Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett: Evangelical atheists?

By: Reza Aslan One cold spring day in London, as I crossed the bustling square at Piccadilly Circus, I looked … Continued

By: Reza Aslan

One cold spring day in London, as I crossed the bustling square at Piccadilly Circus, I looked left instead of right (a typical American tourist) and was nearly run down by a careening double-decker bus with a flash of letters emblazoned along its side:

THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

The slogan is now ubiquitous and not only in London. When I first saw it I laughed, amused that atheists in the UK were miming propaganda techniques perfected by evangelical groups in the US, whose billboards dot the American landscape (“Having truth decay? Brush up on your Bible!”). I likely would have thought no more of it had not a friend informed me that the driving force behind the London bus ads was none other than the dean of the so-called “new atheists”–Darwin’s Rottweiler, himself–Richard Dawkins. If you are wondering what an esteemed evolutionary biologist and respected Oxford University professor is doing placing billboards around London proselytizing atheism, you are not alone.

There is, as has often been noted, something peculiarly evangelistic about what has been termed the new atheist movement. The new atheists have their own special interest groups and ad campaigns. They even have their own holiday (International Blasphemy Day). It is no exaggeration to describe the movement popularized by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens as a new and particularly zealous form of fundamentalism–an atheist fundamentalism. The parallels with religious fundamentalism are obvious and startling: the conviction that they are in sole possession of truth (scientific or otherwise), the troubling lack of tolerance for the views of their critics (Dawkins has compared creationists to Holocaust deniers), the insistence on a literalist reading of scripture (more literalist, in fact, than one finds among most religious fundamentalists), the simplistic reductionism of the religious phenomenon, and, perhaps most bizarrely, their overwhelming sense of siege: the belief that they have been oppressed and marginalized by Western societies and are just not going to take it anymore.This is not the philosophical atheism of Feuerbach or Marx, Schopenhauer or Nietzsche (I am not the first to think that the new atheists give atheism a bad name). Neither is it the scientific agnosticism of Thomas Huxley or Herbert Spencer. This is, rather, a caricature of atheism: shallow scholarship mixed with evangelical fervor.

The principle error of the new atheists lies in their inability to understand religion outside of its simplistic, exoteric, and absolutist connotations. Indeed, the most prominent characteristic of the new atheism–and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion) it is so desperate to refute. After all, religion is as much a discipline to be studied as it is an expression of faith. (I do not write books about, say, biology because I am not a biologist.) Religion, however it is defined, is occupied with transcendence–by which I mean that which lies beyond the manifest world and towards which consciousness is oriented–and transcendence necessarily encompasses certain theological connotations with which one ought to be familiar to properly critique belief in a god. One should, for example, be cognizant of how the human experience of transcendence has been expressed in the material world through historically dependent symbols and metaphors. One should be able to recognize the diverse ways in which the universal recognition of human contingency, finitude, and material existence has become formalized through ecclesiastical institutions and dogmatic formulae. One should become acquainted with the unmistakable patterns–call them modalities (Rudolph Otto), paradigmatic gestures (Mircea Eliade), spiritual dimensions (Ninian Smart), or archetypes (Carl Jung)–that recur in the myths and rituals of nearly all religious traditions and throughout all of recorded history. Even if one insists on reducing humanity’s enduring religious impulse to causal definitions, dismissing the experience of transcendence as nothing more than an anthropological (e.g. Edward Tylor or Max Muller), sociological (think Robertson Smith or Emile Durkheim), or even psychological phenomenon (ala Sigmund Freud, who attempted to locate the religious impulse deep within the individual psyche, as though it were a mental disorder that could be cured through proper psychoanalysis), one should at the very least have a sense of what the term “God” means.

Of course, positing the existence of a transcendent reality that exists beyond our material experiences does not necessarily imply the existence of a Divine Personality, or God. (In some ways, the idea of God is merely the personal affirmation of the transcendent experience.) But what if did? What if one viewed the recurring patterns of religious phenomena that so many diverse cultures and civilizations–separated by immeasurable time and distance–seem to have shared as evidence of an active, engaging, transcendent presence (what Muslims call the Universal Spirit, Hindus call prana, Taoists call chi’i, Jews call ruah, and Christians call the Holy Spirit) that underlies creation, that, in fact, impels creation? Is such a possibility any more hypothetical than say, superstring theory or the notion of the multiverse? Then again, maybe the patterns of religious phenomenon signify nothing. Maybe they indicate little more than a common desire among all peoples to answer similar questions of “Ultimate Concern,” to use the Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich’s famous phrase. The point is that, like any researcher or critic, like any scientist, I’m open to possibilities.

The new atheists will say that religion is not just wrong but evil, as if religion has a monopoly on radicalism and violence; if one is to blame religion for acts of violence carried out in religion’s name then one must also blame nationalism for fascism, socialism for Nazism, communism for Stalinism, even science for eugenics. The new atheists claim that people of faith are not just misguided but stupid–the stock response of any absolutist. Some argue that the religious impulse is merely the result of chemicals in the brain, as though understanding the mechanism by which the body experiences transcendence delegitimizes the experience (every experience is the result of chemical reactions). What the new atheists do not do, and what makes them so much like the religious fundamentalists they abhor, is admit that all metaphysical claims–be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable and, perhaps, beyond the purview of science. That may not be a slogan easily pasted on the side of a bus. But it is the hallmark of the scientific intellect.

Reza Aslan is a columnist at the Daily Beast and author of two international bestsellers No god but God and How to Win A Cosmic War. This essay is adapted from the book Religion and the New Atheism.

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  • Sajanas

    I’m so tired of this argument. Must I read it over and over and over again.No, we are not as bad as fundamentalists. I don’t particularly care that people do what they want, I just want them to have the freedom to chose, and religion in order to survive vilifies me, and any other atheist, and encourages people not to think about their religions. Your hate towards us is just a symptom of your inability to really respond to the world and arguments against religion that have existed for hundreds of years before the New Atheists ever thought to put up an add. The only difference is now they’re not burned alive for it.

  • aljasm_10

    There is no such thing as “atheist fundamentalism”, “evangelical atheism” or “new atheism.” Fundamentalist religion involves people being told to believe the bible literally whereas by stark comparison, atheism has no doctrine. Atheists simply advise people to think rationally instead of investing blind faith in books written back in the bronze age. The only thing, furthermore, that unites atheists is their lack of belief.To criticise atheists for not knowing anything about a religious text is ludicrous. There are thousands of beliefs that humans have had – does one have to have read all the thousands (or millions) of texts to disbelieve in any of them? Should I read up on Aztec mythology before I can disbelieve in Quetzalcoatl for example? By the writer’s logic, I have no right to criticise Aztec beliefs (including copious human sacrifice) because I know little about it. The concept of transcendence has many other explanations. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – surely instead of considering that it infers the existence of a creator god (which is highly illogical has been qualified by many), it could infer something far more explainable. To suggest that some religious similarity between cultures infers a creator’s existence is a fudge – the differences between beliefs are staggeringly huge. It is worth pointing out that religious ideas did travel far and wide. Christianity is entirely based on earlier pagan religions as far flung as Egypt. Communism as an irrational (like religion) ideology can be partly blamed for Stalinism. Eugenics is nothing to do with science at all. It is a perversion of scientific theory. Science deals with theories based on evidence. Eugenics is an ideology that a scientific theory about evolution (also badly misunderstood in this case) should be applied to human life.

  • gilliganism

    Have you actually read Hitchens? Here’s a quote: “I could describe the search for it [truth]. But I would be skeptical of anyone who claims to have found it.” Only a true fundamentalist would say that, I’m sure.[New] atheists claim to have “sole possession of the truth?” A monopoly on knowledge? Let’s see what the bible has to say: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”I’m sure you can produce some similar statements from the Koran, Aslan. This article is an example of your unwillingness to respond to the real arguments against religion – simple base-riling, shallow, and a manipulation of your uninformed readership.

  • pierrejc2

    There is nothing intolerant about equating creationists with Holocaust deniers. Both ignore whole, colossal mountain ranges of evidence to peddle their idiotic lies.

  • Mortal

    Amazing. SAJANAS writes about “your hate towards us”, but I saw not an inkling of hatred in aslan’s article. Where was the hate?With every word that LESTERB1 writes, he proves Aslan’s case. Note his repeated, insulting use of the words “idiocy” and “idiots”. Exactly what Aslan was talking about.ALJASM_10 brings up people who insist on a literalist interpretation of the Bible, thus providing evidence for Aslan’s statement that atheists insist “on a literalist reading of scripture (more literalist, in fact, than one finds among most religious fundamentalists)”.Are you guys even reading what you’re writing before you post it???

  • OpheliaBenson1

    Gee, why would we have a sense of siege? Why would we think we’ve been marginalized? After all, we get to see thoughtful, original, well-argued, evidence-rich pieces like this turn up in newspapers and magazines every few minutes.Honestly, Mr Aslan, could you really not do better than this torrent of clichés? Do you have any idea how many people before you have scribbled rants about how literalist and evangelical and fundamentalist the “New Atheists” are? If you don’t you ought to. If you do you ought to be embarrassed to have written an exact duplicate.In addition to being banal, it’s false. “New Atheists” are not literalist and evangelical and fundamentalist, and it’s neither witty nor accurate to say they are.We think we’ve been marginalized because we

  • cornbread_r2

    Pity that Reza Aslan didn’t read anything of the arguments of these men beyond the bus ad. And of course, flying planes into buildings, denying civil rights to other citizens, and attempting to have the notion of a 6,000 year-old universe taught in public schools is “merely the personal affirmation of the transcendent experience”.

  • cornbread_r2

    The point is that, like any researcher or critic, like any scientist, I’m open to possibilities. Splendid! I’ll take that as an acceptance of an invitation from me to attend the snake handlers’ church down the road. Even if one insists on reducing humanity’s enduring religious impulse to causal definitions, [...] one should at the very least have a sense of what the term “God” means. *crickets*This piece is such a caricature, I’m surprised Mr. Alsan didn’t accuse Prof. Dawkins of having sex with Mr. Garrison.

  • AprilStreich

    As someone who is reasonably sure that there is no “god” figure, I’ve recently decided that identifying as an “atheist” is inaccurate and problematic, for so many of the reasons you’ve outlined. I bought Richard Dawkins’ This is a fantastic piece. Thank you for this analytical and educational piece!And, in response to earlier commenters pointing out the violence that some followers of some religions use to further their message, I think Mr Aslan was highlighting that the problem lies not with the particular religion in question, but with the evangelical, fundamentalist behavior that the individual or group in question uses to further its’ agenda. This was an article about how religious fundamentalists and “new atheists” share a common dangerous and potentially threatening thread, which is evangelical fundamentalism, and this was also punctuated by examples of fascist, non-religious dictators of the past.

  • AprilStreich

    Communism as an irrational (like religion) ideology can be partly blamed for Stalinism. Eugenics is nothing to do with science at all. Emphasis mine.This is precisely what “good” Christians and Muslims say when confronted with evidence of terrorists and right-wing fundies who publicly identify with a certain religion. “It’s good and peaceful and ok, and those extremists perverted it! The rest of us are reasonable and all right!”THe article didn’t seem to suggest that people who didn’t believe in “god” or follow a religion were all of the same ilk as Dawkins et al, but rather that a specific new sect of atheism that is becoming increasinly popular is mimicking and perpetuating the very behaviors that religious fundamentalists are using to demolish peace and reason in the world, and further war and violence.

  • Artimus

    As much as I find the billboards amusing since there are a few Christian billboards around where I live telling everyone that you are going to be going to hell, I kind of have mixed feelings about where Atheism is heading since a lot of the methods being used are starting to feel vaguely similar to the church. I kind of don’t like the fact that we are starting to have Atheist groups since I feel like us organizing kind of goes completely against why we are atheist in the first place and I have no desire to ever join one. I can’t say I was aware we had a holiday, though I’ve always kind of jokingly celebrated the “Feast of Maximum Occupancy” on 6/5 because it is the name of the holiday Homer Simpson claims to be celebrating when he stops going to church in the episode “Homer the Heretic.” I can understand some of the complaints about Dawkins and Hitchens being a little outspoken since they kind of are, but at the same time I feel like if it wasn’t for people like them you probably wouldn’t be hearing all that much from us Atheists so I’m not really bothered by it.

  • WmarkW

    The difference between an atheist and a fundamentalist is that our minds could be changed if the right evidence was brought forth. What do you think it would take to convince Pat Robertson that God does not exist?

  • Quine

    Rant and rave and stamp your feet, but the Emperor still has no clothes. Calling the “New Atheists” unlearned, is not the same as presenting objective evidence showing that what they say is untrue.Got evidence?

  • severalspeciesof

    “…and transcendence necessarily encompasses certain theological connotations with which one ought to be familiar to properly critique belief in a god”Necessarily? Mr. Aslan, you apparently don’t understand the nuances of transcendentalism…

  • mmurray1957

    I think Ophelia has it covered. This is a rehash of cold leftovers. Can I get a job writing for WP if I promise to just serve up leftovers. I have a couple of old sausages in the fridge. The mold might cause a transcendent experience. Anyone ? One comment:”Some argue that the religious impulse is merely the result of chemicals in the brain, as though understanding the mechanism by which the body experiences transcendence delegitimizes the experience (every experience is the result of chemical reactions). What the new atheists do not do, and what makes them so much like the religious fundamentalists they abhor, is admit that all metaphysical claims–be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable and, perhaps, beyond the purview of science.”If the transcendent affects the body via chemical processes it is in the purview of science. That is the hallmark of the scientific intellect. Michael

  • wk633

    Mr Aslan sums up ‘New Atheism':The parallels with religious fundamentalism are obvious and startling: the conviction that they are in sole possession of truth (scientific or otherwise), the troubling lack of tolerance for the views of their critics (Dawkins has compared creationists to Holocaust deniers)And then goes on to say:Indeed, the most prominent characteristic of the new atheism–and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion) it is so desperate to refute.Quite ironic. The first quote demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Dawkins et al, and he claims them to be illiterate regarding religion?I’m not sure how to be tolerant of young earth creationism (which is actually what Dawkins compares to Holocaust denial). That’s kind of like being tolerant of the flat earth theory, or the geocentric universe theory. Believe it if you want, but I’m not going to bare false witness and say “well, you could be right”. If the earth is ~6K years old, then God’s name is ‘Loki’.Guess I can take “No god but God” off my reading list. If your understanding of atheism is that flawed, I’m suddenly no longer interested.

  • onthefence2000

    And once again, a barrage of unbeliever reasoning crushes already-wafer-thin religion guy. Why does no one ever respond to the “Got evidence?” challenge?

  • fliprim

    “and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion).”Where do all the atheists come from in a predominantly religious country like the US? In groups of atheists I am mingling with I (always atheist) am always outnumbered by converts. As the group continues to grow statements like the above will become increasingly ludicrous. I urge people to go read Converts Corner at Richard Dawkins web site to understand how all the new atheists become so. Ignorance of religion is entirely the reverse of their problem.

  • Epeeist

    You do realise that the original bus advert was in response to one from Evangelicals claiming that non-believers would burn in Hell? To claim the two messages to be equivalent is a nonsense.

  • APaganplace

    “You do realise that the original bus advert was in response to one from Evangelicals claiming that non-believers would burn in Hell? To claim the two messages to be equivalent is a nonsense.”Posted by: Epeeist That’s one thing they always ignore while trying to pretend they’re being persecuted by these ‘angry atheists:’ the phenomenon is clearly a direct result of decades of increasing assaults by religious fundamentalism on society and reason and learning itself: it’s the Religious Right that has insistently destroyed the idea that both sides could more or less stay in their own corners. I often find myself placed in between by both sides of this big argument about whether or not the Abrahamic God exists, (and thus entitles his followers to privileged status and exemption from reason:) but that’s actually apart from the actual political and academic issues in question, as far as I’m concerned. What motivates this ‘conflict’ is the ‘culture war,’ which was declared by Evangelicals and other churches,while they use all the invective and sanctimony they’d like when trying to attack those they consider ‘unbelievers’ or ‘undesireables,’ then cry foul when some atheists are at all vocal about it. Christians claim to be persecuted and kept out of government by atheists, but the opposite is in fact the case: in America, you just can’t get elected without a show of piety, at this point. Christianity is mandatory, at least a pose of it. And they wonder why both religion and politics are so full of the corrupt.

  • mikehaubrichmn

    Reza, I would expect that you would read for comprehension prior to writing an article criticizing people for not comprehending. I would think that you would check to find the history and the background of the bus campaign. I would expect that you would read past the intro of Richard Dawkins’ book, I would expect you to read the books by at least one of the “new atheists” before writing something as ill-informed as this piece. I am disappointed that WaPo sinks to the poor quality of HuffPo in its choice of columnists to write for your “Faith” section. I mean, seriously? The quality of this piece barely rises above the level of commentary from an internet poster writing “You libs are just scared of Sarah Palin.”While you here demonstrate that you read your assignments in Philosophy 101, you fail to demonstrate that you learned to apply critical thinking. You know the names of the classical atheists, which is certainly impressive. But to demand that all atheists write at their esoteric level in order to be worthy is ironic considering how little you understand modern atheism.

  • mikeghouse

    I agree with Reza, that the few Atheists give a bad name to others. As a society, we many want to accept that every group, religious or otherwise has a mix of ultra liberals to hard core evangelists.As a Pluralist Muslim, I have done radio shows called wisdom of religions, all the beautiful religions. Indeed, the programs were from A to Z, Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between.For the annual Unity day programs we do in Dallas, I joined in two Atheist groups to invite them to be represented on the stage with every tradition, it is a non-exclusive event. I was kicked out of the groups because I believed in God; I know that is not all Atheists, but the fundamental evangelical atheist who gave me the shaft.I was an Atheist myself for a very long time and found the resistance among interfaith groups to keep the Atheists out, that led me to establish the foundation for pluralism to be inclusive of those who believe in no God, one God and multiple representations of God. Mike Ghouse

  • mikeghouse

    I agree with Reza, that the few Atheists give a bad name to others, perhaps it is the same percentage as in other religious groups; 1/10th of 1%. As a society, we many want to learn to accept that every group, religious or otherwise has a mix of ultra liberals to hard core evangelists. Every possible category in one group is also in the other. As a Pluralist Muslim, I have done radio shows called wisdom of religions, all the beautiful religions. Indeed, the programs were from A to Z, Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between.For the annual Unity day programs we present in Dallas in commemoration of 9/11, I joined in two Atheist groups to invite them to be represented on the stage with every tradition, it is a non-exclusive event. I was kicked out of the groups because I believed in God; I know that is not all Atheists, but it is the fundamental evangelical atheist among them who gave me the shaft. However, I am connected with many Atheist/Humanist I see the value of their beliefs without subscribing to it. I was an Atheist myself for a very long time and found the resistance among interfaith groups to keep the Atheists out, that led me to establish the foundation for pluralism to be inclusive of those who believe in no God, one God and multiple representations of God. We exist and that is a fact, we might as well make our existence enjoyable, after all belief should not be the source of conflict, the only real conflicts are one’s space, sustenance and nurturance, all else is intangible and don’t have to be in the category of conflict.Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, and Civil Societies. He is mitigater of conflicts and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

  • MikeTheInfidel

    AprilStreich: The difference between perverting a dogma and perverting a scientific theory is that it’s actually possible to show that someone has empirically and demonstrably misunderstood and misrepresented science. Dogma? Not so much. Two people can read the same book and get entirely opposite answers.Artimus: Becoming an atheist has nothing to do with not wanting to be part of a group. You’re just antisocial. Not all of us are.

  • shapein

    “Atheist say that religion is fundamentalist, but they are the fundamentalists ones”Oh. My. God.

  • Artimus

    MikeTheInfidel: My problem with us having Atheist groups isn’t because I’m antisocial, which I am, but that groups tend to need to have money to function and the methods used to get donations always end up feeling very similar to those used by religion. I don’t want Atheism to ever have to resort to the same methods of religion and efforts by Atheist groups to combat religion are starting to behave just like a religious group would.

  • Appalbear1

    It must be exhausting to come up with fresh ways to describe the Emperor’s New Clothes. Many atheists arrive as escapees from the mind-numbing clutches of religion, or the pretentious sophistry of “spirituality”. We are not ignorant of your field, Mr. Aslan; our contempt arises precisely from our full understanding of it.If we are dogmatic for denying fairy tales (even your erudite ones), then so be it. We see a humanity addled by this alleged “transcendence”, and acolytes like you are either spreading or enabling its ill effects. Our methods may ultimately resemble yours, but do not conflate your snake oil salesmanship with our rational alternative.

  • MikeTheInfidel

    Artimus: To be a member of any social organization, you have to pay dues. This is because they do things that cost money. This is not because they’re like religion.

  • dcverion

    “What the new atheists do not do, and what makes them so much like the religious fundamentalists they abhor, is admit that all metaphysical claims–be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable and, perhaps, beyond the purview of science. That may not be a slogan easily pasted on the side of a bus. But it is the hallmark of the scientific intellect.”Mr Aslan, allow me to shorten that so it fits nicely on the side of a bus:

  • gra_factor

    I am so sick of this rubbish. The same old same old.”The new atheists will say that religion is not just wrong but evil, as if religion has a monopoly on radicalism and violence; if one is to blame religion for acts of violence carried out in religion’s name then one must also blame nationalism for fascism, socialism for Nazism, communism for Stalinism, even science for eugenics. “Nobody has said that religion has a monopoly on violence et al. It is rigid, irrational dogmatic beliefs that lead to these atrocities. Religion just happens to be the most subscribed to of these dogmas. How many times have you been told? How many times has this been debunked and yet people like you still repeat the same nonsense? Do you think this idea has not been successfully debunked by atheists? If so, let us have it; tell us why it is wrong, but don’t just ignore the argument, otherwise you just show yourself to be a little kid with his fingers in his ears going “la la la la I can’t hear you!!”

