Bless atheists, for they have sinned

Emma Teitel on the problem of modern atheism

Rex Features / CP

The door-to-door religious proselytizer is, like his secular cousin the Cutco knife peddler, a harmless irritant of modern North American life. If you don’t care for his wares, you say no thanks, shut the door and sometimes roll your eyes. But you rarely, if ever, engage. Portland University philosophy professor and proud atheist Peter Boghossian not only advocates engaging religious fundamentalists in debate, he has written the manual on how to do so.

His new book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, could be called the bible of deconversion. Boghossian has a mission: to rid the world of religion through what he calls “street epistemology”—the act of literally talking someone out of his or her faith. Street epistemologists are essentially evangelists of reason, set on shepherding religious people away from the darkness of supernatural dogma and into the light of logic. Sound familiar? Boghossian has taken one of organized religion’s most invasive and possibly problematic practices—proselytization—and turned it on its head.

“Five per cent of the U.S. population does not believe in God,” he writes. “We have a standing ‘army’ of more than half a million potential street epistemologists ready to let loose to separate people from their faith . . . to deliver millions of micro-inoculations (of reason) to the populace on a daily basis.” A Manual for Creating Atheists is, in a way, an atheist’s attempt at Old Testament-style eye-for-an-eye revenge. What better way to chip away at the already dwindling numbers of most major religions than by recruiting from within? Boghossian’s deconversion methods draw on everything from the rhetorical tactics of ancient Greek philosophy to the works of modern atheist all-stars Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins—whom he refers to as atheism’s “horsemen.” Through street epistemology, he hopes the non-believing will “transform a broken world” into a new society “built on reason, evidence and thought-out positions.”

At worst, Boghossian’s approach might appear tongue-in-cheek and harmless, or, if you’re an atheist, noble and necessary. But it points to an unnerving new trend in the world of the non-believing—one that doesn’t merely personally reject religion with a “No thanks, I’ll pass” attitude, but globally opposes it, with the addendum, “And not for you, either, if I have anything to say about it.”  Boghossian’s militant atheism not only attacks religion’s zealous and radical manifestations, but targets its benign and secular ones, too.

When asked what harm a privately religious person could possibly do in the name of his or her saviour, he denies that such a person exists, and insists on characterizing all faiths in the same simplistic fashion—as “pretending to know something you don’t.” Darker still is his tendency to refer to faith as a “virus” and an “affliction.” Every enlightenment has a dark side. Modern atheism’s may be its creeping idolatry of reason and reality, which, in our current political circumstance, gives way to Islamophobia and sexism—things Boghossian doesn’t endorse, but that some of his contemporaries most certainly do. Richard Dawkins has lately been tweeting truisms like, “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” In April, he asked via Twitter whether the New Statesman, a U.K. magazine, ought to publish work by a Muslim journalist who believes “Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.”

“I used to think of atheists as being more upstanding than your average theist, but it’s simply not true,” says Rebecca Watson, a feminist author of the popular blog Skepchick. Like thousands of women active in the online atheist community, Watson has experienced misogyny verging on the deranged. She is regularly called a c–t and receives death threats that cite man’s “superior evolutionary psychology.” (When you can no longer use scripture to subjugate women, why not try science?)

The animus against Watson seems to have been sparked by a run-in with Dawkins himself. In 2011, she spoke at the World Atheist Convention in the United States about sexism in her community. At the end of the event’s after-party, she was followed into an elevator by a male delegate who asked her back to his hotel room. She declined. Shortly after the incident, Watson made a YouTube video suggesting that men refrain from propositioning women alone in elevators at 4 a.m. Soon after, Dawkins, who also spoke at the conference, declared it ridiculous that Watson complain about an elevator proposition, what with all the “real” sexism that occurs in the Muslim world. Misogynistic missives have flooded her inbox and social-media feeds since. “If Richard Dawkins hadn’t weighed in,” says Watson, “I wouldn’t be getting half the abuse I get. If Dawkins says attack, they attack.” Can anyone say “the voice of God”?

Boghossian would refute the notion that Dawkins has taken on a deity-like role in the atheist movement, just as he refutes the notion that his own in-your-faith atheism is wrong-headed and potentially dangerous. When I challenged him about Dawkin’s Islamaphobic tweets, he was quick to defend his hero. “There’s a difference between challenging an idea and attacking a person,” he said. “Religion isn’t an immutable characteristic of a person.” He’s right. Technically it’s not. Unfortunately, though, the Nazis didn’t care about technicalities, nor did any other non-religious power that killed on the basis of religion. But it takes context to make that distinction, and it’s context—not faith—that today’s atheist agitators sorely lack. For now, I’ll take the guy at the door.

Have a comment to share? emma.teitel@macleans.rogers.com




Browse

Bless atheists, for they have sinned

  1. There is indeed a small, but annoying, cohort of athiests that are a shade too strident in their efforts to disabuse people of their religious notions. Doubtless there are also athiests that are sexist, and racist, and generally bad people. Athiests are, of course, people, and we shouldn’t be surprised that some of them exhibit human frailties in their various forms.
    But the notion expressed by Teitel that athiests as a whole are becoming unhinged proselytizers akin to the religious street preachers one commonly sees is a bit of a stretch. I don’t think one can really fault them for engaging with the religious, especially when so much of what constitutes religion is a direct affront to both reason and science. Reason and science are kind of important things, and I can certainly understand that people would want to defend them vigorously.
    So what is the problem here? That few too many people revere Dawkins? I would prefer that there are a few too many overly strident athiests than not enough.

    • Religion has nothing to do with science, unless you’re referring to the rather small, nutty sect of young-earth creationists. If you actually bothered to make even the most cursory of studies, it’s not even an affront to reason. It IS philosophy, and Biblically speaking, a reflection of the social evolution of humankind.
      Being an atheist is simply a non-belief in a deity. There’s, literally, nothing to be strident about, so they aren’t being atheists; they’re being anti-religion, which is just another form of bigotry, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • I agree that two wrongs don’t make a right, ….but I was stunned to read the question posed to Dawkins, being: “What harm a privately religious person could do in the name of his or her savior…” They create & foster a negative mindset towards an entire segment of humanity. This translates into bashings, beatings, bloodshed, & even murders. In recent times, religious conferences have been held , focusing on opposition to same-sex marriage. That may not be a problem in & of itself , but at one held earlier in the year in the South Bronx of New York , every speaker emphasized the Biblical injunction that says homosexual persons are worthy of death. Not one voice was raised in opposition to this draconian & odious edict. A few people pick up on this. It doesn’t take many. Criminologists report that about 100 gay men are murdered in hate crimes every decade in Canada. From whence cometh the bigoted mindset that enables one to commit such barbarism?

        • Can you provide me with a cite for religious based hate crime murders in Canada against homosexuals? I’m having trouble finding any reference to it.

          • I think you have misunderstood what I was saying, or I didn’t explain my statements as clearly as I should have.I’m not suggesting that hate crime murders are “religious based”, as if a denomination encouraged the murder of gay men. It, however, creates the negative mindset that , on the fringes of any diverse democracy, is translated as “well, if the folks who are closest to God hate the motherf****s, who the hell cares, dudes?”You cannot profoundly denigrate an entire segment of humanity while at the same time insisting they be treated with compassion & respect.. I saw an interview some time ago, with sex offenders incarcerated at Atascadero, one of California’s two prisons reserved for just such criminals. Those who had , with malice aforethought ; murdered at least one gay man ; stated without hesitation when asked why, ….that it was religious beliefs that motivated them to kill.

      • by your reasoning anyone having any belief at all would be a bigot. a catholic believes that a certain interpretation of the bible is correct, rendering all others are incorrect. therefore they are anti all other interpretations, not to mention anti all other religions. at least the so-called evangelical atheist has actual physical evidence to back up his/her stated beliefs. and as for science: religion is an affront to science, it is by its very nature anti-science. sure certain believers have had to concede certain facts to science (kicking and screaming all the way), but by its very nature religion gives subjective experience and decree by authority precedence over physical evidence.

        • Some of the best scientists have been Christians, including, I believe, Albert Einstein. Science is not ideology but theories based on observations leading to certain conclusions that may or may not be disproved. An objective Christian should be able to separate facts from myths. After all, we believe in a Great God and Creator – He created the laws of the universe and science merely unearths them and gives them a name.

          • Sure, some scientist are religious. However, the good ones leave faith at the laboratory door. BTW Albert Einstein did not believe in a personal god, and considered himself agnostic to the posibility of any god. Also science is not just a bunch of theories, it is a process/method of understanding the observable universe. Question for you: As an objective Christian, how do you separate facts from myths? For instance, how do you determine that the narative saying that The Great Creator created the laws of the unerverse is a fact and not a myth?

          • poor liar- get some facts- here have some-

            Albert Einstein Quotes on Spirituality

            I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.

            Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.

            My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

            The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

            Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.

            The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.

            There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.

            The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

            The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science.

            We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

            Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

            When the solution is simple, God is answering.

            God does not play dice with the universe.

            God is subtle but he is not malicious.

            A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.

            Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

            The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.

            Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

            Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

            The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.

            The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

            What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.

            The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.

            The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.

            True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.

            Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.

          • If Einstein was religious, he probably would have been Jewish, not Christian.

          • Albert Einstein Quotes on Spirituality

            I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.

            Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.

            My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

            The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

            Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.

            The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.

            There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.

            The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

            The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science.

            We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

            Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

            When the solution is simple, God is answering.

            God does not play dice with the universe.

            God is subtle but he is not malicious.

            A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.

            Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

            The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.

            Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

            Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

            The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.

            The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

            What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.

            The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.

            The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.

            True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.

            Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.

          • Therein lies the problem……”An objective Christian should be able to…” do a lot of things. But in my observations over six decades; very few of them do.

          • No. Albert Einstein was not a Christian. As a Christian myself, I ask you to please stop publishing this.

            When you do this all you do is broadcast to the world at large that Christians are either lying intentionally, or are too stupid to know when their own people are lying to them.

            Here are Einstein’s thought about God:

            “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)

            “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” (Albert Einstein) Seen here: http://www.spaceandmotion.com/albert-einstein-god-religion-theology.htm

            There is also a Wikipedia page on this which looks to be quite well written: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Albert_Einstein

          • Einstein was a Jew! All-in-all he was atheist.

          • Science-if we allow that it includes mathematics-

            (which is tantamount to saying “Literature-if we allow that it includes language”)

            -immediately recognizes that the sheer volume of specific individual beliefs incumbent to any given religion-

            (e.g. a deity, the soul, the afterlife, miracles in the past, etc)

            -all of which lack any evidence-

            (other than testimony which is not more readily explained by “Some desert nomads a few thousand years ago told their tribe to obey them, or a magic man in the sky would punish them…and shit just snowballed from there”)

            -renders that religion’s likelihood negligible.

          • Um…OK, I’ll be polite about it. Einstein was a Jew who, at most, was a Spinozan-style panentheist. He stated outright that he did not believe in a personal God who judges souls.

          • lies- you told a whopper this time- Einstein was a practicing Jew till the day he died liar – a staunch advocate for the creation of Israel- and has written many things about his faith you liar- heres 26 of them to prove what a huge LIAR you are-

            Albert Einstein Quotes on Spirituality

            I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.

            Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.

            My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

            The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

            Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.

            The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.

            There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.

            The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

            The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science.

            We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

            Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

            When the solution is simple, God is answering.

            God does not play dice with the universe.

            God is subtle but he is not malicious.

            A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.

            Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

            The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.

            Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

            Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

            The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.

            The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

            What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.

            The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.

            The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.

            True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.

            Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.

        • “a catholic believes that a certain interpretation of the bible is correct, rendering all others are incorrect.”

          That’s not actually true, as the Catholics have changed doctrine continuously, evangelicals too have as many interpretations as denominations which number in the hundreds of thousands.

          ” at least the so-called evangelical atheist has actual physical evidence to back up his/her stated beliefs. and as for science: religion is an affront to science, it is by its very nature anti-science”

          You seem to be confusing science with religion. Science is a mode of inquiry, religion and atheism are belief systems. What you’re claiming is science is actually Scientism.
          As for your claims of “physical evidence”, I would invite you to produce it. Did somebody dip a divinity litmus test strip into the spacetime soup and it came up negative?

          • “…religion and atheism are belief systems.”

            If atheism is a belief system, then please provide a list of those beliefs. I’m curious.

          • “I believe there is no God/gods.” “I believe there is no afterlife” I think that handily qualifies. Belief is a conviction of the truth or reality of a thing, based upon grounds insufficient to afford positive knowledge.

            It may be semantics but it still a fact.

            If you wish to say that’s unbelief then the statement “I do not believe the universe randomly came into existence” could also qualify as unbelief.
            I know Dawkins shouts “atheism is just non-belief in God”. Well, by this definition my cat is an atheist, because it does not believe in God. Likewise potatoes and small rocks are also atheists, because they, too, do not possess a belief in a deity of any kind.

            But a lack of belief in God by a creature that has the ability to form beliefs, is a different claim entirely—indeed, it’s a positive claim. You believe that the external world really exists, that other minds exist, that the human mind can form beliefs, and that our cognitive faculties are broadly reliable. The choice to disbelieve in god, or unicorns, or fairies, is indeed a belief, because you have the ability to do so.

          • You can’t call something semantics and in the same breath call it fact.. Are you kidding me the whole reason it is semantics is the reason it is not fact. Atheists have no beliefs that is kind of the definition. The i believe there is no after life is not shared amongst all atheists nor is it required to be so no your cute little statements do not apply. No, that’s cute but it’s a response, atheists just don’t come out of the blue and say i don’t believe in god or i don’t believe in unicorns. First the idea which is the belief has to be presented in this case it is a Christian saying there is a god that exists. It is not our belief he doesn’t, it is our response it is simply say we do not have enough proof, evidence, or feeling to believe what you believe in.

          • There are atheists who believe in an afterlife. Try again.

          • most atheists are homosexual.

          • Even if that were true, which it is not, it’s a non-sequitur. But to address this new topic, in the USA, homosexuals are a somewhat larger minority among atheists than they are in the general population, but still distinctly a minority–and atheists are still a minority among homosexuals, although a fairly large one. Possibly the increased representation is due to most churches not welcoming them partially accounts for that. Guessing a random atheist is homosexual is a poor bet. As you would expect, with a little thought.
            http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199644650.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199644650-e-006

          • homosexuals have to be atheists or face the truth- uncomfortable for them indeed.

          • Most people who assume other people are homosexual are themselves homosexual. But don’t worry, you won’t actually go to hell for being homosexual, because hell doesn’t exist.

          • If they have to be atheists, they’d all be atheists, which is far from true. Most homosexuals aren’t atheists. It’s almost like people believe what they think is true and not what they don’t think is true.

          • on what basis have the catholics/evangelicals changed doctrine? on evidence? on new revelations? how can we tell which interpretation is correct? what is the measuring stick for this?

            as for atheism being a belief system, i don’t agree. that would be like saying asantaclausism is a belief system. it is just an assertion that belief in god(s) is not supported by evidence. that is all.

            you claim to know that there is a god. i do not claim to know that there is not a god; only that i do not see any evidence that there is one. i refuse to live my life according to a belief system that is based on the existence of something that i see no evidence for existing.

            on what evidence do you believe in god? and then further, on what evidence to you believe in a particular interpretation of how to live given the existence of that god?

      • Over 40% of adults in the US say they believe God created humans in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years. A 2011 Gallup survey says 30% of US adults say they interpret the Bible literally. I think we have different ideas on what’s ‘rather small’.

        • your statistics are wrong again- what do you achieve by lying all the time? your poor mother is so ashamed again. why don’t you give her a break.

  2. People got fed up with the religious fundamentalism and Dark Ages that Dubya is trying to revive and they finally spoke out.

    Surprise! Turns out there are at least a billion atheists. And many of the ‘believers’ are only cultural believers anyway. Dawkins likes Xmas carols….because he says he knows all the words LOL

    However he doesn’t believe in any deity. And that is the ONLY thing atheists have in common. NO belief in deities.

    Fundies have been shocked at the backlash…..so they’ve been tossing up all kinds of nonsensical theories. ‘We should ‘respect’ the beliefs of others. Atheism is a belief. Some people are just mad at God. Or atheists are too strident. And the worst one of all…religious people are ‘harmless’. ‘

    No, they’re bloody dangerous, and people aren’t putting up with it anymore.

    I don’t know if you can talk someone out of their religious beliefs….I’ve never tried. I personally don’t care if people believe in pink unicorns. However I will not put up with them trying to make ME believe in pink unicorns….or live by their pink unicorn rules.

    So yes, some atheists have become strident. Believers will just have to get used to it.

    Be thankful they’re not pounding on your door.

    • Excellent…

      • Yes, excellent. Many Muslims in countries dominated by Islam do not hesitate to affirm their beliefs in Allah, etc., only because they are afraid not to out of fear of being ostracized by family, society, & those in authority, or losing employment, or their heads.
        I must admit that my favorite theologian is Homer Simpson. :-) One Sunday, Marge is trying to talk him into going to church with her & he doesn’t want to go. So, he says, “But Marge, what if we’re going to the wrong church? God is just getting madder & madder.”

    • Your argument is semi-valid, IF anyone is forcing you to believe in pink unicorns. I’ve not found that to be the case.
      Also, if you want to sound semi-intelligent, you might want to recognize that the “dark ages” had nothing to do with The Church, and everything to do with the fall of the Roman Empire. In fact, one might argue that the knowledge that was preserved was done so BY The Church, and that the warring and highly factionalized Europe was united under the mantle of christianity.
      Be Strident all you like, but maybe we could use FACTS, instead of the same hoary old anti-religion nonsense?

      • One might say a lot of things….but in the end Rome was brought down by Alaric the Christian….and no knowledge was preserved. Hence the saying ‘The last time the church ruled the world we called it the Dark Ages.’

        I’m not making an argument…..I’m telling religious types to keep the nonsense to themselves. We’ve had 2000 years of guff and it’s over with.

        • Well, western Rome (which was Christian too) was conquered by Alaric who was an Arianist. But the Eastern Roman Empire and it’s capital, Byzantium (also Christian), thrived and dominated world science and commerce for another thousand years.
          However even in the West progress kept apace. The idea of the “Dark Ages” is a modern myth created by 19th century modernists, just like the flat earth myth. No serious historian believes in the Dark Ages anymore.

          Atheist historian Tim O’Neill corrects popular misconceptions about the middle ages and the “Dark Ages” fallacy in his review of “God’s Philosophers”: http://www.strangenotions.com/gods-philosophers/

          Cracked On-Line gives us a humorous but accurate correction of some of misconceptions here: http://www.cracked.com/article_20615_5-ridiculous-myths-you-probably-believe-about-dark-ages.html

          You may be tired of 2000 years of guff, but advocating new fallacies won’t correct the situation.

          • I believe I’ve said several times that Alaric was a christian.

            As to Rome, you can argue the empire still exists as the EU if you like….but that doesn’t change the fact Rome fell September 4, 476 CE.

            ‘Serious’ historians don’t like a lot of things, but that doesn’t change events. The name ‘Dark Ages’ is verbal shorthand for the disasters that continued for centuries.

            No matter what ‘Cracked’ says.

          • Rome never actually “fell” (or else it fell continuously from it’s founding until the end of WWII), and you have a fairytale view of the empire which dismisses the consensus of historian and archeologists.

            Oh and at least skim Tim O’Neill’s article, it never to late to learn facts.

          • I repeat….you can argue anything you want….but the empire that was Rome….fell.

            September 4, 476 CE.

            And THAT m’dear is the concensus of historians and archaeologists….whether you like it or not.

      • I’m not anti-religion , but you have some distorted history in your comments,Regarding the so-called Fall of the Roman Empire , there is much evidence at a grassroots level that the seepage of lead into the aqueducts, & thus the drinking water throughout the Empire played a major role. Besides, did the Roman Empire ‘fall’. or did it simply evolve?

        • We lost knowledge for centuries. Islam culture surpassed the christian one in the sciences. In fact, ideas from moorish held Sicily sparked to a large extent the renaissance.

      • As gibbons so well articulated, o e of the primary causes for the decline of the Roman empire was the christian church.

      • Typical ad-hominem attack. “If you want to sound semi-intelligent”.
        You have no real argument, so you attack him personally in an attempt to discredit his argument.
        This is why your argument fails from the outset. Stop attacking personally and stick to the issue, not the person.

    • Two very handy words:

      The term “latitudinarian” applies to those of us who use religious references as they are part of our culture and employ them with some degree of “latitude”: Good God, man!, Jesus H. Christ!, God Damn it! , Holy Moses, etc. They have no religious significance. When I’m attempting to fix something delicate and I may make it worse, I look at my wife and cross myself while rolling my eyes – Anglican or Catholic, I really couldn’t say.
      The term “platitudinarian” applies to those who use biblical expressions in earnest, but they are merely reciting / repeating / regurgitating / parroting platitudes used in the church: (grace) in your holy name, in your body, in the name of Jesus, the fruit of thy womb, etc.

      • True.

        Screaming ‘OH DARWIN’ at certain moments would just confuse your lover unnecessarily.

    • I agree with you completely, but the one belief I tend to agree with from the fundamentalists is that the earth is flat……I was born & raised in Manitoba, & we know the world is flat as hotcakes. (just kidding…. :-)

      • Heh…..where you can watch your dog run away for miles and miles?

    • Well said… and I’d add that we shouldn’t put up with them trying to force pink unicorns into the education curriculum.

      • I would like a ‘world religions’ class…so kids learn there are other beliefs in the world….but no preaching just one religion or belief.

        Be interesting to learn about pink unicorns though. LOL

  3. You know – I’ve had the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons and other religious group members knock on my door over the years many times – not once have I had an atheist do it. It would be a nice change. :)

  4. The problem with Dawkins on Islam is that he’s buying into the idea
    that Islam is what produces the profoundly sexist culture of the Arab
    and Persian worlds. It isn’t. It’s just that those societies are
    backward in several ways. They were extremely sexist before Islam, just
    as Europe was extremely sexist under Christianity. It’s a human
    characteristic to provide your culture’s norms with a religious or
    mythical foundation, and the Arab and Persian worlds do that via Islam; if they were Buddhist they would do it via Buddhism. So sexism has absolutely nothing to do with the legitimacy of Muslim
    theology. So Dawkins is either extremely dumb or just using whatever stick he can find to attack any religion. Either is disgraceful.

    • All religions are sexist.

      • There have been female ministers in my denomination since the 1930s. There are female rabbis. The moderator of my denomination is a man with a male spouse. I am glad that in your earlier post you recognized that fundamentalists do not speak for all religious people. Many of us are at the other end of the spectrum. Sweeping generalizations are not helpful whether they come from fundamentalists or from Richard Dawkins.

        • All religions are sexist….whether some local brands choose to be more open or not.

          Jesus didn’t do this….Paul did.

        • Still, I don’t think we’ll live to see Pope Ethel I.

    • Islam is as Islam does. Saying that Islam is sexist because a significant number of its adherents are from sexist cultures doesn’t discount that fact that the logical underpinning is Islam. If you whittle away at the justification of sexism, it can be defeated. This is how sexism was reined in in the West, by gradually challenging and defeating all the logical underpinnings for that belief system, starting primarily with religious justifications, then trumped up practical considerations (which could not stand based on empirical evidence). This is why religion is so pernicious. Belief without evidence allows discrimination ‘just cuz’.

      • Nonsense.

        Recent studies show that the more religious education one is given in the Muslim world, the least likely they are to be terrorists or extremists of any bent.

        A recent gallop poll in the United States shows, rather shockingly, that Muslims are among those who feel (more than any other) that targeting civilians during war is unjustified, where Atheists and Christians ranked higher than them (thinking it justified).

        You’re living in a pipe dream if you honestly believe that Islam is the basis for these acts. Hint, the 9/11 Hijackers were all secular educated and had very little religious training. They drank, went to strip clubs, gambled etc. and cited the deaths of civilians on their side of the world as justification for the killing of civilians in the Trade Centers.

        If that’s your idea of “Islam”, then I’m afraid you’re projecting.

        • The term ‘Taliban’ means ‘students’. It’s a reference to the fact that the group’s main recruits were Islamic religous students. Afghanistan would have done much better to let them finish school.

          • You have clearly never been to Afghanistan and should just stop now before you say something even more foolish- poor child

          • I would be hard put to say something more foolish than to express the idea that someone has to have been to a country before being able to comment on what a word means or to note that youths are easier to recruit into violence than adults.

      • Be careful, there are scary muslims under your bed! Crackpot.

      • If not for the rise of Islam, the Middle East would almost certainly be predominantly Orthodox Christian. Perhaps Iran would be mostly Zoroastrian. I don’t think if you re-ran history without Islam, the region would be significantly more liberalized or de-mysogynized or less anti-Western.

    • Poverty and lack of education may be more important and more fundamental ultimate sources of sexism, but religion is the vehicle through which it is delivered. Others are combating poverty and education – Dawkins’ point is that Islam is a sexist creed that promotes sexism and in this he is right. Christian nations were sexist too, and became less so as they moved away from fundamentalist Christianity.
      I don’t see how you can say that sexism has nothing to do with the legitimacy of Muslim theology. How are we to judge the “legitimacy” of a theology except by asking if it delivers the moral and practical consequences we want? Claiming it gets us right with God is just begging the question.

    • You’re quite right! Islam was actually rather forward-thinking, when it came to womens rights. And that’s Dawkins problem…he may be a fine biologist, but he knows very little about theology. (although he ACTS otherwise, and his equally ignorant followers lap it up because it parrots their own pre-conceived notions. I’m not sure they even grasp the concept of “critical thinking”)

      • Are you referring to the parts of the Islamic religion that allows men to marry prepubescent girls?
        What about where it allows husbands to beat their wives?
        Are you talking about the forward thinking parts that say a man is a degree above women?Or possibly where it says that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s?
        What about where a man can have up to four wives and merely cast aside the ones he gets tired of?
        Are you referring to the forward thinking Islamic notion that it’s OK to have sex slaves?
        Or perhaps it’s the part where a husband has the right to plow into his wife whenever he pleases as he does with his field?

        I guess what I’m asking is, can you be more specific about how Islam is “actually rather forward thinking.”?

        • This is spurious nonsense. Ge some examples, quoting the passages, that quantify your outrageous claims. You are nothing but a bigot.

          • 10. A husband has sex with his wife, as a plow goes into a field.

            The Quran in Sura (Chapter) 2:223 says:

            Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

            9. Husbands are a degree above their wives.

            The Quran in Sura 2:228 says:

            . . . Wives
            have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with
            the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them
            in status . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

            8. A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.

            The Quran in Sura 4:11 says:

            The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

            7. A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.

            The Quran in Sura 2:282 says:

            And
            let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents
            [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available,
            there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of
            the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205).

            6. A wife may remarry her ex—husband if and only if she marries another man and then this second man divorces her.

            The Quran in Sura 2:230 says:

            And
            if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not
            remain his lawful wife after this (absolute) divorce, unless she marries
            another husband and the second husband divorces her. [In that case]
            there is no harm if they [the first couple] remarry . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 165)

            5. Slave—girls are sexual property for their male owners.

            The Quran in Sura 4:24 says:

            And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands [as prisoners of war] . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

            4. A man may be polygamous with up to four wives.

            The Quran in Sura 4:3 says:

            And
            if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the
            orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But
            if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then
            marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 305)

            3. A husband may simply get rid of one of his undesirable wives.

            The Quran in Sura 4:129 says:

            It
            is not within your power to be perfectly equitable in your treatment
            with all your wives, even if you wish to be so; therefore, [in order to
            satisfy the dictates of Divine Law] do not lean towards one wife so as
            to leave the other in a state of suspense. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 381)

            2.
            Husbands may hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear
            highhandedness in their wives (quite apart from whether they actually
            are highhanded).

            The Quran in Sura 4:34 says:

            4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (Haleem, emphasis added)

            1. Mature men are allowed to marry prepubescent girls.

            The Quran in Sura 65:1, 4 says:

            65:1 O
            Prophet, when you [and the believers] divorce women, divorce them for
            their prescribed waiting—period and count the waiting—period accurately .
            . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have
            despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period
            is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden. (Maududi, vol. 5, pp. 599 and 617, emphasis added)

    • Have you even read the Qur’an?

    • Whatever the sources of sexism, religious dogma is the reason why generations pass without it being questioned. Religion turns ancient value systems into unquestionable truths. So much for religious morality.

  5. I read this article, and I’m not sure what the point is.
    Is it a book review? Is it an attempt to paint anyone who has the gaul to declare their lack of faith publicly as type of fundamentalist and potential rapist on the basis of a few isolated examples? What is your point?
    If I follow correctly, you’re trying to say that there are a tiny subset of religious people who prostelytize at your door (who are mildly irritating) but all atheists are not only worse than those people, but Nazis as well. Is that what you’re saying here?

    • I think the point is to be simply contrarian, without doing any reading or serious thinking. Atheism is finally going mainstream, so columnists have to throw mud at it, even if it won’t stick. One of their favorite techniques is to paint Richard Dawkins as a demagogue. Anyone who has read his work or seen him speak and debate knows that he is anything but that. He is simply an intelligent, educated, and eloquent spokesman who has very bravely put himself in the line of fire by speaking truths that badly need to be spoken. Many theists seem to feel badly threatened by this, and since they can’t refute him they caricature him.

      All in all this is a very silly, juvenile article.

      • This is a silly, juvenile response.

        Many Atheists, from dusk till dawn, love to roam the internet reminding every theist they meet how mentally deficient or irrational they are, how immoral they are, etc. while “proving” that they are the superior race of humans on the planet (basically). And they do it without any empathy whatsoever — sometimes in the most disgusting and hostile manner imaginable.

        Then someone makes a critique against Atheists and many act the victim.

        • Can you provide even one example? Because “many” and “someone” isn’t cutting it here as any kind of example.

        • Not a critique..that implies logic is used. This is a ham-handed, clumsy attack on atheists, and the comparison to Nazis is over the top. I await a retraction.

  6. Funny how defenders of religion condemn atheism on the grounds that it is a religion (“creeping idolatry,” “voice of God”, for instance). Also the notion that atheism is inherently sexist needs more evidence than a single anecdote and the baseless assertion that thousands of women in the movement have experienced misogyny. If you want to find misogyny you need look no further than the neighborhood church that still forbids women to preach. Finally, dragging the Nazis into the argument just displays ignorance: they murdered on the basis of race, not religious practice.

    • they murdered

      Exactly. Boghossian (and Dawkins) don’t advocate any kind of violence. To attempt to associate them with a violent ideology is contemptible.

      (Edit: Nazis also rounded up Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I do think religion was a criteria)

      • Religion was not their only criteria. They also rounded up disabled people, journalists, and political disidents

        • And the Roma. And it wasn’t the Jewish religion they targeted, it was anyone with Jewish heritage.

    • it doesn’t surprise me that the religious would attack atheism as a religion. another religion is easy to attack and they are very used to attacking all religions other than their own “true religion” as pretenders. attacking atheism for what it really is, a simple lack of belief in things that can’t be proven to exist, is much more difficult for them.

  7. The author is all over the map in this article — consistently avoiding the issue at hand — any kind of evidence of a deity… A common denominator of the faith-inflicted (as chronicled in Peter’s book) is avoidance of just that.

  8. “When I challenged him about Dawkin’s Islamaphobic tweets, he was quick to defend his hero. “There’s a difference between challenging an idea and attacking a person,” he said. “Religion isn’t an immutable characteristic of a person.” He’s right. Technically it’s not. Unfortunately, though, the Nazis didn’t care about technicalities, nor did any other non-religious power that killed on the basis of religion. But it takes context to make that distinction, and it’s context—not faith—that today’s atheist agitators sorely lack. For now, I’ll take the guy at the door.”

    1. “Technically it’s not.” No, Emma, it’s ‘just’ not. Plain old NOT.

    2. What motivates the jump to the Nazis? Oh, right, you don’t have a way to conclude your article without a ridiculous comparison, which is also weak and false:

    3. “any other non-religious power”. The National Socialist movement/party and Germany were indeed religious. Any casual study of National Socialism would reveal this to Emma. I highly recommend the book “Nazi Culture”, a collection of primary source documents edited by George Mosse. Hitler’s diplomatic magnum opus was the Reichskonkordat. http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_image.cfm

    4. “the Nazis didn’t care about technicalities”, “that killed on the basis of religion”. No, modern anti-Semitism, what the Nazis were inspired by, is not the same as historical anti-Semitism (hating the Jews because they killed Christ). Modern anti-Semitism is hating the Jews for many reasons, notable among which was their adept assimilation into German society. The modern catchphrase which is relevant here, and is only one example, would be, “they’re taking all our jobs!” With regard to caring about “technicalities”, again, whether religion is an immutable characteristic of a person (it’s not), and whether the Nazis saw it that way (a non-issue for them as they treated non-practicing Jews in the same ways), religion wasn’t the only motivating force. Genealogy (cf. “Blut und Boden”) would be an example of the reasons I alluded to above, and was definitely a significant motivating force in the institution of laws and policies designed to increasingly exclude Jews from areas of society in the years prior to the establishment of ghettos and the onset of the war. Granted, Judaism was certainly falsely depicted and warped by publications such as Der Stürmer, which made up horrible stories about their religious rites, aside from every other sensationalist, hate-fueled idea that Julius Streicher could invent.

    5. “But it takes context to make that distinction, and it’s context—not faith—that today’s atheist agitators sorely lack. For now, I’ll take the guy at the door.” I honestly don’t know what this means….

    • 1) Religious tendencies are.

      2) To make a point.

      3) You and many others always define religion as it suits you. Basically, if you’re going to compare National Socialism to “religion” you’re just saying “Everything I disagree with = religion”. If what you’re actually saying is that the Nazis were merely religions, well then..woopdee doo. People are not just one thing. People have certain beliefs they carry more strongly than others. If you’re primary belief is Nationalism, then religion will be interpreted and used for that end. Whereas, if its the other way around…you get the picture.

      4) Id say it was a bad example as well, in that they killed for Nationalistic reasons and didn’t kill all those that were religious, but STALIN is definitely a better example here. Not to mention Albania.

      5) That’s exactly the problem. You DON’T know what it means.

      What something is (the technicality, i.e. the label) must also include HOW that something is (the context). Blaming all religion, all Christians, all Jews, all Muslims, is ignorant and reeks of the same bigotry as those you oppose. It’s a properly uneducated and nonsensical opinion that can lead to persecution and mass genocide. Claiming religion is a “virus”, or that theists are mentally inferior to atheists, is just another way of saying “these people are not people”. It eventually leads to that.

      The reason atheists who hold these views aren’t going around killing right now? They have no political power or influence…and most of them live comfortably in their countries, sympathetic to the fact that their governments are killing all the brown people for them.

      • Okay, now I see you are disingenuous — bye bye, you are just an extremist full of hate telling us that we want to kill brown people, and are complacent in such killings.

      • Hateful tripe. Have fun praying for a brain. Your last sentence shows your true colours.

  9. Context is what today’s theist agitators solely lack.

    Could you please tell me under what context stating “religion isn’t an immutable characteristic of a person” implies Nazism?

  10. it seems as though ms teitel has missed the main message of mr
    boghossian’s book. he does not call on atheists to attack anyone’s
    religion. he outlines how to talk people out of using faith as a means
    to understanding reality. there is a clear distinction there. he
    certainly did not write a debate manual as ms teitel proclaims in her
    first paragraph. mr boghossian clearly states that debate is not an
    effective method. he defines faith as “pretending to know something you
    don’t know”. and really what else is faith? he proposes techniques in
    which the recipient will come to the realization that they have based
    their fundamental beliefs on a false epistemology. there is nothing
    evangelical about it. a preacher will tell you the “truth” as revealed
    by a holy scripture, the street epistemologist will ask you how do you
    know that your belief is true? are you sure that the truth is not found
    in maybe that other holy book? and equating atheists to misogynists and
    nazi’s, really, i can’t believe she went there. sexism is rampant in
    all society, religious and secular, gender equality is a totally
    separate issue from “militant atheism”. and the nazi’s were a catholic,
    not non-religious, regime.

    • You actually think she read it? Jokes on you.

  11. So many problems with this.

    “Boghossian has a mission: to rid the world of religion…”

    Not exactly. The point is to attack “faith” as a reliable means of knowing anything. If you accept something ‘on faith,’ then you don’t really know it, and you shouldn’t pretend to.

    Yes, the point is to disabuse people of their faith. I would prefer that
    someone either know a thing, or not know it – and be okay with that not
    knowing – than pretend to know the meaning of the universe based on an
    old book.

    “And not for you, either, if I have anything to say about it.”

    The same way one might try to convince people that the world is not flat, and modern medicine is a better way to get healthy than praying.

    Funny, how you think the religion peddler is only a “harmless irritant,” but the atheist who wants to convince others of her views is “dangerous.”

    “Like thousands of women active in the online atheist community, Watson has experienced misogyny verging on the deranged.”

    I’m sure that you’ve asked these “thousands of women,” and they have verified what misogynistic creeps all atheist males are. Right?

    Pointing out that misogyny exists among atheists says absolutely nothing about atheism. Atheism is a statement about the existence, or non-existence, of a supernatural being who may or may not have created the material universe. That’s it. Being an atheist doesn’t make one moral or immoral. And atheism has *nothing* to say about sexism, racism, etc. It is not a philosophy or worldview. Every kind of vice and virtue imaginable probably exists among atheists.

    I do think Dawkins’ comment (if it is correctly recorded here) was ignorant, but I don’t see what that has to do with atheism itself, nor with the book that is allegedly the subject of this… review? Did Dr. Boghossian say that he agreed or disagreed with Dawkins’ comment in his book?

    “…just as he refutes the notion that his own in-your-faith atheism is wrong-headed and potentially dangerous.”

    Please explain how it is either wrong headed or dangerous to encourage people to only believe things that are rational, or provable?

    “Unfortunately, though, the Nazis didn’t care about technicalities, nor
    did any other non-religious power that killed on the basis of religion.”

    The Jewish people were most certainly not attacked for their theology, or for their belief or lack of belief. The Nazis viewed them as a racial group, and could care less if the individual Jew was religious or not.

    Christians were sometimes targeted, if they were perceived as a political threat. But I don’t think there was ever a policy of attacking or killing people simply for *being* Christians.

    • So if you really believe you should only believe what can be proven why did you write this?

      After all, every fundamental description of reality used by science has at it’s core a deterministic set of equations. Science shows there is nothing special about humans, we are elaborate chemo-mechanical-electric tinker toys that run for a while then stop. What we do, we were programmed to do (true our programming is adaptive, continually being modified etc, but always through deterministic processes). The concept that humans hold a special place among animals is at best quantitative. People are worth more than cows in the same sense that an Iphone is worth more than a Blackberry. Moreover any value of animals over plants over inanimate objects is at best a tribute to our fragile, overly complicated Rube Goldberg machines.

      If we lack free will, where does our sense of self come from. Why do we value life? Why do we value complicated life over simple lifeforms? Why do we value ourselves most of all? Most likely it would be a programming feature associated with our evolution. Much like a lap-top checking for viruses or powering down when the battery is low.

      I am not sure if I believe in God, but I have to be honest that I do believe in me. Nothing in physics or science would allow for my being a “being” yet that is what I believe. I have chosen to have faith in that, knowing full well it is not supported by science. While it is easy to knock down the myths of specific religions, I think strident Atheists should be accepting of the conclusions of existing science.

      If they truly accepted science, they would shut up. Believers believe due to initial conditions. Of course, the atheists can’t shut up for the same reason.

      That is why you wrote this.

      • I think most scientists would be comfortable describing humans as a kind of animal. To the degree that humans are ‘special’, it is a matter of degree, not absolute dividing line between humans and all other species.

      • Also, consciousness is not well understood and whether the universe is deterministic or not is also open to debate. I’m not sure why you think
        ‘science’ is settled on this.

      • “Believers believe due to initial conditions. Of course, the atheists can’t shut up for the same reason.”

        It’s not that I “can’t shut up.” I commented because I felt like it.

        When I was a believer (I was not raised religious – I chose it), I talked about my views openly. Now that I’m an atheist, I talk about my views openly.

        I’m pretty sure that what these little “comment” sections were made for.

        The rest of your comments had nothing to do with what I wrote, so I’ll just ignore it. But, by all means, continue to post away. It looks like you’re having fun.

    • Atheists have read the religious texts….that’s why they’re atheists.

      On edit: I realized I left the word ‘Agreed’ out at the beginning of the sentence.

  12. Atheism has turned into just another religion. They accept that there is no God based on complete and utter blind faith, the same as any other religion accepts that there IS a God. Of course atheists will say that their faith is based entirely on evidence, when in fact it’s based entirely on a LACK of evidence.

    Now watch the atheist trolls come and condemn me like a bunch of religious zealots.

    • LOL goodness did you hurt yourself doing that?

    • Good one Rick Omen! That had me laughing. I didn’t know you did irony or sarcasm.

      Oh wait. You don’t. It’s just a generous helping of good ol’ fashion stupid.

      • So I’m stupid because I don’t agree with your religious non-religion? Will I burn in pit of fire because I don’t agree with you too?

        • Only if you trip into one because you’re stupid.

        • No you’re stupid because your argument makes no sense and is trolling at its most fundamental.

        • Oh and everyone else os stupid because they don’t agree with your nonsense? Will I burn in hell if you sont agree?

        • It’s hilarious that you think atheists believe in hellfire.

    • I would like to rationally respond to your comment but am afraid that your defencive closing stantment has shut that door like and religious zealot would and I do not wish to come across as one such as yourself.

      • So, atheists don’t believe in spelling or grammar either?

        • Only nazis believe in grammar.

          • I would mention Godwin, but unfortunately Ms Teitel beat you to it.

        • Compelling argument. What religion are you? I wish to conver. I’m not trolling. I am completely serious. As an atheist I sometimes hit the wrong letter on my thouch screen and would like to become perfect like you. Save me. Please. I am begging you.

    • Static is a TV station and “not collecting stamps” is a hobby in your world, right?

    • Every sentence of your post contains a fundamental error, but I’ll just respond to the last one. A troll is “a person who submits a deliberately provocative posting” (Oxford Dictionary of English). It’s not someone who responds to the provocation.

    • “Of course atheists will say that their faith is based entirely on
      evidence, when in fact it’s based entirely on a LACK of evidence.”

      You almost had it. We’re atheists because there’s a “lack of evidence” for the existence of any gods.

      I guess if I said I don’t believe in unicorns, you’d say I don’t have any evidence for that, either. I also don’t have any evidence for not believing in Zeus, Odin, or Horus.

    • LAWL. This is such a terrible comment and I can see you are being torn apart and unable to defend yourself adequately. I am an atheist, but if you would like I could defend your veiw on theism far better than you seem to be. Just let me know and I can make some arguments to counter much of the backlash you’re receiving. To be honest there are plenty of reasons to lead me to believe in god, but it even still there is by far beyond any reasonable dout that one does exist. Now, I have never heard an athiest say thier “faith” is based on evidence like you say, so I can’t comment on that bull shit, only on lack of like you say it really is. So, in that respect let me congradulate you on getting at least that right, as you seem to have a tenuous grasp on what atheism really is. Athiesm is not a blind faith, there is nothing to have faith in to begin with. The burden of proof on the prosecutor not the defender. You are the one to make a claim and open an argument that did not exist before. One does not have to proove god does not exist, that is impossible. One must prove god does exist, if that is also impossible than there is no reason to believe in one in the first place. If you could prove to me god exists I would be absolutely ecstatic to change my mind. All I chose to believe in is what can be proven, shown in experiment and repeated. Simple as that, facts. Anyway I don’t care if you choose to waste your life believing some fairy tale. Just take out others who believe in a different one when you suicide yourself. I’ve never heard of anyone doing so in the name of an absent god. Also make sure you hire a lawyer to argue for you, even if it’s just for a minor traffic violation.

    • If I may ask you a question in order to better understand your argument, are you saying that all religions (including, of course, atheism) are equally legitimate?

      • Yeah, what about aminism?? Satanists? Etc

    • I don’t know how many times it needs to be said, but atheism is NOT a religion. Here’s why…Atheists don’t believe something unless there’s evidence for it. That’s why we don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or God. Show me some evidence for the existence of any one of those, and I’ll happily admit I was wrong. Show a young-earth creationist a 400 million year old fossil and a museum full of other evidence, and he or she will continue to believe that the earth was created in 6 days 6000 years ago. See the difference?

      • If you believe in your life (and others) having a special (even sacred) value, if you believe you have free will and consciousness rather than simply the illusion of those things then you in fact do believe in gods… you simply consider yourself one.

  13. Treitel links atheism to islamophobia without pointing out the much more virulent and dangerous islamophobic prevalent among fundamentalist Christians (Fox news anyone?). Dawkins says that the muslim world is scientifically backward (an accusation that he levels at Christians as well). Fundamentalist Christians say Muslims are evil because their god promotes murder. Which viewpoint is more islamophobic?

    Then she reasons, “I would rather have religious zealots proselytize at my door than atheists because atheists are Nazis!” (“I don’t like those people because they are Nazis” – what a novel and imaginative argument!)

  14. Admitting to others that you are an atheist can be rather uncomfortable at times; kind of like coming out of the closet. Maybe Ms Teitel should stick to writing about subjects she knows about.

    I’m in agreement with Godless_Lawyer. I’m not sure what the point is either.

  15. In response to the inclusion of Rebecca Watson in this article:

    Thousands of women experiencing “misogyny verging on the deranged?” Regularly “receives death threats that cite man’s superior evolutionary psychology?” Using science to subjugate women?

    A male delegate?

    Dawkins telling people to attack? Dawkins responsible for “half the abuse [she] get[s]?”

    It’s the same narrative repackaged here.

    Take note, Teitel. Rebecca Watson is a troll. She trolls trolls and trolls troll her back. She is no special snowflake and experiences blowback just like many other popular people on the internet — both men and women — who share controversial opinions.

    Rebecca treats people like garbage and casually distorts the truth (and outright lies) while peddling her constant victim narrative. People don’t like Rebecca – and there’s so much more to it than ‘she complained about someone hitting on her in an elevator’ (which probably never happened in the first place).

    RW and her clique attempt to get people fired from their jobs, attack skeptic/atheist organizations, and spearheaded numerous unfair smear campaigns in recent years (just touching the tip of the iceberg here). People don’t hate Rebecca because she is a woman. They hate her because of her actions. Many who are critical of RW are also critical of men — particularly PZ Myers — sharing ideas and behaving just like she does. It’s not a gendered issue.

    • And the MRA shills have arrived, what a surprise.
      That means any chance that this topic might be discussed rationally will now turn into a poor me whine-fest .

      • One could just as easily say “here come the man-hating feminazi trolls” and maintain the same degree of integrity.

        • one could but one would be wrong

          • Sorry… Youre right, how about misandrist, misanthropic feminist blowhards?

          • Ah so now the whinefest has begun properly.
            Incoherent, “poor me” word vomit from the darker recesses of the professional victim fraternity.

          • You actually started the whine fest. You are getting your just dessert. It would be nice to know how calling people “MRA shills” will give any chance that “this topic might be discussed rationally”. Hypocrite much?

          • Experience
            Once one of you starts it usually turns into a pile on complete with made up statistics. bogus studies and heart wrenching fiction of the “poor me” kind.
            Rational discussion is anathema to you guys because its always about you and it’s a giant conspiracy – it’s like talking with truthers and birthers.

          • I see you have taken the liberty of labelling and prejudicing me too, based on a single comment, because that is how rational people discuss things! What a friggin joke!

          • okay then

            so you are not an MRA sympathiser, you’re just someone who likes to ensure that on-line discussions follow the rules that you have decided apply to such exchanges.
            Strange as I have not seen you pick apart the mechanics of any other discussions, is this your first go around?

          • The rules that I have decided? Not me. It’s called being polite and rational, and calling people names usually does not win you the high ground. If anything it seems that you do the exact things you despise in others. A hypocrite.

            “Strange as I have not seen you pick apart the mechanics of any other discussions”

            The internet is a biggish place isn’t it?

          • Your concern trolling would be a tad more believable if you had taken Vacula to task for his abusive tone too. but instead you tried to take the emphasis away from the topic at hand and did so in an uneven manner.
            It’s a common way to derail a thread and at the same time seem oh so reasonable. Might I suggest you look towards your own motivations before smacking on others.

          • I’m not here to deliberate between you and him. You clearly took an irrational and annoying approach that adds nothing to the conversation. He (vacula) at least put forward something that has substance (although that substance may be highly questionable). You just had a little whinge that you had to expel.

            If your position was good then maybe he would have listened to what you had to say, but you have lost the opportunity. I’ve changed my mind plenty of times because of respectful rational discussion and debate and not once because someone whined and called me a name.

          • Clearly the topic is new to you.

            As you might have gathered from my responses it’s not my first time with them. It’s like arguing with the evangelicals, they just know. Hence my short and some what inflammatory manner.
            To see why I might have jumped a bit at yourself see if you can find out more and you’ll see why I was so dismissive of the MRAs, in much the same manner I’m quite dismissive of evangelicals proselytising.

          • The only MRA stuff I have read was terrible and very few men were actually approving of it. One of the posts was specifically regarding controlling “your” woman’s diet. It was disgusting and most of the comments were damning. Most of those comments from men.

            I don’t see how it follows from the comment above that the person is an MRA. Could it be that he just doesn’t like Rebecca Watson, exactly as he claims?

            Is someone required to like Rebecca Watson or anyone specific before they can be part of the club? I don’t understand.

          • As harebell implied, there’s a massive back story. None of these comments, starting with Vacula’s, exist in a vacuum. Yes, a lot of people dislike Rebecca Watson. And lot of people also dislike Justin Vacula, and would make many of the same claims about him that he makes about Watson.

            It’s hard enough to follow when people have this fight on an actual atheism related blog. In a place like this where most of the people reading aren’t members of the family, the dinner ‘conversation’ is likely to be downright baffling.

          • The whole sorry episode is too lengthy to do it justice here, if justice is the word I’m looking for. It also has parallels in computer conventions and comic conventions as well as atheists get togethers. It seems to be something that comes up at event where there are few women and lots of men,
            You don’t have to like Watson, I don’t know her well at all, but just following the response to her initial message asking guys to be careful at events like those above was an eye opener. Exchanges soon became polarised and the majority claimed to be the real victims. Again this has echos of the supposed war against xmas whereby the majority claim victimhood. Death threats followed as did threats to rape and assault those who spoke out, Watson included.
            Then there were counterclaims etc.
            Hence my defensive attitude towards you initially.

          • ” just following the response to her initial message asking guys to be careful at events like those above was an eye opener.”

            I think that the responses were BY FAR not representative of western men, but that was the inference that was made. The anonymous trolls of the internet did what they usually do by issuing empty threats of violence and using the worst gendered insults they can imagine.

            Blaming the behavior of YouTube trolls on all men is unfair to say the least, but that is what happens.

            “Hence my defensive attitude towards you initially.”
            Hence my avoidance of feminism and all its satellite debates in general.

          • Fair do’s

            As to feminism I think most rational people accept that people should not be discriminated against solely because they are female and should be allowed the same rights as males. I think that most rational people would feel that about any person.

            As for extremists on on both sides, well they do exist and do tend to polarise debate using false dilemmas. They do need calling on it though.

      • Vacuous and other wannabe rapists are the bastard children of the atheist movement.

        • There is no ‘atheist movement’…..so it doesn’t have children….and ‘bastard’ is a Christian idea. Only a christian would be that nasty.

          ‘Vacuous’? You mean believing in invisible friends and a Bronze Age fairy tale is deep and profound?

        • I think you meant to reply to some other thread, because I have no idea how that word vomit is relevant here.

  16. Emma, I’m not sure what the point of your article really was. I disagree with you about several things: (1) there is no such thing as “new” atheism, as nonbelievers have always been around and we’re just a little bolder today because there’s a “do not burn atheists” order in effect; (2) Peter Boghossian is only doing what Christians do wildly, insistently, unsolicited, each and every day – I used to get unsolicited religious literature in my school mailbox – it’s okay for nonbelievers to speak up, too; (3) YOU LOSE any time you compare people in a philosophical discussion to NAZIs, unless they themselves claim to actually BE Nazis. Puh-leeze.

    And to Justin Vacula, a commenter below, I would ask that you be a leader in stopping the nasty comments being made online to Ms Watson. While some people may dislike her (and some people dislike each one of us), to say “people hate her” is unjustified. I admired her claim and reasonable video about her uncomfortable feelings, because I’ve experienced similar situations. If some don’t understand her feelings, that’s ok – we all have different experiences and feelings. But to denigrate someone’s feelings just because we don’t understand them is not humanistic. Let up on her? I challenge you to ask others to “let it go,” also. You have some power, please use it for good.

  17. What a bullshit article.

  18. You do realize that there is a huge difference between proselytization based on total jibberish and proselytization based on the antidote for said jibberish? Right?

  19. Teitel is normally thoughtful – even when trying to be contentious – but this article is lazy, juvenile, and almost deliberately dumb. My only fear in commenting is that i’ll be a small part of encouraging further s**t like this…

    • I don’t know much about Emma Teitel but she seems to be a rather immature writer who is growing all the time — her first post here seemed like just out of high school writing. But most of the time, “lazy, juvenile and almost deliberately dumb” seems to be her stock in trade — I think she tries to court controversy, and she does generate a lot of interesting comments. I think she will grow into a more competent writer — but one poster above pointed out the total lack of research, to which I would add there’s also, most of the time, an almost total lack of reflection and too many loose connections.

  20. You have to understand where Emma is coming from. But I really don’t see why she was selected by MacLean’s editors to do an analysis of this book. She has been too indoctrinated in her own faith to understand that there is an alternative to her own religion. No religion, and that includes atheism, has all of the answers to our future after death. And this, of course, is the main reason for all religions — a fear of the future and what their own death will mean, particularly if they believe they have a soul. This is the thing that scares them the most — their belief in hell and damnation. They don’t want to spend an “eternity” shovelling coal into a lake of fire — or whatever image is conjured up in their minds of hell.
    I would like to think that, as an athiest, I wouldn’t want to push my philosophy onto others — except my stupid brother who insists on trying to convert me everytime we speak. If the book catches fire, great. If it’s a flop, well, Emma wins. Either way, I don’t think she will.

  21. Atheism is not supposed to be a religion. Anyone who feels they have the right to go around preaching to people has sorely misunderstood what it means to be atheist. It is a negative belief, not a positive one. Its something you aren’t, not something you are. I am not a believer in god. That’s not a great thing to base an identity on. I have things I do believe in; if I was gonna go bother people, it would be about that. And I hate this obsession with “reason” and masturbatory logic games. I believe in tons of things that are unreasonable and illogical. And I certainly don’t think that given each person’s unique life that their particular religion isn’t the most reasonable and logical outcome. As an atheist, I am disgusted by the Islamaphobia and sexism in internet atheism (that seems to be crossing over to offline), and by the ideas coming from this guy.

    • It isn’t a negative belief at all.
      It’s the logical starting point for everyone to begin at. The material realm exists as we live in it and interact with it each day. So there is no belief required to say the physical realm exists as it does. (Unless you are going all matrix on me.)
      Now what evidence do we have that the supernatural realm exists?
      In order to determine if the supernatural realm exists we in the physical realm have to be able to detect it. How will the supernatural, if it exists, interact with the physical?
      So being an atheist is more a statement of being, being religious is a statement of belief because there is no way the non-physical can interact with the physical.

      • because there is no way the non-physical can interact with the physical

        I need to take slight issue with that part, which presupposes a conclusion that will never arrive conclusively (at least not on our side of the theism/atheism argument). It could (theoretically) be proven that the two realms in question can mix, by developing a repeatable and reliable process for doing so.

        Proving they can’t isn’t really possible, because there’s always tomorrow, and tomorrow’s people will hopefully be smarter than we are. So I think we have to leave those kinds of questions in the “unlikely but technically not settled yet” category.

        To me, it’s like the “going Matrix” position. We can acknowledge that there isn’t a definitive counterargument disproving the solipsism/brain-in-a-vat-awareness model — it may be accurate! — but when we weigh the evidence it makes a lot more sense to accept that there is a consensus material reality we all share, unless and until some startling new investigation tips the balance. And that investigation would probably require rigorous methods of observation and measurement that are beyond what we’ve currently determined to be accessible in our state of existence.

        Similarly, we can’t disprove that the spiritual realm (forgive the shorthand) exists outside of our own human cultural realms, because that would require tools we just don’t have.

        (Just being a nitpicky agnostic. We ruin every party.)

        • ” It could (theoretically) be proven that the two realms in question can mix, by developing a repeatable and reliable process for doing so.”

          Go on then, now you’ve piqued my metaphysical interest, you can’t just state that without a “for instance.”

          I never said the supernatural didn’t exist or doesn’t occupy the same space and time that we do, I just said that for anything non-physical too interact with something physical would take a physical process. Which just pushes the problem back a stage.

          Anyone making the claim that the non-physical can interact with the physical needs to explain how that happens before they base an entire system of social control on others. You don’t get to create a whole world view based on something you said happens but you have no clue how. I believe that is building a house on sand and quicksand at that.

          • I can totally state it without a “for instance”! In fact, I just did — because I definitely don’t have one! (If I did, I’d write a book and make a gazillion dollars.)

            Semantically, the physical and non-physical could interact via some sort of non-physical process as well, not that splitting that hair helps my argument at all. (In fact, I’m not even sure what it means.) I’m just automatically apprehensive of any attempt to conclusively disprove the existence of anything that hasn’t been found yet, since that’s a longstanding logical conundrum.

            The qualifying criteria for such an argument would be based in a model (or models) meant to represent aspects of reality via our human apparatuses — as opposed to reality itself, which is incomprehensible. Which means we can only measure what we have the perspective to measure, and since there are systems at work in forming existence that we don’t yet understand (and I’m not trying to sneak in metaphysics here, I’m just referring to the standard advanced physics and math that provide our current scientific models), we have to accept that there are mysteries that will become potentially less mysterious in the future. The earth was once flat, after all.

            There are a handful of events that have happened in my life that I don’t have any logical explanation for. Now I’m not about to base a personal paradigm on that fact and credit a higher- or differently-abled power for those events. But the rules of evidence as I understand them won’t let me dismiss outright that possibility (even if it’s far down at the bottom of the list).

            (I’m not disagreeing at all, btw, with the general content of anything you posted. I’m just allergic to certain turns of phrase when discussing them.)

          • I agree with your automatic dislike of categorical statements. I hate them too and immediately think, “How can I show the that they are wrong.”
            The non-physical/physical domains are just like the pregnant/not pregnant domains. You either are or you’re not and you can’t be both.
            If the religious insist that the supernatural exists and it influences the physical realm, then I’m expecting a bit more than faith as evidence that it may. If they then insist that this supernatural realm has told them that certain social policies need to be enated, then the bar gets even higher.

  22. My rejoinder is to say when the boot was on their foot they (theists) burned us at the stake. All we’re doing is speaking very frankly and bluntly and they don’t like it,
    AC Grayling

    • Turn over a rock and expose them to light, and the religous go scurrying for cover like the pests that they are.

      • They are not pests, they are people worthy of respect and dignity.

        • You’re right. Vermin, leeches, lice, maggots and other infesting and disgusting creatures serve and evolutionary purpose. The religious have no purpose for existence except selfishness, violence and hate.

          • I’m sorry but I believe in peaceful protest and freedom of expression, not dehumanising others with names like that.

  23. Because there is a limit on the number of words (and finite space) for the bully pulpit Emma enjoys at Maclean’s, I knew she could include only so many standard faitheist canards that supposedly criticize New Atheism that I worried she might fail to be fully revealed as another religious accommodationist who has no sense of irony. Using the critical thesis that New Atheists show a lack of proper context, Emma succeeds on all counts; imagine my relief to see her article arrive at the Nazi accusation before reaching the end… to bring to a close the full circle of typical PRATTs she and other faitheists rely on to feel superior. Well done, Emma.

    • “Faitheist” is the kind of glib cleverness that people think is going to win the debate for them, when really all it does is make sure nobody wants to invite them to the afterparty. :(

      • The mistake you make is that we care. We are sick of two thousand year old Abrahamic desert cults dominating world affairs.

        • As am I.

      • Your big mistake is to think that we want to be invited to your after party. We’ll have our own party, with blackjack, and hookers! :)

        • Blackjack is a sucker’s game unless you’re a card-counter, so I think I’ll have videogames at mine. And while I have nothing against anyone who chooses to work in the sex industry, I’ll stick with just inviting folks who want to be there rather than paying people for it. But have fun at yours!

        • It took me literally two weeks to figure out that I missed your Futurama reference. :(

  24. If lack of context is the problem, I think this column is an excellent example of it. I’ll put any random group of atheists up against any random group of believers in a least-sexist competition any day, and win. The idea that any leaders in the atheist movement are trying to promote sexism through science is plain ridiculous. Certainly the elevator proposition story is completely out of context.
    Going the other way, you will never hear a more impassioned defence of women’s rights than Christopher Hitchens used to give. He was clear over and over that he felt the single most important global mission we have is to improve the level of education of women in poor countries and to give them control over their fertility.
    All that said, if Rebecca Watson thought that moral superiority was some constituent part of being an atheist, then she simply never understood what an atheist is. We argue, over and over, that religion and morality are two distinct and separate areas of thought. Maybe she should have done the reading.
    Islamophobia…yawn. It must be obvious by now that whenever a group wants to avoid criticism from the left, they simply attach “phobia” to the end of their name and all the Emma Teitel’s of the world line up behind them. You want to invoke the Nazi’s Emma? You might start by trying to actually understand Boghassian’s point instead of dismissing it. The mistake the Nazi’s made was in confusing a mutable characteristic of people (religion) with an immutable characteristic (race). That’s why extermination was the only solution, in their twisted philosophy. You have the same problem. You can’t separate the ideas from the people who hold them. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that Islam is full of bad ideas because the nice people who hold them could always just stop doing so.

    • Atheism shares this with libertarianism (and motorcycles, and electric guitars): most of the problems associated with it come not from its inherent value, which is significant and defensible, but from its association with a handful of irritating yahoos who have adopted it as their raison d’etre and use it as a tool to compensate for their insecurities.

      • Hm, I rather like people who have made electric guitars their raison d’etre. And I’ve noticed a distinct lack of yahooism among atheism’s strongest proponents. The yahoos are, IMO, mostly on the other side.

    • John Stuart Mill was one of the early feminist thinkers. He was also an atheist.

  25. “When asked what harm a privately religious person could possibly do in the name of his or her saviour …”

    If she had to ask that question, then either she is woefully ignorant or willfully blind. Peter says such a person doesn’t exist. I think they do, but only if they remain single and keep themselves socially isolated, for example, cloistered nuns and monks who have no or little contact with outsiders. But even in those institutions abuse occurs. Some Buddhist monasteries are notorious for child sex abuse.

    Most ‘privately’ religious people impose their beliefs on their children, which in itself is harmful to the inherent right of children to exercise their own religious freedom, which includes the right not to believe. But that right is denied by indoctrination. And there are many more harms and crimes committed against children directly caused by religious dogma. I have archived thousands of news articles on religion related child abuse at:

    http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/

  26. Your title is poorly thought out…Atheists don’t believe in sin.

  27. Door to door proselytizers are trespassers and deserve to be treated as such. They are threats to the homeowner, especially homeowners hated by the cult banging on the door.

    A homeowner who receives an unwelcome knock in the day from the religious will eventually receive unwelcome vandalism and assault at night from the same thugs.

  28. Any writer that drags up the Nazis in context of atheism does not know what they are talking about.

  29. When people can’t think of a real argument, they accuse you of being a Nazi. I thought you were more intelligent than that.

    • Shes a vapid headed scribbler who would have been better off writing in the fashion section.

  30. While there is no question that some atheists are sexist and racist, and bigoted against all inhabitants of Islamic countries, I disagree with the implication that Dawkins or Boghossian fall into those categories.

    Dawkins’ condescending response to Watson’s Infamous Elevator Incident (IEI) was out of line and not terribly bright (see? I don’t think Dawkins matter is God.) Watson’s reaction in calling for a boycott of Dawkins’ books was also out of line. The flood of email vitriol she received in response to her entirely reasonable advice to the clueless in her video about the IEI was indeed horrific and unjustifiable, but it was not in response to an order from Dawkins to attack. It was simply a bunch of entitled, clueless young men behaving badly. Ultimately, the idea that women are somehow less than men is a religious concept. All three major authoritarian religions are insanely misogynist. Anything which undermines them (notably Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”) is A Good Thing for women and for all of humanity.

    For centuries science has been converging on a set of core ideas and ideals on which all scientists can agree. This has been accomplished in the teeth of unrelenting opposition from authoritarian religions who were willing and able to torture and kill to prevent the exposure of their dogmas as being disproven by empirical evidence.

    The Nazis, beloved example for religious apologists of atheist depravity, were in fact led by one Adolf Hitler, a Catholic who signed a pact with the Catholic Church which allowed that bastion of pedophilia and sexual repression to retain and expand their entanglement with the social agencies of Germany. Hitler was never excommunicated. He claimed to be doing “God’s work” in his extermination policies against Jews, homosexuals, and dissenters. The claim that Nazi-ism has any connection to atheism is spurious.

    The claim that pointing out the flaws in Islamist “culture” is racist is similarly spurious. Islam is not a race. It is a system of horribly flawed ideas comprising an ideology. An ideology which, if unchecked, threatens the survival of all life on this planet. In this, Islamist ideology is not that different from Dominionist End-Times Christianity. The main difference is that Islamism has the power to make laws in several countries and to legally perpetrate atrocities against women, apostates, and homosexuals which the American Taliban (Christian Fascists) can only dream of. Just as it is not racist to call out the crimes of the Catholic Church or of the protestant American Taliban, it is not racist nor “islamophobic” to call out the crimes of Islamism.

  31. Great article.

  32. I don’t agree fully with Ms Teitel’s piece, but there IS an extreme and vitriolic form of atheism these days, which shames me (as an atheist)as much as the Westboro Baptists shame the average Christian.
    Dawkins uses his degree in biology to pass judgment on theology and philosophy, which he clearly knows very little about.
    The late Mr Hitchens believed in WMD’s, and went to his death believing the war in Iraq was justified, so his credibility is questionable, at best.
    I don’t happen to think that using the same flawed tactics as the worst evangelical is the route to tolerance and understanding.
    In fact, I find it more appalling when atheists do it, because they CLAIM to be the enlightened, intelligent ones, so there’s no excuse.

    • I would dispute your inference that they are all using “the same flawed tactics as the worst evangelical”. In fact Dr. Boghossian once criticized Dawkins method of “gentle ridicule” as being too confrontational compared to his own more traditional Socratic approach.

      It seems to me that is why people like Boghossian and Dawkins generate such antipathy and fear among the religious is merely that they dare expound their opinions at all, regardless of tactics.

      They are not going door to door with pamphlets, they are not forcing people to come to their talks or view their videos in public schools. I contrast that with the fundamentalist religion foisted upon me in public schools as a child in Canada and cannot see the validity of your comparison.

      The kind of flawed tactics used by the worst evangelical are better represented by this terrible article by Ms. Teltel, where she attacks a person by quote mining his most controversial statements and ends by falsely equating Nazism with Atheism.

  33. I am an atheist but the term “apatheist” (courtesy Neil Macdonald of the CBC) applies to me. I’m apathetic about others’ beliefs unless they affect me and/or my family. This does not prevent me from seeing the fundamentalist and doctrinal foolishness, stupidity, violence, and exclusion such views afford. Studies show that the more one tries to change another’s views re: politics and/or religion, the more firmly rooted they become. Ergo, atheistic evangelism won’t change anything other than get people’s danders up. An example of the aforementioned “stupidity”: an evangeslistic preacher, in the UK, once stated that he was anti-abortion but that all aborted babies were in heaven. A woman then asked,”If all these babies are in Heaven, already, then we’ve done them a favour, haven’t we? They don’t have to live through what may be unhappy lives, isn’t that good? Complete silence! So the world of competing “imaginary friends” is not part in my life.
    It may be harmful to people to remove a set of beliefs without replacing it with another set of beliefs, so they don’t feel at a loss or in an emotional vacuum, similar to how some new immigrants feel when out of their original culture and/or language; or addicts when they lose control of their lives and their friends; or phobics (and addicts) who transfer from one phobia or addiction to another.
    Why would someone become an atheist evangelist, any more than becoming a religious one? Both are based on hubris. Wouldn’t you become that which you dislike? Aren’t the Westboro Baptist Church folks (warped, in my opinion) evangelists? Remember… an anagram of “evangelist” is “Evil’s Agent”. This guy’s got a big burr under his saddle.

  34. Dawkins has been tweeting recently?

    Wow, there really must be life after death after all!

  35. Dawkins Scientism is just as annoying as religious fundamentalism. Logical positivism and reductionist materialism are branches of philosophy at odds with others, like empiricism.
    The entire media skeptic movement as epitomized by Dawkins and Watson is philosophical arrogance taken to the absurd. Their blog posts frequently amount to cajoling and sneering personal attacks on those who disagree with their very narrow-minded philosophy.

  36. Ah, another article on atheism. We start with a gentleman who wrote a book encouraging atheists to challenge theists in the marketplace of free ideas, fill the page with religious terms implying faith (“idolatry”, “animus”) and cite events that have nothing whatsoever to do with the book, then end with a lighthearted comparison to Nazism.

    Because, you know, writing a book encouraging intellectual engagement is comparable to the industrialized murder of 11 million people. Apparently.

    I wonder if Ms. Teitel’s editors would have allowed her to discuss a mainstream church in such terms?

    • Shes a hack, low standards at mcleans these days

  37. It is a shame that this war of schoolyard taunts between atheists who attend conventions and atheism+ advocates has come up. Ironically, most atheists don’t belong to either group. Consequently, painting atheists as if this group on either side of the debate represents even the tiniest minority of atheists is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. Neither Dawkins nor Skepchic represent anyone but themselves.

    Most atheists don’t belong to groups, attend meetings or participate in online forums. Please stop with the false generalizations.

  38. OMG ;) what a hack job. can’t believe this is being flogged off as journalism. fail emma. fail mcleans.

  39. This is a very shallow article. The comments about Nazis are both wrong-headed and just plain wrong. The Nazis did not kill on the basis of religion; they murdered on the basis of race. Macleans could do much better than supporting this tripe.

  40. Certainly some of the New Atheists are pretty tiresome. But Teitel seems to want to squash dialogue. I suppose that is a very Canadian approach: “Mustn’t have heated discussions.” There is nothing wrong with trying to convince someone of your views.

    • There is currently a strong push in what I would call midstream liberal media to attack the “New Atheist” movement, specifically Dawkins, whose charity foundation is probably the most important organizing entity. Formerly restricted to conservative publications, the criticisms of Greenwald and Chomsky have enabled the anti-atheism forces (almost all of the major religions) to expand their reach.
      Squashing dialogue is indeed very Canadian, and perhaps intrinsic to the “multicultural mosaic” approach. The usual approach is to avoid all mention of the topic. Except when it comes to atheists, who, as always, are fair game.

  41. Macleans..get some standards. This is pure drivel. The Nazi comparison is abhorrent. I expected better, but it seems Maclean’s now features authors who couldn’t work at the Sun.

    Will be waiting for an apology or clarification or Ill just cancel our waiting room subscription. Disgusting.

  42. Aside from the obviousness of an opinion piece writer fishing for controversy by pitting rationalists against, well, not-so-rational people, the writer’s assertions about Atheists are skirting with lazy propaganda. Let’s take a look at how the writer does this…

    “…an unnerving new trend in the world of the non-believing—one that
    doesn’t merely personally reject religion with a “No thanks, I’ll pass”
    attitude, but globally opposes it…”

    —> There also seems to be an “unnerving” new trend to reject pedophile priests, genital mutilation (circumcision), religious privilege, elitist mentalities, and Zeus…

    “Boghossian’s militant atheism not only attacks religion’s zealous and
    radical manifestations, but targets its benign and secular ones, too.”

    —> This is an appeal to hatred, by superimposing the word ‘militant’ onto anything, seems to by the lazy-person’s propagandist utopia. Why? Well, please provide EVIDENCE of any atheist carrying a rifle or sword and chasing after people like, uh, religious fanatics. Calling someone a militant, doesn’t a militant make them. Boooo.

    “…what harm a privately religious person could possibly do in the name of his or her saviour…”

    —> How many religious people has our readership here actually found to be ‘personal.’ I will only speak for myself, but in my city, religious symbolism can be found on draped on people (esp. women), rear-view mirrors, car bumpers, jewelry pieces, and of course, planted on the corner of every 3rd or 4th city block in the form of what used to be a ‘house of worship.’

    “…Islamophobia and sexism…”

    —> Wow! That’s totally, like, an awesome word to call someone. Besides for the fact that Islamaphobia (like Naziphobia & Talibaniphobia) is a contrived word, and not an actual medical condition, apparently the writer also doesn’t know the history of propaganda usage, and has somehow replaced Islam with an ethnic race. Female or male writer, I’m not impressed with this under-informed opinion piece, not one, little, bit.

    “Rebecca Watson”

    —> Oh yeah, well, I had this friend one time that walked into Starbucks, and all the girls in the line-up laughed at him because he had an awful mustache. Therefore, all girls hate men, just like those girls did. Hey! Look! I just used the word ‘misogynistic,’ are you all impressed now? I find that four-syllable words make people’s eyes kind of glaze over, too.

    —> Are you serious? If this was an argument posted to a 1st year philosophy class, it would expeditiously be tossed in the garbage can. I may not be an opinion piece writer, but this purple prose is all calories and no substance, folks. Now excuse me while me and my militants go grab our pitchforks and burning crosses, they’ll become non-believers or else!

  43. It is clear that Ms Teitel could not help herself from making this article an attack on the atheists she finds so threatening. Starting from the title, the strategic choice of the grumpiest looking Dawkins picture I’ve ever seen (including the Simpsons’ depiction of Dawkins in hell), to the throwing-in of inflammatory allegations of misogyny and islamophobia. Obviously, anyone who is against religion as a whole would not exclude Islam, but atheism is no more an enemy to Islam than Christianity. All three of these groups believe the other two are wrong. What make atheism stand out, aside from the lack of a deity, is that it’s the one that has never made actual war against any of the others.
    Also, the use terms such as “his or her saviour” and “idolatry of reason” smacks of a Christian knee-jerk reaction. Finally, the most over-used trick to demonize someone, is of course to compare them to Hitler.
    If you really think atheist are “potentially dangerous”, compare that to the proven dangerous histories of every major world religion. You’d have to dig pretty deep to find a deity in whose name blood has not been shed.

    • “You’d have to dig pretty deep to find a deity in whose name blood has not been shed.”

      Even a religion that does not worship a diety has blood on its believers hands. Buddhists are not always peaceful and harmless. Buddhists have been involved in wars and violence, and institutional child abuse including rapes and beatings in Buddhist monasteries happens just as it does in Christian institutions.

      • I’ll agree with that. So we must conclude that all religions are bad?

        • The question remains would these people be just as violent without religion? I am not convinced either way, and I am an atheist. This is ignoring all the conflicts between science and belief.

          Having read books such as the God Delusion and Religion Poisons Everything, the question remains for me would eliminating religion reduce organized and systematic violence in any way? I don’t know.

          • Organized and systematic violence has many other contributing factors; nations, languages, economics, perceived “race”, etc. Isolating a single factor like religion for quantification would certainly be problematic.
            Perhaps you should ask different questions, such as:
            Does religion act to divide people or bring them together in the emerging global community connected by fast transportation and communication?

          • „perceived “race”” – lol wut?

            Race is not „perceived”. Race is a product of evolution.
            Oh, I know – in leftist atheism certain aspects of evolution are ignored because heaven forbid (if you pardon my expression) one dares to question the supreme God of leftist atheism – political correctness.

            (and yes, I am an atheist and I dislike Dawkins)

  44. I have analyzed your group and I have understanding right now. Truly according to a doctrine many have fallen away from the church. The doctrine on these churches are not telling that there are two witnesses, two olive trees they only speak of Jesus. This is why another Messiah is needed people have taken my families information and have not spoken about the other olive tree, the other Messiah. I can understand why people have walked away from these churches and declared themselves another group. They feel safer really if people are taking the most important book ever known to man, and aren’t giving the ministry that was instructed by the Gospels only for billions of dollars then we have a big problem. And people need another Messiah. The Gospels are about two people receiving 7Angels each and able to deliver people into everlasting life. It is about Judah calling the name”Israel” Jesus sister to deliver the world with Jesus out utter darkness.
    For the sins of the world have been mounted high, and many where cut from the kingdom of heaven. The whole purpose in life was to get an Angel from God, and hope he’d make you a servant and talk to you in the world..Thy kingdom Came Thank you Tribe Judah for getting 7Angels you are amazing. One word and prayer changed the world. This is the teaching of tribe Judah that’s the Gospels….yes

    • Whoa… you need to up your meds and try to stay on topic.

  45. Christians resorting to cheap ad hominems… anyone surprised by this?

    • Only the christians, and only because they are being called out for the ad hominems. Their fetid minds are filled with stupidity like this:

      “It’s okay if we do it because we can pray and be forgiven! You’re going to hell no matter what!”

      and

      “If a christian commits a crime, he’s not a christian! If an atheist commits a crime, ALL atheists commit that crime!”

  46. Wow, you were doing so good until you confused Hitler with atheism! Drop that last paragraph and the rest of the article, minus the title, works very well.

    As for sin, sin is victimless.

  47. Emma,

    It is always typical of religious folks to attack the person, not the arguments the person is making, because they know they cannot actually deal with the arguments. This pathetic attempt at character assassination is just another example.

    Great job choosing the picture, that is surely the worst photo of Dawkins I have ever seen!

    You seem very threatened by the fact atheists dare to spread their ideas. The religions have tax exempt status and enormous amounts of money and influence. They have many whole countries they control. They have armies, nuclear bombs, access to spying records, ownership of media puppets like yourself in vast numbers. They have been aggressively promoting their viewpoints for thousands of years. Yet to you, having Boghossian and Dawkins afforded the self-funded right to express their opinion is “dark” and scary. The hypocrisy is overwhelmingly tangible, but probably not to you.

    By the way, I was amused to see the slimy way you tried to sneak in a Nazi-Atheist conflation at the end of the article. Just to clarify, Hitler was Roman Catholic and the German populace at the time was Christian by a very large majority. They were NOT a “non-religious power” as you try falsely to assert. The blatant lie that Nazism was atheist is widespread, but demonstrably incorrect. Just read the horribly inflammatory statements of German Christian religious leaders of that period for easy verification of this fact.

    Final point – regardless of the supposed prevalence of misogyny in the atheist community , at least for atheists the subjugation of women is not written as immutable truth in “holy” rulebook, backed up by thousands of years of hallowed tradition.

    • The misogyny is typical of internet forums in general, and it is not restricted to atheism in any sense. I watched from sidelines. It appears that Skepchic went overboard with her “sexist critique” of male atheists, and the people who responded went overboard, confirming her suspicions. Bad form all the way around.

      • I certainly agree with your comment with regards to misogyny on internet forums in general. I did not really follow much of this Skepchic controversy, so cannot really comment on it.

  48. What I find odd by reading this (simplistic) article and the resultant comments is that the argument always comes down to religion. So let’s think about this for a moment. The talk is on atheism vs theism. Religions are the interpretations of theism and not theism. One could make the argument that science is not conclusive as well since their ideas and conclusions change almost each decade. If anything, I would think that science should be showing us that the universe is so complex and vast, we can only come to one conclusion; we simply don’t know. What is of concern is that science without wisdom can lead to rather dangerous conclusions. As an example, survival of the fittest, in simple terms, would imply that the sick and elderly are holding humanity back, that wealth is right since the wealthy sit on top of the heap and that might is right since they have the last word.

    • Your representation of science is very misleading. For example, let’s consider physics. Newtonian mechanics is essentially correct except when things get very big, very small, or very fast. To account for these other areas we need extensions of the base mechanics such as relativity and quantum mechanics. The degenerate cases for quantum mechanics and relativity fall into classical Newtonian mechanics. Now consider evolution. Darwin did not have access to genetics, molecular biology, nor the incredibly larger and more complex fossil record we have today. The fundamental principles he laid out are essentially correct, but they have been extended and corrected to incorporate modern science. Every scientific theory is only as good as the evidence that supports it, and any may be replaced or extended by a new discovery. The Bohr model of the atom worked initially, but more complex experiments showed that it was wrong and it was replaced by QED. Science is a representation of our best information to date, but to say we toss it out and replace because it is so unreliable it is very misleading.

      Your representation of “survival of the fittest” also shows that you don’t understand evolution either. Our strongest trait as a species is our ability to cooperate to ensure more of our species survive. We are physically weak with medium endurance. Our intellectual capabilities and our social connections are why we are the dominant species on the planet at the moment.

      It sounds to me like your understanding of science is a drastically over-simplified version of reality.

      • Hmm I merely stated some obvious conclusions based on history. While I have a great admiration for science and scientists, I find it odd that you would pit the theology of 3 thousand years ago to our modern science. Consider the science of 3 thousand years ago and see where that gets you. Nor did I intimate we throw science out. What I said was that it changes as we find new ways of research and that what we need is some wisdom thrown in. To suggest that we know it all is rather disingenuous since we are a mere speck on a very small planet in a tiny part of the universe. What we do know, based on the science of today is that our thinking will most likely change over time as we evolve.

        The
        standard interpretation of quantum physics assumes that the quantum
        world is characterized by absolute indeterminism and that quantum
        systems exist objectively only when they are being measured or observed.
        Such concepts as non locality and entanglement have yet to be figured
        out since they do not hold with our matter laden ideas. This would suggest that to grasp the logical conclusion based on what we think is reality most likely will result in only our simple observation of reality and nothing more. One could make the argument that we see what we want to see. Consider neuroplasticity where it is being shown that the brain makes its own world.

        I do have a problem with religion but I have no problem with theism (whatever that means).

    • Science is nothing but a method for knowing things. Knowledge is always provisional. Nothing is proven in science as tomorrow new evidence or tests can falsify a theory.

      Your entire modern way of life is based on science. Health, clean water, food, transportation and communications.

      Make 2 lists:

      1) All the religious explanations that have been replace by better scientific ones.

      2) All the scientific explanations that have been replace by better religions ones.

      Its not even close now is it.

      If the human species is to stand to its full height, then we need to jettison these bronze aged beliefs and all start to think critically and to use reason to inform our world views.

  49. Well then the 12 tribes of Israel and God and Jesus and all that you say that are in my family needs medication, but we don’t use them they are only sold in your system for your people. Medication is bad for the soul and that’s why God cannot get an Angel into a man.
    By the time a child is born most are already abused the soul is damaged. This is also written 3000 years ago. I will not distrub your organization. I was just making a comment about the future. I have my own ministry that was established 3000 years with my own people. I am not interested in organizations structures. I am interested in the healing of one soul and everlasting life. Life to me was to seek a way to understand who we are and to get to everlasting life. Life is simple to me so I don’t need medication highly educated.
    From the 12 tribes leader and lots of family who understand the Holy One of the Earth.
    Just sharing experiences comments and thoughts. Anyway, you have been tested for the new earth and I would not need your leadership. Thank You. I will not contact you again.
    Funny world they like medication to solve their problems. Not the image of 7Angels 3women, and 3men 7 the number of completion. I will not contact cannot use leadership on the earth and new heavens. Thank You Again.

    • Lady… you need to see a doctor. Really.

  50. Wow how disengenuous…Was this author advocating killing Christians in gas chambers? Pretty sure engaging believers in discussion is more akin to Socrates rather than Nazism. Condescending title, horribly one-sided, unnuanced article and the conclusion comes out of left field. Fear mongering against Atheists. Good job.

  51. This comment was deleted.

    • Move on… you don’t even seem to know how to reply to people. Based on your responses below, you are clearly mentally deranged.

  52. I have declared end times Daniel 12:1 My families book the Gospels since you do o have respect. Weclome to the kingdom of Heaven. Your spirit has been cut-off.
    If you look into the Gospels now you will not be able to understand it.
    AGAIN WE CUT YOU OFF IN THE SPIRIT YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND THE GOSPELS. THANK YOU. STRIKE DOWN FOR INSULATING PEOPLE. We only tried to bring you the truth. We do not need this Again, I have taken the kimgdom of heaven back, and when my brother gets here he will have. 20million Angels on the way, and 2nd Satan will be releaed. Do not contact me regrading the Gospels. Read your own books now. All United States will be saved, but my enemies cut off. Arabs, Judah, Ben. I cannot contact
    you understand leadership of my morther’s teaching a crown. We have taken the Gospels to all the world. “Elders of the Kingdom of Heaven” Judah for everlasting life.
    They will sit by Jesus and Israel and God they will be our counsel for everlasting life.
    Again, no respect your spirit has been cut from the Gosepls. We speak no more under leadership of 3000 years in the United States. no respect do not contact
    cannot deliver.

    • The above is why there needs to be a *huge* push back on religion. Look what its done to this persons mind.

  53. If you like you can get my book “The Second Heaven” on Amazon. This is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 11:11 I am sending a message with the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven. You can help Jesus by understanding the kingdom of heaven.
    Thank You.

  54. Spend some time at ‘skepticsannotatedbible.com/’. Very good cross reference of the bible. When they come to my door, I ask them questions about the parts of the bible no pastor will touch (for obvious reasons). The parts where god endorses slavery (Exodus 21) or ethnic cleansing (Numbers 31) and the killing or rape victims (Deut 22). They usually go away with a worried look. They tell me they will read up on it and get back to me. They never do. It’s great fun.

  55. “If Dawkins says attack, they attack.” Can anyone say “the voice of God””

    Dawkins never said attack. As a deep follower of ‘elevator gate’ I think you misrepresented quite a lot.

    “cite man’s “superior evolutionary psychology.””

    Sorry totally false.

    “When you can no longer use scripture to subjugate women, why not try science?”

    Even worse.

    There were a lot of negative comments sent Rebecca’s way, but she clearly enjoyed it. Reveled in it. She still uses it to this day for attention.

    “Like thousands of women active in the online atheist community, Watson has experienced misogyny verging on the deranged.”‘

    You know this how? Thousands? Why do any research, just take Rebecca’s word? I would really like to know where you get that number.

    • Which version of god do you mean? So many have been invented by humans you need to be more clear than “God does exist!”.

  56. I get a whiff that this author thinks the Nazis where non-religious? Can she really be writing here and be serious? Has she read Mein Kamph? Does she know what Hitler said about Atheists? About what his mission was? Does she know what was on their belt buckles? Does she know who the first treaty was made with? Does she know what the oath taken by Nazis officers said?

    Such poor research does not bode well for this magazine. And she has the gall to talk context.

  57. This is why the world is going to end. Your laziness is what the Heavens are going to strike down. Again, do not contact me……………….Thank you………………….

    • Who do you think you’re talking to? Or is going to contact you? This is a public forum. You can’t stop people from commenting. Nobody is ‘contacting’ you.

    • Sorry Deb, the Sun will be around for another 5 billion years. Humans probably not but I think it’s going to take something bigger than this.

    • Look, when you spam a forum people might just reply to you. So you wrote a book, big deal. We’re not interested in your thoughts on your imaginary friend.

  58. This article does three harmful things:
    First, it ignores the larger social issues with regards to racism, sexism, harassment, and the internet; second, it makes all atheists responsible for Dawkins’ sins; third, and most worryingly, it provides implicit support for the idea that making generalizations about groups of people based on the actions of a few is a good idea. I don’t think I should need to explain why these are problems; I would hope it is obvious.

    This article fails on a moral level.

  59. True just don’t contact me that’s all. First time on this but really not interested in this form of communication. The conversation is not what I am looking for so I will not be coming back.I did not know that people use this to insult people. I had some info but now I will just go to some Professional people who knows how to communicate without control, you better, issuses with woman. I want to talk to normal people. I am just not intersted here. Too many rude men. I am testing man’s soul. Many are in trouble and cannot get better. I have a book that will help men and women understand the soul.
    “The Second Heaven” on Amazon this will get you back to understanding the kingdom of heaven like no other minister. Once you read it you become a prophet visions, and dreams. This will help your soul. It is not religion. It is my experience. Religion is a word used for different practices of the Gospels. There is only one Religion it is (God) that’s it.
    I am only here to give knowledge not to put people down. I see this is the new communicaation style. This is very damaging to the soul. Buy the book it will help you.
    Many people have too many angry issuses. When the true deliverer arrives(me) I am shocked no wonder why my mother hid me from you for 40 years. Vindication for me.
    Trust me it will help you…………..Thanks tell all your friends
    You cannot make people respond to rude people just because you can type.
    Read the book and get better I am the messenger. Help Jesus sister and get well.

    • Debra, these emails you’re getting are not us ‘contacting’ you. When anyone comments on a thread that you’ve also commented on, Disqus (the comment system) sends you an email. We have no control over that, but you do.

      You should be able to go to http://disqus.com/dashboard/ Go to the upper right, there will be a menu which includes “Edit Profile”. Select that then pick “Notifications” on the left, and then uncheck “Send me notifications”.

      You won’t get any more emails when other people comment.

      I think that’s what you’re looking for.

    • Interesting:

      “This will help your soul. It is not religion. It is my experience.”

      Some one making their own Kool Aid.

  60. Atheism used to be something you reached after a process of contemplation and experience. Nobody really preached it, you just sort of realized it, I suspect.

    We should not be surprised to see more and more people taking it up as a strange kind of antifaith, rather than the the realization of a lack of faith, with the advent of preachers of Atheism.

    Preachers draw believers… but that’s not really what Atheism’s about.

  61. I am the messenger for Jesus please read my book “The Second Heaven” on Amazon this will show you the true kingdom of heaven. My brother said the world should read this book.
    Real knowledge it took 40 years to achieve. This will heal the soul…….Thanks help Jesus

  62. Get the book the “The Second Heaven” on Amazon this is Jesus sister he told you a long time ago. Anyway goodluck two kingdoms only……………Thanks Help Jesus…Thanks again. It will heal your soul………………..

  63. ok thanks I wrote a book if your interested “The Second Heaven” Jesus sister he said he will send you some knowlege of the heavens. I have been hidden 40years. I am being vindicated. Thanks help us ok it will heal the soul……..Thanks help Jesus..his sister

  64. The only problem with this idea is that you would attempt to interject reason with people who by the definition of religion have no reason. It’s a futile exercise, one that is well worth attempting don’t get me wrong, but futile nonetheless…

    • Please explain why all of the atheistic societies have been such failures.

      • Explain to which atheistic societies you address? If you’re speaking of the communist societies, the failure is not a matter of religious values being vacant but rather economic values being bereft. Along with an absolute disregard for natural law; natural selection and survival of the fittest.

  65. hahaha, the slippery slope fallacy of equating Dawkins with a Nazi. Pipe down with this garbage. Regardless of Dawkins, anyhow, atheism, or non belief, does not require any sort of faith in him to maintain our lack of belief in deity. Dawkins can be wrong like any other flawed human being. My non belief can acknowledge fallibility without the basis of its main assertions crumbling. I have no bible, I merely do my best to ascertain the truth knowing full well that absolute truth is an unattainable thing given the limits of the human mind and perception. Take everything with a boat load of salt. I prefer skeptic over atheist but I still believe it very unlikely that this universe requires a God to operate and for my life to have meaning and purpose. If he does exist, I’ll deal with it and tell him his plan sucked.

    And sharing of our philosophy is a desire to help friends and acquaintances become rooted in reality. Society will be better served by people who base their moral endeavors on what can be proven to be useful for civilization. Delusion and dogma in almost all cases are not healthy for the human spirit and are certainly problematic when they seep their way into public policy, groups, and institutions.

    • Dawkins is really more of a Stalinist who believes that he and his followers are uniquely rational and therefore qualified to overrule everyone who disagrees with them. Every religion is really just a philosophy as is the atheist philosophy. Dawkins and his fans barely hide their desire to suppress every philosophy but their own. If they had power in any country, the corpses would start piling up very quickly. There have been plenty of regimes that tried to take god out of public life and they all turned out to be hell-holes without exception. The utopia promised by those who claim intellectual superiority never quite turns out.

      • ” a Stalinist who believes that he and his followers are uniquely rational and therefore qualified to overrule everyone who disagrees with them”

        this is completely untrue. Dawkins has no desire to rule nor do atheists claim to have a unified goal of subjugating the masses. You are participating again in the slippery slope fallacy of if the atheists had their way DOOM AND DESTRUCTION, and it’s just completely asinine. It wasn’t taking God out of public life that destroyed the Soviet Union or resulted in the Nazi atrocities, it was claiming a superiority over other human beings (something plenty of religions have done and with that committed horrid actions) and the the utopian delusion that government can benevolently rule and create social justice. Government as a replacement for God is another dogmatic delusion. Most skeptics and non-believers do not intend to take over the world or strip people of their right to believe, they simply want people to be rational, understand that many things cannot be answered and overly faithful commitment to any philosophy as if it is the silver bullet answer for solving the meaning of life is unreasonable. Where possible, public policy should adhere as closely to the facts of reality as possible. Science is not a perfect method of getting at the truth but it most certainly the best because it acknowledges limitations and invites criticism and questions. Some people religiously preach certain scientific conclusions and this is misguided. But in terms of what worldview invites the most reasonable approach, it’s science, because you submit findings to peer review and invite others to recreate your studies or questions the validity of said studies. “Faith” may exist within the system simply because humans are flawed and tend that way, but that faith exists FAR less frequently than it does in supernatural mysticism and religion.

        I invite open minded people to view this rebuttal to the fallaciously argued article above

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsR5iwoheg8

        • Yep, as usual Stef nails it.

  66. “Religion isn’t an immutable characteristic of a person.” He’s right. Technically it’s not.

    Unfortunately, though, the Nazis didn’t care about technicalities, nor did any other non-religious power that killed on the basis of religion.”
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    Godwin’s law…

    It’s really funny to me when christians use hitler as an example of a violent atheist despite his proudly held catholicism.

    Nazi’s were christian, jew-hating fanatics.

    the nazi germany was declared a christian country. Nazi soldiers had “Gott mit uns” (God with us) on their belts!

    Kind of defeats the point of using this as a way to get back at atheists…

    Hitler thought he was on a god-given and god-driven mission. He ordered to burn all prints Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” (just throwing this out there, I have had too many people tell me Darwin’s work was a BASIS for Hitler’s genocide.)

    Hitler OUTLAWED secular and atheistic organizations in germany, all public schools were christian (teaching “the truth of god”)

    If you don’t believe me, read Mein Kampf or look it up on the internet.

    • Hitler also did his best to diminish the power of all Christian churches in Germany and encouraged his followers to break with Christianity. He wanted to replace Christianity with a kind of Germanic neo-paganism that would harmonize better with his National Socialist ideology.

      • “encouraged his followers to break with Christianity”

        Citation, please.

        Typical Christian dishonesty.

  67. Militant Muslims set off bombs in crowded markets. Militant Christians assassinate abortion doctors. Militant atheists . . . criticize religion and try to make people think critically, apparently. Then there’s the pointed mention that atheists on the whole might actually run the ethical gamut from generally good dude or lady, to complete jerk, same as everybody. That’s surprising, really? Last but not least, we even get the dreaded Nazi card. Is the author even aware that the Nazi motto was “Gott mit uns” (God With Us)? Short of a generous application of backspace, I’m having trouble envisioning how this piece could be more devoid of meaningful content that it is already.

    • “Militant atheists . . . criticize religion and try to make people think critically, apparently. ”
      They don’t just do that they also (and this is really horrifying so hold onto your seat) HIT ON PEOPLE AT CONFERENCE IN ELEVATORS.

      • Militant atheists are self-possessed, arrogant aspiring dictators. They are not about respecting anybody, including any women that show up at their conferences.

        • Yeah I mean there was one guy who hit on someone in an elevator. That’s far worse than the instutionalised misogyny that is endemic in religion. But thank you for pointing out the mote in my eye.

    • Militant atheists like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot massacre millions of innocent people whenever they get a chance at power. When was the last time that an abortion doctor was shot by a “militant Christian”. You might as well say that “militant Christians” get into car accidentsl

      • It’s not their non belief that drives that, it’s their lack of morality and belief that government knows what’s best for the people. Any human being of any worldview can leads themselves to irrational attitudes for how to exploit their fellow human brothers and sisters. Non-belief really doesn’t influence much how that occurs, a lack of morals does.

      • Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were communists who massacred anyone posing a threat, real or imagined, to the state. Christians, Jews, pagans and atheists were slaughtered together in the name of communism, not in the name of lacking belief in a god. Using your logic, Hitler was a “militant Christian” in the same sense that your listed dictators were “militant atheists,” but you’re perfectly willing to accept that this is absurd when your own group is the object of criticism (per your last sentence). I’m not sure whether you’re confused or dishonest.

        Militant Christians have historically done far more than assassinate abortion doctors, and there are numerous lesser examples of institutional bigotry and discrimination that continue to this day. But doctor-killing was a quick and suitably dramatic example. If you want to say that communism has proved deadlier than Christianity, then I would probably agree with you. But surely you can understand how resorting to a comparison of body counts is a pretty weak point to win on, and confusing communism with atheism is a losing point from the start.

    • He destroys Teitel’s weak and specious arguments and analysis in his vid on this article. Anyone here who thinks Ms. Teitel’s attempt ay equivalency holds water just watch this vid and you will realize how weak her critical thinking skills are.

      • Indeed, thanks for the comment

  68. People who are religious are generally ignorant. We’re simply trying to educate them. No force is involved. I don’t see what’s wrong with that? I see however, what’s wrong with being ignorant : it’s the primary cause of almost all the human problems. All problems have causes, and we have to address thoses causes in order to solve them. Atheists don’t care about what people believe, they care about these people’s actions which are a negative consequence of their beliefs, and they care about religious people making truth claims about reality which are false.

  69. Dawkins and his zombies are starting to sound more and more like the Communists of the not so distant past. They’re a bunch of fanatics who claim to be uber-rational and claim that
    they can better organize society than anyone else. If they were in power, mass executions would be the order of the day and as in all dictatorially-inclined movements, they would turn on each other in short order. Do they have an example of an atheist society that is particularly good to live in? Communist China? The former USSR? Pol Pot’s Cambodia? The present-day paradise of N. Korea? The U.S.A. is usually vilified for having too many religious people in it but I’d like to see any kind of atheistic society that is even 10% as successful. If Dawkins and his gang were in power, the freedom to have your own ideas about god or anything else would disappear quickly. It would just be the 21st century version of the Communist gulag.

    • Are you Peter Boghossian? You have more invested in these comments then he does in his book.

    • In your feral thugishness and ignorance, you expand on the idiotic mistake of the author. Atheists aren’t telling anyone what to believe at all. It’s the religious who make a positive claim about the world, declaring all kinds of things to exist that aren’t obvious to the rest of us. The atheist asks for evidence, sees what’s on offer and finds it insufficient. The burden is all upon the religious to provide evidence for their positive claims.

      The atheist makes no claims at all, asserts noting, declares the existence of nothing. Hence we have nothing to defend. To dumb it down so even a vicious moron like you can get it, an analogy would be this. A person asserts that invisible strings hold up the sun. The atheist asks what evidence that person has of those magic strings. The person asserts, this book tells me so. The atheist asks, where did the book come from? The person responds, some old men wrote it. The atheist asks, how did the old men know the invisible strings are there? And so on.

      All atheists do is apply reason to the supernatural, philosophical and moral claims religious people make – and the religious have no evidence and much of what they’ve peddled to humanity for thousands of years has been debunked, so the religious don’t even have trust or credibility or authority to rely on. It’s basic reasoning, yet you ignore all that and pretend Dawkins is telling you to believe in one thing or another. Now separately, scientists posit claims like evolution – and even the Catholic and Protestant church now acknowledges that evidence and reasoning that has been offered. But even then, scientists know all knowledge is contingent and are open to new evidence.

      Can you see the difference? I doubt it but I write this for others who might be here who are bamboozled by your BS. Stop preaching, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      • “Atheists aren’t telling anyone what to believe at all.” – Yes, they do.
        And, as an atheist who actually lived in the Eastern Block in the days of State-Atheism – I see Dawkins and his ilk really sounding more and more like Khrushchev.

        • Just because you say it doesn’t make it so.

  70. “If you don’t care for his wares, you say no thanks, shut the door and sometimes roll your eyes. But you rarely, if ever, engage.” Speak for yourself. Twice I had JW’s looking at their watches. I kid you not. One time I had them stumped.

  71. You can’t call the Nazis non religious.
    It was clearly and proudly a Christian organization.
    But that doesn’t fit the ‘evil Atheist’ narrative, does it?

    • People who use that argument are usually utterly ignorant of history. Nazis had “God with us” on their belt buckles and also negotiated an uneasy peace with the Catholic church which the RC has already officially apologized for.

      Stalin was a educated in a seminary and took the reigns of a country that had been run by a demigod previously. He kept ‘two sets of books’ regarding religion. claiming atheism but never daring to attack the Russian Orthodox church the way he did other institutions of pre-Communist Russia. This irony was never so obvious as during the famous visit with Stalin of the “Fellow Travelers” who while sitting in Stalin’s office could hear the chiming of church bells from across the street. Stalin used supernatural ideas such as Lysenko’s magical technology and farming to hypnotize a suffering populace just as the religious did.

      Mao inherited a Confucian culture that was already deeply authoritarian and created a personal cult of worship for himself that he exploited more effectively than most religious types ever did.

      But even without all that, simple reasoning shows the flaw in these kind of assertions. Communism requires atheism, atheism does not require communism. As well, history is replete with religiously inspired massacres and deprivations – one only need to look to Palestine for an example ongoing religiously inspired ethnic cleansing. Or Sudan. Or roll back the clock to Rwanda – the most Christian country in Africa. Ignorance abounds…

  72. It’s articles like these that led me to cancel my monthly subscription.

  73. 20million Angels are interested in your thoughts and your attitude is what is causing Satan and Aliens, flyings saucers to come to our planet. Your interested in hell and trust me it is on it’s way. You asked for it when you open your mouth you will receive. Go tell your friends your problems. solution when your beaten down by the winds that will blow you away. Get my book good luck. 20 million Angels are interested in you.

  74. Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  75. Stefan Molyneux did his usual surgical critique of this article on Youtube, entitled “Bless Atheists, For They Have Sinned – Rebutted!”

  76. “Boghossian’s militant atheism not only attacks religion’s zealous and
    radical manifestations, but targets its benign and secular ones, too.”

    Ms. Page is apparently too clueless to understand that their are no benign lies.

  77. I went into this post wondering how long it would take you to lazily and disingenuously compare atheists to Nazis. I suppose I should be grateful that you waited until the last paragraph. How infuriatingly predictable.

  78. Last paragraph of the article: “Reductio ad Hitlerum ” an informal fallacy that consists of trying to refute an opponent’s view by comparing it to a view that would be held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party.” …Very, very, very L A Z Y.

  79. I thought the author was going to make it, but Godwin’s Law got her in the end.

Sign in to comment.