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RIP Christopher Hitchens

2011 December 16
by Ian Welsh

I was going to keep my mouth shut, but the hagiography is making me hurl.  Yes, he was a good writer.  Yes, when he was young he seemed to want atrocities to stop.  After 9/11, however, he realized that people like him could die senselessly and became an apologist for an unprovoked war (the same war crime the US hung Germans for) and for torture.  Atrocities were ok to protect lily-livered upper class white people like himself.

Christopher Hitchens helped make the world you live in, the one most of my readers spend time complaining about.   As a prominent ex-lefty he was very useful to the powers that be in excusing their policies.

Also a quick note to my atheist friends.  Because someone is an atheist does not mean they are in any way, shape or form a good person or someone who has made the world a better place.  Richard Dawkins is a noxious human being and was before he defended an inappropriate pass. Hitchens was a war crimes apologist.

If there is life after death, I hope Hitchens is treated kindly, because I don’t believe in torture.  But for the last 10 years of his life he was a profoundly bad man.

76 Responses
  1. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Truthfully, I don’t think Hitchens was ever anything other than an opportunistic writer who found a niche and exploited it. I don’t think he was a “lefty” or a “rightie,” even though he pretended to be both. I think he could swing whichever way the wind blew if it gave him career security. One thing is for certain…he had an ego, and obviously someone, or many on the left, bruised it, so he found a niche in smacking them around from an ex-leftie turned rightie perspective….but that was just schtick to support his revenue stream. In the end, he was just a whore like all the rest…..turning tricks for crumbs and foolishly feeling special about it. I won’t lose any sleep over his passing anymore than I would lose sleep over some unknown old geezer passing away in a nursing home somewhere, or some murderous president (redundant, I know) being assassinated.

    http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/12/13/the-military-and-those-strange-threats-to-obama/

  2. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Oh, and man do I hear you about Atheists. If you’re an Atheist, you are as much an idiot as the Fundamentalist creatures you consider your arch enemies. I have news for the Atheists….they’re every bit as Fundamental and Zealous as the opposite side of that ideological coin. The intelligent position on that topic is Strong Agnostic….meaning you don’t know, you doubt it, and you’re not wasting your time and life energy on something that currently cannot be proven or disproven. There are more important, tangible, pressing matters in need of attention.

    Religion….well, that’s another matter, altogether, and I consider the belief in a deity and the topic of religion to be somewhat mutually exclusive, although obviously related. I am anti-religion because I am anti-establishment. Religion is an institution, and institution, like our universe, are directional toward entropy, therefore, will always be corruptible, and therefore corrupt. I wish to not accelerate entropy any more than is the bare minimum necessary for my existence, so I don’t support institutions because they are the steroids for that process.

  3. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 16, 2011

    It’s difficult to reconcile his contradictions; but then I don’t have to.
    He’ll be hard to remember in the overall chaos…

  4. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    If there is life after death, I hope Hitchens is treated kindly, because I don’t believe in torture. But for the last 10 years of his life he was a profoundly bad man.

    I agree….it would be tragic if he were facing this for eternity…since he didn’t handle his one little controlled episode all that well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPubUCJv58

  5. December 16, 2011

    I disagreed with him about the neocon wars and his Zionism, too.

    Most of his politics, actually, except for his defense of free expression against religious opposition, Muslim in particular but not by any means only that.

    But his frank and assertive atheism was refreshing and amusing.

    He took his death better than most, I’d say.

  6. Jack Crow permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Morocco,

    Not every atheist is an ideologue about his or her lack of faith.

  7. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Jack, perhaps not, but in my experience, the majority of them that I know, and have met over the years, are…..and to me, it’s just plain silly.

    Hell, they even created an Internet Forum for these types of fools. It was called Internet Infidels….the site still exists, I believe, but the discussion forum has been renamed and is operated by another group at this time. It’s a place for non-believers to congregate and feel confidant and certain in their disbelief.

  8. Cranky Owl permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Precisely right, Ian.

  9. blip permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Finally. Thank you.

  10. Cloud permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Reminds me of a journal entry I wrote a couple months ago:

    I worry the future consists mainly of Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens style atheism, the self-congratulating establishment-cheering our-secular-state-yay kind. Then if and when the ship of state and industrial civilization should sink, it will be seen by correlation (not fairly, but it will be seen) as a vindication of old-time religion, patriarchy, etc. And people will flock back to the churches and the old harmful mores, because the atheists did not have their shit together ethically or in community organization.

  11. December 16, 2011

    Cloud, I don’t worry about that. They’ll flock no matter what In evolutionary terms, religion always has been and always will be part of human life. As long as they don’t try to commandeer my womb, brain, or other body parts, I don’t care what people believe in — whether reading chicken blood or hawk innards or sacred wafers or tea leaves.

  12. peter cowan permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Morocco Bama,

    that majority of atheists don’t even explicitly identify as such. all it takes to be an atheist is an absense of belief in any god or supernatural lifeform. so, for example, most buddhists are atheists.

    agnosticism refers to the belief that it is impossible to know if there are any gods, however, it does not imply lack of belief. you can be a strong agnostic, and yet still believe in gods.

  13. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    peter, I don’t want to belabor this point so this will be the last I say on the Atheism topic, but we could run around in circles and argue terminology until we’re blue in the face. Per review of Wikipedia, of which I have provided a link below, what Agnosticism is is continually changing and under debate, but regardless, the most important point that I made is that it is foolish to argue the existence, or non-existence, of something that is currently not provable or disprovable. There are more important things that need our attention that are much more pressing and infinitely more provable. In order to avoid hypocrisy, I will now mute myself about deities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

  14. Everythings Jake permalink
    December 16, 2011

    I knew I’d find relief from the lauding of Hitchens here. I haven’t been able to get one site (HP et al.) to accepted my comment – namely that he was a nasty and arrogant drunk, as drunks tend to become over the years. It would have been simply pathetic, but for the damage he was able to do because he was useful to TPTB.

    Maybe a bit of purgatory – he and Russert stuck in a waiting room together for a couple of eons?

  15. Compound F permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Richard Dawkins is a noxious human being and was before he defended an inappropriate pass.

    “an innapropriate pass…” Not sure what that means.