  • beetle496

    It is no exaggeration to describe the movement popularized by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens as a new and particularly zealous form of fundamentalismExcept that it is a huge exaggeration! The most “fundamental” and “evangelical” atheists lecture and write books. Anyone who thinks Reza Aslan is making a coherent point should consider what acts fundamental evangelical Christians and Muslims are capable of.

  • mikeghouse

    Many of the religious folks have a habit of sterotyping the ones they don’t know. Morality is a product of existence, the religionists branded it as product of religion. It is wrong to ascribe morality exclusively to people of religion and not others.

  • Artimus

    MikeTheInfidel: We are still starting to behave like a religion whether you want to admit it or not. I personally see this trend as a bit of a problem.

  • didactor

    Mr Asian, if, as you say, a transcendent presence is “ultimately unknowable”, can you please enlighten this clearly unworthy atheist how on earth I can “orient my consciousness towards it? Thank you.

  • cornbread_r2

    Artimus:Using your criteria, is there any organization that couldn’t be classified as a “religion”?

  • melvinoliverdrauma

    Aslan, Firstly: I cannot speak for the other three, but Dan Dennett knows more about the philosophies of Feuerbach, Marx, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche than you will ever know…ever. Also considering Dennett’s past, constant, and continuing veneration within academia, you can be rest assured that are very few academics (this includes philosophers, theologians, and theorists of all colors, even those who vehemently disagree with him) who would accuse his scholarship of being “shallow.”

  • hatfinch

    @artimus “I kind of don’t like the fact that we are starting to have Atheist groups since I feel like us organizing kind of goes completely against why we are atheist in the first place”It sounds like you are against organised religion because it is organised. Most of us are against it because it is religion.

  • BoiGringo

    “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Um, Reza? … How is this campaign fundamentalist? Only by reversing the definition of “fundamentalist” could you make such an assertion. Richard Dawkins’ most offensive trait is that he sounds like C3-P0. Stop trying to rebrand him as some atheist Ayatollah, simply because he’s not ashamed to say that your deity probably isn’t real.Know what the “New Atheists” all have in common? They’re ATHEIST-AGNOSTICS. That’s right: Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Maher, et al… None claim to have absolute knowledge that there is no god. Maybe Vic Stenger, but even he doesn’t claim absolute knowledge; he merely thinks he may have disproved the God hypothesis via scientific logic…. Anyway, how about you and your fellow theists, Reza? Are you willing to be so honest about the limits of your knowledge?A word on “new” atheism: It’s the same as the old atheism. That’s because it’s clear and unburdened by dogma. Hitchens’ argument is the same as Ingersoll’s from over a century ago. If anything, we’ve improved on Nietzsche and the “old” atheists. And since their words do not bind us like holy writ, we can disregard some of their mistaken arguments in favor of newer, better understandings of the universe.”Religion” and “community” are two different words FOR A REASON. It is perfectly acceptable for atheists to form a community, especially when they are a growing minority which is despised beyond all justifiable proportion. To call the “new” atheism a “religion” is to call EVERYTHING a religion.If your definition of “fundamentalist” is “live and let live (see: most atheists),” then you might want to stop using the Iranian Heritage Dictionary.Reza, if you can’t make an argument without bending and twisting words until they lose any meaning, guess what? YOU DON’T HAVE AN ARGUMENT. PERIOD. You’re allegedly a professional something or other, and you just got owned by 30 amateur commenters, including myself. We’re better at your job than you are, Reza. You’re fired. Clean out your desk; we need your office pronto.

  • fakedude1

    Aslan is one of the greatest gifts the New Atheist movement could want. Anytime I feel like reminding myself we are making progress all I have to do is watch a replay of his debate with Sam Harris. And anytime he comes out with an article like this it’s a pleasure to read the responses and to know many others who never bothered to think about these issues before are also reading them.Well done everyone, including Resa.

  • whenwillthisnightmareend

    It’s very curious, first you lump all athiests together, like for instance we can lump all catholics, baptists, presbyterians, etc. together and then you categorize athiests as the same as the evangelicals, and I suppose the radicals of all religions. I suppose you are trying to insult us (me) for being an athiest. But you are wrong! First, Atheism is NOT a religion, but an argument against the religions you are trying to conflate with atheism. Second, I did not have a parent, a priest, a minister, rabbi, nun, etc. who taught me the ridiculous nature of belief in god. No I arrived at that conclusion from twelve years of religious indoctrination from neurotic (and now I find out, sexually and socially perverted) priests.

  • misspellar

    “The principle error of the new atheists lies in their inability to understand religion outside of its simplistic, exoteric, and absolutist connotations”So what your saying, is that we’re simply too smart, to be stupid enough, to find any thing rational or logical or even factual in religion right?Phewf… thank goodness for that. I could address the rest of your comments however, unlike Dawkins who can patiently attempt to reason with creationists, I’d rather poke my eye out with a spoon.

  • unc0nnected

    Wow, your illiteracy in the topic of atheist is infinitely smaller than how illiterate you feel atheists are in the matters of religion. You think that atheists are born that way? The vast majority of them term to logic and rational after years of learning more and more about the fallacy and lunacy of religion where as religious people are indoctrinated as children.

  • ClaytonAustralia

    Reza, it sounds like you are really clutching at straws now. Religion is based on outdated and irrational beliefs. There probably is no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life!

  • thenewrationalsit

    Raza, I appreciate the sense fairness you seem to have really tried to hold in looking at this ongoing argument but I completely disagree. Here is my response. thanks for entertaining my side of the argument as I did yours.

  • sixoftwelve

    Wow, this is particularly bad writing. Perhaps the most gussied-up version of the “Well, you just don’t get it,” argument that I’ve seen recently.

  • BoiGringo

    I’ve familiar with the writings of many theistic apologists, but this might be the first 100% P.R.A.T.T. (Previously Refuted a Thousand Times) essay I’ve ever read. Congrats, Reza.There’s no fresh data here. Every point that Aslan makes can be refuted by any honest reader without even consulting Wikipedia. All they have to do is ponder it for an extra five seconds, and his argument withers.Other apologists (Dinesh D’Souza, Ray Comfort, et al) are shamelessly dishonest, but at least they come up with occasional statistics or research. Of course, it’s all B.S. in the end, but at least they make an effort. Maybe it was a smart move on Reza’s part to not waste time on dead-end attempts at collecting pseudoscientific data. Better to just casually mention “superstring theory” and do some random name-dropping, to see if it convinces any credulous readers that if he’s heard of these things and he’s still religious, then he must really know something, right?

  • BritainsLastHope

    This article is one for the books.I have read many essays over the years as a university educator, but I have never read one which failed in its argument in a mere 45 words. My goodness that is an achievement!Here were have Reza Aslan proclaim that Dawkins et al are “evangelical atheists”, while he proceeds to use the following statement as “evidence” of this:”THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE” Now, Reza, you wrote this in CAPS. That makes it STAND OUT. Usually that means it can be seen. However, you obviously didn’t see the word PROBABLY. (Religious people have a problem with selective blindness, as you do, regarding creationism).Since when has ANY fundamentalist asserted that they are PROBABLY correct?Please provide evidence to demonstrate where any evangelical Christian has asserted that God PROBABLY exists, rather than DEFINITELY exists.The word PROBABLY means that Dawkins is NOT asserting a definite conclusion. Neither is the lack of conclusive certainty “evidence” (though, maybe with your lack of education you would assume so) that God exists. (We all know how Christians love to claim God exists with the “something can’t come from nothing” argument, which is flawed at the most basic of levels).PROBABLY means: not conclusive, not certain; [very] likely, open-minded; open to new evidence evaluation. It is NOT a closed book. However, religious fundamentalists DO have closed books, and even more closed minds. Your entire argument fails on this point. A fundamentalist can never say they are PROBABLY right.Regarding literalism: if laws are not literal, then what is the point of law? If a police officer should pull me over for speeding in the future, I shall be sure to tell him that he is in error – for the speed limit shouldn’t be taken literally! If you were attending my classes I would fail you. Your dribble is beyond painful to an academic mind.RJT (BA, MA, PhD)

  • Artimus

    I think my concern with groups can be kind of addressed with the example of Camp Quest, which is essentially a youth camp for the children of Atheist parents. As much as we like to complain about the way religious groups indoctrinate their children with their beliefs, Camp Quest is about the same as Christian parents sending their kids to a Jesus Camp. I think my main problem will all of this is more of a fear that in order to try and spread Atheism we are ultimately going to resort to many of the same methods religious groups use to make money and gain new converts and end up having the same problems and corruptions of the religious groups we oppose. I would love to see religion disappear, but what I really don’t want is for the gap that religion leaves to be filled by a Atheist group that provides the same functions in our lives as a church, synagogue, or mosque would.

  • BritainsLastHope

    Artimus -Camp Quest does not indoctrinate. There is nothing to indoctrinate for a start. Atheism has no dogma. Learning about each other and nature is the aim.To say it is the equal of Jesus Camp is dishonest. Those children were subjected to psychological abuse, to the point of torture. They were spoon fed lies and forced to believe.Camp Quest is simply a religion-free adventure and education group. Nothing wrong with that.

  • BoiGringo

    @ Artimus:I think your concerns are legitimate. I’m no more eager than you are to see the current atheist movement morph into that South Park episode with science-worshippers battling each other over science-worship.The “good news” (har) is that it’s not likely to happen. True, a world in which nonbelievers are eventually the majority will be an unprecedented state of affairs — one with new challenges. But the current crop of prominent atheists have displayed a level of self-awareness that theistic apologists (and even some excessively non-confrontational atheists) don’t want to acknowledge. But the new atheists seem to have a good grasp on the importance of community, and how nourishing it can be to humanity when freed from the grasp of irrational dogma.Camp Quest, it should be noted, is not explicitly atheistic. It is a secular organization which emphasizes critical thinking, and theistic kids are welcome. They seem to have learned from the mistakes of the Boy Scouts, who explicitly forbid atheists and gays from joining…. So Camp Quest, I think, is a small-scale example of how secular communities really can improve on the more traditional religious community model. Granted, it takes time, but it will happen.Some of your worries are valid: “Atheist” organizations are a means, not an end. I also agree that corruption should be fought in any organization, religious or secular. But you won’t find much argument from the prominent atheists; they seem to be doing a pretty good job of acknowledging those concerns. As long as we atheists continue to hold each other accountable, there’s no reason to think that the future won’t be better than the past.

  • AprilStreich

    There was a comment above suggesting that readers watch the debate between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris for proof of the inconsistencies or flaws in Aslan’s arguments. I’m watching them now, and I couldn’t help but notice Harris’ particular obsession with Islam. Some may even go so far as to label his attitude Islamophobic.

  • AprilStreich

    Also, I’d like to add that after having watched the debate with Harris on YouTube, Aslan owned that debate. Harris consistently missed the points Aslan made and continued on a barely-concealed anti-Islamic rant. I respect a lot of what Sam Harris has to say, and I’m not personally of the belief that “god” does exist, nor am I a follower of any religion or faith group, but his contributions to this debate were not at all impressive.

  • cornbread_r2

    Sam Harris gave a very intriguing TED talk that I enjoyed quite a bit, but he still left a lot of questions unanswered, and managed to, again, single out Islam as the apparent epitome and cause of hate and injustice in the world. AprilStreich Just out of curiosity, which religious followers would you nominate as the most violent and repressive? How much more violent and repressive would those followers be over your next most violent and repressive nominees?

  • spidermean2

    There are THREE valid reasons why evolution is false. I hope all evolutionists read this so I don’t keep on repeating myself.Reason no. 1 — it is impossible that a single-celled bacteria can become or transform into a two-celled bacteria or into a multiple-celled organism. There is no available science to explain such a fairy tale. This is the myth of evolution.Reason no. 2 – soil and water existed before any living thing existed. It is impossible that those brainless substances (soil and water) can form by themselves a very complex matter called plants and animals. There is no available science to explain that such a transformation is possible. This is the myth of evolution.Reason no. 3 — Science is the study of nature. Engineering is part of that kind of science. Engineers took many years to extract energy from sunlight and even at this moment they are still scratching their heads how plant leaves have been doing it for eons already. The level of intelligence nature demonstrates is just beyond human intelligence. The only probable explanation is the existence of a Supremely Intelligent Creator.With these THREE valid reasons, I don’t think I mentioned faith or religion. EVOLUTION IS A MYTH BASED ON REASON.The fact remains that the dispute will end when the Darwinists will self destruct in WW3 as the Bible prophesied. Stupidity is self destructive. Nothing will change these idiots’ mind until they self-destruct. That’s part of the law of nature.

  • Neverspent

    Wait. Did Reza Aslan just aver that atheists insist on more literal interpretation of the Bible than most religious fundamentalists do? And this makes atheists fundamentalists? That’s the same tactic used by those who say that, if someone points out racial discrimination, that person is “playing the race card” and thus is being a racist. Nice try, though: “If you I call you the name you are calling me, maybe people will get confused and just stop thinking.”Sorry, pal. This propaganda-dog won’t hunt.

  • Chops2

    Thank you BritainsLastHope, that was an excellent reply.It seems to me that Hitchens etc are, as Hitchens himself specifically says “anti-thiests” more so than athiests. Let me explain…If you see enough of their debates and read their work, their main approach is to confront the believer with religious texts and ask them to think rationally about their extraordinary claims and moral worth.Organized religion is not really about whether god exists or not, it is a belief in a humans claim of propehcy. Their “faith”, is not faith in god but in mans idea of god and his law.They too Reza are “open to possibilities”. What they will not do is accept extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, as you, an academic, seem to be willing to do with religion unlike in any other area of your academic life. It smacks of a double standard.

  • bob2davis

    It is virtually impossible for there to be “evangelical atheists” for the people whom they would wish to evangelize are either incapable of and/or refuse to engage in reason, evidence and critical thinking. Atheism only comes about when those three attributes are applied to the concepts of god and religion. I don’t believe one can persuade or brainwash another to think rationally! I suppose it is PROBABLE that some jesus might come back long before a majority of people choose reason over mythology! Perhaps another billboard might read: GOD WANTS YOU TO BE RATIONAL SO THAT HE CAN RETIRE!

  • Chops2

    Spidey:So shut up. If you want to meet your maker just top yourself. Hurry up about it too, I’m sick of reading your drivel

  • trousers

    What a crock. Way to generalize, sir. And this is in the Washington Post?

  • PSolus

    “There are THREE valid reasons why evolution is false. I hope all evolutionists read this so I don’t keep on repeating myself.”Wow, those are some compelling arguments; sounds like you really know what you are talking about.You must be licensed plumber, or something.

  • dryrunfarm1

    In the end, what is not a belief system?A fact is as difficult to prove as the existence of god. That which is true – a fact – cannot ever be or have been other than it is. The problem lies in affirming what is beyond our horizons, prospective or retrospective: there is no statement that can be made about the future or the unrecorded past that does not lie on the caveat, “if things were or will be then as they are now.” We may have no empirical basis to doubt that things were or will be as we understand them to be, now, but we also have no way to prove, beyond any possibility of error, that what we may have no reason to doubt was not or will not be, nevertheless, the case.At most, one believes that things were and will be as our current grasp of nature’s laws describes them. It does not raise a belief to the dignity of fact that in every case to date some scientific propositions have held good through the interval from belief through affirmation. It always remains the case that the next demonstration of a presumed fact may contradict the record, and the only argument against this proposition is the demonstration, itself.Why, then, is the belief in the current construction of the relationship between mass and gravity different than the belief in the existence of an entity or power independent of and greater than natural law? The votary of either has no proof of anything more than that those tests to which the respective propositions have been subjected have concluded to the satisfaction of their respective terms of utility – each has “proven” that which they were intended to prove within the observer’s ability to perceive cause and effect.Rather, the problem with most formal theistic constructions is that the orthodox narratives are often contradicted by observations made following the scientific method. While a case made be made that such contradictions impeach a given narrative, no case exists at all that the fundamental proposition, “god exists,” is false.This is but one objection to science as truth against the subjectivity of belief. There are other objections, but this should be enough for the moment.

  • Elisa2

    Reza Aslan, you have written the best piece that I have read in On Faith so far.It is very sad to me that there is so much irrational fear and hate among many atheists today towards any form of spirituality.Being neither a religious fundamentalist nor a neo-atheist, I am aware daily of the demands of both warring groups to accept their beliefs as my own or be labeled by them as a threat and evil. I do not wish to see either group ever have the ability to dominate over me, as both are fully entrenched in eliminating free thought and choice.

  • PSolus

    “In the end, what is not a belief system?”How about a lack of belief?Can you argue that a lack of belief is a belief system?

  • Clear_Stream

    what a bunch of crap!At a fundamental level theistic systems (of all forms: Catholic, Gnostic, Shia, Sunnu, Sufi, Vendantic Hinduism, Protestant etc) believe that beyond the diversity of Reality lies a “central theme” and Reality is a creation or a manifestation of this central theme.On the contrary, all non-theistic or atheistic systems (of all forms: Jainism, most Buddhist schools, Mimamsa & Sankya Hinduism, scientific methodology) believe in a pluralistic origin or manifestation of Reality.Both sides have the right to evangelize their positions. ——–RELIGION is NOT, I repeat, NOT belief in God. Please read some good books on comparative religion first. You will be surprised how many religions or schools reject GOD.———-Do you know that the first evangelical religion – Buddhism – is non-theistic? They beat the New Atheists 2500 years ago!

  • HououjiFuu

    What always amazes me is the false naivete dripping out of such pieces. Of course, militant atheists are combattants in a battlefield, and as such, sometimes use the methods of the enemy. Why? Well, easy: whenever atheists have held out the other cheek, in all the history of humankind, more often than not they’ve ended up burnt at the stake by nice religious people. Remember that? Okay, thank you.As an agnostic, I often view atheists as believers, the only difference with religious people being the center of their but, ultimately, belief in no deity or belief in deity remains a belief. Also, sometimes I think militant atheists go about defending themselves the wrong way. However, they’re nothing compared to all the religious wackos out there, and at least they’re not killing, maiming, or hurting anyone. Can’t say the same for religious zealots worldwide.Anyway, as much as militant atheists sometimes irk me, because I feel they’re not defending their cause as best I think they could, I recognize the one necessity they’re faced with :Our world isn’t a world of tolerance, despite what some people love to spew out. Religion is NOT tolerant, whatever its name. By definition, it CANNOT be: religions all claim to be the owners of a “ONE TRUTH”, a “ONE WAY” and thus, logically, they cannot tolerate anything else. Of course, in our modern times, western religions will tone this down, but you can read it and hear it if you know where to look. Confronted with this, any opponent who wants to stand a chance at making his/her argument heard has almost no other choice than to use the tactics of the enemy.So, please, do stop with the false naivete, and also with the false compassion. The day religions — emphasis on that word, I’m not talking about faith — stop trying to convert, to subdue, to insinuate themselves in the secular, the day they finally accept that they DO NOT belong in the public sphere but only in the private sphere, then maybe, just maybe, the world will have a chance at becoming a better place.

  • stephanesibani

    This essay is as bad as its title sounds, till the end… This prompted me to make a donation to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, we agnostic-atheists are tired of these non-sense. God might exist: who cares? The important thing is that monotheist religions takes for granted that the human race is superior to animals, and that a prophet is better than another one. And yes, religious people are generally misguided because they fail to recognize that religion is the Trojan horse of politics, despite the rich history of religious hatred and persecution.

  • tinyjab40

    Many of the faithful are closed minded. The Pope himself runs an organization which is sexist and homophobic. As a practicing Christian, I’ve had to look far to find an open and affirming denomination, one which is opposed to racism and in other ways reflects the justice Jesus stood for.

  • theFieldMarshall

    This one’s easy. I posed this question to a good friend who is a staunch believer in Jesus Christ: “I don’t believe there’s a God, but I am willing to admit I could be mistaken, can you say the same about your belief in Christ?”. She would not answer the question. ’nuff said.

  • timothy2me

    These people, Dawkins, Hitchens, etc., have all probably gone through all of the polite stages. What it boils down to is they just don’t care to humor your delusions or give them any intellectual credence anymore.

  • jack824

    None of us can definitely prove or disprove the existence of God – which is why it’s faith. But Hitchens takes a cheap shot by holding any of the faithful to the standard of the most extreme. Yes, violence has been committed in the name of religion. Yes, some do subscribe to a strictly literal readings. But most do not – and he has to know that. In the process, Hitchens sells short the good that arises from a community of people seeking some better way. One does not need to be religious to be moral or charitable. Yet it seems more than coincidence that many such people tend to gravitate around religion and find satisfaction in a shared effort. I wish I could believe Hitchens was motivated by a desire to free those who do not believe from policies they deem religiously motivated. But his remarks read instead like an effort to demonstrate his intellectual superiority using a caricature of religion as a foil.

