A Response to Justin Griffith a Freethought Blogger

You can read our respectful exchange right here. My response follows:

Kicking up an anthill…

Justin wrote:
I wish you had stayed on and influenced FtB to hire more of your type.

I did. Almost every suggestion I made was basically rejected by Ed Brayton and ridiculed by at least one or two others (if they dispute this I have the emails and will share them). I argued they should get Hector Avalos and David Eller on FtB. That was the last straw and I was subsequently told by one FtB in our emails “WHO THE FUCKE ARE YOU?” as if I had no right to even suggest someone. The lack of respect was appalling to me. Coupled with the lack of respect by atheists who commented on my blog posts, it just wasn't worth it to stay. Then a few of them turned on me for leaving. Granted I was giving them some ammo since I was upset, but I was upset about my experience there. Having a "grudge" was what Ed said of me after I left. Maybe I do have a grudge. Just now I’m giving them more ammo if they need it, and they have bigger guns than I do. I just could not tolerate the perceived lack of respect and the divisiveness of FtB with other atheists that further splintered the atheist influence.

One of the main reasons I was asked to be on FtB was to attract a bigger crowd, Christians. But I had to put up with a lot of crap from atheists who didn’t understand that I was standing in the gap, as I said. Isn't it enough that I have to put up with ignorant obnoxious Christians that I also had to put up with ignorant obnoxious atheists? Put yourself in my shoes. It wasn't worth it, and any Christian who came there quickly found it wasn't worth visiting. It was a bust.

I see Richard Carrier is trying to get some women philosophers over there. I hope his efforts succeed. We have two women scholars here at DC, articulett and Cathy Cooper. Those are the kinds of people they should be getting on FtB. I am not in favor of kowtowing to anyone, even people who play the "I'm a minority" card, when it comes to placing them in positions of leadership. If they cannot reason very well or if their focus is to complain about social injustice within atheist circles, I’m not in favor of it. These voices are needed, most emphatically, but they should not be put in places of leadership within atheist circles, per this post. PZ Myers doesn't have the balls to stand up to this kind of pressure, for whatever reason I don’t quite understand. So he takes people who would not normally have earned the right to be in a leadership role and makes them famous. And it's these people who are making the noise that splinters our effectiveness as atheists. He does so just by linking to them, even if they are not FtB’s themselves.

My opinion is that if we really want to debunk religion then we must use all approaches and take aim at religion by putting people who do so effectively in places of leadership. That means FtB should focus on the aims I wrote about in my post above and get the best and the brightest in science, philosophy, and biblical criticism to do so. I'm not saying they don't have people in those areas, but I'm saying that should be the lion's share of them, and it includes minorities, but not minorities who are focused on doing the work that liberals and Catholics are already doing. The rest of the slots should be for activists like you Justin.

Justin said:
You and your merry band of cohorts that you've edited in TCD and TEOC are a thankless bunch. You in particular seem to need the praise (that I am constantly amazed that you don't get). Part of me wishes you didn't give a shit about other people's thoughts that much, but then again I know you'd be less effective at communicating to the criminally small amount of people who do understand your brilliance if you weren't 'you'.
;-) They need me and don’t realize it. Someday they will. I depend on science for my critique of Christianity, so without it I got nothing. What some scientists don’t understand is that there is more work to be done, my kind of work, since believers usually denigrate science in those rare areas that contravene what their holy books say, books that were written by superstitious people in a pre-scientific era. Scientists like Victor Stenger and Jerry Coyne understand what other scientists don’t, and recommend my work.

Although I sound arrogant when I say it, some atheist leaders are letting atheists down. I don’t know if it’s just about power or arrogance or ignorance, but they are. For if they really wanted to debunk Christianity and if they really wanted to right social injustice in America, then they should recommend my work and others like it. I’m not sure they do, at least not enthusiastically. Perhaps I get in the way of my own message, and that’s unfortunate. I’m not sure they can recommend it though, given the Courtier’s Reply and the false notion that I am an accommodationist because I treat Christian arguments seriously. Perhaps they have backed themselves into a corner on this so they cannot recommend my work, which is a shame in my opinion.

There is a reason why atheist books written for other atheists get a shitload of 5 star reviews on Amazon and mine don’t. It’s because Christians are threatened by my works (the four/five horsemen excepted because they are prominent atheists, unlike me). And so they show up and rate my books poorly, giving even atheists the impression they aren't as good as others written by atheists for other atheists.

In response it could be said FtB did recommend my work by inviting me there. Okay, it is what it is. I’ve already described my experience there, and I don’t have any ire toward any of them at all (to the best of my self-understanding). I know there is a diversity of opinion at FtB’s about everything, including my work, so this is encouraging to hear you say that Justin. Thanks. But it’s too late for FtB, given a few unnamed people who are already there with their goals. I have no pretensions they can change, for change might entail giving a few of them the pink slip and that’s not going to happen. It’s largely an activist community and will stay that way.

One final note. I am not arguing that they should be like me or have my emphasis. We need all voices. I am just against turning our guns on other atheist leaders like I see done so often at FtB. They may now use this post of mine to blast me to smithereens. But I was asked by Justin to offer some advice and I have decided to do it. It was done respectfully and I expect a respectful response if they decide to respond at all. I’m offering a corrective opinion, that’s all. They can do with it as they will. The only times I have seen them respond respectfully are when they are criticizing one of their own though. Which goes to show what they think of me.


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David said...

I wonder who that could have been...