I was once a very avid anti-theist. Nearly evangelical in my pursuit of changing the ridiculous beliefs of others but in recent months I've fallen off to only confronting the religion that finds its way into my own life. I had wondered why until recently when I was shown a web comic posted by The Oatmeal called How to suck at your religion. Now, I loved the web comic. It was humorous, I agree with the overall message and I highly recommend you go see it RIGHT NOW if you've not seen it already. What stopped me wondering why my interest in engaging with religious people on the subject has been on the wain was when a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog entry titled A Catholic Reply to "How to Suck At Your Religion".
Reading the Catholic blog made me realize that I was just so bored with trying to counter arguments from religious people. This is not because they've worn me down; I'm still just as ready to engage in a discussion with anyone who comes to me or comes across my path. I'm bored because there's no challenge anymore. Countering the argument of virtually any religious person takes about 5 seconds of critical thought and/or 5 minutes with a fast internet connection and Google. But the most interesting and pertinent thing to ask about this particular case is; why would anyone even bother?
Only someone who gets offended at cartoons could think that cartoons are meaningful. This author's entire rant is no different the ridiculous, absurd and childish mindless violence perpetrated by Muslims as a result of the Danish cartoons published in 2005. When unreasonable beliefs are challenged, nothing but unreasonableness flows from those who believe it. The only thing missing is many people agreeing with the author and wide spread violence. It's only the cultural changes in the last few hundred years in the West that have made Christianity has become as impotent as it is to inspire violence. Had this cartoon been published during the time of the Spanish Inquisition or during the time of the most influential thinkers in the history of Christendom like St. Augustin, St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther (not Martin Luther King Jr.) and we'd be neck deep in corpses. The fact that we aren't doesn't change the balling infantile ego that reacted to humor by taking irony seriously.
Just stretching my legs…
I think my point is made but just for the sake of backing up my claim, I'll respond to one of the author's reactions to the cartoon.
The following is in response to the frame in the cartoon where it mentions stem-cell research:
This also grossly misrepresents why Christians oppose embryonic stem cell research (and falsely accuses us of being against all stem cell research). But I suppose the author has to misrepresent the Christian view, because otherwise, it makes a lot of sense. If human life begins at conception (which, scientifically, it does…. and is the only reason embryonic stem cell research is even possible), we're talking about doing medical research that profits off of mass killing. This has been done before,and those who opposed it on moral grounds weren't "anti-science," and aren't today. The term you're looking for is pro-life.
Only a few moments of reflection should reveal that the author is engaged in a semantics argument if not willfully perpetrating a logical fallacy known as an equivocation. The fallacy lies in the use of the word "life." This is a common tactic used by anti-abortion as well as anti-stem-cell research advocates. If a cell is alive, as science most certainly supports, then life itself must begin at conception but then, that's not the objection to stem-cell research or abortion is it? What is meant by the word "life" in the anti-abortion/stem-cell case is a consciousness that someone can value and can be regarded as having rights, the same as any human being. Without this quality a murder cannot be committed. For example, a person who is brain dead and is killed by harvesting his/her organs for implantation is not considered a murder even by devout Christians.