• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ga6thDem on And so it begins…
    Propertius on A Hypothesis
    William on A Hypothesis
    William on A Hypothesis
    Propertius on A Hypothesis
    Propertius on A Hypothesis
    insightanalytical on Happy Fourth of July!
    William on Happy Fourth of July!
    Propertius on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    Propertius on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    William on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    Propertius on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    Propertius on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    William on Focusing on the Wrong Thi…
    riverdaughter on And so it begins…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    April 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Good for him
      He’s probably doing more good from the outside: One-time rising star Jason Kander won his battle with PTSD, but he's in no rush to return to politics https://t.co/KcTcMKI3jZ pic.twitter.com/l4sB5iRdWa — New York Post (@nypost) July 5, 2022
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Now That We’re At Peak, How Fast Will Civilization Collapse Be?
      Last week I wrote an article about the future of civilization, collapse centered around a graph from “Limits To Growth.” I spent a fair bit of time staring at this graph yesterday, and I want to return to it, because it says some very important things about what’s coming up over the next decades. The first thing to understand is that the future is, as Willia […]
  • Top Posts

Hitchens and New Atheism

The Four Horsemen

I followed a link from Susie’s page to this post by Steve Volk about the deification of Christopher Hitchens and how new atheism gets so many things wrong.  {{rolling eyes}}

I have to agree in one respect about the deification of Hitchens.  I don’t get it either.  Hitchens was in many respects as irrational as the religious right when it came to war in Iraq.  He was a founder of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.  And I’ll never forget George Galloway calling him a “drink soaked former Trotskyite popinjay”.  That’s not an insult people hear everyday (at least since the 19th century), but, oddly, it seemed to fit.

So, no, Hitchens is not my favorite guy.  He seemed a bit too “queen bee” for me. If you were on his sY*( list, he and his little band of followers would devote years to taunting and ridicule in a manner reminiscent of middle school lunch period.

But I do understand why so many people in the New Atheist community have adopted him as their Joan of Arc.  For one thing, Hitchens was not afraid to say he was an atheist and he was one of the few people who had a platform and a megaphone to wear the atheists’ colors and do battle.  Yeah, he was sometimes arrogant and militant about it but if you’ve had religion shoved down your throat involuntarily for decades and you’re not getting anywhere, you need a crusader (so to speak) on your side.  Plus, he had a wicked way with words, so there’s that.

The other thing I think they admire him for is the way he handled his terminal illness.  He looked death in the face and did not go screaming to Jesus.  They liked that about him.  It’s sort of like being a prisoner undergoing torture and not cracking or turning on his friends.  Death got his name, rank and serial number and nothing else.  He might have been a royal pain in the ass to his adversaries but he was courageous to the end.

There is somewhat of a legendary status about the Four Horsemen, ie the four atheist leaders and philosophers who met one day a few years ago and hashed out what New Atheism means.  Those four are Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris.  Four guys.  Yep, we have a problem here but hopefully, women like Cristina Rad and Greta Christina will start to get more attention.  Anyway, the Four Horsemen videos have achieved something of a cult status on YouTube.  Occasionally, they look like they’re taking themselves much too seriously in this video. Hitchens lounges on his chair like some decadent Byronic antihero and sips his drink while the four of them try to figure out what they’re going to do about this responsibility they have had thrust upon them.  What I get out of the videos is that I would much rather have dinner with Dawkins than any of the others.  He seems positive, friendly and youthfully optimistic in these videos. We could talk about evolutionary traces and form and function of protein domains and stuff like that…

Where was I?  Offtrack again, right?

Anyway, enough of Hitch.  If some people want to admire him, so what?  I won’t be one of them but that just goes to show that even among outsiders, er, I’m a bit of an outsider.  I understand that he was a good friend and if some of his friends want to remember him with a statue, well, it’s better than one of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush so why not?

But I do have problems with the Steve Volk’s defense of religion and dismissal of the New Atheists.  For one thing, he doesn’t seem to understand why it is that a lot of kids from religious households don’t get into trouble as teens.  It’s because they aren’t allowed to do anything.  Trust me on this, I’ve been there.  They’re watched all. the. time.  But when they move away from home, they tend to go overboard so there is a conservation of outrageous behavior in the universe after all and probably a nasty equation to go with it.

