I see I iz going to have to pwn Josh Rosenau twice today. I seem to remember that when Josh went off on his honeymoon, he promised to return a kindler, gentler man, no longer interested in going after Gnu Atheists since he had grown bored with them. Sadly, that resolution instantly went by the board, and the man has returned to cranking out his same long, muddled posts. They often remind me of what H. L. Mencken wrote about Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class: “Well, what have we here? What does this appalling salvo of rhetorical artillery signify? What was the sweating professor trying to say . . .a cent’s worth of information wrapped in a bale of polysyllables.” (That review, by the way, is one of the funniest I’ve ever read.)
Having read my post from last Sunday, in which I discussed—civilly!—science and religion with a reading group at Chicago’s First United Methodist Church, Rosenau has somehow concluded that I’m an accommodationist! In his snarky post, appropriately called “Minor Coyne snark,” Rosenau manages to make five errors of understanding in only three paragraphs.
Fortunately, I don’t have to correct them because Brother Blackford has already done so over at Metamagician, in a post called “‘Gnu atheist’ does not mean ‘nasty’; accommodationist does not mean ‘nice’.” Russell even reproduces my response to Josh’s post, which I put as a comment below the church post. Russell’s conclusion:
But the real take home point is that accommodationism is not necessarily “nice”. As Rosenau demonstrates by example, accommodationists can be as snarky, unfair, and obsessed with scoring cheap points as anyone else. And those of us in the broadly anti-accommodationist camp, who see a genuine and serious difficulty in reconciling a worldview based on science and reason with worldviews based on religion, are not thereby nasty. I see nothing in Jerry’s original post that recants his anti-accommodationist position or shows him backing away from it in his dealings with liberal Methodists. What I see is a further demonstration, if one were needed, that anti-accommodationist positions can be as careful, subtle, and, alas yes, “nuanced” as any other intellectual positions.
When I spoke to a group of progressive evangelicals last year – a group nowhere near as theologically liberal as the group Jerry met with – I had much to say in their praise. That doesn’t mean that I thereby turned into an accommodationist. It means that I give credit where it’s due, as Jerry did.
What really pisses me off about Rosenau’s approach is its “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” mentality. If we show the slightest degree of aggression towards the religious, we are attacked for being, well, basically, nasty. If we are polite, thoughtful, and give credit where it’s due, we’re accused of abandoning our substantive positions. This is plain unfair. It stinks like the proverbial dead cat.
(Umm. . .did we need that dead cat simile?)
I think some demon has taken over Josh, making him obsessively peruse my website and write long posts about my supposed failures. I’m a bit mystified by this obsession. But this latest post, in which Josh claims that I’m his brother in accommodationism because I talked nicely to Methodists (while firmly maintaining my atheist views), is particularly bizarre.
In response, I can’t help returning snark for snark and posting a Rosenau buzzkill sent to me by an alert reader. (If you don’t know buzzkills, go here; they’re hilarious.)