  • Max4

    These “evangelical atheists,” as you have called them, are addressing two entirely different issues:1- Is there any validity to specific beliefs of organized religions?2- Is there anything beyond our universe?Their answer to both questions is no. Agreeing with them on the first question is easy for me; but saying there is nothing beyond our universe seems like sheer arrogance to me. After all, modern science itself has built the foundations to the possibility of universes beyond by saying our universe is limited in both space and time. This means that we exist in some sort of a “bubble” with its own rules. This makes it easy for me to entertain the possibility of other “bubbles” with their own rules, which are no doubt, beyond our comprehension. It also opens the possibility of a “God” external to our universe.

  • Jerusalimight

    It is the deniers of God that are closed-minded.Perfect example: they deny bloggers the right to post information they don’t like.Yesterday I myself posted a number of posts on Brad Hirschfield’s blog in this newspaper and elicited a great deal of interest and comment.Quite a number of posts supported me, and the ones against me respected me and responded fairly. I was getting traction.Guess what? Hirschfield blocked me from more posts! I posted and got a blue screen that said he would not allow the post.That’s right, go take a look at the story at My posts stop in mid-question from somebody.Whenever the people who are fighting God resort to underhanded tactics like this, the build up God in the eyes of the believers. It is the non-believers who are the closed-minded ones, thank you very much.

  • PSolus

    “2- Is there anything beyond our universe?Their answer to both questions is no.”Are you sure?Just because they don’t believe what others believe, does not mean that they think that there is nothing beyond our universe.Sounds to me like you are attributing that to them.

  • gusonweb

    I found this article to be a highly intelligent & (in fact) learned essay on a difficult question. Well done.April Streich’s comment on the anti-Islamic prejudice in Sam Harris (read Letter to America & see) is pertinent.At present we witness a deep reaction against traditional religion which is — the reaction — in many ways called for. But the “new atheists” are truculent publicity-seekers. Dawkins may be a scientist but he is also a first-class snob. Hitchens is cosmopolitan but (glance at his latest book) he loves to stand more or less anywhere with famous people and… have his pitcher took. Egotism rampant.

  • dingram3

    what one chooses to believe, or not believe, makes no difference to me. i take no issue with people of faith…i believe we should all live and let live. unfortunately, most religious zealots and don’t share that view. i guess i would call myself an athiest if i gave it any thought (though i’m “technically” jewish) – but that is only because religion is invariably a consequence of birth or environment (one is typically raised in the faith of one’s parents). i was raised by parents who taught me to be open minded…and to me, that is the true antithesis of religion. perhaps hitchens et all appear to be equally close minded, but in the absence of proof to the contrary, i can more easily understand why.

  • alientech

    Both sides are delusional – atheists know as much about the ultimate reality of the universe and existence as the believers.

  • JohnnyGee

    I am intrigued by the nature of an atheist’s need to tell me I am wrong. I think most of it is “I have to be right”; a deep narcistic urge to control me by the atheist. Why limit other human beings to the scope of experiences and investigations into meaning that life offers? In this context I see tyranny and hatred within this aggressive round of modern atheism.

  • fgoepfert1

    Atheists simply have a religion. Evidence of this is shown by an atheist ceremony using a hair dryer to de-baptize people. That is a religious ritual. That’s humorous, since atheists claim to be humanists who don’t accept superstition.

  • SchaulRonny

    There are multiple fatal errors in Reza Aslan’s article: (1) scientific theories are adopted, (always subject to change) if and only if they are falsifiable. For example, string theories have so far gotten nowhere because they are not falsifiable. Eugenics was abandoned because it was shown to be false. All religions are unfalsifiable. (2) No scientific theory remains unchanged for hundred of years when faced with contradiction(s). Religions do. Yet accepting any contradiction leads to every statement that can be true or false to be true and false at the same time, a world that I suspect is not possible to make any sense of. (3) Religions do not use Occam’s razor (4) Although they are unfalsifiable, contain contradictions and do not use Occam’s razor, religions are imposed on unwilling participants. Science is also imposed on unwilling participants (e.g., law of gravity), but again it is falsifiable, suject to changes (the punishment for questioning the Bible is death by stoning, Deuteronomy, 2nd sentence), and use Occam’s razor (i.e., use the smallest set of assuptions that fit all the facts).

  • thebump

    Atheism has no future.

  • cartoonish2

    ALIENTECH….my thoughts exactly!

  • samsara15

    The largest group of non-believers are those who reject religion, but have no competing belief, and who find religion lacking relevance in their lives. Yes, strongly committed atheists are a vocal minority within the ranks of non-believers, but they are by no means a minority. That our culture treats non-believers poorly is quite obvious. It is true that there is no single answer that satisfies all. Why can’t we just leave it at that?

  • sthoffmann1

    Even Aslan doesn’t seem to be aware of the many very thoughtful people among “fundamentalists” who include people in a wide variety of Christian churches. It’s not only theological liberals who look to the likes of Tillich and Eliade for guidance. Ever hear of John Hare at Yale, for example?

  • AskgharZa

    But Muslims use their Allah’s words to massacre civilians every day. So it is the Muslims who give bad name to religion- more than any other group.

  • bertilack

    Excellent article.Evangelical atheism (wow, what a concept!), at root, follows standards that members of the scientific community would term ‘naive realism’ — if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. In the hands of the currently fashionable anti-theists, the notion is ‘if the question does not lend itself to empirical investigation, then the answer is that the thing in question does not exist.’ We will note that such standards are seldom applied to scientific speculations that reach beyond empirical verifiability (‘big bang’ expansion theory, which rests entirely on mathematics and speculation with the time in question outside the range of observation).I would suggest that evangelical atheism is at war, not with religion, but with metaphor — at war with the very means by which we bring order to the ‘blooming buzzing confusion’ offered by our senses. Of course, since empirical science is as dependent on metaphor as every other field, the war is not against all metaphor but rather against all metaphor except its own — which some of its adherents are too short-sighted to understand is metaphor. Think of this as you sit down in an unfamiliar chair, having subconsciously run through the steps of analogic reasoning that allow you to declare it ‘a thing to sit in’ and a member of that human-created category ‘chair.’By extension, these voices are at war with Jeffersonian liberalism — the very notion that the ideas of others are worthy of courteous consideration. Likewise, they are guilty of that classical sin hubris, imagining they know more than the gods.In the words of Thomas Carlyle, “I don’t pretend to understand the universe — it’s a great deal bigger than I am.” In my own words, “A human has as much potential to understand the universe as a guinea pig has to accurately map the planet.” It is only by seriously attempting to understand the perspectives of others that we can understand much of anything about the universe.

  • greenstheman

    Evangelical atheists??? that’s an oxymoron. How can you fight a God you BELIEVE does not exist?? evolution at it’s finest I guess.

  • tigers1

    Atheists who say “I don’t believe in God” do not bother me; atheists who say “I don’t believe in God and only the gullible and irrational do believe” bother me exactly as much, and for the same reason, as religious fundamentalists who say “Believe as I do or face God’s wrath” or some such twaddle.

  • Afraid4USA

    Christopher Hitchens angry supercilious and patronizing atheism is not winning him any “converts.” Some evagelist. This whole argument has been going on for centuries. Boring. It’s amazing that everyone gets so stirred up about God vs. No-God. Everyone has a “religion.” Hitchens’ religion is atheism. Mine is agnosticism, but I am not an evangelical agnostid and respect other peoples’ beliefs enough not to challenge them or call them idiots.

  • ak1967

    If the idea of these bill boards was to answer to those part of the organised religions who promote extremism and violence, then it is OK. In any case, it is their right to promote atheism, just like the organised religions spend tens of billions promoting their religion. Let people will decide how much to believe, who to believe and what to believe. It is all part of our fundamental freedom, provided by the Creator.

  • probably-no-deity

    Reza, Reza Reza: Note:”RAUCH” + “CHi” + “iSlami” + “HOLY-SPIRIT” + “PRANA” et al =PEACE, PAZ, FRIEDEN, SHALOM, SALAAM, AHIMSA, MIR, ZHINGYU et al.

  • risandy

    I am honestly afraid to put any kind of atheist bumper sticker on my car, for fear of retribution. Yet I see stickers extolling religion on many, many cars.What does that tell us?

  • moemongo

    not close minded, just ignorant and brain dead.

  • brickerd

    What a stupid column.It succeeds neither in its defense of religion nor in its attacks on atheism and agnosticism, while completely mischaracterizing EVERYONE.Surely the Post can solicit more intelligent essayists?

  • kccd

    While I can certainly agree that the militant atheism of people like Dawkins goes too far, I also think that the article goes too far in attempting to counter those views. Specifically, the author disputes the likening of creationists to Holocaust deniers. That comparison is an apt and accurate one. Secondly, the end of the article incorrectly implies that atheists claim scientific support for their nonbelief. In reality, atheist/scientists like Stephen J. Gould argue for NOMA, non-overlapping magisteria. They recognize that the spiritual is outside the purview of science and cannot be examined with the tools available to science.

  • mhr614

    Lenin and Stalin were atheists and no one ever accused either of being board-minded. Castro is an atheist as were Mao and Pol Pot. Ciaocescu was an atheist as was Hoxha. All these gentlemen were quite close-minded. In the 20th century atheists who believed in equality and social justice caused the deaths of 100 million human beings. Nietzche said it- when human beings kill God men will try mightily to replace him.

  • spidermean2

    Atheists or evolutionists are dumb people who can’t use their brains properly. So let us help them by teaching them how to think. 1.Consciousness – The act of talking using the mouth, vocal chords and lungs requires tough science. Im not so sure if man’s science can replicate it. But talking and at the same time understanding the words spoken cannot be duplicated by any means. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator is the reason why humans has that capacity.2. Extremely complex balanced life system – Earth has just the perfect distance, gravity and size revolving around the sun to create millions of life forms from bacteria to plants and animals to humans with each creature having a very complex system to live on its own and yet has important functions for the continued existence of the whole system. Take away plants and the whole system will die. Take away the bacteria and the whole system won’t work. Take away one element and the whole system will be in danger. Perfectly balanced in a jumble of billions of matter. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator can be able to link all these complexities.3. Fruits – If one requires you to make a shoe or clothes , the first thing you would ask is the measurement. It will forever be puzzle how would fruit trees be able to make very tasty fruits without knowing the “measurement” or requirements of the tongue. Whoever taught them the complexities of the tongue to be able to assemble a colorful and tasteful treat just by using SOIL?4. Flowers – Perfumed flowers delightful to the sight and the only construction materials are soil, air, sun and water. There are many steps to do it and I want the atheists to name just the first 5 steps if they can. If my head ached just by thinking of four reasons, the atheists brains will explode just by trying to think of one.

  • Garak

    Every single claim of spidermean2 has been debunked. Just go websites such as Dawkins’ and you’ll see. Hey, spidey, tell us about the christian doctrine of divine child molestation.

  • usapdx

    LETS HEAR FROM THE NON PRACTING ATHEIST.

  • bigbrother1

    Some excellent comments here, especially the first few. Aslan himself is more guilty of the overreach that he accuses Hitchens et al. of making.I can think of dozens of mean-spirited, small-minded, fundamentalist-type religionists who comment these and other discussion boards. I can recall only one similar atheist – one who was arrogant enough to believe that his mental processes were the be-all and end-all of the universe. So I agree with the early posters. Atheists – even the worst of them – are simply not the problem that religionists are.

  • rohit57

    Spidey:

  • rohit57

    “What the new atheists do not do, and what makes them so much like the religious fundamentalists they abhor, is admit that all metaphysical claims–be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable and, perhaps, beyond the purview of science.” After all, you know that you are conscious, but there does not seem a way for science to distinguish between a robot (which is not conscious) and you who are. So it is quite possible that we can know things which are beyond science, just as there are facts which affect the economy which are beyond the understanding of economists. The market for bridal gowns is just one example. Economists know what they cost and how they affect the market but they do not know why they exist in the first place.the province of science is larger (it probably does include bridal gowns as an evolutionary mechanism) but it too is ultimately limited.Sometimes I wonder if people looking for God are like fish looking for water. A fish might say to another fish, “I have seen sharks, I have seen lobsters, I have seen rocks, but I have never seen water. There is probably no such thing, just the imagination of believers.”So we should be humble even about our own ignorance!

  • usapdx

    WHAT DO YOU NON PRACTING ATHEIST HAVE TO SAY?

  • spidermean2

    Garak wrote “Every single claim of spidermean2 has been debunked.”Since when? Im an engineer and I LOVE scientific facts. Not FAIRY TALES.Do you have the first 5 steps that soil has to undergo to be a fragrant flower? I think there will be more than thousands of steps to complete such algorithm.Iam just asking for the first 5 steps, IDIOTS.

  • Whazzis

    The really odd thing about the slogan on the bus is that Mr. Asian saw it in London. Europe has a much lower ratio of church-goers than the U.S, so it puzzles me that anyone would bother to post an atheist slogan on a bus in London. Perhaps because England has more tolerance of atheists?It would benefit America greatly if we could ignore or minimize the effect of fanatics of every stripe. Believe what you wish, but DO NOT inflict your belief system on me, my family, my friends, or my neighbors. I do not”hate” anyone based on their beliefs, but if they try to change my beliefs, I will shut them out.Fanatics of any stripe are dangerous.

  • T-Paine

    I wanted to add a defense of Feuerbach, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche as well as Spencer and most importantly Huxley from misappropriation.Sadly Huxley’s agnosticism is much closer to say Dawkins than the article author. It is true that anglo-saxon atheism rarely references the German school but this is no comfort either. Feuerbach and Nietzsche’s positon are just about as extreme as those that drive the author up the wall. Feuerbach, having declared religion purely a man-made invention goes to proceed to invent the field of anthropology of religion, not to give a sympathetic voice, but to explain why these beliefs were formed by man in the first place. Nietzsche had no use for god anymore and declared the superiority of men over god.No, there is nothing New about New Atheism. Huxely did not shy away from giving an earful to faithfuls. Ingersoll, one of the most important public intellectuals of his time is removed from our history. Mark Twain can be quoted for his fiction but not for his polemics that put Christopher Hitchens to shame.And the religious counter-reaction is also hardly new, so the author can rest assured to be in plentiful company.

  • corintonic

    The author forgets right off the bat the slogan in the bus it says”probably” not an absolute truth there is not GOD, so the atheist are worst than religious nuts? Let’s see. how many atheist had send people to war? How many have burn thousand of people in the name of religions? two planes brought down buildings in Manhattan and Washington DC, one plummet into an empty field, all that done in the name of religion,which religion people are having their pants up their arses twisted because another religion wants to build a mosque close to ground zero? and that is just a handful of examples.

  • spidermean2

    Reason number 5. The Eye – There are thousands of creatures which have eyes and each of them have very different, unique and complex designs to create vision. All those eyes are connected to processors to determine what they are looking at. Soil can’t create a simple chip nor a complex processor. A Supremely Intelligent Creator can.

  • helmutbrunner

    Quote’ The crows say they can destroy heaven. This is doubtlessly so but irrelevant, because heaven means: impossibilities of crows’.Tillich’s “Common Concern” is fixed wired into the human CNS. Occasionally it happened that somebody triggered with words/deeds a turbulence, in this ‘Common Concern’. That turbulence mad sense and it grew -positive feedback- during history. Now we have the result: the historical dimensions of religions (Monotheistic, others..)This ‘fixed wired Common Concern’ Is a fatal flaw, like a lethal mutation, in our nature. It ultimately will lead to our elimination unless we will recognise humble science as our ‘Common Concern’As said before about the impossibilities of crows in heaven: But they ar very real here on earth!

  • mikeghouse

    Corintonic;Right off the bat, I am defending the Atheists. However, want to share that every community, religious, ethnic, racial or culture is composed of – benevolent, merciful, caring, ruthless, intolerant, bigots to violent, it is a mix. No group is an exception to that. We have to do the research, but my estimate is the violent intolerant ones are less than 1/10th of 1% of any group including the Atheists.

  • MrDarwin

    Let’s see, we atheists are surrounded by Christians who feel the need to not only share their religious beliefs but try to get us to adopt them, even to the point of knocking on our front doors and leaving religious tracts in public places like bus stops (not to mention all those bibles in hotel and motel rooms) or right on our doorsteps. And they don’t stop there–they insist on trying to get their religious beliefs written into our laws.But a few atheists become vocal and they are “evangelical”. Maybe we think those religious beliefs are illogical and even harmful, especially when they are imposed on those who do not share them. Maybe we’re just tired of hearing about other people’s religious beliefs. Maybe we just think it’s time to push back a little.

  • RField7

    …imagine what Tea Bagger bullies would do if they saw that sign on a bus in the US? ;^) – Balkingpoints / www

  • magnifco1000

    The issue is not if God exists or not, but if man needs God/religion for a workable civilization. Religion could all be superstition, but it puts the brakes on undesirable social behaviors. Critics say it’s because of religion and holy wars that so many have died. But, how do we know many more millions would have died without religion? Stalin killed 19 million and he was no religious man. If there is no God, then why not lie, cheat and steal? Why not wage war? No evidence exists that man is a benign creature at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The masses need God and religion. Freud was right.

  • spidermean2

    False religions vs. AtheismIf it can be likened to a school exam, false religion is like a pupil who makes the wrong answers while the atheist is like a pupil who thinks there is no correct solution.Both gets zero. There is only one pupil who knows the answer. The only one who can walk on water, multiply the fish and the bread and turn water into wine and able to arose after 3 days of dying.Those who follow that pupil gets 100.Plain and simple.

  • Rongoklunk

    What a ridiculous article, and wrong on most points.Religion is best acquired through childhood indoctrination, and adults would laugh at such an absurd idea if coming to religion for the first time as un-indoctrinated adults. If you are so sure of the actual existence of a skygod – the onus is on you to prove he exists. But nobody can anymore than they can prove the existence of the tooth fairy. Atheism at least makes sense.

  • spidermean2

    “dangerous because it encourages irrationality and belief in magic and the supernatural.”Like evolutionsist atheists who think of soil turning into brains all by themselves. Very much like MAJIC indeed. Stupid and Very Dangerous.

  • spidermean2

    MAGIC

  • hitpoints

    Spidermean’s mode of thinking: if it can’t be explained, or seems too complex, believe that a supernatural being invented by primitive people thousands of years ago did it.So he claims to be an engineer – I wonder if he were given a very complex, highly technical system of software or mechanism (or whatever his engineering expertise is) to reverse-engineer, would he poke around at it a bit, then announce (since he cannot figure it out), “God made it!”?

  • spidermean2

    Sometimes, discussing with evolutionist atheists makes you think you are discussing with brainless animals. Soon I might believe that they truly evolved from chimps.

  • bpai_99

    This article is an offense to reason and logic, typical of religiously-driven arguments.Of course the faithful are more close-minded: that’s what inevitably happens to people who feel they possess a truth that others do not, one that makes them morally superior to others and therefore justifies their bigotry and intolerance. Setting aside its defense of the breathtaking, straight-faced, unapologetic moral and intellectual hypocrisy of believers, this article is amusing in that it resorts to the final defense of those who are incapable of facing the universe without a crutch: the truth is unknowable to others and therefore they cannot disprove what we know to be true. Believers, on the other hand, don’t have to prove anything. And they have divine sanction when they commit genocide, defend slavery, launch Crusades, conduct Inquisitions, and protect pedophiles.

  • solovoice

    “Transcendence” can be achieved with LSD or other drugs. Marx was correct in this regard. Also, I’ve never heard of an atheist suicide bomber.

  • aredant

    This is such an old hat topic.

  • spidermean2

    hitpoints, Everything man makes can be explained. They are not unfathomable. As an engineer, I know what is impossible and possible.You can use the science of probability to know waht is probable and what is not.It is not probable that soil can become intelligent like a brain all by itself. Brain can become soil but soil cannot become brain unless a more intelligent brain is present.Man cannot recreate his own brain from soil because he cannot be more intelligent than his brain. He can only create a “brain” of lower level like the computers’ CPU.That is common sense.

  • Rongoklunk

    magnifco1000 Of course the issue is whether god exists or not. Are you suggesting that even if there is no god – we pretend that there is one – so that folks feel better and behave better?If there is no god we should get over it and learn to live without it – for better or worse. Deluding ourselves that there is a god – when there’s not a thread of evidence to support this – is the height of stupidity.

  • bpai_99

    solovoice,Absolutely loved your observation regarding the lack of atheist suicide bombers. You are right on – religion is the engine which creates those kind of monsters.”Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

  • spidermean2

    The word “Probably” was added because it is illegal to advertise things that are not factual. The atheists don’t want that word “probably” inserted but they have to obey the law or be penalized.

  • devluddite

    There is also no Stanta Claus, no tooth fairy and no Great Pumpkin. The important point is never to elect another religious fanatic as President. The first two: Mr Carter and Mr Bush, have proven conclusively that such personal delusions are reflective of an inability to think rationally , without a serious understanding of cause and effect.

  • truthseeker1

    spidermean says: The word “Probably” was added because it is illegal to advertise things that are not factual. ===============================Really??? Show me where your god has been proven then…. else take all your signs down.PUT UP or SHUT UP, as the saying goes!

  • spidermean2

    “Show me where your god has been proven then.”Look around you. Smell the flowers and taste the fruits. If you think there is no higher intelligence who created them, I don’t know what kind of damaged brain you have.Read about the history of that atheist sign why the word “probably” was inserted. Google it yourself.

