The Alonzo Fyfe hates the pope for hating atheists

from the Athiest Ethicist complaining about Benedict’s new encyclical Spe salvi:

Pope Benedict XVI exposed a part of his moral character today as a hate-mongering bigot in an encyclical critical of modern atheism. As reported in the International Harold Tribune, the encyclical says that, “[Atheism] had led to some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” ever known to mankind.”

Hate-mongering involves the selling of hate, typically for a profit or for the benefit of some group or organization that the hate-monger favors. It is like fish-mongering, which involves the selling of fish, as in a public market, typically for the sake of realizing a profit.

[…]

It is not a moral crime to sell hate – there are people on the world who deserve our hate. The moral crime comes from using lies and sophistry to sell hate – to force others to live their lives facing a hatred that he manufactured and sold himself.

The passage in the encyclical being referred to:

If in the face of this world’s suffering, protest against God is understandable, the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.

Now, honestly, even if you don’t quite agree, is that hate-mongering? The Pope may not be right, be he’s not calling on anyone to lynch anyone. Sometimes atheists can be as knee-jerk reactive as the worst of the religious people!

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4 Comments to “The Alonzo Fyfe hates the pope for hating atheists”

  1. No, I wouldn’t agree with the Pope, but I wouldn’t call him Hate mongering.
    Yes, Alonzo is as strident as the most fundamentalist Christian, protecting his world view, Atheism, with vehemence. His tone is more prone to arouse hate than the Pope’s.

  2. everyone seems mixed up nowadays, hating haters, preaching against preaching and believing in not believing! what has happened?!

  3. When an argument that aims to prove that a wrongdoing has committed a wrong is called ‘hate speech’, we are aiming for a society in which nobody may be accused of wrongdoing.

    My ‘tone’ is the same of that of a prosecuting attorney who says, “This is what I accuse the defendent of. This is my physical evidence.”

    And, indeed, if it is wrong for me to call the Pope a hate-monger when I can (1) define the crime, and (2) show the evidence that proves guilt, then how is it wrong for others to say the same of me?

    The difference is not in the nature of the accusations. It rests in the strength of the evidence that backs them up. Hate-mongers, in the sense that hate-mongering is immoral, backs their accusations up with lies and sophistry or, as in the case here, with nothing at all.

  4. alonzo – thanks for the comment. I didn’t so much want to accuse you of hate-mongering as defend the pope from your accusation. I don’t agree with your definition of hate-mongering.

    Of course, we can and must argue against hate-mongerers and do so with the sort of clear logic that you use so well on your blog. However, in this specific case, i don’t think the pope was preaching hate. He accused atheism of producing the greatest forms of cruelty and injustice (the standard “Stalin, Hitler and Mao” argument) but he is, in that, no more and no less right than those who use the “inquisition, 30-years war and al-quaeda” argument.

    The Pope would be hate-mongering if he were telling us to go out and kill/lynch/spit upon atheists. Or if he were telling us they were _all_ intrinsically bad people. But he is not. He is simply saying that atheism has no moral foundation and can lead to much evil. The former argument is wrong and the latter half-way correct. But that isn’t hate, it’s formulating an ethical or metaphysical disagreement with, perhaps, dubious arguments.

    I don’t in the least agree with the pope and find him painfully conservative, retrograde and blindly stubborn. But in the end he’s participating honestly in a theological/philosophical discourse. We might think his arguments are hopelessly weak, but he thinks the same of ours. He’s no more bigoted than we are.

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