The article that has had Bill hopping mad and lambasting atheists in general is this one, by Catherine Deveny:
in which she ascribes a personality disorder to the traditional model of the Abrahamic god.
Muehlenberg, assessing Deveny's article, jumps straight in with his assessment as to why she wrote it. Her behaviour is, Bill tells us,
"...simply one oddity of atheism. Indeed, atheists are a strange bunch. They spend large hunks of their adult lives getting all hot and bothered about someone they claim does not exist. They spend zillions of hours informing us how lousy, bad, twisted, putrid and rotten God is."
Yet he's obviously not read the article properly as Deveny explains why she wrote it in the first paragraph:
"Stay with me as I indulge in two of my favourite pastimes: illuminating monotheistic religion's exploitation of the human desire to feel safe, loved and special; and my constant need to question and expose maladaptive behaviour."
The second bit of the explanation, exposing maladaptive behaviour, applies so clearly in the case of Muehlenberg that it's no wonder he chose to ignore her reason for writing the article and others like it, and invented a reason for her, thus erecting the first of many straw man arguments, which he then spends a few paragraphs huffing and puffing as he blows it down.
He seems to be either targeting more than one of his hobbyhorses in this article, either that or he is blaming Catherine Deveny for the following little gem:
"...some atheists have invented the idea that a god gene exists. Yes, there is no God, but we have a gene that makes us want to believe there is."
Yes, that's right. "Atheists" have "invented" a "god gene". Where do you even start? Is he referring to the fact that most scientists are rationalists as they seek rational explanations for observable phenomena? In which case, why not say "scientists", since whilst most scientists are atheists, not all atheists are scientists? I have dealt in an earlier response with Muehlenberg's woeful understanding of genetics (and science in general). Here he is thinking that scientists can "invent" genetic material! Does he mean "discover"? I am banging my head on the desk even trying to look for the meaning hidden somewhere in Muehlenberg's ill-educated ramblings, but I really am lost on this one. How can scientists "invent" genes, Bill? The only bit you get right is that there is no god.
Tell us, Bill, why "atheists" have "invented" a "god gene":
"They do this of course for at least two reasons: to discount the overwhelming longing for transcendence found among mankind, and to discredit those who are believers. After all, if we believe in God simply because there is some gene or meme that makes us do so, then there obviously are no good, solid rational reasons for doing so."
The classic old straw man: only religionists seek transcendence. None can be found in a proper understanding of nature, nor from science, art or philosophy. One has to believe fairytales in order to experience the numinous. Here he also raises the word "meme", and proves once again that by suggesting a "meme" can "make us do" something, that he has no understanding of basic science, and has clearly never read Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, in which meme theory is first proposed. It will also be noted that he fails to flesh out the multitude of "good, solid rational reasons" for believing that there is a creator of the universe who walked around Roman occupied Palestine two thousand years ago and had himself put to death in order to forgive himself, and by extension, all other humans. Not to mention that anyone who doesn't believe this will burn in hell for eternity after death. Funny that.
But he's not done with erecting straw men about atheism. He goes on:
"Of course two can play this game. It makes as much sense to argue there are no rational arguments for atheism. Instead, we simply have an atheism gene which forces some people to adhere to atheism. Indeed, in a totally materialistic world, our genes end up explaining – and causing – everything we do, believe or value."
This is the classic school playground argument. "You're just as bad, because I say so. Nah, nah, ne, nah, nah." This line of argument can be found time and time again on Bill Muehlenberg's site in a pitiful attempt to justify his nasty and bigoted views, by accusing anyone who doesn't hold them as being just as irrational and bigoted. You see this with his description of "anti-Christian bigotry" about any person or organization who seeks to prevent or question the dominance of theocratic opinion. To explain further, in this instance, having set up the straw man of "atheists inventing a god gene" (which is obviously not what is occurring in the real world - not Bill's strong suit) he then demolishes the argument with "you can say the same about atheism". Again, his endearingly ignorant view that genes "force" you to adhere to an ideological position, whereas it's really the result of education, would be laughable where it not so tragically misguided.
Bill's not one for name calling, as we know. Unless of course, him or one of his acolytes is doing the name-calling, in which case it's prefectly acceptable. Catherine Deveny is:
"...not a theologian, a philosopher, or even a mildly deep thinker. So one can easily dismiss her as just a raving misotheist."
After the name calling comes the inference that Bill Muehlenberg is a philosopher and deep thinker, which is just too ludicrous for words. Here he fails to understand that one doesn't have to have a theology degree to decide whether or not you believe god exists, or if any claims of any religion are true. If you don't accept the premise, and the evidence convicts the belief, then the whole ideology tumbles like a house of cards. If you don't believe in astrology, do you have to have a degree in astrology in order to justify this position? You'll notice that Bill thinks his theological qualifications (whatever they are, and assuming that isn't in itself a contradiction in terms) are sufficient to pronounce on matters of science and genetics, especially when he sees the latter encroach on his beliefs and reveal them to be flawed. He owes it to himself to properly educate himself about that which he seeks to destroy (science, atheism, reason and logic) whereas Catherine Deveny, who already thinks through reason, need undertake no education in theology in order to dismantle it. In other words, proper schools of thought, such as science, art and philosophy, are more important than the intellectual cul-de-sac of theology. If I'm wrong about that, perhaps Muehlenberg can point out where?
