Tech Pundit Andy Ihnatko’s Problem with Atheist Arguments

Did Andy Ihnatko know I was starting this tech-and-humanism blog? Almost certainly not, but look, he’s gone and given me some great blog fodder. Ihnatko is a brilliant, funny, and insightful technology pundit and commentator on geek culture that I’ve been a fan of for years. Occasionally he’ll use his personal blog to wade into other areas that spark his intellectual curiosity, and it’s almost always worth one’s time to read.

(Recommendations: His mauling of Family Guy and praising of Bob’s Burgers, and his appraisal of late night hosts in the wake of Letterman’s announced retirement.)

His latest is right in our wheelhouse, as he posts his reaction to a recent Greta Christina piece at AlterNet. I don’t agree with all of Ihnatko’s opinions here, as he’s a little too soft in his nontheism for my tastes, but as always he has some great lines.

For example, his piece principally takes issue with what he sees as a common atheist mischaracterization of how theism is actually conceived of by believers, as we often focus on what he calls the Touched by an Angel-model God, and says:

That’s definitely the iPhone of gods, here in America. But it’s by no means the whole range of Gods available. Even a Christian sect can’t stay in production for more than a hundred years before somebody forks the distro.

Love it.

And what does Andy believe?

I’m an agnostic. If you absolutely must pin me down, I suppose I’m an agnostic theist (I suspect that some kind of god is out there, and if there is, he/she/it is fundamentally unknowable).

Sounds like Montaigne. But I digress.

I absolutely insist that there’s an analog spectrum of belief. It’s more accurate just to say that I find the questions more interesting than the answers. As a nontheist, I (like Christina) don’t know how to justify a belief in an omnipowerful God for whom worldwide genocide is explained by a “You don’t have to be crazy to work here…but it helps!” poster in the Almighty’s breakroom.

Ihnatko says that the atheist vs. theist blog arguments (and I’d add atheist vs. atheist internecine battles) warp themselves from thoughtful discussions about disagreements into a “Monty Python And The Holy Grail-style chain of logic which has the cadence and the shape of rational argument, but is based on a whole series of questionable assumptions and is designed to trap their opponent in a corner.”

Anyway, I’m glad he wrote this. And boy would I love to see him bring it up with Leo Laporte (an atheist) and the guys on MacBreak Weekly.

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