Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
People will go to the first US Army Atheist Concert for the sense of novelty and finger-in-the-eye defiance of theists. If you aren’t into the whole religion thing, it can feel nice to let off steam if you have a Christian co-worker or relative who gets on your nerves and you want to feel a sense of payback. But atheism is intrinsically boring as a social movement. You can only say, “There’s no God” so many times before the thrill of scandalizing the hicks is gone and the hicks themselves are looking at their watches and wondering if you are done with your rant yet. The only people who linger around such social scenes for the express purpose of evangelizing for atheism and not to meet girls tend to be Napoleon-Dynamite-with-a-Mean-Streak types: people lacking social skills and normal human affective abilities or dim bulbs like Richard Dawkins whose atheistic obsessions have compelled them to become bag ladies screaming at the traffic. (And sure enough, Dawkins will be a headliner at the event linked above.) Normal, ordinary, godless folk don’t make a thing of atheism and tend to feel as uncomfortable around aggressive Evangelical Atheists as ordinary Christians feel around the sort of Christian who is uber ultra pious and talks as though Jesus personally advises him on whether to buy whole kernel or creamed corn. Gung ho evangelical atheists behave, by and large, like angry social misfits with a personality disorder. Proof: the lionization of Richard Dawkins, a man too socially unskilled to figure out that this
was intended to mock him. Please, atheists who keep your eyes peeled for posts such as these, don’t now descend on the comboxes to debate the merits of Intelligent Design. My point is not, “This is sure a persuasive argument for Intelligent Design!” (Indeed, I’m quite prepared to argue, as a theist who believes in God the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, that there are very serious problems with Intelligent Design arguments and I see no particular theological problem that makes evolution and creation irreconcilable.) Rather, the question is, “Did the makers of the video mean to make fun of Richard Dawkins?”
Because that’s the thing: All normal people with the normal complement of normal social and affective skills instantly can see that it is. But socially clueless folk like Dawkins and his New Atheist fans, who constantly pat themselves on the back for possessing an intellect superior to the herd of ordinary religious folk, spent quite a long time trying to analyze this video. Why? Because the Genius Dawkins (he likes to call himself a “Bright”) could not tell if it was “on his side” or not.
Moral: When you anoint as one of the guiding lights of your philosophical movement an emotionally and socially clueless man and, with supreme fatuity, anoint yourself a “Bright”, you’d better actually be bright. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if normal people cannot take seriously your claim to be the Vanguard of History and the Future of Mankind. if you want to know about the life cycle of a wasp, Dawkins is your man. But if you want to discuss what it means to be human, you need to look a bit deeper.