The idea that atheists’ concept of god as an old bearded man is probably accurate.  Many atheists reject the irrational, jealous, vengeful god as described in the bible.  But they have a much more advanced concept of the universe and the natural world and that is more interesting than any abstract concept of a light filled being to them.  It’s also easier to prove that the universe exists than an abstract omniscient, omnipotent light filled being who also tends to be jealous, vengeful and irrational.  I’m still open to God 2.0, the major revision, but I’m waiting for proof.  No more Vaporware. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

But here are the paragraphs that I really have a problem with:

I could go on. But my point here is simply that grievous inaccuracy is never a good strategy in debate or as a matter of persuasion. So I think the new atheists have often hampered their own cause just by being wrong. Tell someone who is receiving these benefits of religion that it “poisons everything” and they are likely to believe you—and the movement you represent—don’t know what you’re talking about.  And beyond that, it seems to me, they’d be right. So yeah, the new atheist movement would be better off acknowledging the nuances of the debate. But nuance, with rare exception, doesn’t seem to be part of the basic new atheism skill set.

Religion contributes to division, the sort “us” versus “them” thinking that leads to war, goes the new atheist battle cry. It’s a clear, black and white argument, they make, visible in the pages of our history books. But that most secular of political movements, communism, produced copious bloodshed and misery and squashed the whole concept of individual liberty in the bargain. So clearly, the human condition, our penchant for selfishness and anger, catches us all—believers and nonbelievers alike. So…what exactly was their point about religion leading to violence, anyway? Because from the vantage point of history it seems abundantly clear that what leads to violence is being human.

Maybe Volk should have a talk with the women of Arizona or Texas or Mississippi whose bodily autonomy has been defined by the religious right.  Or maybe he should talk to the women of Wisconsin who just lost their legal protections for equal pay.  Or maybe he should talk to gays and women who have had their rights undermined by taxpayer funded “faith based initiatives”.  Rational people who value equality and justice have been undermined for decades by the religious who seem to think they have a right to divide the population into the privileged and blessed by god vs the disenfranchised, damned and unfit for society.  The religious lead a crusade to get us into a land war in Asia against muslims and they have a history of violent crusades and jihads.  When was the last time a bunch of atheists invaded a country and went all Clockwork Orange on it?

I don’t know if I would say the New Atheists are contributing to division so much as standing up and redrawing some firm boundaries between church and state that the rest of us have neglected.  Volk also seems to have forgotten that this country was penned into existence by secularists so, you know, maybe the problem with other failed secular political movements has as much to do with authoritarianism and the weaknesses of human nature and not so much to do with secularism, right, Steve?  Just reason it out.  It’s not that hard.

We’re entering a new period of inequality that is being aided and abetted by the religious and if the New Atheists are willing to fight back against that, count me in their corner.

36 Responses

  1. One of the most unfortunate fall-out effects of Hitchensian CDS is that the personal-dislike-based screamers drowned out all efforts to discuss, let alone affect, Clintonian policy on Free Trade Agreements,
    regulation-deregulation, etc. Also, it helped fuel a political games-based effort to impeach Clinton for no good reason at all, thereby helping to pre-discredit the notion of impeaching a President for very good reason indeed; much to Shrubya’s benefit.

    As to Hitchens’s Atheistianity, in the hands of Hitchens et al, “atheism” is just another religion. It has too little social market share to have any effect on our society. Atheistians are not the problem in America today.

    • Oh, I think you’re wrong about atheists having too little market share. Their numbers are growing. And the more that come out makes it easier for lurkers to come out too. They will start having an impact. Besides, you don’t have to be an atheist to value secularism in government.

      • Well . . . as a First Evolution Church of God Darwinite, I don’t plan to convert to Atheistianity. I quite agree that Secularism and Atheism are two different things. Many kinds of personal religionists strongly support the Secular Society under Secular Government. Actually, I suspect that if the New Atheists get enough power, they will reveal themselves as supporting no such thing. An earlier iteration of “new Atheists”, the First Atheist Church of Marx, Leninist, used every form of oppression to convert their USSR subjects to Marx-Leninist Atheism. Their Atheism was a militant missionary religion, not a mere absence of religion.

