While promoters of the US Army-hosted “Rock Beyond Belief” concert that featured prof Dawkins (of The God Delusion notoriety) and Aiden (the band behind the “Atheist’s anthem” vid that features a vampire clergy image and worse lyrics) projected 5,000 attendees, reports suggest a turnout of about 200 , mostly “civilian[s].”
(One guesses, many would be members of the local atheist fraternity.)
That’s about a 90 – 95% over-estimate of attendance.
According to reports:
Fort Bragg’s Rock Beyond Belief passed quietly last Saturday. While organizers had predicted a crowd of 5,000, Richard Dawkins, the main draw of the event whose “sell out” crowds were the justification for the attendance forecast, ultimately spoke to only “a couple hundred” spectators. Photos of the event show Aiden, the musical act originally billed as Dawkins’ lead-in, playing to only a few dozen who had stuck out the day. It also appeared the military base was hosting a largely civilian crowd.
It is worthwhile citing Aiden’s promotion of the event from an earlier report:
Justin Griffith, the soldier in charge of setting this up has a very interesting story to tell. The United States military had no problems funding a christian based musical event, but when it was suggested that the large number of atheists and secular humanists who are enlisted, would like to have a function of their own choosing, the top leaders at Fort Bragg decided to pull the plug on the entire thing. Cutting the funding without any reason at all, that I can see, except that maybe christians in the Army are the only ones allowed to have fun…
They fought the law and THEY WON.
Christian Fighter Pilot corrects several misrepresentations in this statement by Aiden:
For the record (again, and again), the US military did not fund a “Christian musical event” when it hosted Rock the Fort – Christian military congregations funded it. “Top leaders at Fort Bragg” didn’t pull the plug on anything — Griffith did. Nor did anyone “cut” any funding.
Finally, they fought nothing and won nothing. Based on public information, it appears they did little more than a lot of complaining about the US military, even as Fort Bragg’s leadership remained magnanimous in the face of very public — and very personal — insults by Rock Beyond Belief supporters. Griffith finally raised money to fund the event (as a result of the publicity over his decision to cancel) and finished the appropriate paperwork, as had always been required. The only victory was the one over paper cuts.
So, once again, the US military gets drug through the mud over its decision to allow an atheist festival to be held on military grounds — and it is the participants of the festival doing the dragging, not critics of it . . .
The event had been promoted as not being “anti-religious,” but both the carded speaker and the featured band belie this.
Let us look a bit at Aiden’s Hysteria; which is featured as a video with a vampire clergyman singing against a backdrop of what is reportedly a US military veterans cemetery:
Love how they burn your synagogues
Love how they torch your holy books
Filling coffers with your grief
Filling coffins with your misery
Faith holding outright criminals safe
This is just the world we live in
Can you justify the pain
The death of fiction will save us all . . . .
Wait supporting outright genocide
Hate let us all disseminate
A message to your herd
Our voices will be heard
Now faith is a question you can choose
Faith whether Christian, Muslim, Jew
Still you all distort the truth
The death of fiction will save us all . . .
We hardly need to parse this song to see that it piles up the most outrageous and patently false smears (blatantly false accusations or insinuations of collecting blood money, cossetting criminals and support for genocide are only a beginning), turning especially Bible-believing Christians — the dominant faith group in our civilisation — into cultural scapegoats and targets.
One rather doubts that Aiden’s members and fans are familiar with — much less understand — the Turtles all the way down vs turtles in a circle vs the last turtle issue that implies that reason and belief are inextricably intertwined in the roots of all worldviews so that our mutual challenge is comparative difficulties.
Such subtleties are lost in the sort of rage that leads them to pen and sing further lyrics like the following [expurgated] from their Crusifiction:
My name is Roman,
Not king nor emperor.
Just the voice of a ghost, the past son of a whore.
I transcend to dispatch this letter.
Where the rich bought rape the poor.
You can astound this human race.
