Saturday, July 5, 2008


Our friends over at Powells bring us this interesting take on morality.

There is nothing inherently moral about being a believer or a nonbeliever.

Good start! This part is true.

There are many people of great moral probity and courage who seek meaning outside of formal religious structures,

Thanks for noticing!

who reject religious language and religious ritual and define themselves as atheists.

Is there a difference between “defining themselves as atheists” and “are atheists”? If there’s no difference, the former seems like a really wordy way to say it.

There are also many religious figures that in the name of one god or another sanctify intolerance, repression, and violence.

All of them - especially the intolerance and repression. Lots dip into the well of violence, too!

I Don't Believe in Atheists is not an attack on atheists so much as it is an attack on the utopian belief systems peddled by most self-proclaimed atheists,

Again with the “self-proclaimed” and “defining themselves”. I’m starting to think that you find a difference that I was talking about earlier. That would be sad and pathetic.

belief systems that are shared by the Christian fundamentalists these atheists excoriate.

Okay! Got it. Your thesis is Atheists and Christian Fundamentalists are alike! Lets see the evidence!

The New Atheist authors, from Richard Dawkins to Sam Harris to Daniel Dennett to Christopher Hitchens, embrace a belief system as intolerant, chauvinistic, and bigoted as that of religious fundamentalists.

Restating the thesis. Great! We might have forgotten in the intervening zero sentences.

They too propose a route to collective salvation.

They do?!? Did you just make this up or did you graduate from the Inigo Montoya school of debating?

They too believe in the moral advancement of the human species, this time through science and reason.

Those fiends!

The utopian dream of a perfect society and a perfect human being, the idea that we are moving toward collective salvation, is one of the most dangerous legacies of the Christian faith and of the Enlightenment.

Yep! Salvation is all the rage from the Enlightenment! The philosopher Immanuel Kant clearly wrote in his essay “What is Enlightenment?” that the Enlightenment is the search for salvation!

Of course, he might have obscured it a little bit by talking about free thinking, using one’s own intellect, and not being dependent on external authority, but we all know what he was really talking about! Salvation!

Those who believe in the possibility of this perfection often call for the silencing or eradication of human beings who are defined by them as impediments to human progress.

Yep! Happens all the time. Except that it only happens in poorly written religious nutcase articles.

They turn their particular good into a universal good.

Which is why, like the Christian armies, there have been so many armies that have marched because of the will of the god those soldiers don’t believe in.

They are blind to their own corruption and capacity for evil. They soon commit evil not for evil's sake but to make a better world. And they do this in the name of religion or science or reason.

Absolutely. Not believing in someone else’s imaginary friend is pure, unadulterated evil.

These New Atheists attack a form of religious belief many of us hate.


I wrote a book called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. I am no friend of Christian radicals.

Good show!

The New Atheists and I dislike the same people. We do not dislike them for the same reason. This is not a small difference.

Do tell.

These atheists share a naïve belief with these fundamentalists in our innate goodness and decency.

So it’s not the consequences of actions and the long term effects thereof that those atheists pay attention to, unlike what those lying dogs keep telling us. Got it.

They, like all religious fundamentalists,

Not having a religion makes someone religious? Or are you using “religious” as an epithet?

If so, I’m confused – is being religious a good thing or not? I’d kind of like you to keep your story straight. It’s really hard to follow if you don’t.

fail to grasp the dark reality of human nature, our own capacity for evil, and the morally neutral universe we inhabit.

But I thought that God created the universe and saw that it was good! Now it’s morally neutral? I’m so confused.

There is nothing in human nature or human history to support the idea that we are morally advancing as a species or that we will overcome the flaws of human nature. We progress technologically and scientifically, but not morally.

New thesis time! It’s a little bit bad form to start a new thesis in the middle of your paper on another thesis entirely, by the way. I’d suggest that you should start this one from scratch and develop it separately.

We use the newest instruments of technological and scientific progress to create more efficient forms of killing, repression, and economic exploitation and to accelerate environmental degradation as well as to nurture and sustain life. There is a good and a bad side to human progress. We are not moving toward a glorious utopia. We are not moving anywhere.

Bummer. I’d be even more bummed out if I didn’t remember that you can’t figure out if being religious is good or evil or if the universe is neutral or good.

Most of these atheists, like the Christian fundamentalists, support the imperialist projects and preemptive wars of the United States as a necessity. They see the war in Iraq and the greater conflict in the Middle East as an attack on irrational religion and a fight for the civilizing values of western culture.

Wow. Someday, I’d like to see what it’s like to hang around the atheists you’ve been hanging around. Most of the ones I know are against lying to the country about made up reasons to attack sovereign nations.

They too divide the world into superior and inferior races, those who are enlightened by reason and knowledge and those who are governed by irrational and dangerous religious beliefs. Hitchens and Harris — who asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world — describe the Muslim world, where I spent seven years, most of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times, in language that is as racist, crude, and intolerant as that used by Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell. These authors are as culturally, historically, and linguistically illiterate as Christian fundamentalists, reducing one-fifth of the world's population to their cartoonish visions of what it means to be a Muslim. They are a secular version of the religious right.

Unlike your cartoonish version of atheistic beliefs. That one’s spot on, of course!

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