  16. Jack Crow permalink
    December 16, 2011

    That’s twice you’ve failed to actually answer objections, deflecting to anecdote once, and to Wiki authority the second, Morocco.

    What defines atheists is one thing only: godlessness. That’s it. A-theist. Without god.

    If you want to fault Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet, Sam Harris and their ilk for their smugness – look to the class, educational system and cultures that produced them.

    Holding atheists to account for the smugness of a British public school toff is liking holding bald people to account for all villainy, just because Mark Strong happens to be bald in some of his movies…

  17. Cloud permalink
    December 16, 2011

    In evolutionary terms, religion always has been and always will be part of human life. As long as they don’t try to commandeer my womb, brain, or other body parts, I don’t care what people believe in…

    Yes. I agree. Religion is not about to go away. The question is, what sort of religion may be dominant in the future.

    Insofar as there is a modern faith, a belief as ubiquitous as Christianity was in 11th-century Europe, it is faith in progress — the attaining of more and more complex, large-scale societies — implicitly or explicitly by means of technological progress.

    This faith is identified with classical liberalism, a belief in human freedom and autonomy, as if the two were one and the same thing. But they’re not, really.

    Progress can fail. Contrary to the common saying, ‘the clock’ has been turned back pretty decisively a number of times in the history of civilization, and it may happen again.

    If the exhaustion of fossil fuel is likely to send civilization, sooner or later, into another ‘dark age’, as I believe — then I become rather concerned that the faith which characterizes the next age is NOT of the kind which will ‘try to commandeer womb, brain, or other body parts’, as you put it.

    But if all the liberals, liberal theists and pluralists and atheists, go down with the ship of global industrial civilization and its brand of Progess — rather than repudiating it early and often — then the position of the conservative Christians and Islamists will be dominant. Not just rhetorically: materially. In practice, church and congregations are centres of social cohesion: whatever the teachings, people belong to them because one needs to belong to a community.

    But if the liberals are caught unprepared for the new age, while meantime the conservative churches have been stocking their cellars and preaching all along against the evils of the government — and people now hate their government with good reason, because it failed them — then the conservatives stand a good chance of winning. And our descendents get hit with a renewed patriarchal-violent culture of closed thought and sexual guilt and all the rest.

  18. December 16, 2011

    I never liked Hitchens, I always thought that he was the sort of deliberately ineffectual lefty who publishers like because they are ineffectual. Provocative was just an euphemism for annoying blowhard.

    As for atheists, they are just like us religious types. Can be annoying, or can be entertaining

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWA1A9XFi8

  19. Cloud permalink
    December 16, 2011

    … faith in progress — the attaining of more and more complex, large-scale societies — implicitly or explicitly by means of technological progress.

    I do not mean that everyone believes this, but that it is the received and dominant orthodoxy. To be an ‘isolationist’ is heresy; to believe that the year 2500 A.D. will resemble 1500 more than 2000 is, for most, literally in-credible.

  20. David Lister permalink
    December 16, 2011

    “an innapropriate pass…” Not sure what that means.

    He’s referring to “elevatorgate”.

  21. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    If you want to fault Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet, Sam Harris and their ilk for their smugness – look to the class, educational system and cultures that produced them.

    I didn’t say the aforementioned, and their various character assessments, had to do with their Atheism. I was speaking in general, to all of the Atheists I have ever known and/or met, regardless of their status in life.

    Deflections, my ass. I told you my opinion, where I stand, and what I am, or think I am. You either accept it or reject it. If you reject it, state why, and move on, but claiming people are Atheists that have not even acknowledged that they are is nonsense. Atheism is a proclamation….one heralded proudly, defiantly and ideologically by a substantial number of people.

    You know what, Jack? After looking at the run around concerning the term Agnostic, I’m not sure what I would label myself. Maybe I’ll make up a new category and create a Wiki page for it. NOT!!

    Now, back to Hitchens and his alcohol-soaked liver.

  22. David Lister permalink
    December 16, 2011

    I never liked Hitchens, I always thought that he was the sort of deliberately ineffectual lefty who publishers like because they are ineffectual.

    According to Dawkins, writing The God Delusion was his publisher’s idea. Hmm.

  23. December 16, 2011

    Re Hitchens: What’s the old expression? “If you can’t say anything good….” Nah, say it anyway. He was an ass who’s ability to occasionally turn a phrase and reflect the vanity of his class was used to justify all sorts of nonsense. RIP but good riddance.

  24. David Lister permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Sam Harris is by far the worst of the lot, as he clearly perceives the long-term design of America’s ruling factions to Christianize all of East and Southeast Asia by force, and is disingenuously trying to rope anyone concerned for the fate of the Confucian/Buddhist cultural block into giving their support to the very geopolitical oil grabs that would make its destruction possible. Harris is like a man stumping for Hitler to invade France on the premise that the Fuhrer would then be well positioned to protect Britain’s democracy from Franco’s fascism.

  25. The Tragically Flip permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Morocco, you made sweeping criticisms at atheists and should back down gracefully.

    “Oh, and man do I hear you about Atheists. If you’re an Atheist, you are as much an idiot as the Fundamentalist creatures you consider your arch enemies. I have news for the Atheists….they’re every bit as Fundamental and Zealous as the opposite side of that ideological coin.”

    You know, even if all the atheists you know make Dawkins, Harris et al seem tame by comparison, this is still wrong. Atheists aren’t required by virtue of being atheists to believe stupid shit like the world being 6000 years old or that homosexuality is a choice. Fundamentalists are. Atheists can certainly be assholes or arrogant or whatever, but they always have the fundamental advantage over fundies of basing their belief system in something compatible with reality.

  26. Jack Crow permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Atheism is neither a proclamation nor a doctrine. It’s the absence of a belief in God. That’s it. So you end up with atheists like me, who just don’t believe in God. And atheists like Sam Harris, who think that all people should give up their faiths. The only thing we have in common is that we’re atheists. That’s it.

    To paraphrase a famous quote, calling atheism a fundamentalist doctrine (or a religion, or a proclamation, or an intransigent social position, or anything else theists toss at atheists to declare or imply that it’s a positive assertion, a theory, and a way of life which places disbelievers in a morally suspect category) is akin to calling baldness a hair color.

