The New Atheism as a hate group

Lothringische Version.

Youtube Version

In “Why I am no longer a skeptic“, Stephen Bond gives us a striking analysis of all the flaws and immoral features of militant atheism (which disguises itself as “Skepticism”) regrouping folks such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchen among many other prominent members,

I find his criticism of the New Atheism all the more interesting because he himself remains a convinced atheist.

I agree with most of what he has written.

According to my numerous experiences with them, I see extremely strong parallels between anti-theists and far right hate groups in terms of the cognitive errors (overgeneralization, filtering, polarized thinking…) and the hateful rhetoric they use.

Interestingly enough, most English-speaking militant atheists are often hardcore capitalists who support Western imperialism and view communism and socialism as irrational religions which ought to disappear too.

The New Atheism is to atheism (which has a respectable intellectual tradition) what fundamentalism is to Christianity: a shame and an embarrassment.

I believe that people constantly advocating the use of emotional bullying, ridicule and mockery towards their opponents are utterly unworthy of our respect.

We should despise antitheists in the same way we ought to despise hateful religious bigots for they are two sides of the same coin.

25 thoughts on “The New Atheism as a hate group

  1. I believe that people constantly advocating the use of emotional bullying, ridicule and mockery towards their opponents are utterly unworthy of our respect.

    You can add, as per Peter Boghossian, ‘Treating religious believers as not just wrong, but literally mentally ill people who need to be cured.’ and ‘Wanting religious belief put on the DSM-V as a mental illness.’

    • Youch; can you cite your sources on those? This seems to go right along with Dawkins’ wanting religious teaching of children to be labeled ‘child abuse’.

      • “A Manual for Creating Atheists.”

        It is crucial that the religious exemption for delusion be removed from the DSM. Once religious delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment into the problem of faith can be created. These will include removal of existing ethical barriers, changing treatments covered by insurance, including faith-based special education programs in schools, helping children who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, and legitimizing interventions designed to rid subjects of the faith affliction.

        Removing the exemption that classifies a phenomenon as an officially recognized psychiatric disorder legitimizes research designed to cure the disorder. These classifications also enable researchers to assess their treatments and to continue to build upon what works. Of course there will be institutional and social barriers discouraging research into controversial areas, but with this one change THE major barrier – receiving approval from the IRB to disabuse human subjects of faith – would be INSTANTLY overcome.

        There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding these faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.

          • That’s a fair comparison.

            It is extremely interesting that the overwhelming majority of militant atheists were previously religious fundamentalists.

          • I’m not all that surprised. Fundamentalism seems to largely a personality type, where one wants to have certainty in what one believes. I might call it “the addiction of certainty”. If a person needs to believe things with certainty, then perhaps the best way is to accept very few things as absolutely true. Reductionism seems to fit in here somewhere, although I’m still working on understanding it.

          • The only problem is that the New Atheists are hard-core Bayesians who believe in the truth of materialism with a probability of 0.999999999999977665

            So they are clearly no fundies, I have to recognize…

      • It is extremely interesting that the overwhelming majority of militant atheists were previously religious fundamentalists.

        Are you quoting a statistic? Because if so, I’d like to see it.

  2. It is extremely interesting that the overwhelming majority of militant atheists were previously religious fundamentalists.

    – I´m not really sure when an atheist starts being a “militant” atheist for you. And I´m also not sure if you are talking about atheists in general or only prominent atheists here – if it is the latter, this statement is most certainly false, I can only think of a handful that were religious fundamentalists once (e.g. Hector Avalos, Dan Barker and John Loftus) and if it is the former – then how could you possibly know that this statement is true? Are there any polls that indicate this?
    I think there is some truth in the old saying “converts make the best zealots” (and it is psychologically plausible too), but “overwhelming majority”? That claim needs some evidence to support it.

    Interestingly enough, most English-speaking militant atheists are often hardcore capitalists who support Western imperialism and view communism and socialism as irrational religions which ought to disappear too.😀 That´s a new one, usually the accusation is that Atheists are “godless commies” or something along that line.

    • I have very strong anecdotal evidence. I spent a lot of times arguing with internet antitheists and almost all of them turned out to have been fundies or religiously very conservatives in their youth.
      Many other people I talk with report of exactly the same experience.

      But you are right: we do need empirical experiments and surveys to either confirm or disprove this strong impression.

