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EVER hear of bogong moths? Well, neither had I until earlier this week when I learned from Professor Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, that they are major pest in the Canberra region – and that, in plague terms, they are pretty much like atheists.

Professor Craven and a Bogong moth
A nasty Australian critter ... and a Bogong moth

Writing in The Age, Craven said:

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.

Craven is particularly miffed that his own chosen brand of irrationality – Catholicism – has been getting a fair old bashing lately from us pesky atheists.

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.

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.

There’s lots more to Craven’s rant, but what tickled me most was his assertion that:

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.

Well, I don’t know about “masterminding the spread of the cane toad across northern Australia”, but I would say that if the Melbourne media is guilty of spotlighting all the other Catholic characteristics that Craven alleges it has done nothing more heinous than to paint a deadly accurate picture of Catholicism in action.
Ironically, Craven winds up his hate-filled diatribe with these words:

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.

The Age, incidentally, has just run a poll which asked:

Do you have a literal belief in the Bible’s account of creation?

Fourteen percent answered “Yes” and 86 percent said “No”.