  • dnjake

    Today those who reject the idea of evolution are in denial of science that is based on very strong factual evidence. It is also reasonably obvious that people to varying degrees expeience the world through religious beliefs that are the center of some people’s lives, a modest part of perhaps most people’s lives, and rejected by yet other people. Today, we don’t have a well established scientific framework that explains this reality with certainty. But the day is likely to come in the not too far distant future when we do and the explanation is not likely to please anybody. That explanation will start with the understanding that people are different and different people experience the world differently. The primary reason for that difference is that people have different genes. We have different genes in part for the reason that Richard Dawkins pointed out. That is because the world works better when different people are specialized for different roles in society. But the other major reality is that the trial and error design process of evolution is one that works poorly. It is difficult to understand how it has worked even as well as it has. But, unsurprisingly, it is not capable of producing human beings that are anywhere near perfectly designed for any paricular role.Evolution of the biological behaviors that enable human beings to organize themselves into groups was central to the success of our species. Those behaivors certainly include relationships between children and their parent and between members of a community and a group leader. The ability of human beings to conserve knowledge and pass it across generations is also central to our biology. So part of the human experience is an effort to organize our life in relation to some purpose that transcends our individual existence.The net is that religious experiences are an authentic and important part of many people’s lives. But those experiences are the consequence of human evolution. Man created God and not the other way around. Nevertheless, as we aquire the ability to apply our intelligence to modification of our biology and actually began to achieve the possibility of intelligent design, the question of the purpose of life may be a difficult one to avoid.

  • AIPACiswar

    Double-decker buses don’t “careen.”Darwin was not an Atheist, nor trying to be one.There is nothing, ” peculiarly evangelistic” about current Atheism. There are no, ” obvious and startling” parallels with religious fundamentalism either.That’s two paragraphs in, why bother reading the rest? This idiot author is just another shallow dope drooling at the religious mouth. Fool.

  • spidermean2

    Atheists or evolutionists are dumb people who can’t use their brains properly. So let us help them by teaching them how to think. 1.Consciousness – The act of talking using the mouth, vocal chords and lungs requires tough science. Im not so sure if man’s science can replicate it. But talking and at the same time understanding the words spoken cannot be duplicated by any means. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator is the reason why humans has that capacity.2. Extremely complex balanced life system – Earth has just the perfect distance, gravity and size revolving around the sun to create millions of life forms from bacteria to plants and animals to humans with each creature having a very complex system to live on its own and yet has important functions for the continued existence of the whole system. Take away plants and the whole system will die. Take away the bacteria and the whole system won’t work. Take away one element and the whole system will be in danger. Perfectly balanced in a jumble of billions of matter. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator can be able to link all these complexities.3. Fruits – If one requires you to make a shoe or clothes , the first thing you would ask is the measurement. It will forever be puzzle how would fruit trees be able to make very tasty fruits without knowing the “measurement” or requirements of the tongue. Whoever taught them the complexities of the tongue to be able to assemble a colorful and tasteful treat just by using SOIL?4. Flowers – Perfumed flowers delightful to the sight and the only construction materials are soil, air, sun and water. There are many steps to do it and I want the atheists to name just the first 5 steps if they can. If my head ached just by thinking of four reasons, the atheists brains will explode just by trying to think of one.

  • dolph924

    Assuming that atheists have no knowledge of religion is hogwash. I am an atheist. I have read the entire Bible. I don’t really care if others want to handle snakes, burn incense, or speak in tongues. I just don’t want those folks controlling the educational curriculum of this nation. Not many people have been killed recently in the name of atheism, but hundreds of thousands are slaughtered each year in the name of some god or another. Leaving aside the Islamic fools who slaughter not only others but one another in the name of one sect or another, and just focusing on the so-called Christians in the U.S., it sure would be nice if those folks followed the Golden Rule and engaged in a religion based on love and not the fear and hatred that underlies the core positions of most of the religious right in the U.S. You don’t have to know much about religion at all to see that the homophobia, xenophobia and hatred of those who don’t share their particular form of superstition is a LONG ways south of the love-and-tolerance-based teachings of Jesus Christ. I don’t call on Christians to become atheists, but rather just to follow Christ instead of the likes of Falwell, Robertson and other con men with their hands in the pockets of the poor.

  • aschimke

    spidermean says: The word “Probably” was added because it is illegal to advertise things that are not factual. In fact, this word was used because atheists do understand that there is the possibility of god, though a very,very slight possibility. One could compare the possibility of god to the possibility of invisible pink unicorns living in various parts of the world. There is no way to prove that there are no pink unicorns, but it is highly unlikely that there is and so we live like there are none. I encourage you to prove that invisible pink unicorns do not exist. Once you find that impossible, you will know why the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim that they do exist.

  • jdbassjr1

    It takes an open mind to believe in the unseen.Limiting yourself to the 3 dimensions of this universe (mass,space,time) is so dull when God offers so much more.

  • allknowingguy

    Read “The God Delusion” by Dawkins and you will understand why the word “probably” is in the billboard. Dawkins is a scientist, and he understands that it is impossible to “prove” beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does not exist. He has a whole chapter entitled “Why There Probably Is No God”. I think it is very frank of him to admit that God remains a possibility. What he is saying is that given the evidence (or lack thereof), the existence of God is highly unlikely.

  • spidermean2

    “Not many people have been killed recently in the name of atheism”.North Korea, China, Russia, and some closet atheist countries in Europe and liberal states in America.WW3 is coming and you’d see what atheism will do to these poor folks.

  • lrwhitson

    To jdbassjr1 There are wonders in science undreamed of by your religion. Much recent scientific knowledge requires an open mind.

  • tslug1

    Sure Bpal, no atheist suicide bombers. Too bad you can’t say the same about gas chambers, reeducation camps, labor camps, killing fields, or the French Revolution.Religion is tool, like a car or economics. Tools in the hands of bad people do bad things. The common denominator in human violence is the human, not the tool.

  • rwcole

    Reading the Ble is probably a good way to get to understand religion- because nearly every possible religious view is expressed. God is pure spirit- God showed Moses his backside.There are many gods- there is only one God- there are three gods- but they are all one.God wants burnt offerings- or He doesn’t.The bible is a collection of pretty much unrelated religious writing that got edited together by people wise enough to know that it’s better to admit the diversity than to pretend to unanimity.

  • groucho42

    The article is far from flawless, mistaking or ignoring issues on either side.First, the reason the modern atheists are “more literalist, in fact, than one finds among most religious fundamentalists” is because those fundamentalists claim to interpret their texts absolutely literally. By pointing out how even the most fundamental of the fundamentalists interpret the texts, the movement points out the hypocrisy of religionists’ claims.On the other side, many of the modern atheists are in denial. Yes, they are just as much in a belief system as are the theists. What the columnists miss is the real middle ground: Agnosticism.Atheists truly believe there is no god. If they admit they don’t know the truth, that there may or may not be, then those people aren’t Atheist, they’re agnostic.As for the poster who claims people aren’t dying for atheism, wrong! Communist regimes are killing people regularly and those regimes are atheist. The real thing to address is: When have you seem a group of agnostics killing people over our non-beliefs?

  • rwcole

    The catholic church decided years ago that there is no conflict between religion and science when it comes to the origin of the earth. There is really no conflict between religion and ANY aspect the universe that can be felt, seen, or heard.That makes religion a very peculiar sort of thing- more like mathematics than biology.”God is a metaphore “

  • Chip_M

    Bigotry against the non-religious or non-Christian in this country is so pervasive and so accepted as the status quo that an admitted atheist can’t get elected to public office. In fact, many state constitutions still contain clauses specifically barring non-believers from public office. Politicians must fall all over themselves pandering to the religious to prove their religious bonafides, creating a defacto religious test for office. Fundamentalists are slipping creationism into the science and biology curricula of school districts across the country. Right now I’m reading an article in a major metropolitan newspaper impugning atheists as bad people and denying that we deal with oppression in our schools, workplaces, and communities. This is not a situation to be tolerant about. There is no such thing as New Atheism. This is a label religious people came up with that means “atheists who have the gall to open their mouths” as opposed to the “old atheism” where we kept our mouths shut and stayed out of sight. It’s offensive and transparent. Even now a majority of atheists remain silent out of fear of being ostracized by family and community and repercussions in the workplace. What Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet, Harris, and efforts like the UK bus campaign do is to let millions of people know they are not alone and that it’s okay to stand up and say what we really think about the fairy tales and cultural bullying so many of us deal with in our daily lives.

  • rwcole

    Since there is only the one universe (by definition), it’s hard to determine through observation that universes with a God have sweeter smelling flowers than universes that do not.

  • spidermean2

    Discussing with evolutionist atheists would convince you that they are related to chimps. The common denominator is they are both dumb. (My apologies to the chimps)Why would anybody elect somebody who thinks he is just slightly higher than a chimp?

  • spidermean2

    False religions vs. AtheismIf it can be likened to a school exam, false religion is like a pupil who makes the wrong answers while the atheist is like a pupil who thinks there is no correct solution.Both gets zero. There is only one pupil who knows the answer. The only one who can walk on water, multiply the fish and the bread and turn water into wine and able to arose after 3 days of dying.Those who follow that pupil gets 100.Plain and simple.Catholicism has a history of burning bibles so it can’t be bundled with those following the exceptional pupil.

  • rohit57

    Since there is only the one universe (by definition), it’s hard to determine through observation that universes with a God have sweeter smelling flowers than universes that do not.But it is a reasonable conjecture that in a universe without gravity a cup would not fall and break (there might not BE any cups, but that is another issue).So the argument could be made that in a universe without God, perhaps flowers would be the same, but WE would not appreciate them.We might be like Mr. Spock.

  • pioneer1

    The constant yammering of those who ascribe to a mythology-based belief system is quite disheartening. Did jesus really appear in NY in 1860; does that cracker actually turn into a slice of Jesus; are there 72 virgins waiting for you after you commit mass murder. This is a series of comic books published after their time; as valid as Odin and Zeus and the hundreds of Hindu gods and demons. lets all live in the 21st century. Religion’s major specialty has been the murder of whose who believe in other myths; pederasty is just a sideline for a few sects.

  • stillaliberal

    The problem displayed by a lot of religions is a kind of mental schizophrenia- simultaneously holding seemingly contradictory beliefs. 1) Pro-lifers- if you want to prevent a woman from having an abortion, wouldn’t you also care enough about that woman to try to help her get a job so that she could support herself instead of feeding her self-esteem by getting pregnant, 2) Christian evangelicals- why do you care more about the rights of someone from another religion to colonize the former British mandate of Palestine than the rights of Palestinian Christians displaced under this process- who are also endangered by the rise of Muslim fundamentalists egged-on by the Israeli expansion? 3) Christian evangelicals (again)- how can so many of you profess to be a Christian while at the same time being so crassly materialistic? 4) Religious fundamentalists in general – how can you ignore incontrovertible scientific evidence that the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to man-made activities such as coal mining and burning fossil fuels?The list goes on and on. I happen to believe in God, but my version of God doesn’t mean that I have a green light to act in ways that disadvantage other people or rape the resources of our planet to my personal benefit just because some scripture from 2500 years ago about “be fruitful and multiply” implies that might.

  • FredZuber

    Push BackWhat evangelical Fundamentalists need is the kind of push back to their self-righteous attitudes is exactly the repudiation and militancy offered by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens. There’s no reason to accept the dogma of any religion, let alone the overbearing advocacy of any of the Fundamentalist cults within any of them. It’s the small minded thinkers who want everyone to be like them and they’re more than willing to impose their small minded doctrine on the rest of the world because they “believe.” How many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion to atheisms none? You can start counting any time you want. Even one is more than enough. Inquisition? Atheism is still morally acceptable. The only thing I see from most religions is hypocrisy in their attitudes. If you’re not like the zealots, you have to be dealt with and shown the error of your ways. Yes, the tolerance of religious fervor. If anyone can find it, they should be able to sell it as a rarity and make a bundle. Religious beliefs should be personnel. As soon as you start evangelizing, it isn’t personal any more, but it does become personal in another way. I want to be free of that evangelistic Fundamentalism, and the bigotry and intolerance it represents.

  • rohit57

    False religions vs. AtheismThis is a very troubling and chauvinistic argument which says that religion = Jesus.It follows that Socrates and Buddha must have gone to hell since they did not know Jesus. And there is something ridiculous about such a conclusion which comes directly out of your narrow mindedness.Defending religion is one thing. Defending YOUR chauvinistic version of it is quite another. When you identify religion with Jesus, you weaken the argument for religion.This is not to say that Jesus was not worthy of enormous respect. Many of us who are not Christians do listen to his words. By contrast, many Christians pray to him and worship him, but do not listen to what he said.Christian nations worship him AND stockpile nuclear weapons, quite the opposite of what he said.So I object to the idea that Jesus is the “Only game in town.” There have been other great religious prophets and the Buddha preached some of the SAME truths as Jesus, five hundred years before him.According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha also performed miracles, but he advised his monks against them because people would pay too much attention to the miracles and forget the message.

  • rwcole

    In a universe with a God, one might expect the just to prosper and the unjust to suffer- but alas, the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike- so one potential front for proof and argument evaporates.

  • johng1

    Closed-minded? Yes. Primitive fear of the unknown coupled with the refusal to consider logic outside of their brainwashed skulls. Do not despair folks, even though this is all there is, we can make things better for ourselves and enjoy the short lives we have and pass something worthwhile to our offspring.

  • fleeciewool

    By positing an intellectual theory about the ontological place of mankind in the universe, these atheists are themselves relying on the faith of their believers.

  • herzliebster

    Nice piece. Thank you for your clarity and balance on this highly inflammatory subject.

  • rwcole

    God is male- and he has a son. Does he have a penis?

  • toconn2

    atheists have a problem with a belief in God.God exists (or doesn’t) independent of any and all religions—including atheism.As with all believers in ideology of any kind they are by the necessity of their belief close minded and irrational. Want to be convinced that the existence of life is not a random occurrence—read Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”—including and most importantly the belief in God.

  • coqui44

    Yeap, these religious fanatics are closed minded. I just got censored. All I said was that they ascribe to their god the good things but refuse to ascribe also the bad things. I guess they didn’t like the list of bad things going on in the world that makes the idea of a benevolent god ridiculous. I never used a bad word, just a list of atrocities going on the world and here. But that’s too much for these fruit cakes.

  • baj3

    If the writer, or anyone else for that matter, wishes to grovel on her belly before an imaginary friend who invented tsunamis and AIDS and arranged for the latter to be transmitted to innocent children in the womb, that is her right. But does she have to be so snotty about those of us who do not? We know we will be scorned because we are so benighted that we refuse to tell a terrified girl that she must go through with her pregnancy; no matter that she is only 12, that she was raped, that the rapist was her father or the parish priest. We can live with it.

  • jill1020

    Although I lean toward the a secular center on the line of extremes of religious fundamentalism verses atheistic fundamentalism, I can’t help but wonder why “atheists” still prefer to use the god centered word “atheism” to describe themselves? “Theism” and “Atheism” are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are obsessed with a supreme diety and its existence…nor not.

  • spidermean2

    “the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike- “But the nukes will fall only to the unjust. That is the prophecy. No time to realize that they were wrong just like in the time of Noah.

  • kerrd

    I can only hope that Spidermean2 doesn’t

  • fram1

    It is helpful to remember that the crux of Reza Aslan’s piece is the question about the existence of god, and not so much an analysis of world religions and their impact on society, history etc. The idea(s) of religion is clearly man made and subject to manipulation and bastardization with countless examples in past and present. It is the proprietary link that all the religions construct to the god notion in order to legitimize their reason for being that has created the nascent backlash we now see towards the idea of god or some form of transcendental force/entity. Transcendental entities aka “god” and beliefs about its existence are not the harmful elements; it is the opportunistic claim of a monopoly to a license from such entity which creates the destructive forces of religion. I see no harm in a private belief in a supreme being – an order beyond what we experience in our life as human beings, as I see no harm in the absence of such belief. It is our flawed sense of existence and self righteous and selfish and greedy notions of ourselves as human beings which is the real problem.

  • schafer-family

    Wow! Jesus paid for my sins, so I do not worry and enjoy serving Him. People that are not open to the possibility of a higher power are really closeminded.

  • Jihadist

    I can’t help but wonder why “atheists” still prefer to use the god centered word “atheism” to describe themselves? “Theism” and “Atheism” are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are obsessed with a supreme diety and its existence…nor not.Posted by: jill102*******************************************I have no idea too, why they do that. But they have to define themself by what they are don’t believe in, are opposed to, i.e. existence of God. Never mind one can have warped logic along – as there is no God, therefore there is no atheism, and hence atheists don’t exist.Just as there are polytheists and monotheists, there seem now not just plain a-theist or atheist, but secular humanist, spiritual humanists, agnostics, freethinkers, brights, atheists for Jesus etc. Perhaps we should call these rainbow coalition or big tent of God is a delusion and religion poisons everthing crowd not mono-theists, but poly-athiests for their multiple shades of self-differentiation.

  • horace_simon1

    After having talked to two young Mormon missionaries last week, I came to the conclusion that it is possible that the faithful can be very open-minded. The Mormon religion is living proof of that. Where I find the paradox (which was confirmed by the discussion with these two young men) is when a piece of scripture is quoted to justify the legitimacy of another piece of scripture.After having learned of the manipulation of the scriptures by early Christians and the doctrines and dogma that has since resulted; I would say that the faithful, particularly those who literally interpret scripture, are incredibly closed-minded given that to be a true Christian one would really have to reject much of the Old Testament. The part of the Bible most used by the hateful to justify oppression.Examples of closed minds are the universe rotating around Earth and the Pope’s insistence that not bringing pedophiles to justice is the morally right decision given the church’s stance on sexual behavior.

  • sperrico

    Speaking as an agnostic, I have never found people to be the better for their non-belief; there aren’t that many Bertrand Russells out there.In any case, disregarding any religion, I think that the Big Bang, with no Providence involved, takes as much illogical as does the idea that God started the universe.

  • Jihadist

    Closed-minded? Yes. Primitive fear of the unknown coupled with the refusal to consider logic outside of their brainwashed skulls. Do not despair folks, even though this is all there is, we can make things better for ourselves and enjoy the short lives we have and pass something worthwhile to our offspring. Posted by: johng1 ******************************************Yeeahhhh…………This primitive believer of the known and unknown is neither afraid of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse nor the Four Horsemen of the Atheistcalypse (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens). This primitive and fearful believer of the known and unknown is more concerned about armed conflicts/arms race; environmental degradation/global warming/climate change; povery/unequal economic development; bad governance and government policies. All of which are caused by our warped belief in God and in which religion is the main cause in causing and poisoning. So atheists think and believe based upon their unimpeachable logic and reason of the known.

  • Martial

    Less subject to logical inquiry than the existence of God is the existence of morality. Why should anyone not steal, not rape, not murder, etc., etc., etc., if they can get away with it? Notions that one should reject an act because of its ribald implications or its louche nature are expressions of prejudice, not arguments based on logic and evidence.

  • fritzr1950max

    I am no believer myself, but neither am I arrogant enough to assert without doubt there is no God or something not of the physical universe that governs it. There is a lot of room for such doubt, but no certainty.That there is much we don’t know hardly implies a God or an all-governing something else, but the militant atheists named go too far. Thru the past two millennia, other more sophisticated doubters have examined the same and more sophisticated arguments as these self-promoting lights and then found those arguments incomplete.In the past, science was less advanced or hardly existed as we know it now, but the quality of all reasoning was not less advanced. In fact the quality of some of the reasoning was much broader and subtler than what is commonly available now. Do these self-promoting lights suggest that man is approaching closure in knowledge of nature and existence? Odd! I thought scientific discovery only showed serious scientists that the extent of what they did not know after discovery was greater than what they did not know before discovery. No need to add to other contributors’ good points showing militant atheists’ excesses far surpass those of religious fanatics.Dawkins and Co are smart, but not smart enough to make their claims stick. Ignorance is not a good thing, but all are ignorant, i.e. we do not know everything and never will. There are two kinds of ignorance–A. irresponsible ignorance where (1) we know we don’t know yet contentedly wallow in it–a form of laziness, (2) where we think we know everything, but don’t and condemn what we don’t like and B responsible ignorance, where we know we don’t know everything and never will, but we still try to roll our ignorance back. B is the true, scientific outlook. Dawkins & Co are not like A1, Joe Averages who say “Who cares? Gimme a six-pack and lemme watch the Flintstones!” In fact, scorning such types clearly gives Dawkins & Co deep, inner joy. Instead they are like A2, no different from hidebound, true believers in the Vatican who protect pederasts because the Cath Church can NEVER be wrong. Scorning those types also affirms Dawkins & Co’s inner sense of superiority. They are not that smart. No one is. I haven’t checked each atheist’s background, but one is a refugee from a decidedly A1 milieu. Now like the farmer who learned that “ain’t” is incorrect, he reviles as common any who remain so unenlightened. The same eagerness to gain distance from one’s past was evident in more than one of my Dartmouth professors. Quite a lot had evolved from blue-collar backgrounds (surely no crime) and were at such pains to hide it that they were merciless in their references to blue-collar types. The morally high-ground, intolerant perch which Dawkins & Co have arrogated to themselves seems more to express what they regard as a higher esthetic, than any position worthy of science. .

  • bake2061

    I could have believed in god once but I couldn’t get into the room because of all the big egos.

  • truthseeker1

    EdAdams: Cool! What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death? TS: Peace and release that this is part of the NATURAL cycle, AND a lack of the FEAR we see on believers’ faces questioning why God is making them suffer /and whether they will go to hell.

