Death and belonging

Walking in Merthyr Vale
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This is another post that’s being pulled from the draft folder. The first draft was writ­ten a couple of years ago. My grand­father had just died and on the day after the funeral some­thing popped up in my RSS reader. It was a smug and rather vicious piece by a bishop about how athe­ism had noth­ing to offer at funer­als. He went one with some rel­ish ima­gin­ing what athe­ists would say to griev­ing fam­il­ies. I think the idea was to con­trast it with the caring, con­sol­ing approach of Christianity. Instead it just read as an intol­er­ant rant and prob­ably revealed far too much of his own sup­pressed desires of what he’d want to say at a funeral.

My reply never went up. I wanted to write some­thing that was the oppos­ite. Not a piece that said Christianity was a lie and offered noth­ing of value for the griev­ers. Whether or not it’s true it’s not some­thing you’d want to rub in the face of a fam­ily that’s lost someone. So I wanted to write some­thing pos­it­ive. After writ­ing it I had no anger for the bishop, only pity. Respect for the feel­ings of another human being isn’t a uniquely athe­ist pos­i­tion. Nearly all the Christians I know share the same feel­ings. The venom of the ori­ginal post sug­ges­ted he’d lost some con­nec­tion to human­ity and his rage was more about his own prob­lems. Publicly nam­ing him and berat­ing him wasn’t going to help.

It stayed unpub­lished because it seems a com­mon fea­ture for someone with big­oted views to claim they’re “Christian” views rather than per­sonal views. Reductio ad absurdum the Westboro Baptist Church claim their pick­et­ing of funer­als is not a demon­stra­tion of the hate at the core of their beliefs but a neces­sity of Christian val­ues. The fact that many Christians vehe­mently dis­agree shows that the Phelps clan are at best self-deluded. Treating big­ots as spokes­men for Christians does no one any favours.

But if you strip away the spite and hate, the bishop raised an inter­est­ing ques­tion. If there is no eternal reward what hope is there for the future? For someone raised in a reli­gious tra­di­tion it’s a reas­on­able ques­tion. Just before Christmas my grand­mother became ser­i­ously ill. Recent events mean I’ve taken this out of the drafts folder and had a go at re-writing it.  Continue read­ing

Religious Accommodation is a Political Issue

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Mooney and Kirshenbaum wordled

Mooney and Kirshenbaum wordled

I’ve been sat on this post for a couple of weeks. One reason for not put­ting it up is I’ve been busy and this post might annoy a few people. Kicking off a dis­cus­sion and then ignor­ing it is impol­ite, so it has had to wait. Another reason is that it’s another post on whether (and how) aca­dem­ics should accom­mod­ate reli­gious beliefs. There’s been a lot of posts on this else­where because of Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s invective-sodden pub­li­city howl for their book Unscientific America. Mooney and Kirshenbaum believe that people should show respect for reli­gious beliefs, and any athe­ist who dis­agrees is engaged in acts of viol­ence. There’s a rich vein of irony to be found in the head­line of their recent LA Times piece. You may won­der if they’re on a cru­sade for respect for a spe­cific reli­gious tra­di­tion rather than all of them. There’s many people who’ve writ­ten many posts about flaws in Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s reas­on­ing. Many of them are good, but I’m not inter­ested in simply adding a ‘me too’. At best it’s bor­ing. At worst its cow­ardly mob-following — and boring.

Still it’s pos­sible there could be some­thing to debate. By nature I prefer to work with people than against them. I’d like to say it’s because I’m such a nice per­son but I’m prob­ably con­fus­ing lazi­ness with nice­ness. Life is easier if you don’t have to work against people. If accom­mod­a­tion of reli­gious beliefs works then that’s so much less work to do. So what would an acco­mod­a­tion­ist stance look like?

