Thursday, November 05, 2009

Those Awful New Atheists

Frank Schaeffer, former fundamentalist, is angry about the "New" Atheists, who have a level of fundamentalism that he feels is on the level of Pat Robertson (lesbians caused 9/11) and Ted Haggard (anti-gay rights gay hypocrite).

The leaders of this movement make loud, repeated, and bold claims about atheism being better and more moral, more ethical, and a vastly improved alternative to religion.

The difference between the bold claims of atheists and the bold claims of christians is that the atheists can actually back theirs up. The christians have a book that advises wholesale slaughter of enemies and their children and the willingness to sacrifice one's own son to please one's deity.

Atheists can actually point to a thing called "humanism" for guidance in moral matters.
If we are to dismiss Christianity and other religions partly because of the likes of Oral Roberts, Ted Haggard, and their shenanigans -

You may as well stop right there. I don't dismiss Christianity because of the immoral acts of its followers. I dismiss it because a) it's factually incorrect and b) it encourages immorality. Whether or not atheists are mean people has nothing to do with whether they're right. And since atheism has no dogma, you can't claim that it has a dogma that causes atheists to be immoral. The argument doesn't wash, so don't bother.

Mostly Schaeffer seems to be annoyed that atheists are declaring their opinions stridently, selling t-shirts with those opinions printed on them, and getting other people to stop following religions.

Schaeffer goes on for a long time about all of Richard Dawkins' sins, but none of them seem to me to be on the level of the divorce from moral reality that comes from adhering to the doctrine of a religion. There's nothing in my appreciation of Richard Dawkins (or any other atheist's appreciation) that would lead us to obey Dawkins if he were to tell us to - for example - smash a plane in to a building, shoot a gynecologist, deny condoms to starving, diseased people or blame a terrorist act on completely unrelated gays and lesbians or women wearing pants.

That's just not our thing. You see, atheism relies on reason.

In a nutshell:

If Richard Dawkins becomes demented and tries to get his followers to do something vile or insane, they will balk. Can you say that for the followers of Pat Robertson and Ted Haggard? No, you can't.

h/t to the PZ.

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