  • donkeyhote

    Why should science ever admit to or take the position that anything is unknowable? Respectfully suggest that the very essence of science is to do just that, explain the unknowable and do so through accepted, acknowledged and verifiable research. Imagine where we would be had Newton and all the other great scientists, many ruthlessly persecuted by the “all knowing” Roman Catholic Church had shrugged and said “since understanding the universe and other phenomenon is unknowable, I will therefore not examine further”! We would still be fearfull of sailing off the earth’s edge, remain convinced thunder is an expression of God’s anger and gleefully burning heretics at the stake.

  • AmusedMuse

    Atheists are NOT “miming propaganda techniques perfected by evangelical groups in the US,” Christian groups are mimicking secular advertising techniques! This should be obvious to anyone who has a little knowledge of history. Goodness me, how does someone as confused as Aslan get published? And who finances her?

  • Jihadist

    “NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.”Cool! What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death? *******************************************(a) Secular humanism as opposed to inhumane religionists?(b) Issue free antidotes to the poison they call religion infecting and moronising religionists?(c) Put in straightjackets all those deem to have delusions that God exists?(d) Ban ads advertising “Jesus saves”, “There is no God, but God”?

  • jjedif

    Anyone who thinks the world is 6,000 year old, that nothing has ever changed on Earth, and that there is nothing new under the sun is obviously not playing with a full deck. Still, for many people living in a world filled with illusion and magic beats living in a world filled with uncertainty, and religion has been a great way to convince one group of people to rob and destroy others, so there’s no doubting religion’s value as a moneymaker.What is most baffling is how much religious “thinkers” love to fill and be filled with fear and hatred. What I guess that’s what the market wants.

  • doctort

    Hi-

  • Unbiased2

    The entire premise of the article is wrong. Can you imagine any religious evangelical saying THERE’S “PROBABLY” A GOD? I’ve read a little bit of Dawkins. His main point seems to be that the same logical analysis applied to anything else should be applied to the question of whether God exists, and he concludes it is very unlikely. It is not clear whether the author is intentionally setting up a straw man just to knock it down.

  • KrautKiller

    Get rid of public religion and keep your personal religion, but don’t discuss it with anyone. The problem is that immediately some entity (political party, vested interest, etc.) will invent something to fill the vacuum. People are maimed and murdered in the name of “the” religious view. It is all very stupid! Get over it!

  • Davidd1

    I don’t believe in tooth fairies or ghosts. This lack of belief on my part causes no harm that I can detect. I guess you could say I’m an aghostic.

  • truthseeker1

    this author is retarded:>++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Many agnostic/atheists (including me) were brought up religious. I do “get” the spiritual feeling AND still have them. I just realize they are not based on divine forces outside of me, but come from within myself.This natural views explain whyDisagree? Do you think he was talking with the Devil then?The natural explanation is the simplest. Bush was just deluding himself. I see it all the time… somehow the Holy Ghost never gives anyone any real additional information outside of themselves…

  • Jihadist

    Magic is the traditional way to deal with loss, fear, and unrealized expectations. One can interpret a hallucination as the consequence of lack of food/presence of a toxin or a Divine Presence/the Mysterious. The first leads to controlling it, the second leads to being controlled by it. One always hopes that mankind has grown up enough to recognize reality, but often realizes that this may be magical thinking also. Posted by: doctort*******************************************I don’t do drugs. So I don’t know what hallucinations feels or look like. During the fast of many, many Ramadans I never has had the experience and honour like George W Bush in being spoken to by God. Perhaps it would help medical science to check up on George W Bush and the hallucinations or magic or miracle or divine presence or the mysterious that visited him or he experienced to deal with his loss, fear, and unrealized expectations etc.

  • AmusedMuse

    Jihadist – If “man” and “he” can be used to include “her” and “she,” turn about is fair play – especially if Aslan is going to portray atheism as another form of “religion.” Get it?It doesn’t really work, does it?You fell for it!

  • truthseeker1

    unbiased: The entire premise of the article is wrong. Can you imagine any religious evangelical saying: THERE’S “PROBABLY” A GOD?Exactly right! They’d be criticized for not displaying… certainty. you know… faking it!

  • Jihadist

    People are maimed and murdered in the name of “the” religious view. It is all very stupid! Get over it!Posted by: KrautKiller *******************************************How many Americans were killed by Americans for “the” religious view? How many Americans were killed in the “war on drugs” vs “war on terror”? Andy surveys, stats on that?How many Iraqis were killed for “the” religious views? Any surveys/stats done on that?

  • BlueTwo1

    Blind faith is blind because you never get an unambiguous answer from those to whom you pray. It is within God’s Power to communicate unambiguously, yet He prefers not to, leaving it to His creatures to imagine what He wants. God tells radical Islam to louse up the good thing we got going here. God tells the Pentagon to send troopers into the dessert to kill and kill and kill without end. After all, God intends Arabian oil to come into our possession, with a hefty profit for the facilitators. Could God have blessed America with oil enough (in America) to run the economy far into the future? He could have. He didn’t.

  • Jihadist

    unbiased: The entire premise of the article is wrong. Can you imagine any religious evangelical saying:THERE’S “PROBABLY” A GOD?Exactly right! They’d be criticized for not displaying… certainty. you know… faking it!Posted by: truthseeker1 *******************************************As often stated by atheists with great certainty, believers believe there is a God with great certainty and are criticised for it. Saying there’s “probably” a God is what is generally said by agnostics who are not “faking” it.

  • lufrank1

    One OBVIOUS distinction between Atheists and ‘Believers” . . . . Atheists don’t kill in the name of God, in fact, compared to militant religious fundamentalists, Atheist caused deaths are a mere drop in an ocean of Religious caused deaths!

  • kenk3

    Does a person need to be an expert on leprechauns before not believing in them?

  • thebuckguy

    Aslan’s hyperbole is as bad as Hitchens’. Indeed, Hitchens brings an instant lack of credibility to anything he supports. Aslan claims Dawkins et al., don’t really understand religion, et al. Yet, you could say the same thing about most religious people. the Roman Catholic Church really doesn’t spend much time with Bible stories. Most fundies and evangelicals usually know nothing of Christian history or much of the Bible beyond the sections most often quoted and misjudged by their clergy. The idea that atheists might want to [propogate their ideas much as religious people do shouldn’t be a source of concern. They have every right to do it and if they use the same glib, cringe inducing kinds of slogans that religious groups do, then they may face the same fate–just as identification with organized religion is declining, so could atheism. Seriously, this column just another rmeinder of the shallow thinking that seems to go into this column. Instead of “On Faith”, it should be called “Why Faith?”, because no serious person could take seriously most of what’s written here.

  • Nymous

    When Jesus shows up again I’ll listen to this stuff again. Until then it’s just a pile of self serving intellectual drool.The record says he’s not going to reappear. Except on toast, and in the minds of deluded people. He won’t be showing up in reality ever.Oh yea, and Israel, it’s not a holy land, and neither is Mecca.

  • clearthinking1

    Their (atheists) criticism of religion is correct, but only for Islam & Christianity.This is the sad truth. These 2 religions, and their need to expand and force their views on other by any means necessary, are the problem. Other “religions” are quite different and much more positive & constructive.THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION IN ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT RELIGION.

  • AmusedMuse

    “NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.”Cool! What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death?

  • PSolus

    “I don’t believe in atheists.”Well, atheists probably don’t believe in you.

  • Jihadist

    Their (atheists) criticism of religion is correct, but only for Islam & Christianity.THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION IN ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT RELIGION.Posted by: clearthinking1******************************************Do give the list of evangelical Christian groups and Muslim groups actively proselytising their belief. Lots of evangelical Christian groups in Latin America, Africa and Asia figting each other even among Christian adherents. Do look at, say, just Brazil to see how evangelical Protestants wean away Catholics from to their churches, and quite a number of these evangelical Christians have their headquarters in the United States. More church members, more funds for church coffers which are tax exempted.

  • truthseeker1

    “What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death? “Answer: How about a death such as Carl Sagan’s: satisfaction in a life lived, peaceful reconciliation with the night, knowledge that death is natural, the acknowledgment (to quote Native American spiritual sayings, other religions often being left out by these “tolerant” religious apologists) that “death comes to all and always out of season,”This is how I answered: Peace and release that this is part of the NATURAL cycle, AND a lack of the FEAR we see on believers’ faces questioning why God is making them suffer /and whether they will go to hell.

  • Darwins_Labrador

    Whether or not there is a god is not the question. Whether or not people who claim to represent god to the people (priests, rabbis imams, monks etc…) feed us all huge boatloads of crap to keep us under control and/or to empower themselves is without question.The worst religion in the world in terms of beating down the minds of its followers into submission so they cannot think for themselves, is the religion of the author of this article. His religion, like Christianity before it, is a religion that was spread around the world by the use of the sword. Convert or die.Think of how many millions upon millions and of people have suffered and died as a result of the needs of these two great religions to force themselves upon the world.Religion itself is not evil, but the greatest acts of evil that have occurred in the history of the world have had the hard charging backbeat of some kind of God or religious reasoning fortifying the hearts and minds of the murderers. How do you slaughter 6 million Jews on a religous basis without believing that you are doing God’s work because somebody convinced your weak and fragile mind that these people were against God?Today, no religion in the world is more toxic and warlike than the one the author of this article is a member of. It is the most dangerous religion. It is the most antithetical to freedom, reason, liberty and centuries of Western Civilization.It is not a religion of peace. Like Christianity before it, it spread around the world as a war against any peoples who had any other kinds of traditions or beliefs.Those people, whether in the Phillipines, Madagascar, Africa, PreColombian Americas were happy living their lives until the warlike Christians and Muslims came with their swords to ridicule, humiliate, subjugate and force their warlike religions down the throats of the victims.Does this mean religion is all bad, and that there is no God? No, it just means that those of you who are religious need to reform your leaders. To reform your priests and imams. Not the other way around.To be true to the principles of your religions, you must reject the warlike impulses baked inside of your religions and/or your leaders. Christianity has an easier time of that nowadays. Islam does not.

  • PSolus

    “Cool! What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death?”What do you have to offer?

  • DoneWithDan

    “Religion, however it is defined, is occupied with transcendence–by which I mean that which lies beyond the manifest world and towards which consciousness is oriented–and transcendence necessarily encompasses certain theological connotations with which one ought to be familiar to properly critique belief in a god.” Pure crap. Transcendence does not require a belief in god – only religion does that. Buddhism – not a religion – it posits no god – is all about transcendence. You don’t have to believe in god to transcend – in fact, a belief in an imaginary uber-human makes transcendence much more difficult. After all, what are you transcending? Religion is all about getting absolved for screwing other people and the environment in this life in order to ascend to an imaginary ‘heaven’ in the next imaginary life. Religion makes all life imaginary. Charlatans have been selling this crap for centuries. Wars, human suffering and despair are the real results. It is time to shut down the scam.

  • truthseeker1

    per the author:Response: Some do, most do not. We just see no evidence. I hold great respect for liberal to moderate religious groups.BUT: I hold no respect for fundamentalist religious groups. Most of the anger I see by atheists are in reaction to fundamentalists proclaiming their WHACKED out views have to be correct, and try to force them on others.The author appears to be clueless of any of these distinctions. Can we get a more educated RANT by a religious person at least, Washington Post.

  • Matthew_DC

    The “new atheism” is too emotional. It’s as strident as a tele-evangelist’s spiel. Just because it’s more polished in its delivery doesn’t make it feel any less like someone is trying to ram something down your throat. The militant fundy and atheist are both monomaniacs who rail at you for not immediately seeing what is apparent to them. Both creeds are very feeling-based.

  • AmusedMuse

    I simply want to know why it is apparently okay and “tolerant” for Reza to insult firmly-held religious tenants by asserting (in No God But God) that Muhammad could not have been illiterate, that the Medina Constitution was actually revised later to be egalitarian, or that the death of the Prophet’s grandson Husayn was not really a conscious martyrdom, but it’s not okay and is “intolerant” for atheists to say that we have more important things to think about. If atheism is an “ism,” I call it realism.

  • dcc1968

    So, this is supposed to be a principled discussion, and you begin by calling a proponent of the opposing viewpoint “Darwin’s Rottweiler”?Charles Darwin was a scientist, one of the greatest who ever lived. His contribution was in that domain. In the opinion of many of faith, including the leaders of major religions, there is not a contradiction between faith and science, or between faith and evolution specifically.By conflating scientific study with atheism, you invalidate your argument.

  • Matthew_DC

    RE: “Atheists don’t kill in the name of God.” Very true, they only kill in the name of atheism (or some creed, such as dialectical materialism, which includes atheism as one of its components). That some nice Western atheists haven’t killed anyone yet doesn’t take away from the fact that the world’s most successful atheist states have killed people for holding religious beliefs, because they were thought to interfere with the goals of the state. The facts show that atheism doesn’t make one any less likely to kill people. You just kill them for a different reason if you are inclined to kill.

  • Jihadist

    If atheism were just another “ism,” I doubt very much that Aslan or you would spend your energy on it. Obviously atheism is different, and more disturbing to the religious mind, to be “just another religion/ism.”Posted by: AmusedMuse *******************************************As can be seen in the posts in this thread, quite a number of atheists, coming out to wage their “ism” against other “isms” including and especially : atheism vs monotheism and polytheism. And like monotheists and polythiest of specific sorts, you do make a claim your “ism” is different as in “obviously atheism is different”. I am more disturbed by my more excessive and excitable fellow co-religionist and idiotic policies of my government rather than by any other religious and non-religious “isms”. Sorry to dissapoint you if adherents of “a-the-ism” advocated it as “the” “ism” to replace other “isms” is not such a bother to me as some atheists would like, but for the sheer pleasure of reading what they say and wrote which are as passionate on what they don’t believe in and hold dear as their some of opposite “ism-istas”.

  • AnnsThought

    To the unbelievers, I offer this true story: Years ago, I worked in an office that had some rather vicious office politics. Four of my co-workers were maligning me and making my life miserable. It was a very painful experience. Every day on my lunch hour, I took a walk in the park to relieve stress. After a particularly difficult morning, I took my walk as usual. Sunglasses on, quick pace to burn calories. Suddenly from behind me, a man in jogging clothes ran up and started walking beside me. He asked me if I had read the Gospel and I said yes. He asked me if I believed it and I said yes. My next thought was “great, he’s going to try to talk me into joining his church”. But no. He said, I’ve had trouble with co-workers too. There is a battle in the heavens, and things take time. I want you to go home tonight and read the book of Daniel, Daniel 6, and to also read about the armor of God in Ephesians. Will you do this? I said yes I would, and thanked him for his advice. He started jogging again and disappeared around the corner. I wondered how in the world a complete stranger who had not looked at my face could possibly know about my troubles at work. Daniel 6 tells the account of Daniel having trouble with his co-workers, and how they were so jealous of him that they schemed to have him put to death. God defeated the plan by closing the lions’ mouths. God also closed the lions’ mouths in my office. God is with us, and so are his angels. The devil and his demons are also among us. Its the truth. Saying you don’t believe in their existence is no different than saying you don’t believe oceans exist because you’ve never seen one. I don’t hate atheists. There are many reasons why people lose their faith, or never had faith to begin with. In the end, every knee will bow. Peace be with you.

  • garoth

    Thank you for a good article. A few responses: to “amusedmuse” You don’t know what you are talking about. As a pastor of over thirty years, I have seen many Christians die. Most are concerned more about the way they are going to die (will it be painful? How will my loved ones fare?) than they are about the fact of death itself. In fact, Christians do not accept death as “good” since it ends what they cnsider to be a great gift – life; they do accept it as inevitable. Most (not all) believe in something after this life. In scientific circles, you might call it a “preservation of matter.” It changes, but does not end, because it is held in greater hands than ours.”clearthinking,” I do not find your thoughts “clearthinking” at all. Many religions are “evangelical,” in spreading the word about their beliefs, including most of the athiests who post here, and especially Dawkins et al! Sometimes Christians have spread their religion by means that their holy book would eschew. Jews have never been highly evangelistic. Your argumnt is exactly what the author is talking about – uninformed, setting up a straw man, when it is not descriptive of most Christian faith.Thanks to the few posts that make some sense, address the subject at hand, and are not simply knee-jerk reactions, whether for or against the main point of the article. The point is that there are people who deal with the concerns of faith intellegently – or otherwise – both from the standpoint of belief in God, however defined, as well as without entering God into the equation. For those on one side or the other to simply cast aspersions on the other side, without trying to assess their argument, detracts from their own argument. We see this often on these blogs. To claim that people who believe in God are anti-intellectual, or of low intellect, are narrow-minded, fundamentalist, baby-killers, etc. not only does not d justice to the wide range of thought of believers, but says something about the willingness and capacity of those who argue against them to support a reasoned argument.Again, thanks for a good article.

  • Darwins_Labrador

    In terms of total numbers of deaths caused by religion? I think Christianity wins out over Islam and “non religious” Mao types. There are estimates that up to 50 million people died as a result of the Spanish, religious inspired and backed conquest of the Americas. Entire races of people were wiped out as a result of this conquest. And then you have the Holocaust. On the Muslim side, an example is the religious Armenian genocide. Someone more familiar with Islam can surely detail millions upon millions of deaths associated with Islam’s spread around the world as well.No need to count them all. Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot piled up millions of deaths, no doubt.What we need to do is to stop using religion as war. Stop looking for evil in the “non believers.” YOu religious types need to look inside of your own religions. There is so much blood on the hands of Christians and Muslims, that there is no need for them to look elsewhere. Clean and repent for your own sins before worrying about those of us who don’t go to church or who don’t pray 7 times a day, or at all.

  • smt123

    Something to lighten the mood:”The Creationist Method: Creationists believe that man was instantaneously created by God based on an account in a book called ‘the Bible.’ Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly translated into several languages successively. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject [how humans evolved].”– Tom Weller, 1985, Science Made Stupid

  • garoth

    “Religion, however it is defined, is occupied with transcendence–by which I mean that which lies beyond the manifest world and towards which consciousness is oriented–and transcendence necessarily encompasses certain theological connotations with which one ought to be familiar to properly critique belief in a god.” Pure crap. Transcendence does not require a belief in god – only religion does that. Buddhism – not a religion – it posits no god – is all about transcendence. You don’t have to believe in god to transcend – in fact, a belief in an imaginary uber-human makes transcendence much more difficult. After all, what are you transcending? Religion is all about getting absolved for screwing other people and the environment in this life in order to ascend to an imaginary ‘heaven’ in the next imaginary life. Religion makes all life imaginary. Charlatans have been selling this crap for centuries. Wars, human suffering and despair are the real results. It is time to shut down the scam.Donewithdan,I don’t understand your point about Buddism, or about God as an “uber-human.” I can’t speak for all religions, but main-line Christianity, as well as Judaism, do not believe in God as an “uber-human,” a point that is central to our faiths (Barth referred to God as “totally other”). First of all, Buddists would be suprised to find that they are “not a religion.” Some Buddists do not believe in a god or gods, others do. Transcendence has to do with a relationship to something larger than ourselves, “that which lies beyond the manifest world and towards which consciousness is oriented.” It sees a different path toward transcendence than, say, Christians or Jews, but it escapes me how belief in a creator who holds the meaning of our existance does not qualify?As to your statement, “Religion is all about getting absolved for screwing other people and the environment in this life in order to ascend to an imaginary ‘heaven’ in the next imaginary life,” first, the reference you are making applies mostly to Christianity, and incorrectly. Even a cursory reading of the ible, in part of whole, will show this to be false. Jesus, in particular, taught that our (imaginary?) God judges according to the way we act toward others and toward his/her world. (“As you have done to the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.). Maybe you should learn before you speak.

  • dougd1

    Others may have already pointed this out, but one of the main and most profound differences between most religions and atheism involves their approach to understanding reality. Most religious beliefs are based on faith, whereas most atheisms base their beliefs on science and/or rational thought. This is a huge difference. One could argue that religions train their followers not to think: Don’t think about “deeper questions”, but instead simply accept, based on faith, whatever belief system their religion promotes. In contrast, atheism bases their beliefs primarily on science, supplemented by rational thought, which motivates them to think and to ask fundamental questions, and to be open to alternative answers that might arise.

  • rsk1957

    Using the term “atheist fundamentalism” is an attempt to cast aspersions on recent and valuable efforts to reexamine religion’s role and it’s effects in today’s world. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett are not all of the same mind and have varying perspectives. Dennett, for instance, sees the religious impulse from an evolutionary perspective (not simply reduced to “chemicals in the brain”) and is hardly unsympathetic or dismissive of it’s functions, regardless or whether he sees it as ultimately a good thing.Call it God, Divine Personality, or the “existence of a transcendant reality that exists beyond our material experiences”, you are alluding to the supernatural. Science is a process, a method that involves observation, testing, hypothesis, etc. Supernaturalism, by definition, lies out of the realm of science. It is possible, to a certain degree, to examine religion and transcendent experience empirically,and to produce natural explanations for supernatural claims. But there is a realm of “personal truth” that science (probably) cannot examine. But few religions treat transcendent experience as just personal truth. Most religion sees itself as the one truth, and other religions as false. Their deity is the one true deity. They expect people to believe arbitrary supernatural claims. And of course, most religions ultimately have political agendas.The most compelling argument against religion is that competing religions ultimately pose a threat to humanity’s survival. Most major religions place a higher value on “transcendent experience”, an “afterlife”, and allegiance to their deity, than they do on our material life on earth. They say that these values are worth dying and killing for. And so I would agree that there is validity to the argument that religion poses a threat.