        Back to Hitchens and CDS, Hitchens was not the only sower of CDS. Howell Raines as chief editior of the New York Times also mainstreamed CDS and based two solid years of wall to wall Whit3ewater coverage on his CDS. and his desire to mainstream it.
        I suspect Hitchens and Howell Raines were both motivated by their social class outrage that a genuine poor white person earn the Harvard education and accolades and political power which they themselves never did get, despite their superiour social class background . . . bless their little hearts. (Not to say that Hitchens didn’t “get” a Harvard or Oxford or whatever education . . . just to say
        that Hitchens probably suspected he reCIEVED it by virtue of his social class whereas Clinton clearly EARNED it deSPITE Clinton’s social class. And that irritated Hitchens to no end.)

        Any mispellings are due to Micrshitsploder’s interaction with the blog comments function.

        • Um, you can relax. I didn’t see any signs of communists at the Reason Rally. I think they just want to get our government back from the religious right. Isn’t that what you want? Why ascribe some nasty conspiracy to them when they show absolutely no sign of such a thing.
          Besides, when you say stuff like that, you are talking about my Brooke, who’s been an atheist since she was nine. She made up her own mind and she is most definitely not a commie nor is she into authoritarian anything. Trust me on this.
          And for clarification, I think that Hitchens went to Oxford and got a third class degree in english or something. I suspect he partied a little too hard. He was a very talented guy but not when it came to war or muslims.

          • Well I’ll relax then. What I want is the Secular Society under Secular Government and definitely wrenching government away from the Rapturanian Armageddonites and the Dominionists. I doubt very much
            that your daughter Brooke has the same Atheistian Missionary instincts which Dawkins/Hitchens/Bill Mahr/etc. clearly have. But if I am wrong about that, then I will stay relaxed regardless, as long as I don’t see the Atheistian Missionaries try to take over government to impose and enforce Atheistianity as the State Mandated Belief-System.
            And of course, as you say, there is no visible chance of that for now.

            Harvare/Yale?Georgetown/Oxford . . . I get them all mixed up. They all seem pretty upper class to me, and Bill Clinton would have been resented at any one of them. Hitchens’s family was among the low-level-servants-of-Empire class in Great Brittain, I believe. And as such, Hitchens would have deeply resented a genuine poor white person at his beloved OxVard, or wherever. Or am I wrong?

        • I agree that Bill Clinton was widely hated amongst the privileged classes because he was viewed as a whte trash hillbilly.

          I don’t think he went to Harvard, though. His undergraduate degree, I believe, was from Georgetown and he studied law at Yale.

  2. Don’t forget the Chicken Agnostics– possibly the largest group of all.

    • You’re not sure chickens exist?
      I think this one is easy to prove.

      • If ‘heimer’s doesn’t get me, I think it was Shaw, when asked why such a well known agnostic was attending church, replied something to the effect of “I don’t know if God exists, but why take a chance on being wrong?” Thus, the Chicken Agnostic doesn’t know if God exists or believes he doesn’t, but is not taking any chances on going to Hell. Hence, cowardly.

  3. Sorry, but these “new atheists” bore the hell out of me. So do most theists, old and new. All you hear are the same old arguments, over and over. Dawkins has nothing to tell me that I hadn’t heard in the 1970s, and he has an annoying habit of expounding on things that he hasn’t studied. I’ve often heard him on BBC radio spewing authoritatively about various topics even when he clearly has not read a single book pertinent to the discussion.

    If you can predict what someone is going to say before he says it, there’s no reason to listen. As the French say: Astonish me!

    “The upper classes read to be surprised; the middle class reads to have its biases confirmed.” You don’t hear that axiom so much these days — I think we need to find a way to rephrase the idea without bringing class into it. At any rate, what bugs me is not that Dawkins and Hitchens are atheists but that theirs is such a “middle class” atheism.

    Luis Bunuel. Now THERE was a non-middle-class atheist. Never a dull moment with that guy. Screw Snitchens. I want to see someone like Luis on the cultural scene again.

    Of course, one of the big differences between you and I is that you grew up in a religious household and I did not.

    • There are a lot of New Atheists that are not like the Four Horsemen. They’re much more interesting and ordinary. But whatever.
      I used to think negatively about Dawkins but I’ve come to see him as a hero of sorts. So many people are inspired by him to not give up on reason and he’s spent so much of his own time and money trying to shore up our secular governments that I’m a little afraid to think of where we would have been without him.
      When a person spends this much time working passionately for something so important, it’s hard to not take him seriously.
      Brooke *loves* him.

