12 November 2009


In days gone by, when a person became a university vice-chancellor, that person was usually expected to be someone of intellectual standing and a person of some erudition.

Imagine the shock then when one starts to read an opinion piece in the remaining broadsheet newspaper in Melbourne and there is an article by a vice-chancellor, one who is from the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne and he starts having a rant about atheists in which he exposes himself to be an ignoramus whose essay would put a late high-school student to shame.

This vice-chancellor, Greg Craven, attacks people or groups about which he has no understanding and less inclination to start a dialogue with those he is attacking.

In the end he is exposed as somebody who is ignorant, biased, prejudiced and discriminatory and his essay is one of total bluster. This is not really surprising from someone who still believes, in 2009, that there is some "being" who controls the universe!

Here is the essay, and below it are letters in the newspaper, The Age, in response to what the craven Greg has written!

A plague of atheists has descended, and Catholics are the target
November 4, 2009
Comments 331
Attacking Christians is not really clever, witty or funny.
FROM time immemorial, this world has been troubled by plagues. From bogong moths in Canberra to frogs in biblical Egypt, unwelcome and unlovely creatures have the awkward habit of turning up in bulk.
Just now, we are facing one of our largest and least appealing infestations. Somewhat in advance of summer's blowflies, we are beset by atheists. Worse, they are not traditional atheists. These tended to be quiet blokes called Algie with ancillary interests in nudist ceramics, who were perfectly happy as long as you pretended to accept a pamphlet in Flinders Lane.
No, the new hobby atheist is as brash, noisy and confident as a cheap electric kettle. They want everyone to know that they have not found God, and that no one else should. Their particular target seems to be Catholics. On the surface, this is odd, as there are plenty of other religious targets just waiting to be saved from a vengeful, non-existent deity. Smaller herds, such as the Christadelphians or the Salvation Army, might seem more manageable. But the Catholic Church has two incomparable advantages as an object of the wrath of proselytising atheists. First, it is the biggie. Taking out the Catholics is the equivalent of nuking the Pentagon. Guerilla bands of Baptists and Pentecostals can be liquidated at leisure.
Second, the Catholics have the undeniable advantage that they do still demonstrably believe in something. Attacking some of the more swinging Christian denominations might mean upsetting people who believe a good deal less than the average atheist.
Mind you, the appeals of atheism as a diverting pastime are not immediately obvious to those of us who are on relatively easy terms with God. Why would anyone get so excited about the misconceptions of third parties as to the existence of a fourth party in which they themselves do not believe?
The answer is twofold. First, the great advantage of designer atheism is that you get to think of yourself as immensely clever. After all, you are at least much brighter than all those dumb-asses who believe in a supreme being, such as Sister Perpetua down the road, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So satisfying.
The second factor has to do with wit. For some reason, contemporary Australian atheism seems to consider itself terribly funny. Its proponents only have to wheel out one of the age-old religious libels to lose control of their bladders. To outsiders, of course, it is a bit like watching a giggling incontinent drunk at a party. This is not to say that believers - and perhaps especially Catholics - do not get seriously irritated by atheists. They do, but not because atheists are fearfully clever or Wildely funny.
Frankly, the prime reason the average believer finds the common or garden atheist as appealing as a holiday in Birchip is because they consign them to that sorry category of individuals who spend their lives loudly congratulating themselves on their own intelligence without noticing that no one else is joining the chorus. Thus, as a Catholic, I do not normally sense in some tabloid atheist the presence of a supreme discerning intellect. I simply place him or her in much the same pitiable bin of intellectual vulgarians as the chartered accountant who cannot see the art in Picasso, the redneck who cannot admit of indigenous culture, and the pissant who cannot see the difference between Yeats and Bob Ellis.
It is not deep perception we encounter here, but a critical failure of imaginative capacity. It is a bit like the old joke: how many atheists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None - no matter what they do, they just can't see the light.
The second wearying thing about the new atheism is that it is not new at all. It is so banally derivative of every piece of hate mail ever sent to God that I am amazed Satan has yet to sue for copyright infringement. No old chestnut is too ripe, rotten or sodden, especially when it comes to the Catholics as accredited suppliers of what apparently is the Christian equivalent of methamphetamine.
In an average week of atheistic bigotry in the Melbourne media, we can expect to learn that Catholics endorse child molestation, hate all other religions, would re-introduce the crusades and the auto de fe at the slightest opportunity, despise women, wish to persecute homosexuals, greedily divert public moneys for their own religious purposes, subvert public health care, brainwash children, and are masterminding the spread of the cane toad across northern Australia.
Applied to the average totalitarian dictatorship, this charge sheet would be over the top. Ascribed to virtually any ethnic minority, it rightly would result at least in public revulsion and quite possibly in criminal charges. But applied to Christians, it seems to be accepted as just another modern blood sport, like the vilification of refugees and the elimination of the private life of the families of public figures.
At the bottom, of course, lies hate. I am not quite clear why our modern crop of atheists hates Christians, as opposed to ignoring or even politely dismissing them, but they very clearly do. There is nothing clever, witty or funny about hate.
Greg Craven is vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.
Source: The Age

