Things didn’t go as I planned, though. While Althouse agreed with me that Dawkins was out of line and my sentiments were fair, she kept saying things that required me to unpack a lot of stuff before moving on.Wow! That sounds like good conversation to me. I would love it if someone would talk to me in a way that invited me to go places where I hadn't planned.
For instance, she agreed that Dawkins was smug, but aren’t all atheists smug and that’s kind of the problem?Actually, the discussion of the smugness of atheists came long before there was anything about Dawkins. And I never said Dawkins was smug. I was interested in talking about the way Dawkins turned something relatively minor and light into an viral internet event. It was, in fact, Rebecca who introduced the idea that atheists are smug. It was in response to my question why atheists congregate:
See? I just laughed when she said it. A little later, when she's talking about wanting to teach the convention atheists about their sexism, I asked a somewhat elaborate question that includes a reference to the smugness she had mentioned. That was in the context of saying that maybe atheists feel particularly advanced intellectually and might imagine that they can be a little edgy on the subject of gender without deserving (like lesser folk) to be thought of as sexist:
Her response, as you can hear in that clip is to switch to attacking religious people as more smug. As she says at her blog post:
So I had to back up and explain that no, atheists are not all smug just because they think they know the truth. Religious people, I tried to explain, think they know the truth and further many think that others who don’t know the truth are going to burn in Hell when they die. I would have gone on to explain how these same people believe this entire Universe was created especially for them, and what’s more smug than that, but Althouse kept interrupting me.Okay, I do cut in, but I think I do it gently, trying to bring her back to the question, which wasn't who's smugger, atheists or religious folk, but whether possibly atheists feel less constrained in talking about gender matters. I could have been much more forceful in pointing out that she changed the subject and ran away from looking deeply into the minds of the atheists, instead preferring to drag in a convenient punching bag: those terrible religionists who think other people are going to hell. But I thought I was serving up pretty rich opportunities for her to show her stuff as an excellent spontaneous thinker and speaker (which is what I'm always trying to find for Bloggingheads).
This reminds me. I forgot to ask her a question I wanted to ask about the atheist in the elevator — the man who asked her if she'd like to come to his room for coffee. I wanted to know what she said to him at the time. We know that later, she slammed him in a blog post. And now, here I am, slammed in a blog post of hers days after the encounter. So I'm kind of empathizing with the elevator guy.
Email me, elevator guy!