Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Atheist fan(atic)s

Last weekend I got into a conversation with my brother about religion. He has a BS in anthropology so this topic comes naturally to him, and though we see eye to eye on many criticisms of religion, as an agnostic, he doesn't really throw in with our lot of self-proclaimed heathen atheists. As is predictable to experienced "active" atheists, this phrase came up:
Some atheists are just as fanatical as the religious.
A day later, Rabbi Dow Marmur wrote in the Toronto Star
...impartial observers will know that contemporary atheists are often even more fanatical than religious fundamentalists
You know what? They're right. Some atheists are indeed crazy. Some atheists are stupid. And some atheists are just atheists by default, not because they've given it any thought (also like many of the religious). All this goes into the larger narrative of painting atheism as another religion, which is ridiculous.

There's a wealth of material from Marmur's title alone: "Zealous atheists resemble religious fanatics." My first thought was what a stupid title that was, like saying "really passionate people resemble other really passionate people." But then I read it again and thought, do the zealous atheists of the world really compare to the religious fanatics of the world?

Your answer is no. Emphatically. Find me an atheist suicide bomber. Find me an atheist trying to get the government to limit the rights of other human beings because they're different from him. Find me an atheist that will knowingly allow pedophiles to violate and denigrate the health and safety of helpless children.

I suppose if you really try, you will undoubtedly find some sick, murderous individuals who happen to be atheists. The difference is that such are examples of individuals. The inhumanity of religions are institutional, training good people to be bad, inculcating generations to believe in nonsense and affecting the world with that nonsense.

But there was still more controversy brewing on Mothers' Day weekend. On Sunday, Deepak Chopra Tweeted the following:
#Atheism is a cult with a small following.
Oh we're a cult, are we? A cult, you mean those institutions run by batshit loonies who tell their flock to shun their friends and loved ones who are not part of their faith, and encourage people to donate everything they have? The ones that threaten hellfire and physical, financial and social abuse if anyone tries to leave? You're insane, Deepak.

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