  27. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 16, 2011

    The atheists I know are often very aggressive about telling other people there isn’t a God. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t, but they are almost as annoying as the fundies who insist there is, and they know who it is and what it wants because many atheists assume that being an atheist makes them intellectually and morally superior to anyone who isn’t an atheist (aka. the vast majority of humans who have ever lived.) No, you can’t say every atheist is everything, but you can generalize about atheists, just like atheists generalize about religious folks (whom they generally characterize as fools.)

    Dawkins and Hitchens get and got hero worshipped by many atheists. Now whether they’re right or not is not based on whether they’re decent human beings, but neither of them are or were.

    I especially find atheists pretense that they are brilliant because of their stand tiresome.

  28. alyosha permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Cloud wrote: Religion is not about to go away. The question is, what sort of religion may be dominant in the future.

    Civilization goes through cycles. Obviously we’re in a major contraction right now, not only economically, but also socially. Fundamentalisms and tribalisms (social and mental contractions) are ascendant. But this doesn’t mean they will ultimately rule. Rule they will for awhile, while the old order crumbles, probably taking millions or even billions with them, as others have mentioned. This crumbling – how it will likely unfold, who is behind it, who is going to get hit – is a large focus of this blog.

    But for many decades, the seeds have been sown for a reformulation of religion and spirituality. All the major spiritual figures, and the religious edifices that followed them, originated in times when distances were vast. They all arose more or less in isolation. That started to change when energy and machines arrived that made travel a lot easier. At that point the globe began to shrink and distance collapsed.

    In the late 1800s there was a Parliament of World Religions held in Chicago. It was the first time Americans had ever seen a Hindu. Today, millions of people in America practice things like meditation and yoga, as an example of how the collapse of distance has permitted cross-cultural seeding. Today, on the internet, you can find the most esoteric teachings of any religion, available, like never before. Years ago, I was looking for an esoteric Christian text called the Philokalia, and ended up physically in some university bookstore – the only place something like this could possibly be found even a couple decades ago. Today, it’s a few clicks away, on the internet.

    My advice is to not get too spooked by the near term collapse of everything (if that’s possible), particularly over the widespread, popular embrace of fundamentalisms that’s been going on for a few decades and which will, in all likelihood, intensify. This will be strongest in the most backward parts of the world (including certain parts of the US), and where the collapse is most severe (again, much of the US).

    But there are now, and there will be islands of light (if you will) who practice a different, more inclusive path, that will blossom as the collapse is underway and as it burns itself out, and people feel less fear. This will sound airy-fairy to many unless you travel in these circles, as I have done.

    Timing? We have to get through the collapse phase first, which I’d guess is at least a decade or more to go. Extremely rough ride for most of us, and lots of bloodshed and tyranny. But my point is, this is not the end of it. Try to focus beyond this and take advantage, if you can, of the chaos to create something new.

    This reformulation is being driven, as I mentioned, by the collapse of distance, which came about because of cheap energy, and the consequent transformation of human experience to include the entire planet. Unless we completely revert back to the pre-internet and pre-cheap travel days (the latter is likely for all but the elites), this expansion of consciousness is unlikely to be rolled back decisively. Once this expansion stabilizes, life on this planet – even with climate change, and all its disastrous portents – should get back to a somewhat more stable and less globally traumatic tenor. And most likely with a few billion less people burdening the planet. But I suspect this quieter state will take decades if not a century or two to arrive.

    I had a professor in college who said that “History is lumpy”. There are times when things are stable and nothing much is happening, and then there are times of great tumult. Obviously we’re at a huge transition point, but this won’t last forever.

  29. December 16, 2011

    Eh, I agree with Jack Crow on the whole atheist thing. The ones that I’ve run across have been nonplussed about the whole thing though there was one time that an atheist guy I know got heated when his relative kept telling him he was going to Hell and needed to repent. Of course everything is aggressive on the internet so if that’s a major contact point, I’m not surprised that some folks mileage may vary and, overall, it’s a subject that arouses passions.

    The “atheism and religion are two sides of the same coin” reasoning strikes me as a bit simplistic. Even in strictly abstract “debate” terms it’s a reach but, in practical terms it’s an absurd comparison. Especially when you consider the historical and practical effect of religion on society. However you characterize atheism, it’s actual impact on society has been minimal at best. Particularly here in the US where we live in an often overwhelming and overtly religious society.

    I agree that Hitchens and Dawkins get hero worshipped regarding their views on this subject and it certainly has nothing to do with their sterling personalities. I’s more of a reaction some people have to seeing something that’s not normally said on the “big stage” that they agree with.

  30. Cloud permalink
    December 16, 2011

    But there are now, and there will be islands of light (if you will) who practice a different, more inclusive path, that will blossom as the collapse is underway and as it burns itself out, and people feel less fear. … Try to focus beyond this and take advantage, if you can, of the chaos to create something new.

    Indeed. I hear you. For some time, in fact, my goal has been — dark age or no dark age — to eventually create what I describe as a ‘humanist monastery’. A quiet, out-of-the-way commune where we experiment with the crafts of material self-sufficiency and (perforce) asceticism. People could study natural philosophy, literature, zen, or what-have-you, away from the distractions characteristic of frenetic 21st-century life. I’m particularly interested in lost liberal arts such as the performance of epic poetry. On the practical side, I imagine we could make whisky as a fungible commodity for barter. I have one other person on board with this.

    Alas, as it stands we’re close to falling into the urban lumpenproletariat and the way forward is unclear. Probably work on an organic farm next year, but after that …

    P.S. I started yoga a couple months ago. The altered state it produces is more pleasurable than I had expected. Definitely something to include in any monastic regimen.

  31. Cloud permalink
    December 16, 2011

    Earlier I was just saying, basically, that when governments fail at social welfare, church-based social welfare is usually what’s left; and considering my opinion of most churches, I’d rather create my own.

  32. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2011

    The real question for those defending Atheism, or any other thing we want to insert here, is does it define you? The mere fact that some here feel a need to defend it, or be defensive about it, belies their statements to the contrary.

    I don’t let my belief, or lack of a belief in a deity define me. Quite the opposite. If someone wants to argue about it, I tell them to talk to the hand.

    So, since you can’t see it, here’s my hand. Call it a deflection if it makes you feel better.