      Sonst habe ich gerade eine neue Post geschrieben, die haargenau dein Fachgebiet betrifft😉
      https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/young-earth-creationism-and-the-demise-of-christianity/

      Liebe Grüsse.

      • I have very strong anecdotal evidence. I spent a lot of times arguing with internet antitheists and almost all of them turned out to have been fundies or religiously very conservatives in their youth.

        I would summarize my experience in this respect as:
        1. If you meet someone new, the odds of him / her being an asshole are independent of their religious beliefs (with some subcommunities being exceptions – I have yet to find a devout Calvinist who was not an asshole for example).
        2. If an asshole-christian loses his faith, he will most likely still be an asshole, and if an asshole-atheist becomes religious, he will also most likely still be an asshole.

        So to some extent, I guess my experiences align with yours😉
        Re “anti-theists” – this is again a point where definitions matter, for some definitions of “anti-theist” I would certainly count myself as one (in the sense that I do believe that religions, particularly the mainstream religions, have privileges that they do not deserve and that they often abuse, and that these privileges should be removed), but I have a hunch that this is not the definition of “anti-theist” you have in mind.

      • 1. If you meet someone new, the odds of him / her being an asshole are independent of their religious beliefs (with some subcommunities being exceptions – I have yet to find a devout Calvinist who was not an asshole for example).

        The atheist subcommunity ‘The New Atheists’ seem to be who Lothar is targeting.

        (in the sense that I do believe that religions, particularly the mainstream religions, have privileges that they do not deserve and that they often abuse, and that these privileges should be removed),

        What ‘privileges’?

      • What ‘privileges’?

        Many things come to mind, some of which are privileges for religious people, others privileges for religious organizations. One example:
        Where I live (Germany), the german lutheran church and the german catholic church are in charge of countless schools, kindergartens, hospitals and so on and so forth, to the degree that they actually are the single biggest private employers in the entire country. Yet virtually all of those institutions are completely are almost exclusively funded by taxpayer money – yet the churches call the shots. This by itself would be unfair enough, but it gets much worse because both of those churches are *categorically* exempt from the german law that regulates employer-employee relationships, they can legally discriminate for hiring decisions (by only hiring people that are officially members of the church) and they can legally fire people for doing something they don´t like (examples: a nurse being fired for having a divorce and living with a new partner, a church organist being fired for sending a tweet that was critical of the pope, a kindergarten teacher fired for being gay, a geriatric nurse fired for merely suggesting that we should start a new discussion about assisted suicide etc.pp. – happens all the time, and not a single non-religious organization or company has any privilege that is even remotely comparable to this). This is only one example, don´t get me started on church taxes (yes, there are actually church taxed in Germany) or on how the Catholic church is *constantly* engaged in obstruction of justice and gets away with it – and Germany is not exactly the worst example of religions having unfair priviliges.

      • Oh, and I forgot the IMHO worst aspect of the example I gave – we germans have a constitutionally guaranteed right to form a workers union, that is as long as your employer doesn´t happen to be the Catholic or Lutheran church. I could almost understand this exception if it only applied to jobs that are actually religious in nature (e.g. pastors), but that it also applies for teachers, nurses etc. is beyond ridiculous.

      • happens all the time, and not a single non-religious organization or company has any privilege that is even remotely comparable to this

        Sounds like the privileges should be extended.

        I’m not familiar with the German public funding system, so I won’t comment there.

        This is only one example, don´t get me started on church taxes (yes, there are actually church taxed in Germany) or on how the Catholic church is *constantly* engaged in obstruction of justice and gets away with it

        Assuming that’s true, how is the Church unique in that regard? And more than that – how much of either of this is ‘religion’ versus ‘hierarchy’? Do you complain about “secularism” and secularists when companies and public officials get away with things?

      • Sounds like the privileges should be extended.

        I assume you meant “abandoned” instead of “extended”.

        Assuming that’s true, how is the Church unique in that regard?

        For any other organization that would have treated rapist employees the way the catholic church did (i.e. systematically protecting them from law enforcement agencies, bribing victims to shut them up and transferring rapists to a new environment (without telling anyone at their new workplace that they have just been sent a rapist employee) to help them rape as many people as possible) – the reaction would be investigation by the police units that deal with organized crime, because this IS organized crime. Yet not a single german bishop was ever even prosecuted (not that that would be unique for germany). That is actually quite unique.

