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The Economist on “Fundamentalist Atheists” July 26, 2009

Posted by rationalskeptic in Theism and Atheism.
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There is a new essay at, The Economist,  wherein Oxford’s Tim Garton Ash discusses the absurdity of comparing the “new atheists” (not that there is anything new about them) to religious fundamentalists.  Here is a section of the piece that hits the nail on the head:

First and most salient, as Oxford’s Tim Garton Ash writes, “there are no al-Darwinia brigades making bombs in secret laboratories in north Oxford.” Yes, sigh, many atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennet are just as convinced that there is no God as Osama bin Laden is convinced that there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger. On one hand you have faith that makes people fly planes into buildings, genitally mutilate young girls, murder abortion doctors (in church), stone adultresses, outlaw certain forms of consensual sex or even just make it impossible to buy beer on Sunday in some states. On the other hand there is the atheist “faith” that makes people write smug op-eds, put ads on buses (see photo), file frivolous lawsuits against nativity scenes on public property, and the like. Show me what harm in the world a prominent atheist intellectual has done. . .

Seriously, it is hard to imagine that there are adults out there who can genuinely make the comparison between the religious and atheists. Atheism is not a worldview, there are no bylaws, confessions, creeds, or any such standards that apply, it is simply the disbelief in the supernatural. Of course, generally most thinking atheists agree on many issues and many are secular humanists, but atheism is simple disbelief bottom line.

Thanks to Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True for his post on this issue.

Here is an excerpt from AC Grayling’s article on the same subject, and is a must read (heres a snipet):

It is time to put to rest the mistakes and assumptions that lie behind a phrase used by some religious people when talking of those who are plain-spoken about their disbelief in any religious claims: the phrase “fundamentalist atheist”. What would a non-fundamentalist atheist be? Would he be someone who believed only somewhat that there are no supernatural entities in the universe – perhaps that there is only part of a god (a divine foot, say, or buttock)? Or that gods exist only some of the time – say, Wednesdays and Saturdays? (That would not be so strange: for many unthinking quasi-theists, a god exists only on Sundays.) Or might it be that a non-fundamentalist atheist is one who does not mind that other people hold profoundly false and primitive beliefs about the universe, on the basis of which they have spent centuries mass-murdering other people who do not hold exactly the same false and primitive beliefs as themselves – and still do?

 Can An Atheist be a Fundamentalist? by AC Grayling in The Guardian

 

 

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