  • morphex

    You vastly overstate what the new atheists have to say. The bus, for example, says only that the existence of “god” is “probably” — not self-evidently, etc. — false. Your straw-man characterization of the atheists permeates, and diminishes, your entire article.I allow, however, that the atheists you mention overstate the evils of religion. Religions are often allied with evil, as in Germany during the Nazi regime, as in the persecution of Jews throughout history (and now infecting even Islam), as in the persecution and denial of basic civil and human rights to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders/-eds, as in its endless appeals for money while offering nothing in return and no guarantees on some pretty dubious stuff, etc. But in all these abominable activities, religions only parrot, though with infantile enthusiasm, the vulgarity and bigotry of the populations they claim to serve. They lack the real power that the “new atheists” sometimes seem to attribute to them. The religious voices we hear most clearly in America simply exploit and try to amplify the inevitable ignorance and backwardness to be found in any species that has not been around for a long time. No that that absolves them of their sins.The requirements you lay down before anyone dare to presume to criticize religious beliefs are presumptuous. The basic beliefs, e.g., the “existence of god,” are usually acquired at an early time of life, long before the intellectual practices you value so excessively can be learned. Theologies are inherently circular in their logical, and psychopathic in their shared determination to rationalize infantile fantasies and magical thinking.

  • harveyh5

    One comments here on the eye, suggesting that only a intelligent creator could design the eyes of thousands of creatures.The book, The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Natural World published by Thames and Hudson, in a chapter on the eye identifies a computer model of the evolution of the eye by Dan-Eric Nilsson and Susan Pelger, identifying the evolution over 364,000 generations. Suffice to say the eye of other creatures evolved over many, many, many years as well. As the Earth is not 6,000 plus years old, but instead 30-100 million years old, there has been plenty of time for multiple creatures to evolve and adopt the eye to their own specific purposes. So for me, the evolution of the eye is far more plausible than an intelligent creator popping out the finished eyes of thousands of species.

  • info53

    Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

  • PSolus

    “The most compelling argument against religion is…”THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

  • truthhurts

    It’s better to understand than to be understood.

  • msw13

    Reading the bible contributed greatly to me becoming an atheist, contrary to the claim that atheists don’t study religion. The more people really read the bible, the less influence it will actually have.Religions do not have a common thread pointing to a universal force; Christianity is not Islam is not Confucianism is not Jainism is not Animism. The reason why people use naturalism (no supernatural acts or forces) as a working assumption is because it has worked, over and over again. Supernatural perspectives have never ever , not even once, been more effective at describing a process; disease is not caused by demons, and sacrificing virgins doesn’t bring rain. Why does the author sound so shrill and strident? Is it insecurity?

  • socalgail

    I am so glad that atheists are making a pitch! It fills me with hope and joy to think that we have come to a time where pointing out that the emperor has no clothes is not dangerous or rare. In the US, religion is truly the opiate of the people. American is in the midst of one of its frequent fads with being zealously, and publicly, very holier-than-thou. Wealthy oligarchs fund fundamentalist religous groups, like the Tea Party, to inculcate absurd notions such as their pitch that socialism is anti-god. In the 50’s it was the conservative Christian churches that encouraged the cold war and little has changed today. The wealthy are so firmly in control of the US that it will take another Great Depression to unseat them and restore the ideal of the commonwealth. The politicos are doing the minimum it takes to prevent it. I wish that we could sponsor some billboard/bus advertising like that here but it would probably be met with vandalism and hate.

  • kbachus7

    The problem is not God/no God, religion/no religion, democrat/republican, conservative, liberal, christian/atheist/muslim. The problem is when the “idea” becomes more important than a single human life. I call that fundamentalism, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. I am fundamentally opposed to fundamentalism.

  • robertajkaufman3

    go ahead and enjoy our day ugh theres no god. more famine more earth quakes dying suffering soldiers disease nucleur threats world wide. a book that broke it down to us thats a fact that scientists and atheists disgard for the need to dismiss a creator. It forsaw what there facts cannot and offers a solution which the best of their intelligence and scientific fact can not its simply called salvation now theres alot since ancient times radicals have made of this beautiful hopeful word but to me it means that I cannot completely ignore the suffering going on around me and be more than solemn watchful these days. my greatest joy is knowing that there is more than this and it requires you engage yourself in the sufferings that in it self does not make you always supremely right or even religiously correct that puts you in touch with a savour who is the infinite explanation and will always give you the contentment and wisdom your heart can hold if you cling humble to his cross he never promised us a rose garden but thru his love and hope offers the sweetest fragrant truth that we are nothing lost words and thoughts dying more each day for the need of what in all our glorious searches we need the most our god there are still those scientists out there connecting the dots between science and christianity and they I might add sometimes offer proof of this god which proves there is hope that in the end we will take hand and run home to our father and the endless debates the glittering followmeors will be gone forever for we will finally see him as he is what need any of us more

  • Quine

    Re the comment by To those who reach for supernatural speculation, I again ask:Got evidence?

  • greenstheman

    In reply to : Darwins-Labrador “What we need to do is to stop using religion as war. Stop looking for evil in the “non believers.” YOu religious types need to look inside of your own religions. There is so much blood on the hands of Christians and Muslims, that there is no need for them to look elsewhere. Clean and repent for your own sins before worrying about those of us who don’t go to church or who don’t pray 7 times a day, or at all.”DL, You have to realize there are people who use religion and miss use it to accomplish evil deeds, as in the past and the present. There is one thing that has to be understood and that is God is not fulled by the actions of those evil blasphemers and their fate has been sealed because they cannot fool God.When you take the numbers of murders commited by those communist,socialist,marxisit,totalitarian governments thay far out number those that have been killed by so called religious zealots.In my opinion those zealots have caused people to assume that a church of true faith must agree with those false religious leaders. When you look at the teachings of Christ’s message, and you see a church leader’s teaching or a religion doing things that contradict the Bible then you can be assured they are not Christians and instead are false teachers and religions.You are correct we should not look for evil in non-believers as Christians we are not to judge someone who does not know Gods truth, however we can judge a fellow Christian who knows Gods truth but continues to do evil.The problem with evil is not that it’s out there somewhere, the problem with evil is that we all have the capacity to do great acts of evil within us, that goes for believers or non-believers alike.That is why Christians need Christ in our lives so that He gives us the strength to over come that wich we cannot overcome by ourselves,

  • greenstheman

    Quine to your:To those who reach for supernatural speculation, I again ask:There is plenty of evidence in the Bible, and archeology as well that backs up places and events that are described in the bible.There is not a lack of evidence for God’s existence, it is the suppression of the available evidence that a person must wrestle with. Since you consider it speculation studying the Bible for yourself sounds like it may not be an option.PS. you can always ask God to reveal Himself to you and see what happens.

  • magnifco1000

    OK, if you don’t believe in God. But, turning the non-belief in God, into it’s own “religion,” certainly seems odd. To worship the belief that “there is no God,” just seems like you have substituted one belief for another. As for what’s really true or not, some people believe in God and some people believe in Science, in atoms and molecules. But even Science, via Quantum Physics, tells us our beliefs in atoms as “really existing,” is a fallacy. As the quest for the tiniest particle continues, no end in sight is evident, even on the scientific level. What is really true or not, no God or anti-God? That’s pure speculation!

  • PSolus

    “PS. you can always ask God to reveal Himself to you and see what happens.”And, if nothing happens?

  • baj3

    Q. “NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.””Cool! What do atheists have to offer someone who is suffering loss, is ill, aged and facing death?”so says edbyronadams A. Not much, but it beats fairy stories that this and other messes are created by a “Loving Father of Us All.”If the LFoUA is out there, He is vastly more satanic than Satan could ever dream of.

  • tsouris

    can I say one thing about people saying the Nazi’s killed more people then religious crusades.Oops forgot 6million jews just for being jews. Antisemitism born in churches and carried out by the good christians of Germany, Oh lets not forget the help they Got from the Poles and other eastern european christians.You really have to love god fearing christians.

  • washpost18

    Has Professor Dawkins been invited to publish a rebuttal piece here in On Faith? I’d hate to think this section is going to go the way of Fox “News” and only provide a platform for one side of a debate.

  • info53

    “If the LFoUA is out there, He is vastly more satanic than Satan could ever dream of.”Reminds me of Gnosticism, which states that Satan, or a deity like him, actually created the world (explaining the mess it’s in) and that God is remote and really not very interested in what goes on down here.When you come down to it, it’s a better description of how things really work than the more popular religions.

  • jakesfriend1

    I cut to the chase so I will address this to atheists and the religious in one fell swoop. I want you to imagine 10,000 light years away, a place of perfection that actually could have come about 10,000 light years ago. At the helm of this ‘society or company’ is the CEO. We will name Him/Her God. Some of his friends use different names based on their association and the extent of their relationship. Nicknames maybe whatever you see today, i.e., Deity, Physician, Mediator, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh come to mind. The religious have a hard time viewing God as anything other than a religious man. They assume he/her has no interests. They may not believe he/her likes sports, or his/her hobbies may be science and medicine. They may not think he/her is a fun loving person and children do not play importance in ‘their’ life. The atheists cannot view or believe anything than what they see. They know little about faith, because their imagination is stunted to believe there is a person by the name of God who takes interest in all things, large and small. Where both may fail to realize is that structure and adherence may be very important to God. Imagine God looking for the next best food group requires regulations and policy is adhered to. When there is a counter group of people opposed to this new food group or what it will take to create and manage this process, than there is conflict in the entire group. That is counter productive to a perfect system that requires exactness in each process. If there is a new technology God wants to explore and tries new protocols which maybe in conflict to accepted practices to the way things were done in the past, there may be opposition to it. That is, unless God has a great track record at making things happen for the betterment of all, so there is no opposition by anyone because they trust His/Her methodology.Pigeon holing and confining God to a box as many religious people do and atheists cannot imagine, flies in the face that we may be an infant civilization that is a mirror image of what may have been 10,000 light years ago. However, if people can imagine there is another place, a ‘perfect place’ than it is not out of the realm of possibilities the structure of the community, the rules and regulations, the policies and procedures maybe exactly how this place came to be. Heaven, God, Godhead, Trinity, heavenly hosts are either supported by our belief there is a person (God) who is interested in ALL things, and their desires and wants are meshed perfectly in a pure type system that all benefit from. My suggestion is that people not limit their ability to think outside the box, by placing God inside that box. When WE become self-limiting than our imagination is stunted by our desire to see and appreciate a perfect system function. Thanks for allowing me to share my simple thoughts and illustrations.

  • dataflunky

    Many years ago, I saw a parody in Mad Magazine that perfectly illustrated a common-sense view of religion. It was about the old comic strip crime fighter Mandrake the Magician. For the benefit of those too young to remember, Mandrake billed himself as a magician but was actually a very powerful hypnotist, who would hypnotize his audience into seeing what he wanted them to see. The parody begins with Mandrake and his girlfriend in the back of his limousine with his girlfriend and his bodyguard driving. The limousine gets a flat tire, and Mandrake orders his bodyguard to get out and change the tire. The bodyguard says” Why don’t you just wave your hand at the tire and fix it?”, to which Mandrake replies “Because, you fool, I can hypnotize you to think the tire is fixed. I can hypnotize her to think the tire is fixed. I can even hypnotize myself to think the tire is fixed. but I cannot hypnotize the tire to think it is fixed!” The moral of the story is that if you want to believe something badly enough you can make yourself believe it. If you are especially persuasive, you can make others believe it. But no amount of belief will make something true if it is false. Conversely, no amount of disbelief can make something false if it is true. In any event, we still have to change the tire.

  • info53

    “I cut to the chase”When I see this at the top of eight or nine paragraphs I wonder about the poster’s sanity.I also quit reading. Immediately.

  • Quovadimus

    Straw man argument, red herring, you name it. Fundamentalism in any form is bad. Its root is an excess of untested or untestable belief. I think of myself not so much as an atheist; rather, a non-believer. I take very little, if anything, on faith. Given proof of an acceptable, verifiable kind, I will grant something is real. Like so many others who share my views, I do not seek to impose them on anyone. Believe in what you will, Santa Claus, Allah, the Tooth Fairy, the Rapture. Just do not seek to force me to believe in it, and keep your beliefs separate from our government. THAT is our tradition. And it should not be too much to ask.

  • apspa1

    The whole of Mr. Astan’s column could be reduced to the three words “but what if?” in so far as it presents a polemic against the evangelical atheism, a term which, it must be said, itself is an oxymoron since atheism is neither a gospel or a cause unless, of course, it is preceded by the words “But what if…”

  • pjs1965

    Snippets from the author:”and, perhaps most bizarrely, their [atheists] overwhelming sense of siege: the belief that they have been oppressed and marginalized by Western societies and are just not going to take it anymore.”That’s pretty clear when there’s churches mosques and synagogues on every street corner.”The principle error of the new atheists lies in their inability to understand religion outside of its simplistic, exoteric, and absolutist connotations. Indeed, the most prominent characteristic of the new atheism–and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion) it is so desperate to refute.”Bullhocky! Many people who doubt God have probably probably spent years examining themselves and their souls wondering why they have come to doubt what has been shoved at them all their lives. Much more introspectively than those who blindly lap up their spoon-fed religion.”Of course, positing the existence of a transcendent reality that exists beyond our material experiences does not necessarily imply the existence of a Divine Personality, or God. But what if did?””What if one viewed the recurring patterns of religious phenomena that so many diverse cultures and civilizations…””Is such a possibility any more hypothetical than say, superstring theory or the notion of the multiverse?””What the new atheists do not do … is admit that all metaphysical claims–be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable.”The author’s claims rest upon “what if” “possibility” and “the ultimately unknowable.” These are not facts. Apparently the author still believes in Santa Claus.

  • yellowtavern2

    There is no “New Atheist” movement.We’ve been around forever, and our arguments have not changed:We don’t believe in the truth of other people’s faith expressions because there is simply no empirical evidence to support such beliefs.If the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real, he can come down and tap my shoulder with his slippery, saucy arms and I’ll believe.Until then, there’s no need for you (author) disparaging atheists or generalizing about their ignorance of your own ignorant choices. They/we have no need to dip into the communal cesspool for irrational cultural memes: we’ve drunk from that well plenty, and been splashed by it, too.

  • info53

    “Good News: Via “MEME-TELEPATH” “Thanks for beaming down to enlighten us mere Earthlings.

  • jpfann

    One more likeness to note: neither polemicist admits to doubt. Those who believe do not admit doubt about their faith, and those who do not believe do not admit their doubt about their disbelief. Neither is honest or worthy of trust. But admitting the ambiguity does not make news, does it? And it certainly doesn’t sell books.

  • lorenpfau

    A couple of comments, not nearly as eloquent as many others…At least Dawkins, Dennet and others encourage one to think for themselves versus asking unquestioning belief in a bunch of ancient, interpreted (and re-interpreted)texts that have been translated numerous times.And many, if not most, of us in the atheist camp came from religious upbringings. I’d argue that we have read much more of the Bible and religious literature than the religious fundamentalists have of anything critical of their beliefs.I’m essentially a Libertarian. I support anyone’s right to believe, or not believe in whatever they wish. But I vehemently oppose any religious group trying to cram their beliefs down my throat.In the beginning Man created god in his own image.

  • ormyskeptyc

    Thank God I’m an atheist! After reading this article I am more and more inclined to step up efforts to form an “umbrella organisation” to represent the interests of atheist groups around the world.To say that any atheist is “fundamentalist” is not only intellectually absurd but ignorance of the highest order. People like Reza Aslan hear/see the word atheist and make the (really tedious) assumption that they’re dealing with someone like Fred Phelps. Atheism is not about shouting in the street to convert people. It’s about asking people to look at the evidence available and make up their own mind. Whatever philosophical arguments Aslan would like to employ they are still based on believing without any evidence!The fact is, there are people who do read the bible and take it’s “word” as final. These people damage children with their biblically inspired psychological (and, quite often, physical) abuse and make the world a pretty unpleasant place to be living in as a result. If religion is as “harmless” as the apologists claim then why do support groups for people escaping this abuse exist?If opposing these brutal and sickening practices means that I am accused by the faithful of being “fundamentalist” then I’m guilty as charged!

  • legumarbiter

    This group of atheists presents nothing new. Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Dennett are as fanatical and overzealous in their advocacy of atheism as a group of communist revolutionaries would be regarding their violent beliefs. Atheism itself is a religion of godless humanism with doctrines, faith, creeds, and prescriptions for “moral behaviors,” except that adherents deny the existence of God. The Supreme Court, in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) has already declared that godless atheistic secular humanism is a religion, and thus, cannot be forcefully imposed upon children and young people against their legitimate parental consent and authority. Atheistic “moral values” are spiritual principles seeking to elicit lawless behaviors and anarchic practices–that “There is no God; it’s all brain bio-chemistry etc…, so live for today etc…), but they cannot disprove the TRANSCENDENT nature of religious faith and moral conscience. One thing atheists must remember though: Mortal man dies. Thus, human liberty and civil rights cannot come from Man. For, if there were no God, the cemetery ground would be the ultimate burrial ending of all their indefensible freedoms. However, God is a mighty loving and righteous Spirit-Being who cannot die. His omnipotence forgives our sinfulness for repentant moral rebirth unto new inner-life for civilized living, long life and earthly prosperity. And thus, our God-endowed inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inviolable and eternal!

  • Martial

    A move beyond God implies a move beyond good and evil. There is far less consistency over time as to what constitutes appropriate action than as to the presence or absence of God. Nihilism is the sole rational philosophy.

  • probably-no-deity

    I N F O 5 3; CHEERS! SLONCHA! Here’s 1 For the Holyi Cosmic Path!

  • apspa1

    Mr. Aslan’s imagined evangelical atheism appears it could be to be new tactic by the religious right in its struggle against the Constitutional imperative of the separation of church and state. That the rights of the religious suffer because of an overzealous application of the imperative.In the past when this argument was receiving much public attention I would suggest that folks find a place where they could look out over a town or city, perhaps a roof about 5 or six stories high.Go on up and look around. I guaranteed them they would see church steeples and cupolas as far as they could see at all points of the compass.Then I suggested they return to street level and tour the areas where they will continue to discover more places of worship that exist without the tell-tale building designs.In fact, I would tell them, they would discover that the only open-to-the-public buildings that were more ubiquitous than the churches were the bars and saloons.A curious juxtaposition considering the purpose and use of each, wouldn’t you agree?

  • info53

    Wow! Obviously a discussion about atheism brings out 1. the complete loonies, 2. people wanting to show off their vocabulary.Funny, I’d have thought there wasn’t really much to say about Atheism. Being a LACK of belief, it doesn’t seem to require proselytizing, nor even much discussion.It’s the Religious who usually assume Atheism is some kind of “un-Christianity” because they are aligned to see any belief as a belief in SOMETHING and can’t understand the concept of a vacuum in Heaven. They assume Atheism must be Satanism or some such nonsense.But I’m surprised to see self-avowed “Atheists” in here preaching as loudly as any Baptist Bible thumper!

  • greenstheman

    Quine, I have studied the whole bible, not just once but many times. I am not so stupid as to just trust a pastor to tell me about MY SAVIOR. It is up to me to STUDY Gods word. I go to church for fellowship with other Christians.I have learned enough what God wants from me in my life, I do not wait for someone else to tell me what God wants from me. I have enough knowledge of Gods word according to the Bible to know a deceiver.If a minister is an atheist then it is between himself and God. I know where my pastor stands and I can tell you he is not an atheist. The pastor always has a choice he can quit being a preacher if he wants, there’s no reason to feel stuck, I don’t buy that reasoning.I am not trying to change your mind on anything you believe, I have heard many arguments for atheism etc. and I can assure you, you won’t change my mind.I can tell you about all the Prophecies in the Bible that have come to pass and how Christ has proven that He is whom He claimed to be until I am blue in the face but non of that will matter to you because you believe different. That is why I said before, if you want to find evidence for God, ASK HIM to show you, He can do what I can’t do to your satisfaction.I am not being ugly here, if you want the Truth get it from God directly. My guess is if you were sincere about knowing the truth about the evidence for his existence, God will lead you to it.

  • info53

    And a hearty Slainte to you too, probably-no-deity.

  • rwolf01

    I disagree with the notion that I must study religion for years in order to disbelieve it. That’s like saying I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the offers for ‘penis-enlargement pills’ that clog my spam filter! Why must I learn everything about them before I say “That’s BS”. I know BS when I see it!The only way I have ever been able to make any sense out of organized religion has been to watch how the money flows and assume those on the receiveing end of the “donations” will say anything to get them.Science does not explain everything, but it has a much better track record than religion! This is due, in no small part, to science’s habit of not pretending to have all the answers.I say Bravo! to the New Athiests for pointing out the obvious…. Now let’s stop all the non-sense and try to manage our planet intelligently, shall we?

  • jiji1

    One does not need to be an expert in any religion to dismiss it. We routinely dismiss many religions without knowing a whit about them…Greek mythology, Druidism, Animism, Rastafarianism, Scientology, etc. At the same time, many of us irrationally cling to beliefs that have been scientifically discredited: the Mormon story, Adam & Eve, Noah’s ark, etc. Then there are those who believe, IMHO contrary to basic common sense, that there is a god who created the entire universe, yet for some reason, needs our help to feed hungry people, spread his message, or get revenge against his enemies.