  33. December 17, 2011

    Who cares about if this POS gasbag is alive or dead? Not me, anyway. But since when do atheists claim to be more moral? I’ve heard the Christianists make the claim that atheists can’t be moral because even a seemingly moral atheist has in reality *stolen* his morality from the god believers. Certainly I have met a few atheists who act as if they are intellectually superior to gullible believers. I have never heard or met an atheist who claimed or acted like they were somehow morally superior. Most atheists I know just don’t believe the bullshit and don’t give a damn about religion to argue about it one way or the other (and plenty of them go to church and go thru the mostion just to keep the peace with someone else in the family). These sweeping generalizations are becoming embarrassing.

  34. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 17, 2011

    People who think you can’t make generalizations about identifiable groups amuse me.

  35. December 17, 2011

    I’m so glad to see this.

  36. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 17, 2011

    “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” by Christopher Hitchens ISBN 1-85984-398-0

    No person is all bad, except for maybe Henry Kissinger.

  37. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 17, 2011

    For those who hear the beat (and maybe compassion) of other drummers there are these:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16214335 and

    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/12/16/christopher-hitchens-1949-2011-a-thank-you-of-sorts/

  38. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Me too, Ian. I suppose to drive the point home, a switch in terms may be necessary. How many here would define themselves as American? What is the definition of American? Certainly, there is the technical definition of American which would include, among other conditions, that if one is a U.S. citizen, one is an American. Per the technical definition, much to my chagrin, I am considered an American….but I assure you, I am no American. Americanism is an ideology….it is a distinct, yet not completely static, set of behaviors and beliefs that form a particular caricature. I don’t fit that profile, although I would be a liar to say some of the nasty residue hasn’t settled on my outer garments. Considering that, I understand why people might consider me an American, and I hold no ill-will toward them for their initial impression. After some time spent with me, they soon come to realize I do not define myself by superficial standards that most Americans do, and their initial label quickly disintegrates.

  39. December 17, 2011

    alyosha, I, too, try to remind myself that “this, too, shall pass,” but it’s getting harder and harder.

    Cloud, have you seen the movie “Of Gods and Men”?

    Count me in with ks and Jack Crow on atheism.

    MB, it sounds perhaps like you’re talking about American Exceptionalism more than simply “American.” That particular brand of obnoxious arrogance.

    I’ve always realized how American I am when I’ve gone abroad — pragmatic, impatient, punctual, expecting order and efficiency. Hasn’t stopped me from enjoying every minute of my travels. In fact, if I could leave this country for good, I would. Hubby has an EU passport as well as a US one, plus he works in IT so he could always get a job. He doesn’t, however, see the urgency I do.

  40. StewartM permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Ian Welsh:

    The atheists I know are often very aggressive about telling other people there isn’t a God.

    When I start seeing atheists come up to me in airports and babbling incessantly about their beliefs while thrusting copies of Nietschze or Dawkins into my hands, or leaving little tracts of the sayings by Comte or Chomsky in the mens’ bathroom stall, then I’ll think you’re onto something. But until then, no. The vast majority of atheists I know you’d never guess because they rarely bring it up. They in no what whatsoever approach the stridency and aggressiveness of the evangelical religions.

    People who think you can’t make generalizations about identifiable groups amuse me.

    You can, it’s the inaccurate ones which raise a hanker.

    As you yourself said:

    Also a quick note to my atheist friends. Because someone is an atheist does not mean they are in any way, shape or form a good person or someone who has made the world a better place.

    And that is indeed true! Ayn Rand was a strident atheist. So was Noam Chomsky. So was Michel Foucalt. So were Marx, Bakunin, Hume, Peter Singer, Bertrand Russell, and Nietzsche.

    Put these in a hypothetical room together, and I don’t see them agreeing on much else that atheism.

    -StewartM

  41. StewartM permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Ian Welsh:

    Richard Dawkins is a noxious human being and was before he defended an inappropriate pass.

    From what I’ve read of that bruhaha, there Dawkins was correct if overly blunt. A man invites a woman in an elevator to his room “for coffee”, she says “no”, and that’s the end of the whole matter. Nothing else was said or done. What’s really going on here is not “objectivizing women” but approaching criminalizing [what is perceived as] sex.

    That being said, Dawkins is hosted on his own “meme” petard, because he fails to see the success of his selfish gene hypothesis has gained acceptance to no small part because it niches so well with the current dominant neo-liberal “selfishness is good” economic ideology.

    -StewartM

  42. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 17, 2011

    MB, it sounds perhaps like you’re talking about American Exceptionalism more than simply “American.” That particular brand of obnoxious arrogance.

    Well, we differ on what is typically, not technically, American. IMO, American very much includes that Exceptionalism feature, but the point is, American and Americanism are much more than just a technical definition….it’s yet another way in which various Peacocks choose to define themselves.

  43. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 17, 2011

    You should read what he actually wrote, Stewart. He was an asshole about it, and dug himself a hole. He is a nasty piece of work, and was one long before he wrote the book that made atheists love him. The selfish meme is a fucktard’s theory, and bullshit, to boot.

    I have never met a person, for whom atheism was an important part of their identity, who was not smug about it. Who did not think it made them intellectually superior to the moronic, superstitous theists. It is theoretically possible such people exist, but I’ve never met one. I have met Christians who Christianity was important to, who were not smug about it. That is balanced by the fact that atheists generally don’t push socially retrograde policies. Generally. A lot of totalitarians have been very aggressively atheistic.

  44. David Lister permalink
    December 17, 2011

    The selfish meme is a fucktard’s theory, and bullshit, to boot.

    C’mon Ian, is this the face of a fucktard’s theory?

  45. John Sears permalink
    December 17, 2011

    I have to say I’m disappointed to see all of this outright bigotry (yes, bigotry) against atheists, here of all places.

    I’m an atheist, and yes, it’s an important part of my identity in this religious society and hyper-religious world. And yes, atheism, that is to say the lack of illogical and unfounded belief in God (or Gods) is, all things being equal, an intellectually superior position to religious belief, which has no intellectual credibility. I don’t even like to think of faith and religion in intellectual terms; faith is more like a delusion of individually varying intensity than an intellectual position.

    But I don’t bring up my atheism unless the topic of religion comes up first, and usually not even then, because it’s a negative belief. In a world with no religious people, my atheism would be irrelevant to my identity, much like my lack of belief in unicorns. In a world where the majority of the planet stridently believed in unicorns, and a strong plurality of my fellow US citizens believed in unicorns and tried to dictate public policy to varying degrees on Unicorn-based theology, my lack of Unicorn belief would become terribly important to me.

