About Those Totally Annoying Christian Convert Traitors


Mary Eberstadt

Editor’s note: Christianity has been taking a beating for years now, with one tony atheist tome after another rolling off the presses — and still no end in sight.

And so far — with the exception of a Michael Novak here and a Dinesh D’Souza there — believers have largely turned the other cheek.

Now, finally, comes more payback — with THE LOSER LETTERS, a Screwtape for our screwed-up time.

In the latest round over God, Mary Eberstadt talks about a total craptacular hoser traitor enemy combatant Loser-lover guy on National Review Online . . .

Dear Major Atheist Author BFFs,

I just LOVE calling You that! Is it okay with You if I do? The Director said it was fine with him, because he knows that the “B” means “Best” and the “F’s” mean “Friends Forever” (and not the You-know-what word, which as You know is verboten in here!). So before going into one more Letter that I hope will help this new atheism of ours get off the ground, let this convert to godlessness tell You just how much You’re all my BFFs, and why it’s so important that You are.

One, I hope Everybody gets that just because I use “BFF” in the plural doesn’t mean I’m taking any one of you for my BFF in particular. This is important! I don’t want, say, Mr. Christopher Hitchens to feel excluded because He thinks I’m talking about, say, Mr. Daniel Dennett as my particular BFF.

This is true even though Mr. Hitchens might otherwise have reason to worry about my confidence in Him, since anyone who has converted or de-converted as many times as He has on other big subjects — Marxism! Abortion! Imperialism! Smoking! — is obviously the most likely of any of Us atheists to jump ship for the Loser someday. I’d even bet my tokens for the convenience store in here on that. But that doesn’t mean Mr. Hitchens can’t be my BFF too in his own way, just like that less volatile atheist Mr. Daniel Dennett is. Because this Former Christian is loyal to all You big Brights like that.

Mr. Victor J. Stenger, same. He’s my BFF too, even if his book didn’t get as much attention as some of the other new atheist ones did. It’s not His fault, You know. He’s just not as good at ad hominem argument as some of You other leading Brights. Or maybe it’s because He doesn’t go whaling on the Jews and their god with the gusto that “certain other atheists” do? (You know who You are, Guys!) Whatever, even if he isn’t a typical Bright for the aforementioned reasons, Mr. Stenger can be my BFF too!

Similarly, I don’t want, say, Mr. Sam Harris think I prefer Mr. Michel Onfray on intellectual grounds — even if Mr. Onfray does have that big-unintelligible-words French thing going on, and even if Mr. Harris’s last book was so small that they could slip it right under the door in this place and not even have to use the pass-through thing (not that there’s anything wrong with a short book!). And flipping it around, I wouldn’t either want Mr. Onfray to think I prefer Mr. Harris, even though Mr. Harris at least writes in full sentences (if not always in full books!) And not. In cryptic. Esoteric to say the least. Fragments of knowing. Allusions translated from the French. That don’t always. Make sense.

But again! That doesn’t mean that Mr. Harris and Mr. Onfray and I can’t all be BFFs too! Just like I am seriously down with that total Alpha Atheist, Richard Dawkins (grrrr!). “I shall not go out of my way to offend, but nor shall I don kid gloves to handle religion any more gently than I would handle anything else”: I’m telling You, just thinking about that quote from The God Delusion sets my Evolved inner wiring to “Vibrate” like nothing else! So needless to say, Mr. Dawkins is my BFF, maybe even what You might call my Uber-BFF, too.

I hope You Guys followed all that! Because this talk about how We atheists are all Best Friends Forever is totally on point with the urgent subject of today’s Letter: namely, Our pathetic creeptastic sellout scumbag Dull ENEMIES. And most especially, our Todfeinde.*

Take a look for starters at the following pukalicious quote:

Now atheists come in different sorts. There is the rather gracious type who doesn’t personally believe in God, but is very happy if other people find the idea meaningful. And then there is the rather aggressive, intolerant sort, who regards people who believe in God as fools, knaves and liars, and wants to rid the world of them. I have to tell you that I was in that second category.

As some of You might recognize, this is one of many cheap shots lobbed against atheism by the intensely irritating religious convert, Alister McGrath — formerly a scientist doing something called molecular biophysics, later a Professor of Historical Theology (I know, that’s an oxymoron!) at Oxford, among other posts; former President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics; and author of any number of books including The Dawkins Delusion? and The Twilight of Atheism and many more — all of which diss everything we atheists believe in from the point of view of a quote unquote Scientist who used to be an atheist himself, and who isn’t one anymore because of the alleged “evidence” against Us.

In other words, a total craptacular hoser traitor enemy combatant Loser-lover guy.

And is McGrath the end of this traitor problem for Us? As Stuart Larkin, a MAD TV character who was my hero for a while after I stopped going to church and before I met You guys, used to say, Nooooooooooo . . . which brings me to today’s major point that needs making about our struggle against the Dulls.

Frankly, it makes us atheists look like losers, note the small “l” there, that the believers have so many more converts than we do — and by “converts” I don’t mean the cradle types whose noses have been stuck to the altar stone from day one. I mean the ones who have known both the Bright and Dull sides of the argument inside and out — and who went on to betray Ours.

These guys (and girls! Yes, the Loser’s Side, unlike Ours, has plenty of girls!) get under my skin like no one else. It’s bad enough that there are so many Dull converts, both now and for the past couple of millenia. It’s bad enough that so many have been ranked among the chief brainos of their time. But what really jerks my chain is something even worse.

It’s that religious conversion, with the notable exception of Your humble servant here, is almost always a one-way street — and not only now, but going back to, say, Paul. Many a formerly firm atheist has become a Dull. But nowhere near as many firm Dulls, I mean real religious believers, have become atheists. That’s what burns me up (as it were!) about all those converts. It’s like they always get to be the cool “after” car on Pimp My Ride — and we atheists are almost always stuck being the dorky who’d-really-want-to-drive-this “before” one.