You can embrace lies built on faith.
You can manipulate a simple story.
For fear!, panic!, glory!
F– your God.
F– your faith in the end,
There’s no religion.
Would you open your eyes already.
Christ died for s– and was a f– c–.
Such mean-spirited, gutter-level visceral hostility that would dismiss by vituperative smearing with filth obviously fails to address the actual evidence concerning what it would dismiss, on the well known principle of the blinding power of rage. It also calls to mind the quite similar sentiments — admittedly, a bit less crudely put — in prof Dawkins’ The God Delusion:
“The God of the Old Testament [= The God of Israel . . . ] is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully . . . ” [Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Great Britain: Bantam Press, 2006, 31. Cf. citation and comments here on in context. Also, cf. Lennox- Dawkins debate, here. For a quick initial response to this sort of rhetoric, cf. CARM here and JPH of Tektonics here, here, here and here. Also cf. Vox Day’s short book length critique of the new Atheists in a free to download format here. (Available from Amazon here.)]
Somehow, we never see in such new Atheist rhetoric a balanced reflection on the sort of exchange we may read in Jonah from the same luridly denounced OT, where after the reluctant prophet has warned of impending destruction of that great and murderously wicked city Nineveh, on its repentance, God relents, leading to the following:
Jonah 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” . . . .
[And, after an acted out parable of a shade plant that grows and is eaten out]
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Jonah wanted the earth rid of those mass murdering plagues on the earth, but God’s attitude is to call to repentance, and to relent of judgements where there is such a turning from evil.
When we are tempted to be angry beyond control at some new plague on the earth in light of real or imagined sins, let us remember this exchange. And, how impending, richly deserved judgement was averted because of penitence. Penitence of a notoriously aggressive and murderous ancient state that — for sadly good reason — has been compared to Nazi Germany.
Indeed, that principle of relenting is the point of the famous acted out parable of the Potter’s House, in Jeremiah 18:
Jer 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. 11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’
In short, there is far more to the story of the nature of the God we may read of in the OT than you would learn from the angry and censorious new atheists. And, it is precisely the sort of one-sided, rhetoric of outrage based on strawmannising and scapegoating we have just seen that should serve to warn us that something is very wrong with the New Atheists’ attitude and claims. Of course, there are difficulties with the Judaeo-Christian worldview and some pretty troubling biblical texts, as well as with the many sins of Christendom. Just so, the same holds for any significant worldview that has been on the ground long enough to have a significant history. And, if we took a sober look at our own hearts and lives, there would be a lot that we would find reason to be uncomfortable with.
Welcome to the intellectual challenges and moral hazards of being human.
As in, finite, fallible, morally fallen/struggling and too often ill-willed or blinded by rage.
(BTW, it is an interesting exercise to ask evolutionary materialism or new atheism advocates to show on their evolutionary materialist premises, how they have a worldview foundational IS that objectively grounds OUGHT beyond whipped up rage such as we see above, rhetorical/emotive manipulation and “might makes right.” [Cf here on in context.] It is a similarly instructive exercise to ask such — given their vaunted confidence that evolutionary materialist atheism is the only reasonable worldview –to address Haldane’s chemically sound vs logically sound materialist brain challenge. [Cf here in context.])
So, we come to the final concern: why did prof Dawkins, leading new atheism spokesman, share a stage with Aiden, the band responsible for the sort of irresponsible lyrics we have had occasion to cite above?
He can hardly claim that he didn’t have adequate opportunity to know what sort of band Aiden is.
Nor can flying out early and leaving a Q & A vid behind to be projected after Aiden played deflect the force of the question.
For sure, next time prof Dawkins makes a rhetorical grab for the moral high ground, this issue will lurk, unanswered, in the backs of our minds.
Looks like the new atheists, here, have scored a major own-goal.
As in, the ball is sitting in the back of their own nets, while onlookers are shaking their heads over why their star player — despite warnings — insisted on attacking their own goal.