  4. Hitchens did not have religion “shoved down his throat for decades” He grew up in England where almost no one goes to church except to get married or buried. Religion is virtually dead there and it certainly doesn’t have any substantial impact on government policy except, pardon me, for it’s bowing down to Islam in the recent past. He came to the US voluntarily as an adult. He could have stayed in the very secular Europe but he chose to come here and spew drunken attacks on Hillary and other women. I loathed him and it had nothing to do with his atheism. He did have a nice turn of a phrase sometimes but, on the whole, I think he was a giant asshole.

  5. I just read Volk’s piece and I agree with him except that I see good reason for those who object to the enmeshing of religion and government to come together en masse to protest the way that government has been hijacked by religious extremists. But statues in London and DC? That’s just creepy.

    • Like I said, I don’t get it either but if people want statues of Hitchens instead of George Bush, why not?
      As to the rest of it, I disagree with Volk on most of it. I’m surprised that you agree. He makes no sense. Not only does he make no sense but he’s insulting to people who have decided they don’t believe in god. According to Volk, they’re concept of god is childish and they’re more likely to get into trouble as teenagers and secular governments are failures. Wow, talk about twisted logic.
      Even in this comment thread, atheists have been accused of being communists who are secretly plotting to deprive Americans of their civil rights. Where the hell to people come up with this stuff? It sounds like it’s straight out of Glenn Beck. And when they accuse atheists of having no morals, that’s not supposed to be insulting?? Religious Americans have an attitude. They’d better get ready for the non-believing community because it is growing.
      I get the impression that believers are completely insensitive to their dismissive and insulting attitude towards the non-believing community. It’s just so common for them to fall back on their prejudices that they think nothing of it. Either that or they’re truly thrown by the atheists who refuse to believe in group delusions about the stories in the bible. There appear to be a lot of people who are uncomfortable about that. But atheist, agnostics, freethinkers and skeptics have very good reasons for their non-belief in the bible and they’re fed up with having to be polite to the believing community that insists on maintaining its Volk-like prejudices towards them.

      • It has been years since I read any detailed history, so I am going on fading memory. The state-monopoly-sanctioned Belief System of the Communist Party was called Dialectical Materialism. Dialectical Materialism was the One True Religion of the Atheist Church of Marx Leninist. (An author named Sergei Bulgakov once wrote a book called
        Marx As A Religious Type). The Soviet Communist Atheistians certainly tried to burn down, blow up, take over, or otherwise shut down all churches in Communist Occupied Russia until the Nazi Invasion and the Russian’s and Ukrainians early response to it made Stalin realize that he would have to appeal to Russian-Ukrainian national patriotic impulses including a grudging tolerance to the circumscribed existence of such churches as yet remained.
        That is not a Secular Society. That is an Atheistian Religionist society.

      • RD, it appears that you’re not recognizing how very offensive non-believers, especially “evengelical” non-believers, are to those who believe. I understand atheists’ behavior. I undoubtedly sound much the same when I go on about Scientology or Mormonism or “ultras” of any stripe. What I don’t understand is your insistence that believers treat atheists with kid gloves when atheists persist in portraying, in the most insulting terms, those who believe in God. Both atheism and belief in God are essential to our identities. No one takes well to be told that they’re ignorant or delusional about which sports team they support, let alone something they perceive to be at the core of their being. Of course, both sides will have strong responses. I doubt that will ever end.

  6. “When was the last time a bunch of atheists invaded a country and went all Clockwork Orange on it?”

    The Soviet annexation of the Baltic States in 1940, the Soviet establishment of puppet regimes in Poland, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary in 1945, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 (or was it 1980?), the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950, the Chinese annexation of Tibet in whenever–do those ring any bells?

    Of course, the Commies like to go Full Metal Droog inside their borders, too. History shows us Stalin’s engineered famines and purges, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the continuing atrocity that is called North Korea, and let’s not forget those charming agrarian reformers, the Khmer Rouge.

    • The difference is that the soviets were exporting an economic model, not explicitly atheism. Plus, the satellite countries, and the soviet union itself, still had access to the orthodox churches. Remember the Black Madonna of Gdansk in Poland that became a rallying point during the solidarite movement? The soviets did enforce a secular government and severely restricted the power of the churches but they never disappeared.
      China is a bit of a different story. Organized religion, with the exception of Buddhism, didn’t have that much of a toehold in China. The Chinese have had a well developed secular civil service for thousands of years. If the Christian missions in China suffered, it might well have been a reaction to western culture as religion itself.
      The Khmer Rouge were just psychotic and remind me a lot of the Taliban. You might say that atheism became their religion.
      But my original point is that you don’t find an army of zealous atheists invading a nation and conquering it specifically to turn everyone in it into atheists. We, on the other hand, went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan with a religious motive. Maybe it wasn’t the true motive of our government but the Americans who were gung ho about invasion certainly thought it was the reason we went. We went to kick Muslim ass. Christians and Muslims have a history of conquering in the name of god.
      We became a secular nation because the colonists had already had experience with established religion on these shores and they wanted no part in it. Our non-establishment clause became the envy of the world. You could say that in the early days of our official nation, we promoted an “atheist” government, making sure that churches had no official role to play in civil matters and received no money from taxpayers, not unlike the godless Soviets. Volk doesn’t want you to remember this. He also doesn’t want you to remember how France stripped the churches of authority during their revolution. This is a pattern in *modern* governments. Religion does not have an official role to play and its influence is suppressed. Our country has actually gone backwards in this over the past decade.

      • You asked when was the last time an officially atheist country went conquering other countries. You did NOT ask whether or not atheism was their primary motive.

        The scarlet records of the Communist states prove that greed, power lust, and self-righteous cruelty are not moral failures exclusively confined to religious believers OR nonbelievers. They are human traits, because sometimes those tendencies contributed to survival and reproductive success in the amoral and pitiless natural environment in which our species of talking apes had the misfortune to evolve–and they still all too often yield success in “civilized” society as well.

        Also, Communism is not merely an economic model. Atheism is part of the package. Of course, that does not mean that all, or even the majority, of atheists are Communists–although Hitchens certainly was a Trotskyite at one time in his life. RUR was correct to worry about his having authoritarian tendencies, and maybe Harris as well, who, IIRC, supported torture of suspected “terrorists”.

        The Soviet Union and its satellite governments eventually tolerated the churches because they found they had to, lest an attempt to get rid of them once and for all spark a rebellion–and many believers WERE persecuted, and still are in hellholes like North Korea.

        As for the first French Revolution, how well did THAT work out for the French? I seem to recall that after a promising beginning, it degenerated into a Khmer Rougeish state (the Reign of Terror), then a corrupt oligarchy (the Directory), then a military dictator (Napoleon), and finally a restoration of the Bourbons. All that blood and atrocity, and they just went back to Square One.

        • Actually, I don’t think we disagree on that much. And wasn’t it Karl Marx who called religion the opiate of the masses? There’s a good reason for that. George Orwell spent a number of years in working class communities, working in the mines and he came to the same conclusion. The very poor rely on religion to get them through a life that they feel they can not change. Consequently, authoritarian minded governments and interests tend to promote religion as a way to pacify a suppressed population. Note that Orwell, while he agreed with Marx on many things, eventually turned away from communism because of its tendency towards authoritarianism.
          But we should be careful to distinguish the tendency towards authoritarianism with an embrace of atheism. The Nazis were authoritarian fascists but were NOT atheists. No, indeed, the Nazi party captured the German Lutheran church and used it to enforce their Nuremberg laws. It was so compromised that Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his colleagues created an anti-authoritarian version of the Lutheran church called the Confessing Church.
          What I am trying to say is that authoritarianism is not necessarily connected with atheism. Religion is used to great effect by authoritarians.
          As for the French Revolution, the Sans Culottes were hard on aristocrats as well as members of the first estates. But it was pretty clear that the church had colluded with the aristocracy to prevent the third estate from having any significant power. In many ways, it reminds me of the stunts that the Catholic Church is involved in this year with in support of the Republican agenda to promote “Religious Liberty” at the expense of women’s rights. In this case, the Catholic church owns quite a bit of property in the US in the form of parishes, real estate and hospitals. The hospitals in particular are vulnerable and the church doesn’t want to have to give up their monopolies in certain areas of the country. There is a lot at stake here if the separation of church and state is enforced stringently.
          Just sayin’, lots of moving parts.

