P. Z. Myers got it right in a terrific response to a Christian’s advice about how atheists should behave more nicely.
Christian sez: 5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God – and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by “Christians” – but understand how they’re meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.
P. Z. sez: . . . .We atheists actually do address the claims fervently held by millions of people. The sneaky trick the theological wankers pull, though, is that once we’ve smacked them down, they announce, “Oh, no — we didn’t mean those millions of believers. They’re stupid. We meant these other millions of believers.” It’s a big game of whack-a-mole. What you call “obscure Old Testament laws,” someone else will call the core of their faith. What you value as the “Christological narrative,” a member of yet another sect will call pretentious confabulations.
Atheists just cut through all the noise and call it all sewage.
Yes, that’s it exactly. Whack-a-mole is what Terry Eagleton is playing, what Karen Armstrong is playing, what John Haught is playing — what the whole oleaginous and underemployed crew of academic theologians and their defenders are playing. But we needn’t address this bait-and-switch tactic any longer: we can just dismiss it as the WAM Argument.
Fig. 1. Oh noes, we’re talking about the faith over there!