P Z Myers screws up a critique of a religious writer

Myers said the following here:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/08/julian_would_not_appreciate_th.php

I think I’m beginning to figure David B. Hart out. I’ve been totally mystified about why anyone would consider him a credible or interesting thinker since reading his essay belittling the New Atheists, which was dreary and wearying — I compared his prose style to that of Eeyore. But note: one of his central points in that essay was that these New Atheists aren’t as smart and brave as the Old Atheists, an idea that comes up again in a new essay.

Hart has now written a column praising Julian the Apostate, of all people. Julian was a very interesting person in history, a 4th century Roman emperor who resisted the Christianization of the empire begun by Constantine by openly rejecting Christianity and endorsing a revitalization of paganism. He’s something of a mixed bag for atheists: he’s a hero for opposing the dour old monotheism that was spreading through the culture, but also a bit of a flake for encouraging the old classical religions — he was not an atheist by any means. The novel by Gore Vidal, Julian, is an excellent introduction to the doomed rebellion against Christianity.

One thing Julian also was not is a friend to Catholicism, so it’s odd to see a Catholic writer heaping praise on him. But then you discover that Hart doesn’t admire him for his views or his intelligence or his cause (although he acknowledges them), it’s because Hart has the conservative disease of believing everything was better in the past, that there was a Golden Age, and that we’re living in an era of decline and defeat right now. To these cranky old farts of stodginess, we’re always living in perpetual decline. Julian is to be admired because he also thought the generations before him were better than the one he was living in.

As a scientist, one would think he would value accuracy over merely bashing religion for the fun of it. But he made a mistake and got busted for it!

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