Piety and wit combined

An erudite thoughtful man by the name of Greg Craven, who is vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, has written an elegant, reasoned, careful piece on atheism and atheists in The Age. It would persuade anyone who read it with an open mind.

From time immemorial, this world has been troubled by plagues. From bogong moths in Canberra to frogs in biblical Egypt, unwelcome and unlovely creatures have the awkward habit of turning up in bulk. Just now, we are facing one of our largest and least appealing infestations. Somewhat in advance of summer’s blowflies, we are beset by atheists.

That’s a good beginning, don’t you think? Invoking plagues, comparing atheists to moths and frogs, saying we’re unwelcome and unlovely and turn up in bulk, calling us an infestation, then with a flourish comparing us to blowflies and complaining of being ‘beset’ by us.

Clearly I don’t keep up with the news from Australia as well as I should. Are atheists clogging all the sidewalks there, are they gnawing at the foundations of people’s houses, are they worming their way into the plumbing and turning it rusty and leaky, are they crapping on all the food? I had not heard.

[T]he great advantage of designer atheism is that you get to think of yourself as immensely clever. After all, you are at least much brighter than all those dumb-asses who believe in a supreme being, such as Sister Perpetua down the road, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Well there is always that risk, yes, but is that really our fault? (And even though it’s a risk, it’s not an inevitable outcome – it is possible to be an atheist without thinking of yourself as immensely clever. One very easy way to insure this is just to read a page or two of a book by someone really clever.)

For some reason, contemporary Australian atheism seems to consider itself terribly funny. Its proponents only have to wheel out one of the age-old religious libels to lose control of their bladders. To outsiders, of course, it is a bit like watching a giggling incontinent drunk at a party.

Jeez – he’s really very vulgar, isn’t he. I think I’ve had enough.

A credit to his university, he is.

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