    This isn’t that world. I’ve never commented on a Unicorn-related thread (I assume they exist, Rule 34 if nothing else.) But it is good to see myself, my family, most of my friends slandered, sorry, ‘generalized’ about in this fashion. The idea that atheists are an inherently ‘identifiable’ population, even in the West, is laughable. The rampant bigotry and active persecution atheists face, if they choose to out themselves, means that the vast majority never do, beyond a close circle of friends anyway.

    Ever seen this polling? http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx

    Atheists are the most despised group in America, and Americans generally feel perfectly open about candidly admitting their prejudices to a pollster because there’s no stigma in hating us.

    And yes, it is active persecution, thanks much. When I was in high school my atheistic beliefs became known more broadly than was safe, and my school had me surveilled, harassed, and even attempted to have me institutionalized as a result. They succeeded, briefly, in convincing a friend’s parents to have him put in a psych-ward. That’s life for an atheist in rural Indiana.

    So yes, some atheists are quite pushy and defensive about it, when they feel safe enough, and some idolize those who are so very public about it, like Dawkins et al. And many of the Dawkins type are, to varying degrees, assholes. It often takes a certain kind of asshole to stand up and risk that kind of social stigma (or worse). So the vast majority of atheists *I* know (and that’s apparently a valid basis for generalization now) are quiet about it, unassuming, and hide it from most people, including their families, most of the time. We put up with the constant low-level bombardment of religiosity, the proselytizing from well-meaning religious coworkers, friends, neighbors and family, suck it up when our tax dollars are handed to unaccountable religious organizations in great big sacks so they can discriminate against us in the provision of services. (Thanks Obama for continuing that ‘faith based services’ crap btw).

    Maybe we write a few checks, to the ACLU, the FFRF, etc. That’s about it.

    Because, again, we’ve been instructed what can happen if you’re too ‘pushy’ about it.

  46. December 17, 2011

    Obviously I can’t speak for a “group” that is not only not a group in toto, but also those “atheists” that seem to have identified as a group have not elected me as representative of their views.

    What I find frustrating – in passing – is that my lack of respect for the usefulness of belief in general can reasonably result in me being labeled an “atheist.” To me, it’s a syntactic convenience that I don’t object to in general – I’m not that pedantic – but to have a convenient label logically morph into the sophomoric conclusion that therefore I am an “ist” of some kind after all is offensive on all kinds of levels.

    The schism is not “there is a God/there is no god” – the schism is whether or not you permit your apprehension of reality to be skewed by ideas that have not been established by direct observation.

    I happen to be a spiritually inclined individual (and I assign no special moral status to myself because of it), but the extent to which this is true is only informed by my observations. Belief is not a fundament of consciousness – it is one of the many side effects of the phenomenon of fear, which naturally arises in an uncertain world, but is hardly a pinnacle of consciousness to which one would aspire.

    If this is intellectual superiority, well excuse me. So is the dismissal of unicorns, as StewartM has pointed out. Can’t prove a negative, so I will not waste a lot of energy denouncing the existence of unicorns – I will, however, stand on the position that there is no reason for me to believe in the fair beasts.

  47. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Atheists are the most despised group in America, and Americans generally feel perfectly open about candidly admitting their prejudices to a pollster because there’s no stigma in hating us.

    You charge bigotry in your latest post, yet applying your “liberal” definition of it, engage in it yourself with this statement.

    Been there, John, experienced that and still do experience it with the ubiquitous religious solicitation and/or condemnation for not believing. In fact, my son, who is nine years old, reported to his mother and I a couple of months prior that someone had made him cry in school. As a parent, it hurts to know that your child was hurt enough to cry, although it is a part of life and can’t be entirely avoided. It wasn’t something physical, rather it was psychical. One of his classmates asked him if he believed in Evolution. My son responded that he did. The classmate told him that according to the Bible, Evolution is not true. My son said he didn’t believe what the Bible said, and instead believed in science and the scientific method. The boy told him he was going to burn in hell for eternity and he wouldn’t let it go…he kept saying you’re going to burn, burn burn with zealous conviction until my son finally broke down and cried. A week later, my son attended his Birthday Party and it was as if the event never happened. So, this is my experience, and I’ve had many more like it, believe me, and I still stand by what I’ve said thus far.

  48. David Lister permalink
    December 17, 2011

    I’ll confess that I’m an atheist myself, though I grew up in an area where such an attitude was at worst regarded as somewhat narrow-minded.

    My own assessment of the situation at large is that there was a general drifting away from religion in the Western world over the course of the ’90s, followed in the last decade by a two-pronged reaction from the American establishment: first, hammering the public with a ferocious and intolerant brand of fundamentalist Christianity; second, presenting a “hip”, “edgy”, “in-your-face” atheist alternative–in other words, giving atheism the standard-issue kiss of death.

    I’m not sure this will quite have the result intended though, as it all looks premised on the original drift away from religion having been due to some sort of faddish appeal that atheism had at the time, something that could be easily derailed with such a hackneyed image-management approach. If my own case is typical though, and I do believe that it is, then it resulted from a growing unease at the difficulty of reconciling the world revealed by science with prevailing Christian doctrines. Simply trying to make atheism seem tiresome will not quell the doubts that led people away from religion in the first place.

  49. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 17, 2011

    Atheism and agonisticism flourish in social democracies, the more social democratic, in general, the more atheistic. The long term economic outlook is very bad for atheism and agnosticism, in general. Though you can get other belief systems that replace religion. (ie. in the early 20th, both Soviet Communism and Fascism.)

  50. December 17, 2011

    The long term economic outlook is very bad for atheism and agnosticism, in general.

    I love me some dry wit, Ian.

  51. John Sears permalink
    December 17, 2011

    Morocco:
    How, precisely, am I displaying bigotry when I state that the Gallup polling shows that a large number of Americans freely confess that they will not vote for an Atheist for high office? And that, of the often-hated groups asked about, atheists polled worst, below gays, african-americans, Jews, etc?

    Because that’s precisely what they said, to a pollster, knowing it was being recorded. Because they don’t care. Because it’s perfectly socially acceptable to hate Atheists in this society; in fact, it’s actively and daily encouraged.

