We’re Overrated? December 11, 2010

We’re Overrated?

Mark Juddery has a ridiculous article on the Huffington Post (surprised?) discussing the “10 Most Overrated Things of the Decade“…

First on his list? New Atheism:

… just as it was cool in the nineties to come out as gay, it was cool in the 2000s (especially for really smart people) to adopt another once-scandalous lifestyle choice: atheism… [Christopher] Hitchens’ book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was (as you might guess) an attack on religion, justifying the author’s own passionate atheism. This is like complaining against the management of the Elvis Presley Fan Club, and hence concluding that Elvis didn’t really exist.

That argument needs to stop being made. If the Elvis Presley Fan Club had damn near all the power in the government and constantly tried to pass irresponsible, unconstitutional laws designed to promote Elvis merchandise, you’d be pissed off, too.

Also, we have video/recordings of Elvis. Unlike some Jesuses I can think of…

Part of me wonders how we can be overrated when our biggest names are unknown to the majority of the population. I kind of feel like Ross from Friends: When were we underrated?

We’re not overrated. We have a long way to go before we’re worthy of that title.

Meanwhile, you want to know who is overrated?

God.

BOO-YA! I just atheist-juked you.

(Thanks to Scott for the link!)

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  • Danielle

    Yes, because “new” atheists are killing abortion doctors, ramming planes into buildings, and passing laws that treat gays as second class citizens.

    *rolls eyes*

    Maybe its just because of the internet that passes around information more easily which helps more younger people question religion. I would have never heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Carl Sagan without the internet.

    This writer is a moron calling Hitchens a prophet. UGH. The stupidity!

  • Floyd

    I saw this list-article earlier this week and thought it was extremely foolish. So many things wrong with this. When was it ever cool to be gay in the 90s? Comparing atheists to Elvis Presley fan club? C’mon. And since when does doing something smart people are doing become a thing to be admonished? And describing it as scandalous is extremely self serving. Made me want to throw my hands up after I read it.

  • Mary

    Also, this glib statement about how it was “cool” to come out as gay and “cool” to come out as atheist totally ignores the persecution that these people have faced. You can still be killed (even in the U.S.) for being gay. You can still be beaten up, lose your job, be kicked out of your family, etc., for being atheist. (John Lennon was shot because Mark David Chapman was angry that he didn’t believe in God.) What actually seems to be “cool” these days is being contrarian just so you can get published somewhere like the Huffington Post.

  • CC

    “Yes, because “new” atheists are killing abortion doctors, ramming planes into buildings, and passing laws that treat gays as second class citizens.”

    This is an argument that atheists repeatedly make against faith as a whole, and it’s as much as a fallacy now as it was back then. In fact, it makes me want to correct the author of the list in question for gauging the intellectual capacity of atheists so highly.

    It’s not surprising to see some atheists behave in such a manner, however, because truthfulness is a commendable quality, and just as atheists have no long-term incentive to perform good, they have no long-term incentive to be basically truthful. Despite the contentions of some atheists that, indeed, being good is essential to create conditions in life that lead to an enriched existence which is surrounded by an enriching community, it is arguable that there is no immediate, communal need to do good when, so long as you are personally satisfied, a life of constant indulgence is justifiable if it does good to yourself and so actions will not be accounted for after the fact.

    There is no need to be truthful, then.

  • Ian

    Yeah, cus choosing to come out as gay is really about whether it is cool or not. Replace ‘cool’ with ‘for the first time not guaranteed to be social suicide’.

    Of course, you read ‘lifestyle choice’ and its guaranteed bigotry in 3…2…1…

  • Robert W.

    Mary,

    (John Lennon was shot because Mark David Chapman was angry that he didn’t believe in God.)

    Chapman shot John Lennon because Chapman was crazy.

  • Claudia

    I didn’t bother to pass this along because I’m sort of embarrassed that I still read the HuffPo, that has tabs for religion and divorce (no, really) but none for science. However the author of that list got a pretty fun beat-down in the comments section about his inclusion of “new” atheism.

    I think I especially love his caveat at the end, which you left out:

    Disclaimer: Born a Catholic, I still lean towards believing in God (no, I can’t be bothered justifying that), and was not convinced by the arguments in The God Delusion. I’m not gay either, so I haven’t been even remotely “cool” since 1989.

    Bold is mine. Nothing quite like those rock solid reasons, eh?

  • Jeanette

    “Cool to come out as gay”? That is incredibly dismissive of a hugely difficult and significant decision in many people’s lives. And like Mary said above, it can still lead to discrimination, rejection by loved ones, violence, etc. What a jackass.

    And please stop calling Christopher Hitchens a “prophet”. Guh. And it’s more like complaining that not only are people advertising like crazy for something that doesn’t exist, but they’re also saying gay people can’t get married because of said thing that doesn’t exist. WTF.

  • Jeanette

    Hahaha good find Claudia. “No, I can’t be bothered justifying that”. I think being too lazy to bother justifying your view of reality while disparaging someone else’s is overrated.

  • Danielle

    Never thought it was cool to be gay, wasn’t that when the DADT was enacted? Lots of gay people were beaten/murdered? And its still very hard to come out to your family with the fear that they might reject you?

    This guy doesn’t really have a grip on reality, does he?

  • So one day I got really bored and thought to myself, “Wow, I need some excitement. I need a NEW lifestyle choice.” /sarcasm

    It’s as much of a lifestyle choice as not collecting stamps.

    Typical of the stupid to take something that runs against their brainwashed grain and belittle it by calling it a “lifestyle choice.”

    To me, a lifestyle choice is made when someone buys a car. Being a drummer, I made the lifestyle choice of getting a vehicle that can haul gear. Otherwise, I would have made the lifestyle choice of getting into something more economical.

    When it comes to NOT believing in a god or subscribing to a religion, I’ve done my homework, and am convinced that I really have no choice in the matter.

  • cat

    Ah, Juddery, nothing like some throwing in some casual homophobia with your atheist bashing.

  • We’re overrated now? I would’ve have thought that uninformed, lazy, cowardly apologists who point fingers at atheists are overrated. Looks like I’m wrong. 😉

  • romo2austin

    So he views being gay as a fad? Bigot much?

    It has nothing to do with fads it has to do with people not being fearful of retribution for being gay or atheist.

    Such a nasty person.

  • Tonya

    CC=”It’s not surprising to see some atheists behave in such a manner, however, because truthfulness is a commendable quality, and just as atheists have no long-term incentive to perform good, they have no long-term incentive to be basically truthful.”

    Umm…that’s untrue. I’d like to know what you base this fallacy on.

  • JD

    I remember someone complaining about “all the gay movies released this year” back when Brokeback Mountain was released. Of which, Brokeback Mountain was the only gay themed movie I could recall having been released that year or previous years, there’s a mainstream gay-themed movie maybe every three years or so. I guess obsessing on something too much distorts one’s perspective.

    Add me to the chorus about how it’s “cool” to be gay when homosexuality in modern times was never about being cool. The implication that people are saying they’re gay when they really aren’t, or something like that. By the same token, I have to wonder if it’s really heterosexuality that is “cool” with social conservatives, given how many gays had to pretend they were hetero in order to not be rejected by society. Meanwhile, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of ostracism going on for not being gay.

    If it’s really so cool to be gay, I’d like to hear why Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, among others, had to hide their homosexual tendencies from the public.

  • Here i was upset that i had done something cool since 2000 and no one had told me.

    In all seriousness, what would be the public response if “The New Christianity” or “The New Islam” or “The New Judaism” was referred to as ‘overrated’? I would predict a major s**t storm in 3, 2, 1…

  • Pffft. I’ve been an atheist since the late 1980s. It’s not a “cool” thing.

  • Look on the bright side. Atheism has to be rated to be over-rated.

  • billybobbibb

    I think he should have included the Huffington Post on this list.

  • Hamilton Jacobi

    Christopher Hitchens did not devise the term “new atheism.” It was devised in 2006, while God Is Not Great was published in 2007. I’m not even sure if Hitchens has ever used those words without sarcasm.

  • huffingpaint is a website i’m proud to ignore, thanks for reminding me why i’m not wrong to do so.

    I would have never heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Carl Sagan without the internet.

    that makes me really sad. you’re probably not alone. but i have to say: i’m a bit shocked that you had not heard of Sagan in some non-internet situation. the rest may be “just angry new atheists” who are mostly ignored or misrepresented in the press and on TV, but Sagan? he was… well, let’s just say if scientists could be rock stars, he was Elvis. my parents sat us down every Sunday to watch his PBS show. there are even rickrolling and auto-tune songs with his voice in them, today. not a lot of people in the scientific community can say that. please tell me you’ve heard of Hawkins.

  • Danielle

    Well, I think its because I’m only 18 and I didn’t have a proper scientific education (I didn’t have a science teacher in 8th grade, just a bunch of subs).

    I’m very thankful for the internet and the people on it (it was on Neopets that I got my first taste of atheism, haha).

    And yes, I’ve heard of Hawkins. 😉

  • bigjohn756

    Hemant, I’m not sure that lifting even one of your fingers to tap a key was justified to mention this particularly inane HuffPo crap.

  • Philbert

    [Christopher] Hitchens’ book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was (as you might guess) an attack on religion, justifying the author’s own passionate atheism. This is like complaining against the management of the Elvis Presley Fan Club, and hence concluding that Elvis didn’t really exist. is not living in the sky watching over his fans and providing them with divine wisdom and supernatural powers

    More like it.

  • Erp

    Prophet can mean either someone who speaks for God and predicts the future or someone who tells the nasty truth about society that no one else is willing to say (i.e., the little boy who says the emperor has no clothes is a prophet).

    Now I wouldn’t use it because of the confusion of meanings, but, the double meaning does exist.

  • Benjamin

    As I am an Atheist already, maybe I should take the other cool lifestyle choice and become gay although I can no more chose to believe in God than I can chose to be sexually attracted by men.

  • Oh yeaaaaah. I’m sure it was so awesome being gay in the 90’s. It’s not like AID’s was a big deal or anything. DOUCHE BAG.

  • Alex

    “This is an argument that atheists repeatedly make against faith as a whole, and it’s as much as a fallacy now as it was back then. In fact, it makes me want to correct the author of the list in question for gauging the intellectual capacity of atheists so highly.

    It’s not surprising to see some atheists behave in such a manner, however, because truthfulness is a commendable quality, and just as atheists have no long-term incentive to perform good, they have no long-term incentive to be basically truthful. Despite the contentions of some atheists that, indeed, being good is essential to create conditions in life that lead to an enriched existence which is surrounded by an enriching community, it is arguable that there is no immediate, communal need to do good when, so long as you are personally satisfied, a life of constant indulgence is justifiable if it does good to yourself and so actions will not be accounted for after the fact.

    There is no need to be truthful, then.”

    Facts? Well, let’s just look at statistics for general vs prison populations.

  • At least it’s only ranked 9/10, with only the Wall Street crash behind it.

  • Badger3k

    Did anyone seriously expect anything that required thought to be found on HuffPo?

  • JulietEcho

    Meh. Being called “overrated” by the Huffington Post is like being called “biased” by FOX news.

    Whenever I read about something and see that the source is the HP, I check to make sure there are other sources before taking it seriously.

  • gwen

    Damn it! I’ve been a black atheist since 1966. I’ve been cool forever, and didn’t even know it. I have wasted my cool quotient….:(

  • on jesus-juking:

    The world we live in is like swimming in the deep end of the pool.

    Faith is like relaxing in a jacuzzi.

    When someone suddenly brings some jacuzzi water in the deep end we conclude they’ve peed in the pool.

  • I’ve been atheist for 45 years. So there.

  • Frances

    That Elvis analogy makes no sense. Atheists are against more than the things religious people do, we are against the very principles of religion because they do not make sense. That is not the same thing at all as complaining about Elvis. Even if you complain about the fan club, you are not doubting the principles of Elvis’ existence.

    And believe me, knowing friends who came out as gay in the 90s, they weren’t any cooler or treated better than people who came out before or since. They act like people do this as a fad. Do they really think that people would do something as difficult as coming out as gay or atheist, which means facing the probably unkind judgment of everyone you know, just because of a fad? Yes, we love being treated poorly because it’s cool.

  • CC:

    “It’s not surprising to see some atheists behave in such a manner, however, because truthfulness is a commendable quality, and just as atheists have no long-term incentive to perform good, they have no long-term incentive to be basically truthful. Despite the contentions of some atheists that, indeed, being good is essential to create conditions in life that lead to an enriched existence which is surrounded by an enriching community, it is arguable that there is no immediate, communal need to do good when, so long as you are personally satisfied, a life of constant indulgence is justifiable if it does good to yourself and so actions will not be accounted for after the fact.”

    This is a ludicrous example of willful ignorance. If this were true then no animal would protect and rear its young, hive insects would not construct hives and herd animals would not turn, as a group, against predators. And yet these examples (and too too many more) are the rule rather than the exception among social animals.

    Magic deities and spirits are moot (of little or no practical value or meaning ~dictionary.com) when we seek to explain social responsibility and altruism.

    You complain that atheists continually make the same argument against faith as a whole but you don’t even try to refute, mitigate or even deal with the argument. And there is a reason that same argument keeps coming up. Any ideology that claims a higher authority, advocates violence in the name of that higher authority and permits an unrealistic (too narrow) and inflexible code of conduct will produce “crusaders.”

    “Are too” versus “Are not” volleys get us nowhere. You are entitled to your opinion. But if you can’t be bothered edify your perspective (aka your opinion; aka your belief which may or may not be consistent with fact/reality) you’re just wasting our time. No one wants to watch you mentally masturbate.

  • Haley

    Well, if it’s cool to be an atheist now, I must secretly be one of the most popular people at my South Carolina high school, along with a couple of other atheists and openly gay students. You know southerners, they just LOVE it when people admit to being atheists, gay, or different in any way, shape, or form…

    I definitely agree with the theory that one of the reasons there was such a huge increase in people “coming out” as atheists in the 2000s was the widespread usage of the internet. I’m in the same situation as Danielle: I’m seventeen (and oddly enough, the first time I saw any mention of atheism was on Neopets as well…), and being where I am, I haven’t had a lot of exposure to anything but Southern Baptist and the occasional Methodist or Catholic. I think I’ve always called BS on the whole religion thing, but I didn’t know that it was “allowed” or that other people did too until I did research on the internet. I’d never heard of Hitchens, Dawkins, or Sagan (and I’d only heard of Hawkins in passing).

    And now the internet has taught me something new: atheism is a lifestyle choice! Thanks for that information, Huffington Post, I wasn’t aware that I was living an alternate lifestyle. Think I can get some sort of minority scholarship for that?

  • Dan W

    Yeah, see, we have actual evidence that Elvis existed… not so much for Jesus. So that’s a dumb argument.

    Meanwhile, I don’t know where morons like this Mark Juddery get the idea that people like me became atheists because it’s “cool” to be an atheist. I’m an atheist because it made rational sense, as there’s no evidence or good arguments in favor of the existence of god(s). And I wouldn’t call being a member of the most hated minority in America “cool.”

  • Sean

    It’s cool to be an atheist? Last time I checked we (at least the people who would own up to being atheists) were all bitter, cynical, immature, wounded misfits who just needed some patient love to melt the ice off of our hearts and bring us to a wondrous spiritual awakening. Or in some cases just psychopathically selfish.

