Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is a Presbyterian who thinks “the purpose of life is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever’.” Those are mistaken priorities and a scary thought when you consider he’s in charge of the entire state.
I was almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, when I read this quotation from him:
I don’t talk about [my personal faith] for two reasons.
One is [that] although faith is very central to me, I also take very seriously the responsibility to treat my public duties in a way that keeps separate church and state and respects alternative views…
Well, that’s good, right? You want a politician who keeps his/her personal faith separate from politics.
Unfortunately for him, there were more questions in the interview and more opportunities for him to dig the hole of his ignorance even deeper:
Mark Mellinger: Is there part of you that is bothered by the aggressive atheism of a [Sam] Harris, a [Christopher] Hitchens, a [Richard] Dawkins? And what I mean is… this atheism is a little different than atheism has been in the past because it does seek to convert people.
Daniels: I’m not sure it’s all that new. People who reject the idea of a God — who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm — have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications — which not all such folks have thought through — because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.
And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists — Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth — because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.
Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.
Before getting to Daniels, Mellinger deserves some blame, too.
Calling it “aggressive” atheism when all the writers are doing is pointing out the inherent problems of religion which have always been there. There’s nothing “aggressive” about pointing out the obvious. It’s more like “acceptable” atheism, atheism that has finally found its way into public discourse.
Are we trying to convert people? Not like evangelical Christians do. We don’t become fake friends with you just so we can later put another tally mark on the brainwashing board. We don’t have classes that teach you how to de-convert people. We don’t do volunteer work in poverty-stricken areas with the caveat that everyone we help has to become an atheist.
We use logic and reason to persuade people that we have a better argument. We point out the contradictions and lies that religious people perpetuate. We want you to think for yourself. We don’t want you to believe us just because we’re atheists; we encourage you to question your own beliefs.
So, Mellinger asked an ignorant question to begin with. (Hell, what does he think the “atheism of the past” was like, anyway?)
And then Daniels impressively condenses several illogical arguments into a couple soundbytes.
Like suggesting that 9/11 was either not religiously-motivated or not a horrific crime…
How many can you spot?