I reserve a special place in my heart for Bill Muehlenber's next sentence, as it is a golden example of the most resounding hypocrisy you will ever read:
"So a response is in order, especially since the Age has appeared to censor out any criticisms of her article..."
Muehlenberg checks all comments on his articles, and if he doesn't like what you say (in other words, if you disagree with him), he will censor you by not posting your comment. He prefers to revel in the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth regulars, such as Mark Rabich, John Snowden and David Skinner, who kiss Muehlenberg's fat hairy arse for articulating rancid right-wing god-bothering views better than they can, being retarded troglodytes who hold even more extreme views of bitterness, hatred and ignorance. It does not matter if you follow all of Muehlenberg's imposed house rules for comments (note that the same rules do not apply to people who agree with him), and write the most pleasant, articulate and reasoned challenge to Muehlenberg, he will only post your comment if he has a ready-made response in mind, and other posters have already backed him up. If you do get published, and then try to give a reasoned response to his comment, you will be censored. That he would criticise the Age for not publishing a negative response (check the link - there are no comments, positive or negative on the article) is flagrant hypocrisy and shows that Muehlenberg has double standards, or doesn't live in the real world, or most likely, both.
Bill goes on:
"Gee, for millennia mankind has thought that belief in God was a reasonable and valid human response....I guess we can all get on with our lives now, given that you have so brilliantly overturned the wisdom and knowledge of human history."
Again, he fails to understand that as science pushes the territory of religion back further and further, it becomes less and less relevant to educated people. Of course "god" was an explanation for most phenomena throughout human history. Now we have better explanations for the biodiversity of life, for mental and physical illness, for natural disasters, and truer understandings of history to name but a few. How did religion help us to reach these better understandings? Or was it through science and philosophy that we achieved these better explanations?
Wisdom and knowledge of human history? What he's really saying is, stop toiling away you scientists trying to make life better for everyone with your medicine and technology, and your explanations of why things are the way they are, and you historians, piecing together what really happened thousands of years ago and how religions really came about - everything you need to know was revealed to us in the most obscurantist and tedious terms imaginable in a book written by the creator of the universe. Such haughty arrogance, matched with such stupidity, is Muehlenberg's trademark, and what makes him such a sickening blogger.
"This is one long petulant childish rant...Just what exactly does this piece offer to constructive debate?"
No, not a rare moment of honesty from Bill Muehlenberg, he's still on about those awful atheists.
Now he really turns the thumb screws on Catherine Deveny. Knowing nothing whatsoever about her (other than that she's an atheist), he concludes:
"...all Ms Deveny can see is a picture of maybe her own poor parentage or upbringing. She seems to be projecting her own unresolved issues and problems onto the divine canvas. Perhaps she needs a bit of help here. We can pray for her. We might even suggest some helpful counselling. But she really does need to grow up. Whatever her problems are, simply throwing out ugly rants at God is not going to solve anything."
Yes, Catherine Deveny, in writing an anti-theistic article has proven that she's not fit to be a parent, must have had bad parents herself, has anger issues, a personality disorder, and needs counselling. But the good news is that dear old sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, doesn't-even-need-to-shit Bill Muehlenberg is going to pray for her. Like prayer has ever achieved anything. "You have heart failure. We can either give you a triple heart bypass, without which you will be dead in a month, or we can pray for you, which may work just as well. Which would you prefer?" You may also ponder just what the substance of his prayer must be. "Dear god, please get rid of all these pesky atheists. Please make Catherine Deveny change her mind and stop writing articles I personally dislike. Please, god, make everyone think exactly like me because that's the only way for the world to be a good place." Such theocratic bullying is disturbing, not charming. How dare he pray for someone because they disagree with him.
Bill rounds off his masterpiece of illogic with a false dichotomy. In rejecting Christianity and seeing the claims of religion as false, Catherine Deveny, and by extension all atheists, have willingly embraced:
"...mind-numbing and soul-destroying bitterness, resentment, and anger. Even secular folk know that this is not a good state to be in. But for the Age it seems to serve a purpose, and evidently it provides some momentary relief for Ms Deveny. I only hope she snaps out of her atheist delusions before things get any worse."
Thus proving it really is impossible to reason with a religiotard like Bill Muehlenberg, whose mind is so full of straw-men, false dichotomies and outright lies against people who think differently (and must therefore be "delusional", as opposed to the really delusional, who believe things in the absence of evidence, or even by ignoring the evidence), that he wouldn't even know how to think logically or sanely. As many people who've attempted to reason will Bill Muehlenberg will testify, he will simply ignore you and pretend you're not there. It's what his invisible friend would want. By attacking Catherine Deveny in such an unreasonable way, Muehlenberg reveals everything you could ever want to know about the failure of his imagination and capacity to think and engage in rational debate, which is what you can reasonably expect from the religious right in general and this trumped-up little bully in particular.