  • Sean

    This is an argument that atheists repeatedly make against faith as a whole, and it’s as much as a fallacy now as it was back then. In fact, it makes me want to correct the author of the list in question for gauging the intellectual capacity of atheists so highly.

    Hasty generalization.

    Despite the contentions of some atheists that[…] it is arguable that[…]

    There is no need to be truthful, then.

    Perfect solution/Nirvana fallacy, poisoning the well.

  • Sean

    And believe me, knowing friends who came out as gay in the 90s, they weren’t any cooler or treated better than people who came out before or since. They act like people do this as a fad.

    When people talk about coming out as gay (or atheist) as being cool, it makes me wonder what kind of privileged culture they are generalizing from. Coming out might get people’s attention, but for those of us that aren’t celebrities or living in the most liberal, tolerant parts of the country, it’s mostly not good attention. When I came out, even among many of the tolerant people I know, they seemed very uncomfortable. (Is it supposed to be reassuring to hear “I don’t have a problem with that.” out of the blue, twenty times, from the same person? Is it cool to suddenly feel like you’re expected to be a representative of a group that’s heavily stereotyped and under intense moral scrutiny, just because you’re the only one from that group among close friends and coworkers?) And that’s in my very tame experiences, which don’t involve violence or being alienated from my family or being directly affected by legal discrimination.

  • You know what’s overrated? Articles by believers that pretend to have the slightest idea what atheists are really about. And there’s no shortage of such articles.

  • Those comments are as idiotic as it was cool to be black in ’80’s. Please watch “Soul Man” if you’re still of the idiotic belief that it was. Kind of makes you wonder what they’re going to decide is in for the next decade, doesn’t it?

    I hate Elvis. Can’t fucking stand him. (Yes, I realize this is a minority opinion.) However, I am not up in arms about the Elvis Fan Club because they are not trying to insist that we all have to use the Elvis postage stamp or that we’re all evil if we don’t listen to an hour of his horrible, horrible singing voice a week. They even seem to take it in their stride that I find his singing voice horrible and won’t even give him the allowance I give Bob Dylan (whose voice I also find horrible) that at least he’s a good song writer. They freely admit Elvis didn’t write his own stuff. Imagine that.

    Not so with the Jesus freaks. For example:

    just as atheists have no long-term incentive to perform good, they have no long-term incentive to be basically truthful

    Wow, like fuck, CC. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that doing good makes the world a better place to live in so right there’s a purely selfish reason to do good. As for truthfulness — not only is it good and therefore a motive the same as doing any other good (do any of us want to be duped; to prevent it we frown on lying) but, frankly, I’m Atheist because the only thing I come anywhere close to “worshipping” is the truth. I’m literally honest to a fault. I hate to lie and almost never do. Even when people fish for compliments on something new like a haircut or a dress, I’ll dodge and say well, it’s not my cup of tea or that’s a nice color. Honestly, I should learn to be a tad more dishonest for diplomacy’s sake.

    Once again, Robert’s right. About why John Lennon was murdered.

    living in the most liberal, tolerant parts of the country, it’s mostly not good attention.

    Even here in liberal country (NY), I’ve been harrassed on the job and had people belligrently argue with me as if I just attacked their god with my mere presence. I’ve had a cousin tell me that he and my policies just wouldn’t mix and not to bother him anymore. Oh, and yep, the countless I don’t have a problems with that’s too. I don’t even want to imagine what a problem it must be for people in the Bible Belt.

  • Bill

    @CC – T.Ray beat me to it. “it is arguable that there is no immediate, communal need to do good when, so long as you are personally satisfied, a life of constant indulgence is justifiable if it does good to yourself and so actions will not be accounted for after the fact”. You must know that is an unsupported assertion.You need to read some more.

  • What CC’s idiotic screed above gets quite essentially wrong, more than anything else, is the idea that we’re not accountable for our behaviors. Rather, the authority we’re accountable to – society at large – is the only one that has been shown to exist.

