I find that the Wikipedia Mithras article is currently being vandalised by an anonymous atheist who has read one article (by Marvin Meyer) in one non-scholarly book on the subject, and is determined that all articles in Wikipedia shall reflect what he believes is the truth — that Christianity and Mithras are somehow connected.
With such people it is not possible to reason, so, after a couple of hours of vain and polite attempt at reason, I have withdrawn and left him to it. Such people come along from time to time. Over time, his changes will get reverted, and I have other things to do than explain the obvious to the dishonest and obtuse.
But it is a reminder that no learning and scholarship and objectivity is proof against the determination of a scumbag. In Wikipedia the scholar and the troll meet on equal terms; and thus most Wikipedia articles on controversial subjects are of no real value, for the same reason.
But I was amused that this troll proceeded, in order to advance his goal, to object to my suggestion that only professional Mithras scholars should be quoted; to complain that the footnotes quoted the sources verbatim; to demand that I translate Renan’s book for him — he did not see reading it as a necessary prelude to editing the remarks in the article about it — ; to launch personal accusations against me; and finally — the new nadir — to complain about me because, when referring to the (untranslated) commentary of Servius, I ventured to provide a link to a post on this blog with a translation of it. Usually people are grateful, when I do such things.
Of course none of this was honest; it was merely an attempt by someone who knew he was in the wrong to “win” by any means over someone he knew to be better informed than himself. Such is the moral standard of rather too many atheists.
It is hard not to despise atheism, when you encounter this kind of atheist. It seems to produce such selfish, dishonest and hateful people. Whatever happened to the atheism of J. S. Mill, the sort of atheism which was based on reason and logic rather than violence and dishonesty? That valued freedom of conscience, and abhorred the inquisition? It seems to have been a casualty of the last century.
If so, we live in poorer times. Superstition is rampant in our society, thanks to the New Age movement, and the power of priests and mullahs over uneducated people in the Third World has not attentuated conspicuously. A rational, intelligent, gentle atheism would be a valuable contribution at such a time. But where is the atheist who will put it forward?