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Christopher Bradley

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Also not letting it go: there are differences between radical atheists and Christian fundamentalists [May. 20th, 2010|08:59 pm]
Christopher Bradley
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As an atheist, one of the most confusing things about being an atheist is the hostility of people who . . . basically agree with atheism.

American atheists, as a group, are secular humanist, progressive, well-educated with a strong belief that human reason will lead to a better world. Our "militant" faction is guys like Richard Dawkins (tho' not an American), Daniel Dennett and P.Z. Myers. Okay, these guys are the radical faction. Sure, there are some crazies crawling around the woodwork, but these are the Pat Robertsons and Oral Robertses of atheism.

They are . . . kind of progressive guys. I don't really agree with them, directly, about too much - I am more radical then they are, but maybe I am one of the crazy minority faction - but . . . they never say anything idiotic about how, y'know, Hurricane Katrina is some god punishing people, or that AIDs is some god's punishment for something or the other. They don't think that it's immoral for same sex couples to marry. They don't deny the truth of anthropogenic climate change. They don't want to cripple science education in schools. We don't elect idiot Presidents who start "crusader" wars in the Middle East. I mean, the big thing that atheist organizations are doing, right now, is fighting for the right to have atheist billboards! That's the hideous atheist agenda - the right to have atheist billboards.

And I chose the example of Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts with a bit of care. Like the atheists, there are people with far more radical positions than Robertson or Roberts. And, of course, Robertson's followers (Roberts is dead) dwarf Dawkins', Dennett's or Myer's followers - none of them have TV networks that broadcast their positions.

I find the discussion very aggravating, however, when someone who has a progressive secular humanist standpoint attacks "atheist fundamentalists" - who believe almost everything they believe! Except the "atheist fundamentalists" refuse to play nice with religious people. And then these humanist agnostics freely lump us in with the people who bomb abortion clinics, who say that natural disasters are god's punishment towards homosexuals, who fight to get rid of abortion, stunt science education in schools, who support absolutely reactionary political and social agenda.

It's like . . . what you believe is irrelevant. "Atheists fundamentalists", people like Daniel Dennett who represent the public face of American atheism, are no different in word and deed than Pat fuckin' Robertson.

Then I googled two terms: "daniel dennett quotes" and then "pat robertson quotes". I will like the first one in each search:

Daniel Dennett quotes.

Pat Robertson quotes.

I will . . . look for the most risible Dennett quotation. It's hard . . . most of them seem pretty lightweight. This is the most risible I found, feel free to disagree: "After Darwin, God's role changes from being the designer of all creatures, great and small, to being the designer of the laws of nature, from which natural selection can unfold, to being just perhaps the chooser of the laws."

The most risible Robertson quotation from the page above: "(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Likewise, if you can find a more risible quotation . . . please, tell me.

Of course, there is a universe of difference between Robertson and Dennett. Which is my point, of course. That the most aggressive popular proponent of American atheism - Daniel Dennett - is a total pussycat compared to an aggressive proponent of American fundamentalism. This difference, the difference between Dennett's kindly humanism and Robert's reactionary fundamentalism counts. It's not an illusion. It's not some chimera. Radical American atheists are pussycats compared to radical American Christian fundamentalists. And this matters. To say otherwise is simply ignorant discrimination.

Quite frankly, atheist "fundamentalists" are not very much, at all, like Christian fundamentalists. To say otherwise is simply to ignore the actual facts. Which count a LOT more to atheists than Christians.