An answer can be found in a book chapter by Kyle S. Van Houtan and Stuart L. Pimm: “The Various Christian Ethics of Species Conservation”. It’s a dis­cus­sion of an attempt to use theo­logy to under­stand some of the more reality-proof Christian groups in an attempt to change policy on con­ser­va­tion. If you’re expect­ing a laugh-a-minute decon­struc­tion of the paper then you’re in for a dis­ap­point­ment. It opens with a quote from William Placher which argues mor­al­ity has very little to do with reli­gion. Whether or not you agree with them Van Houtan and Pimm are clearly on speak­ing terms with reality,

The prob­lem addressed by Van Houtan and Pimm is the res­ist­ance to envir­on­mental cam­paigns by fun­da­ment­al­ists. Fundamentalists identify one of the evils of sci­ence in gen­eral is the lack of a moral imper­at­ive. Whether or not you’d describe Christian fun­da­ment­al­ists as moral is irrel­ev­ant here. Their per­cep­tion of sci­ence is that it is, at best, a moral vacuum. This con­trasts with eco­lo­gists who see their work as hav­ing a strong moral base. The first dif­fi­culty iden­ti­fied by Van Houtan and Pimm is lan­guage. If you’re in a nar­row mind­set where only Christianity is moral then iden­ti­fi­ably unchris­tian lan­guage is clearly used to describe immoral activ­ity. It’s a small step from Evolution, which is obvi­ously the work of the Devil, to Ecology. This puts Ecology firmly on the side of the apes. If you believe in angels this is a dealbreaker.

…[E]thics in non­theo­lo­gical lan­guage will be worse than unat­tract­ive to Christians—such eth­ics will be inco­her­ent. Theological lan­guage is what gives Christian eth­ics intel­li­gib­il­ity. As a res­ult, cas­u­ally using “nature” or “biod­iversity” in place of “cre­ation” is incred­ibly sig­ni­fic­ant when con­sid­er­ing Christian envir­on­mental ethics.

Van Houtan and Pimm p119

This is clearly dead centre in Mooney and Kirshenbaum ter­rit­ory. We have a sci­en­tific­ally illit­er­ate audi­ence. We have a crisis for which there is clear sci­entific evid­ence; Van Houtan and Pimm would like to save up to a third of the planet’s spe­cies from extinc­tion in the next cen­tury. We also have lan­guage iden­ti­fied as a major factor in pre­vent­ing action. It would seem that sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion is urgently needed, but to whom? After a brief sur­vey which shows that the planet’s eco­sys­tem def­in­itely is in danger. Van Houtan and Pimm move on to tack­ling the Christians. They are clear that Christians are plural.

This is one of my bug­bears. It’s cer­tainly easy to rail against stu­pid Christians, but stu­pid­ity is not a require­ment for many Christian sects. The idea that Christians are mor­ons is not just a case of lazy fram­ing by non-Christians. It’s a polit­ical gam­bit by fun­da­ment­al­ists too. If I’m head evan­gel­ist for the Church of Christian Lunacy then I won’t cam­paign against the teach­ing of sci­ence because it’s Lunatic policy. I’ll say that the cam­paign against sci­ence is a Christian mat­ter. This is a subtle attempt to pull Catholics and Protestants into the fight on my side because there’s the implic­a­tion that if you don’t accept this Lunatic idea, you’re not really a Christian. It works because, as Van Houtan and Pimm make clear, there isn’t really lead­er­ship from the Churches on eco­logy. There are many dif­fer­ent pos­i­tions. To make things easier Van Houtan and Pimm neatly con­struct a four-fold typo­logy of eco­lo­gical positions.

  • Earthkeepers. These are the people who see stew­ard­ship of the planet as an imper­at­ive, based on their read­ing of the bible.
  • Skeptics. These people see no con­ser­va­tion crisis. This would include the Southern Baptist Church and Focus on Family. These are the people who see Ecology as junk science.
  • Prioritisers. These people do not value eco­lo­gical mat­ters as much as other con­cerns. For instance con­ser­va­tion is a good thing accord­ing to the Assemblies of God, but you don’t want to really push it too much, else you’ll end up with New Age Earth worshipping.
  • The Indifferent. The people who take no position.
Van Houtan and Pimm p129-131

This recog­ni­tion of the diversity of Christian pos­i­tions mat­ters if you’re look­ing for a pos­it­ive action:

Experience teaches that, when par­ti­cipants in two dif­fer­ent fields of know­ledge meet, they will have sym­met­rical views. For example, when eco­nom­ists meet eco­lo­gists, the former have a detailed draw­ing of the eco­nomy and a single, simple box for “eco­logy,” whereas eco­lo­gists have a detailed draw­ing of envir­on­mental pro­cesses and a single, simple box for “the eco­nomy.” This seems the case for reli­gion and the envir­on­ment. Those con­cerned with the prac­tical issues of pro­tect­ing the envir­on­ment are likely to see the mul­ti­fa­ceted prob­lems of their trade, but view reli­gion, eth­ics, and the church as single and mono­lithic. The reverse is also common.

