While checking Twitter last night (Christmas Eve), I found this tweet:
Now I don’t know what Tyson (or is it “deGrasse Tyson”?) meant with that tweet. It looks like an insult to me, a verbal shot at people of faith (particularly people of my faith). It seems to have that snark which is so popular in public discourse today, the sarcastic insinuation, the snide suggestion that something is wrong with the world’s 2.5 billion Christians. I will admit it might not be that. I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know and can’t know what Tyson’s intent was in making this statement, so I won’t speculate on it. But I will say (and I think it is fair to say) that it seems like a shot to me. My initial reaction to this tweet, right or wrong, is that it is a shot at Christians and maybe even Christianity on Christmas Day.
Even if it isn’t a such a shot, though, there are plenty such shots out there. There are quite a few people who have not only rejected The Faith but go one step further to attack The Faith. The corruption of the Ichthus Fish, a millennia-old Christian symbol, is one shot/attack. I see these corruptions on cars around my neighborhood quite frequently. They have become so common they even have their own Wikipedia page.
Beyond this, Richard Dawkins told listeners as the 2012 Reason Rally that “Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt”, and then further challenged those leaders to “Mock [people of faith]! Ridicule them! In public!” (You can find the full speech here.)
And beyond that, several non-believers have publicly referred to The Faith as “a fairy tale” or “make believe” or “the greatest story ever sold”. I’ve also heard God called “an imaginary friend for adults”. These non-believers have referred to The Faith and God in these ways not in a matter-of-fact way (which is one thing), but in that snarky, snide, sarcastic way I mentioned above (which is another thing altogether).
And I don’t suppose that these shots or attacks are all that bad. “Sticks and stones”, right? These are just words. If having someone make a negative comment about me and/or my faith in either an academic or an aggressive manner is the worst thing that happens to me on this Christmas day, then I am doing pretty good.
But I am still left with one question about this matter. There is still one question I have to ask before I can fully dismiss these words, a question which came immediately to mind as soon as I saw this tweet. The question has to do with the fact that non-believers or anti-believers, particularly scientific ones like Tyson and Dawkins, are often presented as “more moral” or “morally superior” to believers like me. I need go no further than the note I presented in the last post to give one example of this. The young man in that note made this exact statement in no uncertain terms. He said the people of the world are often “better” than the people of church. Not only so, but they are often presented as intellectually superior as well. In fact, those two things seem to me to be put together, i.e., these people are morally superior because they are intellectually superior, while people of faith are morally inferior because they are intellectually superior.
The question I have, then, is why are these morally superior individuals using such morally inferior tactics? Why are these morally superior ones using tactics which I, the morally inferior one, have never used (I’ve never attacked a Jewish person on Hanukkah or a Muslim person on Ramadan; I’ve never attacked anyone for their faith or lack of it, period; I’ve merely tried to live my own life of faith)? Why are these using tactics which my morally inferior faith forbids me from using (Paul tells us not to use the weapons of the world, Peter tells us to maintain gentleness and respect in such situations, and Jesus taught us to love our enemies, so my faith repeatedly forbids such tactics)? Are snark, sarcasm, and snideness morally superior attitudes? Is attacking someone, particularly someone intellectually inferior to you, for their faith on the high holiday of that faith a morally superior thing to do?
And if it is not, as I clearly don’t think it is and imagine you don’t, either, then why are those who do such things presented as morally superior? If this tactic is not morally superior, how can these individuals be considered morally superior? For that matter, how can they be considered intellectually superior?