Lack of fact, logic and argument
November 5, 2009

THANKS, Greg Craven (Comment & Debate, 4/11), for providing an academic example of an ad hominem argument - one which attacks the person instead of debating their ideas. Rather than comparing atheists to frogs and blowflies, a sound argument would account logically and factually for the existence of a god and thus prove the atheist tenet wrong. And any attack on the Catholic Church would be countered with numerous examples of the respect that its authorities have consistently shown for human rights, intellectual enquiry and freedom of belief and dissent, for which the Vatican holds an impeccable record.

Esther S. Ginsberg, Bentleigh

Turn other cheek

GREG Craven, to look at atheists and only see the ''pissant'' and ''redneck'' is disturbing, especially as you are in a position of educational importance. I am agnostic and hold no hatred for any religious group, nor should you if you subscribe to biblical values. What happened to turning the other cheek? To compare Christians to refugees is laughable. Call attackers of the Pope what you will, but didn't he recently claim that condoms were ''wrong''? Isn't the Catholic Church a hotbed of abuse against those who they should love and raise, children?

I know many intelligent and reflective Christians who are happy to argue religious views with no animosity. Yet they always seem to be local people, not people like yourself in positions of authority. A shame, but I suppose the meek shall inherit the earth. Who am I kidding?

Brett McDonald, Mentone

Call for scrutiny

NO ONE would be bothered by the Catholic Church if it insisted that only Catholics followed its precepts. But in the past year alone, it pushed to influence Parliament to support discrimination against non-Catholics, argued in favour of prolonging the untreatable suffering of non-Catholics who are dying and opposed reproductive health for non-Catholic women. The more sinister aspects of its health policy have been discussed in The Age this week. The Catholic Church is a wealthy, non-tax-paying organisation that receives huge government funding for the provision of social services to all Victorians. For these reasons, what it stands for - unsavoury history, policy directions from a non-human and continued efforts to re-establish medieval Christendom with secular funding - should be scrutinised.

Janine Truter, The Basin

Dangerous extremes

GREG Craven, I agree hatred is never clever or funny. As an agnostic, I believe everyone should live and let live. People should be allowed their beliefs, as long as no one gets hurt. I also acknowledge there are prominent Catholics who have had a positive impact on society, particularly Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to promoting peace and helping those in pain, and modern-day Catholics who work in welfare or education.

However, the more extreme and conservative Catholics have a lot to answer for. Their aversion to contraception leads to over-population, which in turn means a greater strain on the planet and exacerbated poverty in developing countries. While Catholics may not be responsible for the spread of the cane toad, some Catholic teachings have severe consequences for the environment. It is unfortunate for progressive Catholics that these fundamentalists are the ambassadors of your religion.

Elizabeth Howes, Ascot Vale

Did I miss the joke?

I MISSED the wit and humour in Greg Craven's article, but I am sure they were there, unlike facts to support his bon mots. For example, who are these plagues of hobby atheists? And how is their alleged hate manifested? In tirades from a pulpit? In sectarian prejudice? In indiscriminate bombings? Then again, facts have always been a bit of a problem for the faithful, and as for a sense of humour …

Matt Gately, Rivett, ACT


FUNNY, irreverent and intelligent. Greg Craven would be my new god if I believed in that type of thing.

Nick Johnson, Northcote

GREG Craven used the same sort of language and stereotypes as Catherine Deveny. And contributed about as much to the debate.

Dick Danckert, Mount Duneed

DID ''turn the other cheek'' go out in the same load as limbo and meat on Friday?

Brian Kilday, Jeeralong Junction

IT'S clear from Greg Craven's contribution that God must have created atheists just to take the mickey out of Catholics.

Stuart McCallum, Bannockburn

Short letters - The Age 061109

NOT so long ago, a plague of Catholics descended on Aboriginal Australia. The indigenous population had beliefs that were just as firmly held and traditional as those held by present-day Catholics. Plagues are always unwelcome and are frequently overwhelming.

Peter Williams, Alphington

THE Age regularly saves space for Catherine Deveny's caricatures and Leslie Cannold's skewed criticisms of Christianity. Nobody gives a murmur. But when Greg Craven responds in kind, from every corner come the whimperings of "unfair" and "ad hominem"!

Bill Uren, Parkville

AS AN atheist, the only Catholics I hate are pedophile priests and their protectors whom I read about in the media with monotonous regularity.

Rob Collinge, Glen Waverley

No comments:

Post a Comment


Welcome to my blog and let me know what you think about my postings.

My web pages also have a wide range of topics which are added to when possible. Look for them in any search engine under


I hope you find items of interest!

Search This Blog


Blog Archive

Total Pageviews

About Me

My photo
Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm