UPDATE: Zuckerman now claims that his piece was “tongue in cheek” and we should have realized that it was. While I accept his explanation, I’m not so sure we should have seen through it. It differs from a Sokal-ian hoax in that it lacks any scientific assertions that are palpable nonsense. Rather, his statements are opinions that could have been taken from any accommodationist screed. Lighthearted, yes (see points 9 and 10); funny, not so much, even in retrospect. This parody is much funnier.
Phil Zuckerman is a sociologist who wrote a book I liked very much: Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. It’s an analysis of how two societies—those of Sweden and Denmark—function without religion, and how their citizens feel about faith. More than anything, it showed that nations without religion are not only not dysfunctional, but can be even healthier than America. It’s the answer to the constant accommodationist refrain, “Religion will always be with us.”
I was thus quite chagrined to learn that Zuckerman has written a post—at HuffPo, of course—tearing apart Gnu Atheism and telling us that we’re all Doing It Rong. It’s called “The top mistakes atheists make“, and I bet you can guess many of them. We’re all afflicted with scientism, we don’t mention the good parts of religion or the Bible, we spend too much time kvetching about god rather than improving the world, and so on ad nauseum.
Fortunately, I don’t have to waste my time critiquing this tripe, because Jason Rosenhouse has done a terrific job over at EvolutionBlog: “Nonsense from Zuckerman.” Go read it.
I’m really sort of baffled at the vitriol that people like Zuckerman unleash at the Gnus. Why are they always telling us how to behave? After all, we don’t go around telling accommodationists how to behave—until, that is, they start whaling on us.
I can’t help but think that there’s some jealousy in all this. Books by atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are best sellers, getting elebenty gazillion times the attention of books by accommodationists or faitheists. And P.Z.’s blog is the most popular in science, far outstripping the traffic going to websites run by accommodationists. I’d like to hear readers’ theories about why Gnus are under so much attack from fellow atheists.