Friday, February 17, 2012

Bayley wants the Internet and Dawkins to get off his lawn

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Stephen Bayley
Stephen Bayley

It must be quite the insult to the English for Stephen Bayley to be “described as ‘the second most intelligent man in Britain’”, as his bio at The Telegraph boasts, given that this sort of mindless drivel is what he considers worthy of sharing:

Who is to say that the internet is not the Devil's work? It daily corrupts the concentration of billions: idle hands are very welcome in cyberspace. Wanton flesh and dishonest money are its staple items of trade. It immerses us in a seething babel of irrelevance, promises sociability while creating alienation and, so far from being "clean", has destructively enlarged global demand for electricity. And if you want more evidence of Satan at work, just look at the agents he has hired to do his work. What is it about computer professionals that discourages dissimulation? My current adviser says he is a property developer and his predecessors were really geneticists and musicians. Mephistopheles comes camouflaged.

Which, talking of dissimulation, brings me to Richard Dawkins, a fanatic disguised as a scientist. And surely, in the powerful counterproductive sway of his noisy arguments, proof of the existence of God? Terrible to awake in that groggy matutinal state when things lodge in your addled brain and hear shrill, ugly, cruel arguments on the radio. Atheists seem to be very good at dogma. Dawkins seems not to understand that his own zealotry is itself a sort of religious quest. And he applies the "logic" of science, itself a fallible human construct, to a beautiful mystery. Sure, organised religion has caused appalling conflicts. But it has also caused Michelangelo, Milton and Bach. Organised atheism has produced North Korea. There is really not much more that needs to be said.

The only good thing about this screed is how short it is, given anti-atheist cranks’ renown propensity for babbling on ad nauseum with varying levels of coherence. Still, it’s hard to say which paragraph is more pretentiously insipid, the one taking the stereotypical curmudgeonly view of those newfangled Interwebs and all these pervs who abound, or the one with about as many falsehoods and distortions about godlessness as possible crammed into 10 short sentences. Just at a glance, I can identify depictions of Myths A1, A3 and A17, along with several other canards I haven’t bothered writing up yet, mostly about how mild-mannered Richard Dawkins is supposedly a “fanatic” for speaking out about his beliefs in the exact same way – if not much more calmly and sensibly – as anyone else from politician to pundit to religious ideologue is allowed to. The only difference is they aren’t constantly subjected to demonizing scorn for it. It’s almost as if there were some sort of prejudice against atheists or something.

Really, when the only rational response to your claims is to point and laugh at you, maybe you should examine them a little more carefully, lest you destroy any illusions anyone else may have about your supposed intelligence.