Van Houtan and Pimm p131

This is a use­ful insight. Again I think it could sup­port the Mooney-Kirshenbaum pro­pos­i­tion that pub­lic Atheism harms Scientific com­mu­nic­a­tion because, if people like Richard Dawkins are the most prom­in­ent sci­ent­ists, the obvi­ous label on the Science box is ‘god­less’. We there­fore have a start­ing pos­i­tion for rebuild­ing sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. What do Van Houtan and Pimm give use as tools for work­ing on that? I’ll dis­cuss this in full below.

Now I’ve dis­cussed that, the next obvi­ous ques­tion is why do Van Houtan and Pimm say so little about sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion given they’re talk­ing about eco­logy? The reason is that they’re aware of the audi­ence they’re talk­ing to. The issue, even for those who’d style them­selves as sci­entific scep­tics, is not sci­ence. It’s reli­gion and polit­ics. They really go to town on this dis­cuss­ing the links between right-wing polit­ical groups and the nut­tier Christian fac­tions. They cri­ti­cise the Cornwall Declaration and its reli­ance on tech­no­lo­gical fixes to vari­ous inconveniences:

Overexploitation is not a con­cern because the abil­ity to extract nat­ural resources increases with tech­no­lo­gical advances. One assumes that even biod­iversity loss can be mit­ig­ated through bio­tech­no­logy. If spe­cies drift close to extinc­tion, surely their pop­u­la­tions can be bolstered through Jurassic Park–like efforts… Are we to believe these argu­ments? More import­ant, is there a bib­lical cause to do so?

Van Houtan and Pimm p134 (My emphasis)

This makes sense within the frame where Van Houtan and Pimm are work­ing. As far as I’m con­cerned the defin­it­ive state­ment bib­lical state­ment on eco­logy is purely of his­tor­ical interest. The idea that I should care about it as a guide to mod­ern liv­ing makes my men­tal gears crunch. If I were a Christian like Pimm and – pre­sum­ably – Van Houtan, I would see things dif­fer­ently, as they make clear in their conclusion.

Certainly, there are paths of envir­on­mental eth­ics that are sec­u­lar, some of which are cer­tainly unfaith­ful to both the Hebrew and Christian por­tions of the Bible. For those of faith though the primary con­cern is not nature itself nor human­ity, but obed­i­ence to the scrip­tures. The remain­ing chal­lenge then, requires theo­lo­gians to teach the scrip­tures, eco­lo­gists to meas­ure the state of the envir­on­ment, and both to work in con­cert… We do not call for a bap­tiz­ing of sec­u­lar agendas—either lib­eral or conservative—but rather obed­i­ence to God’s word.

Van Houtan and Pimm p136-7

I think, as far as it tackles the prob­lem iden­ti­fied by Van Houtan and Pimm, their paper makes com­plete sense. This is about gal­van­ising mil­it­ant Christians and you don’t do that with sci­ence. It’s an approach brings eth­ical prob­lems of its own and a polit­ical cost. For example, Van Houtan and Pimm show the import­ance of the bib­lical char­ac­ter of the mes­sage in its deliv­ery — but who deliv­ers it? Could a young black woman deliver this mes­sage to a white pat­ri­archal church in Florida? That’s a par­tic­u­larly poin­ted ques­tion, but accom­mod­at­ing the prin­ciples of vari­ous churches means that you state argu­ments from per­sonal rev­el­a­tion or pre­ju­dice should replace argu­ments backed with evid­ence in pub­lic debate. Science is about evid­ence so while this approach might work polit­ic­ally by get­ting a res­ult, in the longer term it is anti­thet­ical to sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s policy of accom­mod­a­tion sinks.

Probably.

It’s hard to be cer­tain because this example isn’t men­tioned in their book. This is a bit odd.