      • “Religion does not have an official role to play and its influence is suppressed.”

        Oh, religion not having an official role to play in government means its influence is suppressed?

        The USA has no established churches. European nations did, and some of them still do. Why, then, does Christianity retain far more influence in the USA than in Europe, if non-establishment of a religion suppresses its influence?

        • I think you didn’t read the part where I said we moved backwards in the past decade.
          Let’s be careful to distinguish politicians who swear they are religious from those who actually believe. I suspect that there are quite a few politicians who are lying about their religious convictions. There is no way to tell. You have to take their word for it. That means that the religious may have more influence than they are entitled to because it is unpopular to be a non-believer.
          Also, the non-believing community is getting really sick of having everyone tell them that they have no morals. Morality frequently has nothing to do with religious belief. OR, religious belief tends to reinforce only a certain set of moral principles that are specific for that religion.
          As Greta Christina says, it is time we started to consider religion as only one possible view of the world, no better or worse than any other.

          • I don’t believe anyone on this thread has claimed that the non-believing community has no morals or ethics. I know for a fact that I haven’t. I have noted that Atheist Fundamentalists such as Hitchens are indeed religious. Their religion is the unprovable faith that there is no god or gods. How does Dawkins know that the Thousand Gods of India are not the Thousand True Gods? He doesn’t. He just beLIEVES . . . which is his perfect right. He also PREACHes the Word of Atheism to win converts to his faith in the non-existence of any god or gods, as is his right. And it is my right to note that that is precisely and exactly what he is doing.
            The early American government did not burn down, bomb, shut, take over, ban, etc. the various churches, the way the Church of Marx Leninist did in the early years of Soviet Russia. There is a difference between non-support and non-establisment . . . which is Secularism, and what the Communists did in Soviet Russia, which was an Atheist Fundamentalist Crusade against god-based religions in favor of the One True Faith in the non-existence of any god or gods.

            The Khmer Rouge were essentially Taliban? My point exactly. They were Fundamentalist AtheisTaliban educated in the Marxist-Lenisnist madrassas of Europe, or inspired by people who were.

            My understanding of our invasion of Afghanistan was that it was to overthrow the Taliban, not to de-Muslimize Afghan society. I do not remember any more why Hitchens in particular advocated invading Iraq
            beyond vaguely remembering him link-and-tie bin Laden and Saddam Hussein together into one big Muslim mass that needed kicking.

            I myself have noted in many prior comments that the threat to our security and society at this point comes from the militant fundamentalist god-based religions . . . in particular several aggressive forms of Christianity. ( The anti-womanitic Catholic Church, the Rapturanians, the Armageddonites, the Dominionists, etc.)
            Atheist Fundamentalist mockery of these groups helps weaken their hold on the minds of many, which might be a first step towards weakening their power. But what I want at the end of that road is a Secular Society where there is no theist domination OR antitheist domination of law, custom, and people; and where I can disrespect the Faith-in-no-god or gods pretensions of Hitchens just as much as I can
            disrespect Mitt Romney’s faith in the magic golden plates and the magic translational hat.

            By the way, here is a mocking article about Hitchens from when Hitchens was still healthy . . . knocking Hitchens for knocking Michael Moore.

          • And here that Hitchens counter-review review is . . . http://nypress.com/shoveling-coal-for-satan/

      • Americans did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq as an effort in mass conversion. The fact that they were Muslim nations certainly added to their “otherness” but we did not invade them with a religious motive. We invaded Afghanistan because they were harboring the terrorists who supported the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. We invaded Iraq because BushCo told us that they were going to attack us with nuclear and/or chemical weapons.

        Hitchens, the atheist hero, couched his support of the invasion of Iraq in, what were to him, non-religious, rational terms. His “religion” in the past decade appears to have been a virulent hatred of Islam. The notion that Americans went to war for religious reasons is not supported by the facts.