    How is that not bigotry?

  52. John Sears permalink
    December 17, 2011

    The long-term economic outlook for *human civilization* is beyond bleak, in no small part due to the lunatic religious fringe that holds huge sway in American politics and insists on denying climate change because they believe Jesus will come back to save them any day now, and the Earth was given to them to use in Genesis anyway.

    Judging by the recent news from Russia about methane releases from the permafrost our collective long-term outlook might well be characterized as ‘hot, humid and dead’.

  53. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 17, 2011

    How is that not bigotry?

    I wouldn’t argue that it’s not bigotry, but come on, you’re citing a poll? Polls aren’t any more reliable than direct observation and/or experience, and in my opinion, perhaps less reliable. So, you’re citing an unreliable measure to confirm your preconceived notions about “Americans,” calling them prejudiced. You’ve generalized to an entire group in critical fashion, so according to your loose definition, you’re engaging in bigotry yourself.

  54. John Sears permalink
    December 18, 2011

    Morocco: *A* poll? It was actually *numerous* polls, but you apparently didn’t read it before commenting anyway.

    Here, on the second page, are historical examples of the same question going back decades:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx#2

    You will note, if you actually take the time, that most groups gallup asks about have seen huge improvements in their general electability over the years. Atheists on the other hand have gone from 18% of the population being willing to consider one as President to 45%. Americans consistently display prejudice against Atheists over many decades.

    But I also talked about my personal experience with persecution in America, and about government programs taking my tax dollars and giving them to churches so they can discriminate against people like me, and the like; direct experience, which you claim is better.

    I could go on about tax loopholes for people in religious professions, some of which are truly outrageous, and of course to which Atheists have no equivalent, or about churches openly flaunting their tax exemption rules every election cycle and endorsing from the pulpit, in response to which the IRS does nothing, or talk about how organizations that discriminate against Atheists are allowed to recruit in the public schools (like the Boy Scouts, which ban atheists and expel us if they any who’ve been hiding it), religious hospitals which are allowed to deny care based on their faith regardless of whether we adhere to it and still take medicare dollars, and on, and on, and on.

    But for some reason, no matter how many examples I give, I’m the bigot.

    That’s astonishing nonsense. Truly astonishing.

  55. rubin10101 permalink
    December 18, 2011

    “People who think you can’t make generalizations about identifiable groups amuse me.” Laff-my-ass-brilliant, and more than worthy of a post concerning our newest dead guy. You, as usual, ain’t wrong..but I’ll cop to it- his stuff was a big-time guilty pleasure for me, too :)

  56. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 18, 2011

    True A-Theism is a deeply personal process; how can one cookie cutter/name such a thing?

  57. John Sears permalink
    December 18, 2011

    More for Morocco:

    Here’s a study from the Uni of Minnesota on how, aside from political concerns, Americans hate atheists: http://www.soc.umn.edu/assets/pdf/atheistAsOther.pdf

    And here’s a bunch of cases where the courts discriminated against Atheist parents in child custody decisions: http://atheism.about.com/b/2006/03/30/atheists-discriminated-against-in-child-custody-cases.htm

    So in addition to not being willing to vote for us, Americans also don’t think we have American values, don’t want us marrying their kids, and the courts often don’t want us to be allowed to raise our own.

  58. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 18, 2011

    True A-Theism is a deeply personal process; how can one cookie cutter/name such a thing?

    Precisely. My criticism isn’t against anyone who is undergoing a deeply personal process of introspection and doubt about their own personal beliefs and the beliefs and behaviors of the society in which they live, and Civilization in general. My criticism is when that process is co-opted and codified and given a name or label…..and ultimately, in a de facto sense, institutionalized replete with VIPs to lead the way….gobbling up significant cash along the way for those who need to fill the vacuum created by their doubt.

  59. December 18, 2011

    Why is the issue of atheism always presented in opposition to Christianity? I think both are rather silly since neither side is willing to put in the effort to formulate a proof. And, yes, it is possible to prove a negative … see Nagaruna’s proof of “no independent origination”.

    It’s seems to be difficult to find an atheist who doesn’t claim to also be spiritual, which generally suggests the admittance of something larger than human behavior being in play. So what i take most Western atheism to mean is simply, “I don’t believe in the Christian God.” Is it ok to be an atheist and a Buddhist?

    And as much as i like reason, the cult of it is a little much at times. Like atheists who want proof of God’s existence, i want proof of man’s rationality. I’m not willing to structure my life around Christian myth without some proof that its central figure exists; just like i’m not willing to structure my life around Enlightenment axioms without some proof that the majority of humans behave rationally in the majority of cases and do so naturally. And i can prove that they don’t.

    Never mind that most of our heroes of the Enlightenment were deeply enchanted with a long line of esoteric wisdom traditions. Replace “reason” with “wisdom” in the manner it was used by ancient traditions and the Enlightenment makes just as much, if not more sense as it does revolving around “reason”.

    Can i be a devotee of the cult of Isis and still qualify as a modern atheist? What if i’m a believer in Gnostic Christian sect that sees the Christian God as an evil demi-god and that the prime mover of human spirituality is Christ’s aeon pair, Sophia … i.e. wisdom? Do i get some sort of bonafides by declaring that the imperfect “God” raped Eve and created our imperfect race, which can only be saved through esoteric wisdom? What if i replace “wisdom” with “reason” and argue that in the 17th and 18th Centuries, science was rather esoteric in-and-of itself, so the pairing of reason and wisdom makes sense. It makes even more sense if i attempt to draw a line between early science and the very ancient wisdom traditions going back to Egyptian magic practices that manipulated the corporeal world through a profound knowledge of it. (Or at least that’s what the fragments of ancient texts i adhere to seem to suggest.)

    My (and it’s a perspective of one raised without religion of any kind) feeling is that the whole argument is rather silly, because everyone’s believing something and is, consequently, behaving irrationally. Therefore, no conclusion will be reached. No one will be proven wrong or right. So while it’s incredibly interesting to me – and i have a degree in religion to prove my interest – it is, in the end, all futile.

    There, i’m a Buddhist…or at least ready to accept the first noble truth of Buddhism.

  60. John Sears permalink
    December 18, 2011

    Lex – I’m an atheist and I have no spirituality. Most of the atheists I know aren’t spiritual. So it’s really not all *that* hard to find us.