Stuart Pimm cer­tainly is men­tioned in Unscientific America. He’s thanked for his com­ments on the book. It’s pecu­liar that he didn’t think to men­tion that he’d been involved in the kind of reach­ing out to science-resistant people that Mooney and Kirshenbaum were after. It’s par­tic­u­larly odd because Pimm is a Professor of Ecology at Duke University. Sheril Kirshenbaum, I’m told, is a Marine Biologist at Duke University. I’m not sure what her mar­ine bio­lo­gical work there is, because the only men­tion of her research I found was a ref­er­ence to her Science of Kissing but it’s likely she would have come into con­tact with quite reg­u­larly Pimm as she’s lis­ted as being part of Pimm’s work­ing group.

One of the recur­ring cri­ti­cisms of Unscientific America is that it’s shal­low and super­fi­cial. I think the above is a case in point. I have some dif­fi­culties with Van Houtan and Pimm’s paper, I don’t think it tackles the polit­ical envir­on­ment of Christianity par­tic­u­larly well. As they men­tion, dis­cuss­ing the fund­ing of the far-right Christian groups, there are bit social and polit­ical factors behind this. I think there’s inter­play between reli­gious belief and polit­ical fund­ing. The impres­sion I get from Van Houtan and Pimm is closer to a Patron/Client rela­tion­ship. That’s not an entirely fair cri­ti­cism though. For a start it’s the old chest­nut “They didn’t write an entirely dif­fer­ent paper that I wanted them to write.” It’s also not the end of the con­ver­sa­tion. I think their ideas could be use­fully picked up and developed or applied to other con­texts. It lays out a pos­it­ive argu­ment which you can dis­cuss. Bruising their Religion, the com­par­able chapter in Unscientific America, in con­trast says much more about their per­sonal blog-warring than it does about reli­gion and sci­ence in the USA. Mooney and Kirshenbaum may, or may not, agree with Van Houtan and Pimm’s ana­lysis but it’s clearly a missed oppor­tun­ity that they didn’t think to men­tion it.

It’s also worth return­ing to the box. Not all Christians are stu­pid. Van Houtan and Pimm are very clear about that and talk about tak­ing their mes­sage to spe­cific Christian groups. They do not, as far as I read the chapter, argue that all the pub­lic should be treated like they’re in the remedial class. In the mean­time since I star­ted writ­ing this Mooney and Kirshenbaum have pub­lished an art­icle in the LA Times. Having pre­vi­ously cri­ti­cised Dawkins for being an athe­ist in the pub­lic sphere, they now cri­ti­cise him for being a sci­ent­ist in the pub­lic sphere. I know Christians who hate what Dawkins says, or at least what other people say Dawkins says. Nonetheless they have a keen interest in sci­ence and are per­fectly cap­able of cop­ing with Evolution and sci­ence in gen­eral without any pat­ron­ising allow­ances. Van Houtan and Pimm’s model has the soph­ist­ic­a­tion to leave room for them. I much prefer fol­low­ing a policy that states reli­gious people are not inher­ently more stu­pid than atheists.

The Negative Influence of PZ Myers

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Supermassive
Does a super­massive blog illu­min­ate or des­troy?
Photo (cc) Dana Berry.

There’s a new flap going through a few Science blogs fol­low­ing the pub­lic­a­tion Unscientific America. One chapter of the book* argues that New Atheists in gen­eral and PZ Myers in par­tic­u­lar are dam­aging sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion by being out­spoken athe­ists. Religious people will flatly reject sci­ence if they’re told by people like Myers that sci­ence and reli­gion are incom­pat­ible, say Mooney and Kirshenbaum. There’s plenty of prob­lems with state­ment. Are reli­gious people really that fra­gile? There’s also the prob­lem that Mooney believes that sci­ence and reli­gion are com­pat­ible, though he’s never made it clear exactly what he means by com­pat­ible. I think he’s demon­strably wrong, and I’ll show that in the future. For the sake of argu­ment I’ll con­cede his point. If this is the case then Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s asser­tion that athe­ism need­lessly turns people off sci­ence is plaus­ible. It’s pos­sible Myers is hav­ing a neg­at­ive effect on sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion by pick­ing an unne­ces­sary fight. Even so, it’s not a certainty.

