Saturday, June 11, 2005

Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Day to Quit Believing in God

Oh ... doesn't it just figure. I misplace my theism right when I need it the most:

So it's 2005 and this is the academic question that has driven the Daily News and the right-wing New York Sun into apoplectic fits, and caused heartburn all over CUNY: Should Tim Shortell, an atheist, be allowed to assume the chair of the sociology department of Brooklyn College? You know, an atheist--someone who doesn't believe in God. An anticleric. A disrespecter of religion. A mocker of Christianity. Someone like, oh, Diderot ("Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest"). Or Voltaire ("The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning"). Or Bertrand Russell ("The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world"). Actually, Russell is a particularly relevant example here. The appointment of one of the twentieth century's greatest logicians to a professorship at City College in 1940 set off a hysterical campaign against the "Godless advocate of free love" on the part of the Episcopal and Catholic churches, the Hearst papers and Tammany Hall. A flagrantly trumped-up lawsuit was fast-tracked through the system, Russell was denounced in the state legislature and the job offer was withdrawn.

Unfortunately, Shortell is no Bertrand Russell, whose Why I Am Not a Christian did so much to enliven my teenage years. For one thing, Russell was an energetic antireligious propagandist, while Shortell's low opinion of God and his fans is confined to a brief essay, "Religion and Morality: A Contradiction Explained," posted at, an obscure website with a vaguely Situationist flavor. For another, Russell was a terrific writer, while Shortell's essay is self-satisfied adolescent twaddle. Believers are "moral retards," "an ugly, violent lot": "In the heart of every Christian is a tiny voice preaching self-righteousness, paranoia and hatred. Christians claim that theirs is a faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you." Moral retards? Well, at least he can't be accused of linguistic PC.

*SIGH* Too little religion = Too much religion = UNEMPLOYMENT.