    Also, since it’s not an organization, opinions differ on what constitutes an Atheist, but because it’s not an organization, atheists really can’t be criticized for lacking official criteria for membership either.

    Personally I don’t consider people who believe in any sort of supernatural spiritual magic to be Atheists, because ‘God’ is really just code for ‘something that makes the universe, contrary to observable evidence, behave in the way that I really want’. If your religion involves praying to a legion of ghosts, you’re still religious. Believing in two gods shouldn’t make you more of an Atheist than believing in one.

    As for formulating proof, that’s a moving goalpost, because all a religious person has to do is shift their definition of God and believe in something else and then you have to go to all that work again. Why bother? What’s the point? Plus it really is kind of hard to argue with imaginary concepts that are omnipotent, since by definition that means they COULD pull the wool over your eyes no matter what proof you think you’ve come up with. The entire universe and all logical rules could be an illusion fomented by Azarthoth as he sits, bubbling, insane, at the center of the universe.

    Or you could just by default not believe extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence. Thus I don’t believe in leprechauns, unicorns, a secure version of Windows or God.

  61. December 18, 2011

    Oh my. Here we go again. It is beyond tedious to have non-atheists (once again) schooling atheists what we are all about. Atheism is not a religion. We have no holy books, no rituals, no hymns. As John Sears and others have said atheism is a lack of belief in god(s) – that is all. As far as Christopher Hitchens goes, I completely disagreed with him on Iraq (and other things as well). He could be an ass, but he was also an unapologetic atheist, and for that I was glad he existed. His writings since his diagnosis moved me deeply, especially his last. So yes, I mourn his passing. But I never idolized him. I left that behind when I let go of wanting to believe. Greta Christina said it far better than I ever could:

    A fair amount of what he wrote irritated and angered me. And that’s one of the things I like best about the atheist movement. We don’t have to idolize our leaders and our heroes. We can disagree with them. We can recognize that they’re human. We can say to them one day, “Damn, that was brilliant”… and the next day say, “You’re being a fucking asshole, this is beneath you”… and the next day say yet again, “Okay, that was brilliant.”

    Sometimes, Christopher Hitchens was a fucking asshole, and said and wrote things that were beneath him. Most of the time, he was brilliant. I’m deeply sorry that I never met him.

    We are your neighbors, your co-workers, your family.

    And it’s pretty shitty when alleged liberals display the same sort of wide-brush bigotry towards atheists that you would decry if done toward any other minority. You think you’re not? Just substitute “gay” or “Black” or “Latino” for “atheist” in any of the atheist bashing comments above and it should be clear.

  62. John Sears permalink
    December 18, 2011

    BlueLyon – The substitution thing is precisely what I’ve been trying to point out, albeit better put, so thanks. That’s what the Gallup thing was meant to illustrate. We have empirical proof that, in fact, if you take a statement that most people in the US accept to be bigoted, ‘I wouldn’t vote for X because he’s black’, and change ‘black’ to ‘an atheist’, suddenly about 50 percent of them would no longer feel it’s bigoted.

    That’s what the science tells us, and it’s backed up by other studies as well as even the most cursory examination of our society, which privileges religious people and practice over the non-religious countless ways, every single day.

    But for some reason, can’t imagine why, a lot of people don’t want to even acknowledge that it might be the case. And of course, that their own distaste for atheists just *might* be a product of a culture that indoctrinates them to hate us.

    As for Hitchens, I hated the man. He wrote apologias for mass murder, and Iraq was far from the first; his position on the Native American genocide(s) was just as repulsive. He was a narcissistic wanna-be revolutionary who somehow never found the guts to join an actual revolution, perhaps because he couldn’t keep sober long enough, who can say.

    But, although I’ve never met the atheist strawman in the main post who thinks that atheism necessarily makes someone a good person, it’s also true that atheism does not necessarily make you a bad one, or an ‘idiot’ as Morocco said. Hitchens’ moral lapses didn’t come from his lack of religion. There’ been many apologists for mass murder like him from the devout camps as well.

    I shouldn’t be as surprised as I was though. Bashing atheists is one of the few acceptable prejudices on the Left anymore. The responses I’d get back when I was still writing even moderately critical posts on religion at FDL, say, wow. The online Left will respect almost any religious position, if not the policies it advocates, but irreligion? Fat chance.

  63. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    and said and wrote things that were beneath him

    This statement, in and of itself, gives the thing away, and supports the point Ian was making, both about Hitchens, and the points Ian made, and I made, about Atheists and Atheism. It’s unfortunate you can’t see it….but then again, neither can Fundamentalist Christians, so it’s nothing new.

    Gee, I wonder what else was beneath Hitchens? Quite a bit when you occupy such an intellectually lofty tower as did he.

  64. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I shouldn’t be as surprised as I was though. Bashing atheists is one of the few acceptable prejudices on the Left anymore. The responses I’d get back when I was still writing even moderately critical posts on religion at FDL, say, wow. The online Left will respect almost any religious position, if not the policies it advocates, but irreligion? Fat chance.

    So you’re conflating my criticism with the criticism of the online “Left” and those at FDL. I have news for you, John. I lasted all of several days at FDL. I was mauled for suggesting we create a better world, meaning we scrap our corrupted and corruptible System replete with its many supporting Institutions. No, my criticism is not in any way the same. I don’t accept the opposite side. I am a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state and I am extremely irritated and insulted by religious solicitation and/or condemnation and the influence religion plays in politics and public policy. You don’t want to see that though. It’s easier for you to conflate me with others who have criticized Atheism. That shoe doesn’t fir me, so I won’t wear it. I suggest you do the same.

  65. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Just substitute “gay” or “Black” or “Latino” for “atheist” in any of the atheist bashing comments above and it should be clear.

    Or better yet, how about substituting “1%ers” or “Republicans” or “Conservatives” or “Fundamentalists” or “Rednecks” or “Teabaggers” or “Capitalists.” Last time I looked, 1% was a relatively small number, so we can consider it a minority. On the basis of your logic, to call people out and label them as part of the one percent with all its attendant criticisms, is bigotry….so in one fell swoop, you’ve condemned the Occupy thing (I can’t call it a movement as of yet, because I don’t believe it fits the criteria of a movement) to the same fate as the KKK.