I can’t remem­ber how or when I star­ted blog­ging. The earli­est entries in this blog have been re-dated to later dates. The ori­ginal reason was that a blog was an easy way to keep a note of what I was think­ing. Lots of people start a blog, but con­tinu­ation is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. One of the fea­tures of blog­ging is you tend to read more blogs to see what other people are writ­ing. One of the entries I read was this The proper rev­er­ence to those who have gone before. It a post on deep time, the dis­tance back to the earli­est human ancest­ors. It’s pretty much what Mooney and Kirshenbaum would argue against. Myers com­pares the two thou­sand years of Christian his­tory to the time scale of Nariokotome boy and con­cludes that the Bible comes up short in describ­ing the pro­fund­ity of the human jour­ney. You may agree or dis­agree. Mooney thinks that Myers’ defin­ing moment was his muck­ing about with a cracker. Someone else in one of the com­ment threads thought it was him get­ting thrown out of a show­ing of Expelled. When I think of Pharyngula I think of the writ­ing on posts like that or Niobrara Sometimes I try and put up some­thing like that, but not often because get­ting it wrong frus­trates me. That may change in 2010 (not the frus­tra­tion, the lack of effort).

There were other early influ­ences like Early Modern Notes and Respectful Insolence. It’s an ongo­ing pro­ject so other blogs come and go which have an effect, like Northstate Science. There’s also plenty of oth­ers. If you’d said in 2004 that other major influ­ences would include a blog on the Levant or another on Military History I’d have thought you were mad. I have a par­tic­u­lar pit of loath­ing for tele­vi­sion pro­grammes about the American Civil War. Yet in all these cases the writ­ing by blog­gers has shown me how wrong my super­fi­cial impres­sions about these vari­ous fields are. My use of images reflects Aydin Örstan’s work on Snail’s Tales. I don’t have his skill, so I work round that. This web­log doesn’t exist solely because of PZ Myers, but it is part of a diverse eco­sys­tem. I’m happy it’s that way. I’d hate to be writ­ing Pharyngula II, but this site would be a dif­fer­ent place if Pharyngula didn’t exist. So would many oth­ers like the Digital Cuttlefish, which is another site I’d highly recom­mend if you’re inter­ested in writing.

In turn I’m told this web­log has influ­enced oth­ers. Like any good eco­sys­tem there’s a series of inter­ac­tions in food web, and some parts are subtly con­nec­ted to oth­ers in ways that are not obvi­ous. That doesn’t mean that because my web­log exists Pharyngula is a Good Thing. I know someone two three+ people who deeply dis­like this web­log. However, it does mean that simplistic state­ments about social effects are opin­ions rather than being remotely close to facts. It becomes even more dif­fi­cult to say if you con­sider the pub­lic as a diverse group in their own right who may respond to the same mes­sage in dif­fer­ent ways.

I can say that PZ Myers one of many people who has caused my writ­ing to improve, It’s pos­sible that if he never exis­ted I’d still think it’s a won­der­ful life, but I’d need evid­ence for that rather than an assertion.


*If you want to read it it’s chapter 8. Visit Amazon​.com or .co​.uk and use the Look Inside fea­ture to search for Bruising their reli­gion. The res­ults, and use of the back and next but­tons will enable you to read most of it.

+I’m temp­ted to apply for mem­ber­ship of one of those tribes which doesn’t recog­nise any higher num­bers and just describes them as many.

Well, someone needs therapy

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Still too busy to blog and when I do return it won’t be here. Possibly back in late June.

Someone pos­ing as Creationist C. David Parsons went on a bit of a spree last night post­ing vari­ous homo­phobic com­ments across a num­ber of blogs. They seemed to have a bit too high opin­ion of their intel­lect and there were some clues this wasn’t genu­ine Parsons lun­acy but an impostor. I assume it’s someone’s idea of a jape to mock a cre­ation­ist. It’s no chal­lenge or effort and can be fun some­times. More often I feel pity rather than amused by cre­ation­ist ignor­ance, but there you go.

What is ugly about this action though is the cas­ual drop­ping homo­pho­bia into the com­ments. Many cre­ation­ists are homo­phobes, but it’s not a uni­ver­sal so there’s two prob­lems. One is that it’s dis­hon­est. Y’know the whole ‘lying for Jesus’ schtick that cre­ation­ists get right mocked for. That’s not an invit­a­tion to ‘lie for real­ity’. It’s a par­tic­u­larly bad idea for a pro-humanist to do this because there’s already enough smears that evol­u­tion is a hoax out there. This bon­fire doesn’t need any more wood chuck­ing on it by someone who can’t stand by his own ideas.