    Besides, if Christianity is true, you can spend a life murdering and raping people, ask Jesus to save you at the last moment, and then spend eternity in heaven, absolutely absolved of your sins. How is that an accountable moral system? What keeps Christians from doing whatever the hell they want, then getting re-saved? Oh, that’s right – the actual authority that we’re all accountable to.

  • Demonhype

    This reminds me of that period of my life during which my mother was trying to reconcile my atheism somehow (having given up trying to “win me back”), and she told me that it was pretty obvious I only “decided” to become an atheist so I could “belong.” (Yeah, nothing earns you friends and social esteem and helps you “belong” like denying the existence of the most popular invisible friend in history and refusing to prostrate yourself before his effigy.) She now denies she ever said that, or any of the other things she said about atheists in my early days of coming out.

    She’s still got problems, but she’s come a long way, I guess. 🙂

  • Sean

    MiketheInfidel,

    Actually it’s worse than that. CC is assuming that people actually just like lying and doing bad things left and right, and that they need an authority to keep them in check. In reality, we don’t necessarily benefit from acting that way, and even if we benefit on some level we don’t always need an external authority to rein us in. People feel guilty about deceiving others, they enjoy trying to figure things out for real, and they don’t like risking their reputations as honest people. To assert that we need a certain metaphysical view to be good, is to ignore the fact that the first line of defense every person has against immoral behavior, is their own personal feeling about what is appropriate or just or kind or fair or honorable behavior. It’s only when we have some kind of conflict in goals, or hit a complicated situation, that we even start up our moral reasoning at all.

  • Heidi

    My pending HuffPo comment:

    Dear Mark Juddery: I can see why you would want to disparage “really smart people.” But I was indeed an atheist long before I ever heard of Hitchens or Dawkins. What you’re failing to comprehend­, is that “really smart people” can think for themselves­. The reason atheists have been more vocal in recent years is that, quite frankly, we’ve had enough of being pushed around and marginaliz­ed by, among others, media hacks desperate for an attention-­grabbing headline. Good day.

  • Secular Stu

    Oh yeaaaaah. I’m sure it was so awesome being gay in the 90?s. It’s not like AID’s was a big deal or anything. DOUCHE BAG.

    Well GLBT was portrayed as such a glamorous lifestyle in the 90s. All sorts of movies that showed how great and fun it was to be gay, like Phliadelphia, or Boys Don’t Cry. And then there were the normal real-life homosexuals who ended up on the covers of Time and Newsweek not long after coming out, like Matthew Shepard.

    /sarcasm

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    Great Christmas song on Family Guy tonight, especially Mort Goldman’s atheist activist line:

    Mort:
    If you put a Christmas tree
    In the public airport,
    I will go to court and sue your ass!
    Happy holiday!

    (I know, I know, Mort’s a Jew – but the principle is the same – Merry Xmas and FU for celebrating your traditions in the open)

  • I feel old. I did not realize that kids today were using the word cool to me – “possibly alienating and losing all or most of one friends and family.”

  • Heidi, excellent comment!

  • I left the comment that I felt the author’s opinion of his opinion was overrated . . . some uber sensitive reviewer deleted. :rolleyes:

  • How did I miss this post?

    Atheist-juked. :::snicker:::

  • Sean

    I’ve had several HuffPo comments moderated out, sometimes for language as tame as starting with “I’m trying to be charitable, but this sounds like it’s just prejudice.” (That was a reply to a comparing-atheists-to-Stalin comment.) HuffPo is a bit of an echo chamber, and their comment moderation system doesn’t have much quality control, which is very unfortunate.

  • Yeah I’m sooooooo sick of that “why do you care?” argument. I don’t care about your stupid little club — as long as you club doesn’t get automatic tax exempt status, wield ridiculous amounts of political power, impede the progress of civil rights, crush women and gays under their boots, etc….

    When there is an Elvis Presley fan club that has sovereign nation status at the UN, has a budget in the billions, actively shields child rapists from prosecution, and gets automatic tax exempt status to boot… On that day, I will become a card-carrying No A-Elvisist. Don’t think I won’t.