BEHAR: Which reminds me, speaking of God, you say in the book that you wouldn't go out with a woman, I guess, a woman should not go out with a man that doesn't believe in God.
HARVEY: No, I mean, why would you?
BEHAR: Do you believe that only people who are religious are ethical and moral?
HARVEY: No. I just believe if you don't believe in God, then where is your moral barometer? That's just me talking. You can believe what you want to believe. But if you're an atheist, you're basing the goodness and morality on what? I mean, but what is an atheist? I don't really get into that. I've talked the people all the time. I'm an atheist. I just walk away. I don't know what to say to you. BEHAR: Well, an atheist is someone that doesn't quite believe that there is somebody out there, some God out there.
HARVEY: Well then to me you're an idiot.
BEHAR: OK. Well ...
HARVEY: I'm cool with that. Probably not the right politically correct thing to say but if you don't believe in God, I mean, really, you have to have an explanation for this. You can't just tell me it spun out of a gastrous (ph) ball and then all of a sudden we were evolved from monkeys. Why we still got monkeys? There is too much open. I just believe that and if you don't believe that, then I don't like talking to you.
BEHAR: I see. OK. Listen. Listen. It's fine with me.
HARVEY: Can you say that on Larry King?
BEHAR: You can say it on any show. It is a free country.
Larry King Show Transcript: May 29, 2009
Yes, he's free to say that. A good question would be why you're free to say that on CNN. He's been on at least once since then. He wouldn't be free to say that about an ethnic minority. He sure wouldn't be free to say that about Christians, but he can say it about atheists.
Steve Harvey is a bigot. Anyone who is willing to believe such things, particularly without having spoken to the people he's disparaging or having read any of their opinions qualifies as one. He must certainly be aware that some of the world's most prominent scientists, who are among the world's smartest people, are atheists. In fact, scientists are far more likely to be atheists than the general population. Yet Harvey, who has never demonstrated an actual mastery of any subject more complicated than a one-liner, dismisses them as "idiots".
I've known some bigots in my life. I've also known people who were not terribly thoughtful. Yet even they, when they are saying things like this, at least have had the grace to sound apologetic or somewhat ashamed of their view. Does Harvey sound apologetic, or embarrassed? The only thing he seemed concerned about is that he wasn't allowed to say what he did on that show. That takes some arrogance.
Normally, I wouldn't bother writing about this bigoted clown. This interview was three months ago, after all. He made the same assertion on Tyra Banks' show a couple of months earlier. I can't find any statement of contrition, apology, or reconsideration on his part. What's more, the sad fact is that a lot of people seem to believe the nonsense Harvey does. Here's a letter someone blessed the Des Moines Register with a few weeks ago, during the controversy about the atheist bus ads:
Having read Rekha Basu's Aug. 12 column, "Culver Sends Message of Unacceptance," I am perplexed by the logical inconsistencies atheists habitually live with. The aggrieved tone of the atheists' letter to Gov. Chet Culver indicates that they believe he did something wrong.
What does that even mean to an atheist? If there is no God and no absolute moral standards, then right and wrong, good and bad, mean nothing but "things I like" and "things I don't like."
A logically consistent atheist cannot make moral judgments of any kind about anything.
Atheists Can't Make Moral Judgments
By way of background, I covered Culver's comments last month. This writer, as you may have observed, has no problems with logic. He simply hasn't offered any.
What's more, it's clear that he's stumped as to why people would be offended when the governor of their state takes offense at their announcing that they exist.
I have a suggestion for this guy, Steve Harvey, and any other pig-ignorant bigot who wants to assert something like this without a shred of proof. Go to college. A lot. Study biology, physics, mathematics, and cosmology. When you know biology as well as this guy, know physics as well as this guy, mathematics as well as this fellow, or the cosmos as well as this man did, then maybe you'll have learned enough to show why there's a physical or mathematical reason why people can't learn morality without believing in your god. Maybe you can tell all those other "idiots" who missed it what they were doing wrong. Personally, I think you have about as much chance of that as you do of being struck by lightning with a winning Powerball ticket in your hand. Maybe less.
Why do I write that they're "pig-ignorant"? It's because you don't really have to resort to physical or mathematical proofs to show that morality can exist without believing in a Christian god. Societies all over the world have managed to develop prohibitions against murder, theft, lying, and adultery, which are most of the things covered by the Ten Commandments that don't have to do with how to worship. Yes, they don't get all the details right, like whether one is allowed to drink alcohol or eat sausages and cheeseburgers, but they got the basics down without believing in the god of Jews, Christians, or Muslims. In fact some don't believe in gods at all.
So, whether you accept that there is no physical reason why people can't have morality without gods, there's clear empirical evidence that it isn't necessary. Maybe there's some innate morality we all have. Maybe there's an evolutionary pressure on societies that makes the unstable ones disappear. Maybe people just figure out one day that stoning people for eating cheeseburgers isn't a cool way to run a society. Whatever the reason, it clearly isn't belief in Steve Harvey's bearded guy in the sky.
So, the man is ignorant as well as a bigot. That doesn't stop television people from putting him on the air. As long as that continues to be true, I suppose the best thing is for more of us to write about what a tiresome asshole he is until he learns better.
As arrogant and ignorant as he is, my guess is that it will be a long, long time.
(h/t Greg Laden)