  • pp0u50f3

    “be they about the possibility of a transcendent presence in the universe or the birth of the incarnate God on earth–are ultimately unknowable”Yawn….everything is “unknowable” big who cares. The fact that our knowledge is ultimately unfoundational does not make all stupid claims about the rediculous nature of reality equal

  • ColoradoLiberal

    “The principle error of the new atheists lies in their inability to understand religion outside of its simplistic, exoteric, and absolutist connotations. Indeed, the most prominent characteristic of the new atheism–and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion) it is so desperate to refute”This is utter, untempered balderdash! I became an atheist only after taking THREE years of Theology, Religious Ethics, Textual Analysis, and Biblical Exegesis at a Jesuit University (Loyola, New Orleans) in the 60s. So don’t bloody well tell me that I have an “inability to understand religion outside of simplistic connotations”!It was precisely my extensive and intense exposure to religion (well, okay, the major Christian sect) that led me to question ALL religions, and their supernatural codswallop. Eventually I came to see it was all nonsense, and made up because no theist could even offer the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of his God. (A necessary condition is such that in its absence an entity cannot exist, while a sufficient condition is such that in its presence it must exist). Note that n-s conditions now take precedence over arguing “causality”. Causality arguments are often sterile and unproductive because one side (usually the religonists) can’t discriminate between proximate and distant causes, or recognize a disjunctive plurality of causes.The truth here is that most atheists I know are vastly more literate about religion and its alleged sources of “revelation” – including the origin of the Nag Hammadi scrolls, the “Q tradition” and assorted logia, than the religionists are of basic science.It is sad that offal like this can appear in the mainstream media, one of the putative best online sources, and that it will now seed many thousands of false memes about the competence of atheists.

  • jonavery2000

    Look at the list of atheist/agnostics of the 20th century:CastroTheir dictatorships were not based on religion yet they managed to murder how many millions of people?It is time for the Dawkins crowd to lay down the “religion is the root of all violence” garbage. And take up the torch that the atheist/agnostic leaders have been the most violent humanity has ever seen.

  • cornbread_r2

    The Supreme Court, in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) has already declared that godless atheistic secular humanism is a religion, and thus, cannot be forcefully imposed upon children and young people against their legitimate parental consent and authority. Not even remotely close to being accurate… See BTW, it was a theist making this same bogus claim more than 4 years ago on this very forum that caused me to start checking

  • peacock_d

    I have not bothered to read the comments, so maybe I am repeating what others have said. I apologize if this is the case. As soon as you described Dawkins as Darwin’s Rottweiler I twigged as to the point of this article. It seems legitimate nowadays to discredit Darwin by lumping him in with any old Biologist. Dawkins’ views are his, and his alone. Darwin was a genius. Dawkins is Dawkins.

  • jiji1

    A deist believes a creator created everything and then walked away;A theist believes a creator created everything, but has stuck around to tweak things in response to supplications or things that didn’t work out the way he intended, including enlisting the help of humans to wreak violence against other humans.An atheist does not believe the latter. The former is optional. If you believe the laws of physics are immutable, you cannot be by definition a theist. You are an atheist. When you get sick and go to the doctor for treatment, you have the expectation that the laws of physics are immutable, or why would you seek a scientific solution? Many of us say we are theists when we do not truly believe it. It’s OK to be atheist. You can still be a good person. As the author describes above, goodness is universal throughout all cultures. I was just fine before I was born and I will be just fine when I am gone.

  • rpies1

    There are certainly many things to criticize in the way “organized religion”, in its institutional forms, has behaved over the past millennium, and many criticisms we might direct at extremists who cloak themselves in the self-righteous garb of omniscient holiness. But this is far different than the impulse toward transcendence and awe that underlie the religious impulse. This is not a logical argument that can be “refuted” by syllogisms or by science; it is an all-encompassing state of being that one either has, or has not, experienced. For Prof. Dawkins–who evidently has not experienced it–no amount of “evidence” will ever serve to convince him of the legitimacy of the religious impulse. At the same time, it is complete rubbish to declare that “THERE’S PROBABLY NO GOD.” In order to make a “probability” statement about God’s existence, one would have to have a large “N” of cases in which claims about omniscient, omnipotent entities had been investigated and found to be false; e.g., “in 100 such instances, 95 of them proved false.” Clearly, we have no such denominator when it comes to saying whether or not the existence of God is “probable.” Perhaps Dawkins means “plausible”–that’s fine, so long as he realizes that plausibility is really just a matter of one’s taste. Ronald Pies MD

  • jiji1

    @ jonavery2000BTW, explain to us how the evil empire managed to find it way out of communism without Jesus.

  • PSolus

    jonavery2000,”Look at the list of atheist/agnostics of the 20th century:Look, also, at this list of atheist/agnostics of the 20th century:Only the guy who drove the GTO killed anything, and that was just a squirrel.

  • dasullivan80

    This article is absurd and I can’t believe the post would allow such non-sense. These religious zealots are so biased and refuse to read and enlighten themselves that they continue to make the same arguments about their non-existent god. Read Dawkins and Dennett and Sam Harris and understand THEM before you denounce them. Utter absurdity. Atheism isn’t a religion, it’s the opposite of. Dawkins and others have just realized that it’s necessary to fight fire with fire. So, employing the religious fundamentalists tactics makes perfect sense, because apparently that type of sensational, cheesy BS is all those people understand.

  • areyousaying

    The only problem I have with the religion of atheism is that it’s proponents and archbishops have the same condescending “I’m right and you could only be wrong” bias as the leaders and followers of the Abrahamic religions

  • rsk1957

    People will often cite Stalin, Mao and Hitler and try to correlate their absence of religiosity with the horrors and brutality of their mass movements. Yet Communism and National Socalism, like religion, required absolute acceptance of its tenets and dogmas, and worshipful devotion to the “leader”. It was a different kind of “faith”, but faith nonetheless. It is this type of blind belief, without tolerance for examination, challange or dissent, that is so dangerous, whether it takes the form of religion or another form of political or social ideology.On the other hand, scientific method requires one to revise assumptions when new evidence becomes available. The truth of any assumption or theory is subject to constant testing. One does not hold absolute beliefs, one only proceeds with assumptions based on the best available evidence.”Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”

  • Salomo

    “if one is to blame religion for acts of violence carried out in religion’s name then one must also blame … socialism for Nazism, … even ….”Now that is a strange comparison indeed, considering how many socialists were killed by Nazis. Something like this in a major newspaper is quite an insult to those socialists that bravely fought Hitler and I do hope the article will be corrected in this regard.

  • cornbread_r2

    blasmaic:That’s a

  • blasmaic

    “That’s a footnote in that particular decision. It is not the decision of that case. Why would you leave out that material fact?”It is footnote 11, as shown in the text I quoted. A footnote is as much a part of the opinion as the case title.Readers can Google the case and see the text I quoted. They can compare that text to your earlier statement that the Supreme Court case did not define Secular Humanism as a religion.cornbread_r2 you display some of the conduct that makes people wary of New Atheism, but deception is as much a part of the natural world as a predator’s camoflage. I’m still mired in “Thou Shalt Not Lie” — a commandment handed to us by our ancient, imaginary friend.

  • texlonghorn_98

    I think the author confuses religion with spirituality.

  • kingpigeon

    “perhaps most bizarrely…the belief that they have been oppressed and marginalized by Western societies”That’s hardly bizarre; in 2010 an atheist cannot expect to be elected to public office in the USA. This lack of representation, coupled with the strident evangelical tones of many of our representatives, naturally provokes worry in an atheist’s mind.

  • apspa1

    It is clear why jonavery2000 wants to limit his comments about historical massacres to the 20th century.His list of atheist/agnostic rulers who are responsible for murdering millions is an example of convenient cherry-picking, albeit even there he/she made a mistake.Adolph Hitler was a Christian all his life. If he had any problem with the church it was political in nature.jonavery2000 also conveniently skips over the more than 2 million Vietnamese the Christian Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were responsible for during the American War in in Vietnam.jonavery2000 tiptoed around the problem of mass murderers by American Christians when he avoided talking about the 20+ million African people who killed as a result of the US policy of slavery – carried out by, no less, than those shining examples of god-fearing Americans, the founding fathers and the progeny.jonavery2000 also sidesteps with his limited timeline, the genocidal policies of those same founding fathers and their progeny that resulted in the extermination of over 10 million Native Americans.jonavery2000, you would be wise to remember the warning, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”Getting caught is a bummer.

  • vismorge

    Unless we examine the lives of these atheists closely we will never really know how openminded they are .These guys may have an open mind about the faith or religion of others.But are they equally openminded in the non-religious areas of their private lives?We just don’t know.The jury thus is out about the so-called openmindedness of these worthies.

  • kuato

    Atheism makes the same kind of silly assumptions that religion makes. It assumes it knows more than it actually knows, and expresses its views with a tremendous overconfidence.Is it really so hard to simply say “I don’t know?”

  • thedefendantX

    Atheists are without a sense of history and deny that history has a purpose. Theists have a destiny but they will never see it. What matters most to each one is good faith starting and ending in nothingness.

  • RomaineSTL

    I don’t think any of these atheists would deny that there are other sources of evil besides religion. It’s just that religion has, historically, been the source of a good deal of evil and that is ‘ironic’ given the fact that religion is supposed to be ‘good.’It is very hard to prove a negative such as “God does not exist.” It is hard to prove “Santa Claus does not exist,” “The Easter Bunny does not exist,” and “Invisible elves do not exist.” But we have no evidence that they exist, so no reason to believe that they exist — except, maybe, wishful thinking.Reza Aslan’s article is just a terrible example of commentary. The positions attacked are inaccurate. The response to the atheists is an appeal to being open to ‘possibilities.’ But what is needed to decide between possibilities? Evidence.

  • kbdixon

    Reza Aslan starts with an error – and it’s not the last. The bus advert was started by Ariane Sherine and was in full swing when predictably and justifiably it attracted Richard Dawkins approval and support. See:

  • mleffert1

    I can only add to the discussion that I feel so much better now that there is, apparently, a movement out there militating for the legitimacy of the position that there is no god, and that within that movement are intelligent, thoughtful people who articulate that position in a compelling and forceful manner. Really. It just feels much, much better.

  • balt21212

    As an agnostic, I don’t need “evangelical atheists” to tell me what I should or shouldn’t believe. I’ve been 99% confident since childhood that there’s no supreme being, and nothing I’ve experienced since then has even hinted otherwise. I am very content not believing in a god, and I certainly don’t need to listen to anyone’s pretentious philosophizing on the subject.

  • billhensleyokc

    Posted by: blasmaic: “Atheism has no “thou shalt not kill” slogan to contrast against the actions of its adherents. It has “survival of the fittest,” which teachers present as a design concept, but which immature youngsters remember as a justification for bullying.”.The argument that atheists like Pol Pot killed a lot of people because they have no holy book to guide them is bogus. The problem with it is that many, many, many millions of people have been killed in the name of various religions and gods, many millions more due to politics (much of that religiously motivated), but I don’t think many people have been killed ->because

    There is an inherent motivation in most religions to spread the word and bring new converts (with an implied “…or else”), but I don’t see any huge push the other way. There is also a regrettable tendency for religious adherents to try to legislate their views on every one else (anything from abortion to “blue laws”), again without a corresponding push from atheists to restrict religious adherents.Some atheists are a bit over the top in their advocacy, but relative to the religious machines worldwide there is just no comparison.

  • mibrooks27

    The degree of blind faith, the fanaticism necessary to hold dear the denial of a creator is not just amazing, it is so utterly and ruthlessly intellectually bankrupt that it boggles the mind. Take a look a basic physics the paradox of the Big Bang. If the universe began with an explosion, whereby a ball of dense matter not much large than you fist exploded into a universe of 2,000 light years in diameter in under a nanosecond, that violates every conceivable law of physics. Yet it happened and we can still observe that explosion. That was the first miracle, god or God or The Creator seen just having built the universe. You are either a deist of some sort or another or you are a delusional idiot, fearing and running away from god.

  • info53

    “The degree of blind faith, the fanaticism necessary to hold dear the denial of a creator is not just amazing, it is so utterly and ruthlessly intellectually bankrupt that it boggles the mind. “Ummm, how much trouble do you have not believing in the Easter Bunny?Much as it may disillusion you, atheism is about as fanatical as rolling off a log.

  • blasmaic

    Atheists kill as much if not more than anyone else. Stalin, Pol Pot, Hilter, and very, very costly to humanity. Sure, Christians have killed plenty through the centuries. But Christianity has been around for 2000 years. Atheism has been present as a political and religious force for less than 150 years.

  • klinger1

    There is a big difference between fundamentalism as “emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life” (Merriam-Webster definition 1) and “strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles” (M-W definition 2). The first kind of fundamentalism if parochial and arbitrary because there is no way to tell which of religion’s dogmas are true. To the extent that Dawkins and other atheists are fundamentalists, it is in defense of fundamental principles of logic and evidence that have come down to us through the last few centuries of discussion, debate, and experiment.Aslan makes a common mistake of confusing atheist’s arguments against God with arguments against spirituality. Similarly, Aslan seems to believe that it is appropriate to measure a religion’s spiritual message while ignoring that’s religion’s claims about the physical world. Aren’t those two aspects related?It is misleading for intellectuals to profess belief in a religion when they don’t actually believe what the texts of the religion say. Such intellectuals may find observing certain traditions or reading certain texts as emotionally satisfying or symbolically enlightening. But if such intellectuals really don’t believe (for instance) that good people are promised an ecstatic life after death, shouldn’t they say so? Aren’t they helping to confuse less sophisticated people by being silent about the difference between their holy books as good psychology and art (if that is what they are) and a good description of the physical universe? Isn’t truth an essential ingredient of a good spiritual path?Even now, there is a lingering taboo against openly evaluating religious claims and a lingering prejudice against those who reject all such claims. Dawkins and the other “new atheists” do a great service by flouting these taboos and prejudices.

  • CalicoJ

    I’m proud to call myself on the militant side of Atheism. Why? Well, if nothing else, Atheism needs people to get out on the street corners and start countering all the lies and stereotypes about us. Make no mistake, there’s a small fundamentalist wing of Christianity that believes the most nonsensical things about Atheists and are ferociously determined to pass those beliefs on to their children and everyone else in sight. These people respond with violent vehemence at even the mere mention of Atheism. With people like that around, remaining quiet is just not an option.

  • info53

    I wonder if we refused to give “Atheism” a name, would Christians and other such types stop thinking of it as a competitive religion?Maybe just stare at them in astonishment and horror when they started in about hearing voices and talking to people who aren’t there and sacrificial murder and eating the flesh of their deities, as any sane person would, but refuse to offer any nomenclature in opposition to their strange views, indeed, any response more complex than “you’re NUTS, Dude”?I mean, I do that already, but maybe if we all tried it they’d catch on. Or not. Probably not.

  • info53

    “With people like that around, remaining quiet is just not an option. “Wait a sec. You REALLY think that people who believe in ghosts are going to like or understand you if you go all militant on them? They can’t understand their way out of a paper bag with a troop of boy scouts for help.And why in the world does it MATTER what you think? It’s ATHEISM. There’s no reason to preach it, it’s NOTHING. The absence of something. Sheesh.

  • malafry

    Atheism is just another belief.

  • info53

    “Atheism is just another belief.”No it isn’t. By definition.

  • malafry

    And truth must be experienced to be known.

  • malafry

    Sure it is; it’s a belief that God does not exist.

  • info53

    “Sure it is; it’s a belief that God does not exist.”No it isn’t. It’s the assertion that there is no God, because there is no reason to have one. Refusing to believe in fairy tales isn’t a belief, it’s the lack of a belief.

  • PSolus

    malafry”Atheism is just another belief.”My guess is that you are so embarrassed by your own belief in superstition, that you accuse people who don’t believe of having a belief in not believing.You know, you don’t have to believe if it is that embarrassing for you.

  • epespinoza43

    Yes we are closeminded. We have to go beyond even the best of minds to discover what life is about. If man doesn’t have the resources to answer things even about himself, how will man ever find out about God.

  • info53

    Book of Atheism, Chapter IV, verses 7-10:”Then shalt thou slaughter the millions of Christ’s innocents for no particular reason in Remembrance of the Holy Nothing which thou believest not in, behold thou shall take hold of thy weaponry, then shalt thou remove the pin, and count to THREE, neither shalt thou count to Four, nor shall you count to TWO unless thou then proceedest on to THREE…Five is RIGHT OUT…

  • law1946

    Interesting, but obviously bigoted (surprise!!) commentary by some holy-roller syncophant. Conclusion before proof.Would be more convincing if the author knew the difference between “principle” and “principal”.

  • info53

    “Well is it written about man’s wisdom that “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. “Well of course YOU’D say that. You’re just cheering on your team and trash talking anyone who doesn’t root for you. I’m just not playing. But enjoy your game, really.

  • dwdave67

    How can anyone definitively say there is or is not such thing as god? You can’t… nobody can.The difference between people of faith and atheists is that atheists do not have whole TV networks dedicated to getting you to not believe, nor do Hitchens, Dawkins send out missionaries to spread the word of non-belief. They like all atheists and agnostics want to be left alone and not have someone elses religious non-sense shoved down our throats.

  • malafry

    A belief is a belief no matter how you frame it if you don’t actually know something. And you don’t know whether or not God exists – you only believe it. Also, you believe your mind is capable of dealing with these issues definitively. Albert Einstein said it best when he speculated that when it comes to the creation that ‘it may be we are as dogs in a library.’ Our consciousness at its fullest extent is limited – it’s all around us but we are wied to a certain kind of experience. You, however, seem to believe your mind is God, able to judge the universe of experience through the limitations of your own. I’d say that was a real stretch, an act of incredible and I would suggest unwarranted faith in your mental equipment.

  • info53

    “How can anyone definitively say there is or is not such thing as god? You can’t… nobody can.”Technically not, but when you ask that you are essentially taking the religious side to start your argument. Religion proceeds from the premise that God exists. If you simply don’t accept that rather farfetched argument, you don’t have to refute it. The question becomes meaningless.If I don’t think it’s even POSSIBLE that the Easter Bunny made everything, I certainly don’t NEED to argue that there’s no Easter Bunny, especially when I already have a perfectly good explanation of how everything got here.

  • info53

    “And you don’t know whether or not God exists – you only believe it. Also, you believe your mind is capable of dealing with these issues definitively. “I’d trust MY mind long before I’d buy into YOUR stuff, that’s for sure. God is your drug of choice, remember. It’s a poor argument when you make up the premises and expect everyone else to refute them.It takes no perception or belief whatsoever to deny the existence of a fallacy. “I believe that the Easter Bunny created the world. The immanence of the Easter Bunny is so profound that your mind cannot encompass the glory of the Easter Bunny, so you obviously must believe in Him, because the world must have been made by the Easter Bunny, because…well, just BECAUSE.”Your argument, I believe?

  • malafry

    “I already have a perfectly good explanation of how everything got here.”Which is to say, a belief, ie. rooted in a premise that has to be assumed and cannot be definitively proven.

  • malafry

    By the way, why are so emotionally dedicated to the notion that I’m religious; that’s a belief and flaw in your argument. You’ve missed me completely. I’ve offered you philosophy, thoughts out of the history of ideas, not theology.

  • cartercamp

    aalthough this article is silly I do like the fact that some athiests with money and fame are using them to fight back against religions overweening control of most countries. Its about damn time.

  • jyhume

    Ms Aslsan, are you even being serious?”Religion, however it is defined, is occupied with transcendence–by which I mean that which lies beyond the manifest world and towards which consciousness is oriented–and transcendence necessarily encompasses certain theological connotations with which one ought to be familiar to properly critique belief in a god.”What? Could you please write something that isn’t blathering nonsense? Apparently you feel that no one can speak to the experience of god and religion without being a scholar who publishes in said field. That excludes a whole lot of people in world who shouldn’t dabble in religion.Your criticism of atheism is so tired and so inane that I’m left shaking my head in disbelief.

  • info53

    “Which is to say, a belief, ie. rooted in a premise that has to be assumed and cannot be definitively proven. “Fine, then you believe in the Easter Bunny. Enjoy the candy.

  • spidermean2

    Reason number 5. The Eye – There are thousands of creatures which have eyes and each of them have very different and complex designs to create vision. All those eyes are connected to processors to determine what they are looking at. Soil can’t create a simple chip nor a complex processor. A Supremely Intelligent Creator can.Engineers should try to mimick that design. Create an artificial bee which can detect a terrorist holding a gun so it can sting him with some immobilizing concoction.That would end terorism which the idiotic atheistic communists started and copied by some religious fanatics.

  • malafry

    Fine, then you believe in the Easter Bunny. Enjoy the candy.Despite your defensiveness, I’ll offer a helpful thought, not theological but rooted in good psychology and common sense. All the sages agree it’s where common sense begins: If you want to know the truth of anything, start by questioning your own consciousness. You can’t know what your’e looking at unless you know who’s looking. Hippity-hop.

  • info53

    “I’ll offer a helpful thought, Here’s one for you: don’t overestimate your own wit, when you can’t even recognize circular logic.You may end up looking pompous and silly on a message board.

  • nbahn

    Reading this reminds me of one of my favorite riddles:

  • morryb

    Religion is indoctrination pure and simple. Young children are subjected to religous myths by their parents, their pastors, their priests, their rabbis, their immans and their ayotollahs and the children are told day after day for years that these myths are true. So the believers take on the religous beliefs of their parents. One rarely finds a child to spontaneously become a Jew or Muslim if he was brought up in a Catholic home and vice-versa.If most of the believers posting on here would stop and think about it, maybe they could become more tolerant of religions other than their own and of unbelievers.To really believe the “evidence” of humans who lived thousands of years ago and had no idea of the molecular basis of disease and of the natural world is irrational. I for one do not believe that the physical laws that describe the universe can or have been suspended in the past.