        Do you complain about “secularism” and secularists when companies and public officials get away with things?

        If the reason for why they would get away with something would be secularism, then I would certainly do that.

      • I assume you meant “abandoned” instead of “extended”.

        Nope. Extended.

        For any other organization that would have treated rapist employees the way the catholic church did

        And no. You can actually see the difference in how these things are treated by looking at just about any other cases of abuse and cover-up. In the States, we had a popular football coach (Joe Paterno) involved with a cover-up of sexual abuse. No one treated ‘PSU’ as a criminal organization, or the NFL, or the campus cops, etc. Suddenly that was about specific individuals – this particular man, this particular official, etc. Same with the BBC and Saville. Same with most scandals.

        But when it’s bishops and cardinals, suddenly it’s THE CHURCH. It’s not this bishop, this priest, this cardinal. It’s the entire organization, even though it was only a handful of rotten people being involved.

        And what’s more – this is not ‘religion’ on trial. You will look in vain for any Catholic teaching that defends sexual abuse or these acts – they went AGAINST Church teaching and religion in those cases.

        If the reason for why they would get away with something would be secularism, then I would certainly do that.

        Let’s see.

        Sexual abuse – a secular, not a religious, crime.
        Covering up sexual abuse – a secular motivate and crime, not a religious crime.
        Using secular power and influence in the coverup – yet more secularism on display.

      • Nope. Extended.

        Because…..?

        And no. You can actually see the difference in how these things are treated by looking at just about any other cases of abuse and cover-up. In the States, we had a popular football coach (Joe Paterno) involved with a cover-up of sexual abuse. No one treated ‘PSU’ as a criminal organization, or the NFL, or the campus cops, etc. Suddenly that was about specific individuals – this particular man, this particular official, etc. Same with the BBC and Saville. Same with most scandals.

        Afaict, these cases are not really comparable for many reasons:
        1. There was actually an investigation and the people who helped in covering up these crimes were actually prosecuted (unlike Catholic bishops who are, depending on the country, rarely or *never* prosecuted for doing shit like this)
        2. There is also no evidence that PSU authorities conspired to cover up these crimes. According to wikipedia:
        “A 2011 grand jury investigation reported that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno in 2002 (prosecutors later amended the date to 2001[49]) that he had seen Sandusky abusing a 10-year-old boy in Penn State football’s shower facilities.[50] According to the report, Paterno notified Athletic Director Tim Curley about the incident, and later notified Gary Schultz, Vice President of Finance and Business,[51] who also oversaw the University Police.[52] Paterno said McQueary informed him that “he had witnessed an incident in the shower… but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report.”[53] In his Grand Jury testimony, Paterno stated that McQueary had described Sandusky “fondling” a young boy in an act he described of a “sexual nature,” but stopped short of the graphic rape to which McQueary would later testify.[54][55] While the prosecutors did not accuse Paterno of any wrongdoing, he was criticized for his failure to follow up on McQueary’s report.[56]”
        It is very telling that this is the best comparison you can come up with, but I´m not surprised, I have never in my life heard of anyone who can sink so low as to not only systematically cover up the crimes of rapists (plural), but even helping them rape as many people as possible by constantly relocating them to a new environment where nobody knows that they are rapists, with the sole exception of Catholic bishops, who do it routinely.

        But when it’s bishops and cardinals, suddenly it’s THE CHURCH. It’s not this bishop, this priest, this cardinal. It’s the entire organization, even though it was only a handful of rotten people being involved.

        Erm, no. People started talking about THE CHURCH instead of individuals when they realized that this is not about a few rotten apples and that this is rather the M.O: of THE CHURCH when it comes to dealing with rapist employees. Every country that did a systematic investigation on this issue discovered that this is not about a few rotten apples but rather absolutely a *systemic problem*, and that is why people blame the church (and the state as well for not prosecuting the bishops involved although they know that they are guilty as hell).

        Sexual abuse – a secular, not a religious, crime.

        I guess that depends on how you do it, for this one priest who told his victims that they are about to “receive the love of Christ” before shoving his cock down their throats, or for this other priest who seemed to think that “last rites” actually means “fuck that dying woman against her will”, I guess it was at least somewhat religious in nature.

        Using secular power and influence in the coverup – yet more secularism on display.

        Yup, secular power and influence that the church should not have and that should be taken away from it.

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