  66. John Sears permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Morocco: you labeled a broad swath of people who have no unifying trait or ideology other than a lack of belief in something ‘idiots’. You did this on the basis of their lack of religious belief in particular. This is a monstrously bigoted position. Period.

    You’re not engaging in a criticism of Atheist beliefs, like one might if talking about ‘capitalists’, or political ideology like with ‘Republicans’. You can’t do that because atheists as a whole don’t share any, they simply don’t believe in one particular thing. But you aren’t even engaging with that in any meaningful way.

    Instead you blithely label us all as being stupid because we don’t agree with you, and then you ignore the rampant and disgusting, active, ongoing prejudice against atheists in America to label me a bigot instead for complaining.

    It’s bigoted, apparently, to demand fair treatment under the law, to ask that our kids not be taken away from us because we don’t go to church, that we not be taxed more and given fewer rights for not believing in God.

    And of course, in all your criticism you ignore the facts, the research, the law, the actual, identifiable reality whenever it conflicts with the bias you’ve already displayed.

  67. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    John, your tenacious Exceptionlism is admirable and on full display.

  68. John Sears permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Morocco: I will take that as your concession that you have no actual argument to employ and are falling back on petty insults and ad hominems.

  69. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    It’s not an insult, it’s an observation. You’re engaging in Exceptionalism. How’s that an ad hominem?

  70. John Sears permalink
    December 19, 2011

    How, precisely, am I ‘engaging in Exceptionalism’? I cited numerous pieces of evidence from a wide variety of sources demonstrating fairly conclusively that Americans have a persistent prejudice against Atheists, one which they act upon regularly and systemically. It is not ‘bigotry’ to point out these facts. You have not refuted one piece of that evidence, but just keep repeating your talking points. It’s getting really old. Put up or shut up.

  71. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    You’re not engaging in a criticism of Atheist beliefs, like one might if talking about ‘capitalists’, or political ideology like with ‘Republicans’. You can’t do that because atheists as a whole don’t share any, they simply don’t believe in one particular thing. But you aren’t even engaging with that in any meaningful way.

    This is beyond ironic. If it were true, which it’s not, you wouldn’t be here right now arguing this with me. I agree that there aren’t nearly as many Atheists as you imply. It’s a rather small group when you compare it to the much larger group that is “without God.” However, that much larger group are not Atheists, no matter how badly you want them to be. Atheism is more than the technical definition, and I’m sure many whom you are labeling as Atheists wouldn’t subscribe to being labeled Atheists for one reason, or another, so my criticism applies to those foolish and arrogant enough to engage in serious debate over the existence, or lack thereof, of a deity with the other side of that Fundamentalist coin. Those who confidently, boldly and smugly proclaim their disbelief and argue it endlessly, forming a back-slapping, cozy little cocooned clique that considers itself intellectually superior, and therefore better, than those half-wit believers.

    If anyone’s been insulting it’s you for abusing the bigotry charge. It’s a serious charge, and when you loosely interpret it and apply it, it loses it credibility as a condemnation, and does a severe disservice to all those who are the recipients of real, honest to goodness bigotry. The Boy Who Cried Wolf applies here.

    As for the rest of your argument, it’s a Strawman. No one here is arguing that religion doesn’t have an influence on public policy in very direct and manipulative ways, and that it isn’t a serious matter for concern and debate.

    There are many reasons people are “without God.” Probably one of the most prominent reasons is the same reason people don’t vote….shear apathy and laziness….it’s just not important enough to them. I can’t say that I respect that approach. As Celsius mentioned, and I underscored, I cannot and will not criticize “anyone who is undergoing a deeply personal process of introspection and doubt about their own personal beliefs and the beliefs and behaviors of the society in which they live, and Civilization in general.” In fact, I not only wouldn’t criticize this approach, but my wish is that everyone would do so, because in all sincerity, we don’t have an effective Democratic Republic until that is accomplished, amongst other things.

  72. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Here’s a reasoned analysis for anyone who has been following and cares to look.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/26/james-wood-the-new-atheism

    It’s part of the introspective process of which I spoke.

  73. John Sears permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Once again, Morocco, you fail to actually engage a single one of my points. NOT ONE. You’re off arguing with yourself over your own incredibly conceited, small-minded conception of a group of people you already didn’t like, and opened this whole conversation by insulting gratuitously.

    I will not respond to a single one of your asinine comments until you answer, simply yes or no:

    -Is it bigoted that the majority of Americans polled by Gallup over the last 50 plus years state that they will refuse to vote for a qualified Atheist candidate for President?
    -Is it bigoted that Atheists are discriminated against by their own government in the provision of services, by the awarding of tax dollars to religious charities that discriminate against them, by the official use of religious services in many public forums (schools, local governments, etc)?
    -Is it discriminatory that the tax code which is riddled with deductions and exemptions for the religious that Atheists cannot claim?
    -Is it bigoted atheists literally have their children taken away from them by family courts for not worshipping God?
    -Or that a sizeable plurality of Americans do not want their children to intermarry with Atheists?

    These things are reality. I have documented them here. If you cannot address reality I have nothing further to say to you. If you can, and declare these obvious and insidious forms of prejudice acceptable, then you, sir, are a bigot.

  74. ossicle permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Can anyone expand on Dawkins being a noxious human being, prior to Elevatorgate? I’m willing to be convinced, but haven’t head it before.

    -O

  75. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 20, 2011

    I agree with Dan’s sentiment and ideas here, and he handled Rick Warren perfectly. That’s how it’s done…..on your terms, not Rick Warren’s.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_s_response_to_rick_warren.html

    Juxtapose Dan with Hitchens…..the difference is stark. Dan’s a class act here compared to the egotistical Hitchens is nothing more than a glorified Carnival Barker.

    Dan’s not an idiot. Hitchens was.

  76. CambridgeKnitter permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Thank you so much for your first sentence. Here in Cambridge we have been having final meetings of our local elected governmental bodies this week, and that first sentence expresses brilliantly how they’ve made me feel. Lying weasels are lying weasels, period. I understand that my local institutions do not have the wide reach of Christopher Hitchens, but it seems to me that the tendency to refuse to acknowledge the vile actions people commit, whatever their position or clout in the world, is spreading like gangrene and will end up destroying us. As I said, lying weasels are lying weasels, period.

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