  7. All of the atheists that you have mentioned are sexists, so much for the common sense that is always associated with atheism. I mean on one hand they question the common sense in religion and those who blindly follow it but are unable to see that same stupidity in the patriarchy, sexism and men who are sexists. Frankly even if they somehow magically were able to proof god does not exist and the religious excepted that, women will still be raped we will still be dealing with sexism and misogyny. It is not like liberal, progressive, atheists males don’t rape. For me the problem with religion is men and frankly even if there was no religion men would find some other way to oppress us, they would just call themselves atheists or whatever they decide to call themselves. Frankly religion today is the most barbaric to women only. I do not see Hitchens or atheists affected by religion at all so why hasn’t he/atheists spoken up about religion’s barbaric treatment towards women, because the atheists male like their liberal/progressive counterparts are sexists as well.

    • Well, when you put it that way, women should just leave the planet. There isn’t a movement out there that doesn’t elevate men to the pinnacle. Even Ms. Magazine abandoned Hillary for Obama and worshipped him as a feminist superhero. That should have made all of us gag. I’ve noticed that some Occupy groups had trouble with the progressive stack. I don’t think guys are even aware of the fact that they constantly bogart the megaphones and spotlights. It’s just something they’re used to doing. You might have to get into their face until they get it.
      I don’t know if I would call all these guys sexist. There are more than a few up and coming women in this movement who are worth watching, like Margaret Downey, Cristina Rad and Greta Christina. And Rebecca Watson completely shot her credibility with elevatorgate. Sorry but I happen to agree with Dawkins on this one. She exaggerated a non-threat and came off looking silly and hardly a feminist leader. The last video I saw of Watson at a skepticon type conference, she spent something like the first 15 minutes of her talk explaining her version of elevatorgate and rationalizing her reaction- unconvincingly, I might add. What a waste. She was doing so well up to that point.
      Yes, there is a problem with movements where the high profile leaders are men. And yet, I’d rather hang with the freethinkers than the religious. The religious have their sexism written into their rulebooks. At least with freethinkers, there are no rulebooks yet so there is still time to influence the direction of the movement.

      • Daekins didn’t disagree with Rebecca Watson. He belittled her in a particularly snide and paternalistic way. Whether you agree with Watson or not, she had the right to express her opinion and not to be told, as she was by many male atheists, that she should shut her trap for the good of the movement.

  8. Somehow, I don’t think Sidney (when did you stop beating your wife) Blumenthal saw Hitchens as a “good friend.”
    There’s a reason he’s known as Hitch the Snitch; he was a loathsome man.

    • “[Hitchens] was a loathsome man.”

      I believe the technical term is “popinjay”. 😈

    • I guess it depends on who his friends were. As I said before, the reason why the atheist community tends to admire Hitchens is that he was their unofficial spokesperson when no one else would do it and he had a platform from which he could talk about it. Then came Bill Maher and he’s just as loathesome, IMHO. Hitchens also bore his cancer well and died an unrepentant atheist, believing to the end that this life is all we have.

      BTW, the two atheists who I admire are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Pitt has gone out of his way to fund, develop and build new housing for the poor of New Orleans. Jolie has done a lot of work for poor children in the developing world. If they were religious people, we’d be heaping them with praise. But since they are atheists and don’t try to call attention to their godlessness, we just see them as good hearted celebrities. Well, they *are* good hearted people with a well developed sense of responsibility towards humanity. I know that the fundamentalists would focus a lot of attention on their sexuality and lifestyle but they would be overlooking their morality towards their world and community, which I think is a shame.

      • I’m not convinced that we know what anyone, believer or not, thinks in their last moments.

        Pitt and Jolie are widely admired and frequently heaped with praise for their good works. If they made the point, publicly, that they were atheists, it would be part of the story. They don’t. I would assume that a lot of the people who use their celebrity to support good works without specifically referring to their religious beliefs are doing it because they were taught to do so in Sunday School and/or by their believing parents. So what? The good works are getting done. Does it matter how they explain their sense of responsiblity to relieve the suffering of other human beings?

    • I haven’t read the whole thing but I would disagree with some of the premises of the study. It is my experience that religious people are quite capable of logical thought. They know how to navigate the world, can operate quite well financially and know when they’re being conned. But the most obvious test is that when you describe the beliefs of other religions, they see right through the nonsense. They know a myth when they see one. Religious Christians are disbelieving about pagan religions and other supernatural phenomenon not their own. So, they are more than capable of handling logical thought.
      I think their logic is circumvented with their own religious beliefs because of 1.) conditioning 2.) group dynamics and 3.) a tendency towards anxiety and intense dislike of ambiguity. The last thing might have a genetic component.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: