What is “An Atheist Reads”?
“An Atheist Reads” is where I read apologetic-type books and fact check them, to make sure the author is actually telling the truth. The results have been spotty at best.
As usual, if this sort of thing isn’t your cup of tea, coffee or covfefe, you don’t have to read any further. Also, I’ve got some links embedded that might disturb some; if you don’t want to deal with child abuse, don’t click on the homeschooling sites.
Eberstadt starts the chapter by talking about the McMartin preschool trial. Now, if you were like me and happened to be a kid in the 1980s, you have some dim memories of this. Eberstadt talks about how one of the parents leveled charges of abuse against her estranged husband. Eberstadt briefly mentions the trial and talks of how the initial accuser was a paranoid schizophrenic. She mentions a few links that one can peruse that speaks in greater depth of the trial. But there’s one thing that she’s leaving out of the equation, a glaringly obvious omission of information that punches a large hole in her argument. The information she fails to mention? It just happens to be the fact that the entire Satanic panic was rooted in fundamentalist Christianity.
In other words, the same people that Eberstadt has claimed are good, caring and loving people of “the Book” are the ones who blindly pushed this idea into the spotlight. It was because of these people and their belief in an unseen, supernatural world that things like the McMartin trial happened. But again, Eberstadt doesn’t mention this at all. That’s just something to be hand waved away and ignored; it just doesn’t have any relevancy to this. It’s the poor Christians who are being persecuted, not any one else!
We also get a glimpse into Eberstadt’s idea of the secularist “religion”. Yes, to her, being non-religious is a religion. Don’t ask because I can’t figure that out at all. But the biggest thing in this new secular religion is to have sex. Lots and lots of sex with lots and lots of people. You know, doing it outside of marriage. Because freedom! But she shoots herself in the foot when she tries to tie this together with the ideas of polygamy and bestiality as being part of the secularist religion. The problem with polygamy is it’s not always secular in origin but this isn’t acknowledged.
The problem with bestiality can be summed up with one word: consent. Animals cannot give consent, which is why secularists routinely decry this act. But again, we hear nothing about that from Eberstadt; I’m forced to wonder if she’s simply putting this in the book to titillate her reading audience.
Eberstadt also loves to rail against the “Sexual Revolution”, the Pill and abortion, as if all three are magically intertwined. Her thought process seems to be once the Pill came into being, everyone wanted to have sex with everyone else, regardless of gender–the “sexual minorities” thing she keeps mentioning–and then abort the fetuses afterward. It’s a rather strange cycle she has going on in her head and she seems to forget that there are married couples who are using contraception for various reasons. (Case in point: the hubby and I have to because of my medication.)
She also rails against “partial-birth” abortion, which does not exist and is illegal in the United States, apparently forgetting that yes, sometimes a woman does have to abort a 28 week old fetus because birth defects are Things That Exist. Again, we have facts in evidence that simply are not brought up, or are ignored and shoved aside because those pesky little truths could screw up her narrative.
Yeah, this sums it up well.
What Eberstadt tries to do is tie secularism to a religion, claiming that it has its own “Ten Commandments” and such. The problem with her argument is that secularists are such a diverse bunch that it’s really hard to pin down a certain set of “rules” that might even come close. Most secularists don’t care about who you might sleep with or what you might do in your own private home but that doesn’t mean that all of them favor abortion on demand. But Eberstadt is swift to paint secularists with a broad brush, all the while complaining that secularists do the same thing to the good Christians out there. After she’s done with the pulpit-pounding, Eberstadt tries to claim that part of this “secularist witch hunt” simply involves saying that a Christian is a bigot or a hater. “I’m not a bigot!” is the new “I’m not a witch!” she says.
I want you to file that in the back of your mind, as this is something that we will be coming back to for further discussion. But with that, we’re pretty much done with chapter two.
Chapter three is about diversity and “hounding the heretics”. By hounding the heretics, we’re talking about making Christian clubs and the like follow the law, which many don’t want to do. Worse, simply disagreeing with someone who is Christian is also considered “hounding” them; Eberstadt brings up the incident of a secular student alliance handing out bingo cards before an apologetic speaker’s event as though the club was censoring the speaker. This was just too disrespectful for words, it seems. To her, saying “No, that’s wrong” to someone who is Christian isn’t a simple disagreement; it’s a violation of their rights. But she really loses me when Eberstadt starts with the blind praising of homeschooling.
According to Eberstadt, all these Christians homeschooling their children are doing those kids a favor! Why, these good people need absolutely no oversight or anything like that; nothing bad will happen because these are good, loving Christian parents who would never hurt their children. (Going to warn you: if you click any of those links, you might find them disturbing. I sure as hell did.)
Now, if you opened up any of those links, you’re going to realize why oversight may not be such a horrible thing. That and you might want to pitch yourself into a nice, scalding hot shower for about thirty minutes afterward. Homeschoolers Anonymous has other stories and Libby Anne does as well. As I’ve said, some are damned upsetting; it’s easy to understand why there are people pushing for some sort of reform. Yet for all those stories, there are others that are untold. But to the author of this book, that’s not even a moot point. To her, these people just aren’t real. You see, Christian parents who homeschool are only concerned with the education of their children–Eberstadt never mentions whether these homeschool teachers will teach actual science or YEC–and nothing more. They have no sinister agenda at all. But as the above links show, this isn’t always the case.
Time and time again, Google proves Eberstadt wrong in her arguments, yet she continues. There are three more chapters in this damn book. Come back next time when I cover the fourth chapter and possibly the fifth; I’m not sure I can read this much inanity without having a fifth of my own on hand. Until next time!
Damn, I seriously need a Mike’s Hard something right about now.