The other prob­lem is that the defence on many blogs is that Darwin wasn’t homo­sexual. That’s true. He doc­u­mented his attrac­tion a woman, so at best he was bisexual, which is a whole dif­fer­ent bundle of fun. What both­ers me about these deni­als is that it rein­forces the old ‘homo­sexu­al­ity is some­thing to be ashamed of’ cliché. Darwin could have ser­viced 20 sail­ors a night for all it mat­ters. So long as it was con­sen­sual I couldn’t care less. It has bug­ger all to do with the vera­city of evol­u­tion. Feeding the whole Homosexuality = Anal Sex ste­reo­type might seem amus­ing, but in real­ity it plays into strength­en­ing homo­phobic atti­tudes. There’s a lot more to homo­sexu­al­ity than pen­et­ra­tion, even if that it’s the obses­sion of some men who are scared by their own sexu­al­ity. Foreplay is not just a golf­ing term.

So rather like the cre­ation­ists, I can’t help but feel pity for who­ever it was. You have to feel pity for someone who has lost their grip on real­ity to such an extent they intro­duce them­selves by exhib­it­ing their own sexual insec­ur­it­ies. They’ve pretty much become what they find so objec­tion­able. Though I can offer some help­ful advice — if you are after some intim­ate atten­tion, I wouldn’t leap straight to the end.* Try and estab­lish if there’s mutual interest. I’m sure there’s some web­sites around where you could find dis­creet ways of indic­at­ing your desires.

Thanks to Brian Larnder at Primordial Blog for speak­ing about his con­cerns over this.

Additional:

The blog the com­ment linked to was attrib­uted to Corey Washington. Corey Washington appears to be informed well informed about how to imper­son­ate someone on Blogger because he claims he recently caught someone else doing it (not a pleas­ant link). Unfortunately he didn’t learn well enough. Scroll to the bot­tom and click on Corey Washington’s name for his pro­file. Yes, that’s the Quest for Right blog lis­ted as his.

*Unintentional double-entendre.

Atheism with one god less doesn’t work

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Christian Atheist
Christian Atheism. Photo (cc) zor­illa.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has spoken out this Christmas against fun­da­ment­al­ism, includ­ing fun­da­ment­al­ist athe­ists. It’s the kind of mes­sage I agree with, or at least I would if I knew any fun­da­ment­al­ist athe­ists. I don’t know any. Fair play to Dr Morgan, he doesn’t name any so I may never find out who they are. Presumably it’s not a ref­er­ence to Richard Dawkins because, for reas­ons I’ll show below, that would be a bit silly. It’s not sur­pris­ing Dawkins gets ratty about it. But while Dawkins isn’t a fun­da­ment­al­ist, it’s pos­sible one of his one-liners might explain where these fun­da­ment­al­ists come from.

Everybody nowadays is an athe­ist about Thor and Apollo. Some of us just go one god further.

Technically two lines, but it is a prob­lem because this line doesn’t say what an athe­ist is. It’s a big point because there’s when you’re talk­ing about Thor or Apollo there’s a dif­fer­ence in depend­ing on whether or not you’re the sort of athe­ist who believes in gods.

An athe­ist who believes in a God? That’s the prob­lem.
Continue read­ing

The Atheist equivalent of Christian Rock

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I sup­press a shud­der at the pro­spect of an athe­ist equi­val­ent of Christian rock. Please, no.”

It’s not as bad as you might think. I’d argue that with lines like

I needed a break when your book about dreams was taken,
I needed to pray or see a priest that day,
I needed to leave this trade and just heave it away,
But I cleaned up my place like you so I could see things straight.

I never cared about God when life was sailin’ in the calm,
So I said I’d get my head down and I’d deal with the ache in my heart,
And for that if God exists I’d reckon he’d pay me regard,
Mum says me and you are the same from the start.

Never Went to Church by The Streets is a good descrip­tion of the attrac­tion and irrel­ev­ance of reli­gion to a griev­ing athe­ist. Sometimes it would be nice to have a magic want to make things alright, but it’s not a prac­tical plan for deal­ing with the prob­lem. The open­ing of the song is barbed towards Christianity, but the end­ing is has a pos­it­ive mes­sage about what we leave behind.

Why is it an issue? It’s because some people think that it’s not true that the Devil has the best tunes. See Secular Music @ Rupture the Rapture and Has the best tunes? @ Why Don’t You Blog for more.