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Atheist vs. Atheist: Mending Fences

After 9-11, some people started to realize that the terrorist attacks were faith based initiatives. Many of those same people then realized that America responded with faith rather than reason. As a result, atheists started to speak up and many became much more vocal about their lack of belief and their criticism of belief. The media has dubbed these atheists as “New Atheists.”

What separates the New Atheists from the old atheists? In the past, many atheists stayed in the closet and weren’t vocal about their lack of belief. Also, I guess before 9-11, some atheists didn’t really think religion was that dangerous… I guess. It isn’t like the Inquisition or the Crusades were religiously motivated, right?

Basically, the media likes to rename things to make it seem like there is news and conflict when nothing really has changed very much and there really isn’t a conflict. But I guess they have to fill the multiple 24/7 news channels with something and a boy doesn’t NOT get stuck in a balloon everyday, right? Oh wait, never mind.

So now there is Atheism 3.0. What does that mean? They are the atheists who want to criticize other atheists instead of criticizing religion. Now I understand that not all atheists want to criticize religion and that’s cool. Some atheists want to build a positive atheist community similar to the communities that religious people have. I am all for that. I think that is a great idea. But I don’t see why atheists can’t take both approaches.

Why is it that atheists either have to side with Chris Hitchens or with Greg Epstein? Hitchens claims that religion poisons everything and so he has no problem criticizing it and being vocal in his criticism. He doesn’t respect religion at all. I agree with Hitchens on that. Epstein admires the community aspects of religion and wants to build a secular replacement for that. He wants to work with religious people. I agree with him on those things.

I am a tolerant person, but there are things that I don’t tolerate. When theistic religion threatens human progress, human happiness, and human survival, I have to put my foot down and fight back. That is the essence of the so called New Atheism which finds religion to be a threat to those things. So I am with the so called New Atheists.

But I also think that we need to work with moderate religious people against the extreme religious people who are more dangerous. I also think that atheists should form positive communities and put a more positive face on atheism. So I am with the so called Atheism 3.0.

Why must we choose between them? Can’t we do both? Can’t Atheism 3.0 do their thing and the New Atheists do their thing? How did the theistic religions accomplish this feat of setting atheist against atheist? We are all on the side of reason here, there are just different approaches. I support taking both approaches and letting God sort it out.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/rothtalltales Tralf

    Is this like Spy Vs. Spy?

    Just kidding.

    I don’t have a good answer to the conundrum of atheists eating their own. Frankly, I don’t see what the controversy is. We all agree religion is essentially antithetical to the goal of advancing humanity’s interests. We all agree the human race is better off without it (organizing communities is a function of Darwinian survival, not religion). The details of exactly how to extricate religion are, for now, semantics. Our goal is so far off in the future, fighting over how the post-religion world should look is like fighting over who gets the first seat on a spaceship to Alpha Centauri.


  • Katherine Heicksen

    I think that the community thing is key. Personally, the only time I interact with known atheists is when we are getting together to criticize religion. As you know, I also like to debate with atheists on the less than obvious “truths” people tend to think they know. But, basically, either way there is always some sort of conflict at the heart of the interaction.

    So, how do atheists “commune” for other reasons? How does that work? Currently there really isn’t an alternative to religious communities. I think a lot of people really cling to their religions mostly for social reasons and because there is no alternative family for them to join.

    For me, that is the hardest part of being an atheist. Because I have no church, I have absolutely none of the social support my religious friends do. This is particularly hard as a parent. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Where I am (in the Philadelphia area) there are atheist and humanist communities. Sometimes we get together for a lecture on science or some other interesting discipline. There are also lunches and meet-ups where we just get together and have a good time as friends. Sometimes religion doesn’t even come up.

      I have a lot of atheist friends as well as religious friends and in the summers, I sometimes have BBQs and gather all my friends together. Of course, religious discussions do occur sometimes depending on who is in attendance, but I have plenty of friends who just aren’t interested in those discussions even though they may be atheists. We have other interests too… like sci-fi.

      • Katherine Heicksen

        I seem to be married to the only other atheist in my town. – I live in small town in Arizona.

  • John

    Perhaps because Error is Legion but Truth is One

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Many of the truths we cling to greatly depend on our point of view. – Obi Wan Kenobi

      • John

        Obi-Wan would have made a great salesman :)

  • 1225truth

    There is another sort of Atheist (not mentioned nearly enough) who works behind the scenes, nowhere nearly as visible as ought to be the case. Look forward to a blog on this “hidden” elite phenomenon.

  • Katherine Heicksen

    You know, there also seems to be a new movement of athiests who pretend not to be atheists for the sake of herding the sheep in a better direction. I kinda get that.

    I suppose it all depends on what kind of person one is; one of principles or one who cares more about results.

  • http://www.myspace.com/diana_graves Diana

    I’ve had the misfortune of running into anti-atheist atheists…bothersome bunch.

    As silly as it sounds, I want an atheist church…though, when I think about it, it’s just a library…

    I also want to be active in fighting religion and spreading the ideas of atheism…but then people say I’m no better than a Jehovah witness…

    Oh poo

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      The difference is that Jehovah Witness is spreading lies while spreading atheism is spreading the truth. So spreading atheism is better.

  • GMpilot

    I read Harry Harrison’s “Deathworld” Trilogy many years ago, and it was the second volume that did it for me. There had been others who touched on the subject before him, and I’d seen a few, but Harrison really opened my eyes. Star Trek also dealt with religion often, of course, but there does seem to have been an increase of counter-religious entertainment in the past thirty years.
    So yes, I’d say sci-fi IS a religious vaccine, and we must keep the ‘laboratories’ producing it.

  • qbsmd

    I’ve previously noticed that science fiction isn’t usually atheistic but involves some religious beliefs that are very different from traditional religion. That led me to wonder what science fiction would look like if the rules of the universe included traditional Christianity. It would be hard to portray Christianity favorably: I can imagine space missionaries trying to convince alien cultures that the creator of the universe only communicated with a small tribe on our planet. And the resulting crusade. I can imagine the same god communicating the same message to each planet. That would just highlight how bad the evidence for religion is in our reality. I can imagine other planets with forms of Christianity where they never left Eden or refused to kill Jesus, and are therefore convinced that humans are heretical monsters.

    And most of that applies to other traditional religions: it’s just too hard to take them seriously in a sci fi universe that’s so much bigger than ours.

  • http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com Cephus

    It’s not even space fantasy, it’s space opera. Star Trek is sci-fantasy, it’s really a fantasy world with a thin veneer of science laid over the top of it. They just babble a lot of nonsense to make it sound like they know what they’re talking about, but in reality, they haven’t a clue.

    You’re right, there is a lot of really good hard sci-fi, but far too much of it sacrifices character development for tech masturbation, it’s all about the science and technology and not much about telling a good story.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Setting the record straight here:
    Star Wars = Space Fantasy
    Star Trek = Science Fiction