. Baggini is a prominent atheist, and is the author of several books, including Atheism, A Very Short Introduction. Mr. Baggini’s article, Not doing it for the kids, asks the question, “The child-free life can be great. Why is it almost always presented as second-best, cold and empty?

Mr. West goes on to point out the fecundity of those who are devoutly religious. He contrasts this with the seemingly low number of offspring from couples who are atheists. He goes on to quote Eric Kaufmann’s article, Breeding for God, in which the author states, “…a woman’s religiosity was the strongest predictor of her number of offspring.” Wow, who would’ve thought that were the case? How many religions think that birth control is a no-no, and that popping out loads of kids is some sort of tribute to their god? What a breakthrough conclusion!

After this, he attempts to show that atheists, in general, have very few offspring. Unfortunately, Mr. West doesn’t have much in the way of actual data to support this idea.

Data is rare in this area, but what they do have suggests that atheists are a dying breed. Austria is the only country which records the religious belief of parents but their figure, of 0.85 children per atheist woman, is far below replacement rate (2.1) and below even the most barren European country’s average rate, which is about 1.2. And since most people inherit their parents’ political and religious world views, this is bad news for Team Dawkins.

Atheists are a dying breed. That must be why the number of people identifying themselves as atheists has risen in recent years. We’re simply breeding ourselves out of existence, aren’t we? Mr. West; look at the numbers. Your tiny bit of “data” tells us nothing! We’re growing in number. More and more people realize that it’s okay not to believe what your parents believe, particularly if those ideas don’t make any sense in the real world.

As I said, I don’t know that Mr. West is actually stupid. I do think that he’s being rather loose with the logic in what he’s written on this subject. Of course, Mr. West being a Catholic wouldn’t have anything to do with his denial of the numbers, would it? I think most of it has to do with his dislike of us loud-mouthed atheists.

Personally I find the New Atheists’ anti-Christian aggression tedious: criticising people for their privately-held religious beliefs shows a lack of class and maturity, and besides which this sudden outpouring of bile against Christianity seems clearly motivated by a secret fear of another Abrahamic religion. But I wouldn’t want to live in a world without atheists — if I was Julian Baggini I’d be trying to get Guardian readers to breed more to ensure the world in 50 year’s time isn’t populated entirely by religious crackpots of various shades.

It looks like we’ve finally gotten to the heart of the matter. Mr. West really can’t stand us atheists, can he? He really doesn’t like our “anti-Christian aggression”.

Firstly: We aren’t “New” anything. We’re atheists. The only thing new is that we’ve grown in numbers and more of us feel that it’s finally okay to be out, and to speak out.

Secondly: If the “privately-held religious beliefs” were actually held privately, and not foisted upon the rest of us on a daily basis through proselytizing and attempts at legislation (among other methods) we wouldn’t be having this fucking discussion!

Thirdly: We aren’t criticizing people for holding religious beliefs (or at least we shouldn’t be), we’re criticizing the religious beliefs themselves!

Lastly: Mr. West states, “…this sudden outpouring of bile against Christianity seems clearly motivated by a secret fear of another Abrahamic religion.” Let’s see; he either called atheists Semitophobes or Islamophobes. Which is it, Mr. West? He doesn’t want to actually come out and say it, does he. Mr. West, you are among the lowest of the low. You, sir, are a fucking slimebag. Lack of class and maturity? Pot; meet kettle.

Go peddle your religion elsewhere, you old fraud. We’ve seen the man behind the curtain, and we aren’t impressed by your claims of magic and mystery.

1 comment

  1. Jason Thibeault

    If the “privately-held religious beliefs” were actually held privately, and not foisted upon the rest of us on a daily basis through proselytizing and attempts at legislation (among other methods) we wouldn’t be having this fucking discussion!

    That’s a money quote.

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