  • malafry

    Circular argument is begging the question. It is not to beg the question to say what we see is conditioned by our consciousness; that’s just good psychology. An ad hominum argument is, however, a logical fallacy and taints logic with uncharacteristic emotion. Anyway, enough: Enjoy the void.

  • thedr8

    I’m glad I stopped in tonight, not so much because of the topic, which is always interesting, but rather because the discussion has been marked with more than ordinary courtesy and respect between the adversaries, despite the topic ;-)I’ve written a lot over the years on the subject of religion, though it’s usually been in the context of religion as a political reality and a political tool. Both politics and religion influence many of the most important decisions we make, but in terms of which most influences us in decisions of the real and now I believe politics and political loyalty trump religion and religious loyalty. Of the two (religion and politics) Mark Twain said: “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”I’m like most folks, I expect. In my heart I’d like to believe that “Jesus is magic,” to quote Sarah Silverman. But my head tells me that Twain had it right when he said, “Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain.”So far, at least, tonight’s discussion seems to be in accord with another Twain quote: “The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. I would not interfere with any one’s religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one’s religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life–hence it is a valuable possession to him.”

  • spidermean2

    No need to argue with atheists because they are mentally handicapped.Atheists or evolutionists are dumb people who can’t use their brains properly. So let us help them by teaching them how to think. 1.Consciousness – The act of talking using the mouth, vocal chords and lungs requires tough science. Im not so sure if man’s science can replicate it. But talking and at the same time understanding the words spoken cannot be duplicated by any means. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator is the reason why humans has that capacity.2. Extremely complex balanced life system – Earth has just the perfect distance, gravity and size revolving around the sun to create millions of life forms from bacteria to plants and animals to humans with each creature having a very complex system to live on its own and yet has important functions for the continued existence of the whole system. Take away plants and the whole system will die. Take away the bacteria and the whole system won’t work. Take away one element and the whole system will be in danger. Perfectly balanced in a jumble of billions of matter. Only a Supremely Intelligent Creator can be able to link all these complexities.3. Fruits – If one requires you to make a shoe or clothes , the first thing you would ask is the measurement. It will forever be puzzle how would fruit trees be able to make very tasty fruits without knowing the “measurement” or requirements of the tongue. Whoever taught them the complexities of the tongue to be able to assemble a colorful and tasteful treat just by using SOIL?4. Flowers – Perfumed flowers delightful to the sight and the only construction materials are soil, air, sun and water. There are many steps to do it and I want the atheists to name just the first 5 steps if they can. If my head ached just by thinking of four reasons, the atheists brains will explode just by trying to think of one. Just accept it guys, you atheists are dumb people. It may even cure you of that stupidity sickness if you just accept it.

  • mickle1

    “Of course, positing the existence of a transcendent reality that exists beyond our material experiences does not necessarily imply the existence of a Divine Personality, or God. (In some ways, the idea of God is merely the personal affirmation of the transcendent experience.) “After this the raucous ANNNNNNNNNNGH from my BS meter was so jarring I just quit reading.I doubt I’m alone in wondering why religious people become so disoriented at the thought that there are people who don’t accept the experiences described as transcendent suddenly threatens their world.And “new” atheists. PuLeeze Mary, the only new atheists are the former religiously deluded finally get their BS meters working. They are fully aware of the intricacies of how religion attacks the individual.

  • spidermean2

    Fact : Jesus Christ turned water into wine, multiplied the fish and bread to feed thousands, walked on water and it was witnessed by thousands of people.Myth : Chimps and humans are relatives with a “common ancestor”. No witnesses ever. It could have been bones of a person who just happened to look like a chimp or just hallucinations of some idiotic “scientist” gone mad.You can’t argue with idiots.

  • info53

    “It is not to beg the question to say what we see is conditioned by our consciousness; that’s just good psychology. “Quite a leap from “My perception is influenced by my consciousness” (what’s “good psychology” about it?) to “you must afford the status of truth to anything I may make up, and refute it under the same assumption”, don’t you think?””I already have a perfectly good explanation of how everything got here.”Which is to say, a belief, ie. rooted in a premise that has to be assumed and cannot be definitively proven.”Not at all. A scientific explanation of the origins of the universe is based on observation, not surmise. I would have expected you to understand that. So you are claiming that religious wishful-thinking is more rigorous as an argument for a deity than scientific explanation based on observation?

  • info53

    “You can’t argue with idiots.”Spidermean…have you noticed no one is arguing with you?

  • Nemo5

    Wow. I’ll give you credit Reza. You put a lot of effort and words into posing one question.To loosely paraphrase, “What if one viewed shared religious phenomena as evidence of an active, engaging, transcendent presence that impels creation?”Well, I guess one would be more inclined to believe in a god of some kind, wouldn’t one.I guess I’m more in the camp of the, to again loosely paraphrase, “Then again, maybe the patterns of religious phenomenon signify nothing.”Personally, if there is a “God” of some kind, I have to believe it is either “utterly indifferent” to quote Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., or truly sadistic. Either way, it’s not a positive thing. Moreover, I see no reason for this “God” to refuse to communicate openly and recognizably with all of its human creation.

  • exhoicat

    “The principle error of the new atheists lies in their inability to understand religion outside of its simplistic, exoteric, and absolutist connotations. Indeed, the most prominent characteristic of the new atheism–and what most differentiates it from traditional atheism–is its utter lack of literacy in the subject (religion) it is so desperate to refute”Ex-cuuuuuuuse me! I and just about every other adult atheist I know was raised in one of the Abrahamic religions, and fervently believed all the fantastic miracle stories until….we sat down and thoroughly studied the entire buybull. That’s why I no longer buy that bull. One of the most eloquent of what you are calling “new atheists” is Dan Barker, author of LOSING FAITH IN FAITH and GODLESS. He was an evangelical minister for almost 20 years, educated in theology, Greek and Hebrew languages at Azusa Pacific College, a fundamentalist Christian school in California. I highly recommend both books to anyone who wants to know what it feels like to find out the truth about the book of mythology that most of us had been taught was revealed by some Superbeing who lived in the sky. It can be devastating at first, but the end result is liberating.We may seem like “new” atheists, but we’ve been here all along, we were just afraid, until recently, to tell anyone that we could no longer swallow those stories. I pretty much waited until I retired…I needed my job.By the way, ALL babies are born atheists. “They have to be carefully taught” to believe.”No gods, no masters.” Margaret Sanger.

  • occam100

    Mr Aslan uses the age-old technique of creating a straw man (misrepresenting what Hitches et al have said) and then knocking it down.When talking about illiteracy he might also first get his own basic literacy right by not using “principle” when he means “principal.”

  • spidermean2

    INFO53 wrote “have you noticed no one is arguing with you?”Yup. Probably they finally got the message. Digest it hard and you probably will get it too. Take a deep breath, relax and think hard.

  • angelcortazar

    An interesting take compatible with both Reza Aslan and Richard Dawkins can be found at

  • spidermean2

    You can’t argue with idiots.There is no God because no Intelligence is needed to create brains of humans. They just formed all by themselves controlling the eyes, breathing, hearing, smell, taste, and a hundred more functions. It’s all done by SOIL MAGIC.You can’t argue with idiots. They almost got no brains.

  • spidermean2

    Australia has a Prime Minister who’s an avowed atheist. When I was a child I can’t believe the Bible prophesying that people in the end will become mad and so Doomsday will occur.Guess what? I was wrong and the Bible is true. The world has gone truly mad.If you have doubts about the existence of Hell. Think again. The Bible never goes wrong.

  • spidermean2

    Atheism is not only a religion but probably the dumbest of all false religions.Evolution is the doctrine it follows so there is valid reason that the Darwinian subject must be banned in public schools unless Intelligent Design is included. The government can be charged with favoring this religion.

  • Mnnngj

    The problem with religionists and anti-religionists is that neither take the ego very seriously.The ego is self-contraction. The ego is an activity not an entity. (Adi Da Samraj)If Hawkins etc. understood and transcended the ego or self-clench, they would then know God. God is always Present, just seperated from, by the ego activity. Their error is just another version of the Fundamentalists error.The problem with Western religion is that again the ego is not recognized and instead, the search for God becomes the basis of life. Self-stressing oneself moment to moment and then searching from that stress, instead of understanding and letting the ego or tightness go.Western religion also projects a God idea or a God conceipt. Its based largely on believing something, often projected as a future heavenly state. Its not based on the direct Realizing of God, but more on the idea or conceipt of God, out there.Eastern religion has more of a transcendent tradition but most of the East practices conventional diety God religion too. However in the authentic aspects of the East, the focus is on a Realizer or God knower. The true Guru has realized God, and transcended the ego to do so.

  • cascience

    I disagree with the author’s claim that the Atheist movement (if it can even be called a movement) is bordering on fundamentalism. Mr. Aslan should try to argue an atheist perspective to a group of his peers to see how exhausting and aggrevating it is. In spite of the fact that Atheists are being pushed to the extreme there is no sign that they are radicalizing or becoming fundamentalists. That Mr. Dawkins has some very strong opinions is undeniable, but to seize on that as proof of a fundamentalism akin to that found in most borne-again churces in the US is rather weak. As an Atheist I do not evangelize, but do express my opinion when asked. This is very typical of all the other Atheist I know. I do take pleasure in the banners put up by the likes of Mr. Dawkins. They inspire discussion and allow those who do not feel the need for religion in their lives to be open about it. Your conclusion is clever, but not very strong. We can no more disprove the existence of Santa Claus than any god. In fact, isn’t the former just god for children? Those who wish to believe in a god (or Father Christmas) are just as free to do so as those who choose not to believe at all. However, the burden of proof is on the religious and not on the atheists because you are the ones claiming that something is there that no one can see.

  • factota

    The reference to Nazism as an extreme form of Socialism is factually and historically wrong. Like many such erroneous things, it has become a major new talking point of right-wing historical revisionists. This may be the history peddled at Liberty University, but the author’s willingness to use it eliminates any chance this article has at credibility or relevance for thinking people.

  • thebump

    Atheism has no hope.

  • skealh

    Thank you, Aslan. What a breath of fresh air. CS Lewis said that the essence of humility is the ability to see things as they really are. Not hide behind our rationalizations, posturings, opinions founded on speculation, dearly held biases. May articles like this assist Fundamentalists of all stripes to take a deep breath and have the courage to live in the real world. Have the humility to listen, know when they stray across the threshold of fact into speculation and pursue a genuine search for truth (not just defending their ‘tribal’ narrative). God is not threatened by truth, neither should we be.

  • jwaldronrn

    Mr. Aslans absurd efforts to marginalize those who forego magical thinking makes me want to gag. Even 9th graders can and do study biology and the religious have no qualms about beginning their indoctrination into shame, fear, and unquestioning belief to pre schoolers who cannot yet read. I have read these authors work and although I find them sometimes to be needlessly shrill, they are quite well researched and clear in thier rational dissection of religious delusion. That said it does concern me when atheism begins to take on the trappings of organized religion even in this small way. It is the organized “church” aspect of religious belief that is the greatest danger to humankind. Giving any traction to the concept of a “secular humanism” as an alternative counter religion serves arm the religious wackos with a weapon to advance thier theocratic agenda

  • BSoto

    Anyone seeking more proof of Reza Aslan’s self-important shilling and/blind obedience to Sharia indoctrination, or his thinly veiled agenda driven mischaracterizations of first world secularism in general, only needs read the first 3 paragraphs of this desperate plea for validation addressed to anyone just outside-of-the-loop enough to buy it.Assuming for a moment we ignore Aslan’s conspicuous, and woefully inaccurate aspersions, any semblance of credibility Aslan may have entertained starting the article was quickly dashed when he erroneously postulates “..parallels with religious fundamentalism are obvious and startling: the conviction that they are in sole possession of truth (scientific or otherwise)..” where neither science or secularism has ever made such claims.If you’re familiar with Reza Aslan is the unwitting champion of anti-progress. He’ll argue otherwise passionately, but at the end of the day he clumsily overlooks he worked feverishly to indirectly legitimize inevitable and assured radical behavior based on the pretenses of improbability. Giving a demagogue like Aslan (who apparently isn’t even above lying, or at least extremely distorting) a soapbox emboldens religious intolerance and ignorance. Further, I would submit giving Aslan a platform is also a move towards impeding progressive and enlightened societal values by the WP, more so than it is in the interest of promoting plurality/diversity, anyway. It’s unfortunate, and certainly something I’m surprised to see, even in the On Faith section of the site. I hope it’s something they reconsider a little more carefully in the future.

  • samscram1

    Whenever I read these “debates” as to the existence of gods, spooks, devils, ghosties, beasties and other aspects of the myths “created” to create voodoo of all kinds, I’m reminded of the centuries of torture and butchery perpetrated upon helpless human beings by the Thousand Year Reich, to elucidate the love of god and its present prostitution of human values, as it relates to to altar boys.Mark Twain observed:”Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.”or, perhaps a quote from the “horse’s mouth” is more apt: “When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11.

  • pathenry

    See/Read Joseph Campbell-The research is done. The human problem is self-centedrness :

  • Secular

    Mr. Aslan, is trying to be very coy from the very first sentence of this intellectually feeble article. Those buses have been plying the streets of London for nearly two years and he is writing this article now, as though it is a breaking news.Next Mr. Aslan claims, that Dawkins et al do not have deep knowledge of religion and its writings hence disqualified to write about them. What a bunch of crock. How much deep knowledge one needs to have about Alchemistry to know that is crockfull of crap. Religion sits on just as strong a foundation as Alchemistry. When chemistry came along it was not necessary to the critics of Alchemistry to be knowledgeable about the plethora of recipes to make gold out of lead to criticize the very foundations of it. We are challenging the very foundations of the bronze age superstitions call religions. For this we do not need to appreciate the nuanced differences between various superstitions the religions postulate. They are irrelevant to the core of the debate between us the Secularists and the religious pious. You delusional credulous theists are quick to make us look like we are the absolutists

  • SharptonVoter

    “One should be able to recognize the diverse ways in which the universal recognition of human contingency, finitude, and material existence has become formalized through ecclesiastical institutions and dogmatic formulae.”One should exhibit the facility to converse with individuals outside one’s parochial subject of proficiency without undue obfuscation.

  • dicklongshot

    Reza is right that some, like Dawkins, simplify religion way too much at times and group all forms of religion into one oversimplified category (this is afterall a man career skill of zoologists, like Dawkins). The irony is that Reza does the same thing by lumping Dawkins in with Dennett, a man whose entire career has dealt with the nuances of defining and dealing with the philosophical difficulties of studying religion (the career of a philosopher of religion). It’s odd that Reza would write an entire column about ignorance and simple minded views, while basing his entire premise on his own simple mindedness and ignorance.

  • dennob

    gods have been worshiped since the dawn of civilization. Today’s religions and their gods are products of the evolution of mythology, co-opted by individuals and groups to serve their own needs of power and control.

  • andrew23boyle

    The problem with the “Faithful” is not that they’re close-minded. In fact, it’s nearly the opposite: they’re willing to believe ANYTHING at all. They lack discrimination.Faith is belief in the absence of reason. Once it becomes possible for one to belief in things without reason, it becomes possible to believe in ANYTHING without reason.Usually, these irrational beliefs are fairly benign. There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of heaven, for example, but usually belief in it does nothing worse than bring some comfort to people who can’t deal with their own mortality.The problem is that if one can be convinced with no evidence at all that one goes to an invisible, magic happy-land after one dies as long as one does what a ubiquitous, immortal ghost asks one to do, one can be convinced of pretty much anything with no evidence at all. It’s not really too big a step from convincing someone that they need to say their prayers or stay away from pork in order to gain entry to eternal paradise to convincing them that murdering infidels is the ticket to ever-lasting bliss. After all, there is really no better evidence for either notion. Both posit a goal, heaven, that cannot be rationally demonstrated to even exist. Both posit a method of achieving that goal that is derived from peoples’ interpretation of vague and imprecise books penned centuries and subsequently translated and copied time and again. Since there is no rational evidence, no REASON, to believe in ANY of this, the terrorist method of finding heaven is just as valid as the praying method, at least in point of evidence. Furthermore, since both views are based of faith rather than reason, there is no way to rationally compare them or to prove one is the correct method using logical arguments. Rather, faithful people will just believe whatever “interpretation” of “holy” texts appeals to them and we ALL know that these vague “scripture” can be creatively interpreted to justify ANYTHING from fascism to anarchism, slavery to abolition, homophobia to homosexuality and so on.The danger in faith is not that the faithful are close-minded. Some are, some are not. ALL of them, however, lack to a greater or lesser degree the intellectual discrimination that is necessary to prefer reason to faith and believe what can be rationally demonstrated, no matter how unpleasant, BECAUSE it is rational rather than believe what is desirable because it makes them feel safe, happy or powerful.

  • areyousaying

    proselytizing atheism is an oxymormon

  • PSolus

    “Evolutionists who practice Evolutionism…”How, exactly, does one “practice Evolution”?

  • edbyronadams

    “How, exactly, does one “practice Evolution”?”Either lead copies of your genome to succeeding generations or don’t.

  • persiflage

    ‘You can’t argue with idiots. They almost got no brains.’Does that include the idiots in your country too, or just us American idiots? Your use of English long ago gave you away as not being ‘from around these parts’. Still, foreigners are entitled to stupid opinions just like anyone else.

  • docfreddy

    Like all things in life there are degrees and nuances of course….Are they all just varied, culturally influenced expressions based on our human ‘bio/neuro-theology’ at play? (see Matthew Alper’s ‘The God Parts Of The Brain”). Currently a huge area of interesting research. As no surprise to all of us, it has been shown all too clearly, that our species has a pathological predilection to accept any ‘junk’ theory vs. no theory at all regarding most phenomena. Unfortunately, I have witnessed that most ‘spiritual’ pseudo-explanations of anything are usually silly demonstrations of wishful thinking, solipsism, and anthropomorphic tendencies. Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett all too eloquently expose this, which drives most theists crazy.As far as anything ‘good’ that can be extracted out of these MAN-MADE scriptures of the Iron Age…. well….all of that is already inherent in our bio-wiring and precedes any texts. Even the gold standard of the Bible – THE GOLDEN RULE – was uttered by Confucius (almost word for word), as well as many philosophers, mystics, and grand thinkers centuries before organized religion. It’s humans that put the ‘good’ (and bad) in the Good Book, never the other way around.However bright and articulate Reza Aslan is his consciousness is so clouded by these ancient fairy tales, and by his psychological need to apologetically rant on regarding monotheism, that he inadvertently insults his own intellectual gifts and powers of discrimination.

  • spidermean2

    “25 Jul 2007 … Report: Man with Almost No Brain Has Led Normal Life, French doctors say”So what’s wrong with “almost got no brains”, idiot?

  • PSolus

    “…Dawkins’ belief that evolution science should be taught to youngsters before they learn religion from their parents.”Has he proposed that children be taken away from their parents, taught evolution science, and then returned to their parents, before the parents get a chance to teach them about jebus?”It’s an effort by evolutionists to indoctrinate future generations to their way of thinking.”As opposed to religionists indoctrinating future generations to their way of thinking?”…religious beliefs are held by 98% of the population on earth…”If this is true, why do you fear science?

  • spidermean2

    “If this is true, why do you fear science?”Let your stupid “science” explain how your idiotic brains evolved from soil first. Show us the algorithm and not the “poem”. All talk but no equations. Silly.

  • cornbread_r2

    Now you cite lower court language to offset Supreme Court language, which is misleading to readers, and you cite its interpretive authority as Wikipedia. Wikipedia is known to be badly slanted and often incomplete, especially on controversial topics. Refusal of the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from a lower court isn’t the same as a direct endorsement. blasmaic The interpretive authority isn’t Wikipedia, the interpretive authority is the There are many similarities between Evolutionism and religion. When cornered with glaring contradictory evidence, evolutionists will say that eventually science will explain it.

    You have glaring contradictory Capitalizing the word “evolution” and putting an “ism” on the end of it does not make it a religion.Finally, I’d ask for an apology for twice implying that I’m a liar, but in view of all of the above, I sincerely doubt that you’d ever admit you’re wrong.

  • cornbread_r2

    lol @ “best design wins.”

  • spidermean2

    Cornbread wrote “The mountain of data supporting evolution can be overturned tomorrow with contravening data.”These people are truly crazy. Mountains of POEM supporting evolution is astounding. You can’t overturn mountains of poems.

  • smt123

    Aslan says only scholars who have studied religion can can criticize it.It is true that one must study a field to criticize it’s details. For example it is impossible to truly criticize string theory without being a physicist.But atheists are not criticizing the details of a religion. They are questioning the very foundation of it- the belief in the supernatural for which there is no evidence.On the other hand the basis for physics and biology and science in general is basically “things are real and worth studying and evidence matters.” A very different foundation that is much more difficult to criticize.It’s amazing how someone who is obviously intelligent like Aslan can write such drivel. But I guess it’s not that surprising when you realize that seeing through the fallacy of religion doesn’t require special intelligence, it requires courage.

  • spidermean2

    You can’t argue with idiots.There is no God because no Intelligence is needed to create brains of humans. They just formed all by themselves controlling the eyes, breathing, hearing, smell, taste, and a hundred more functions. It’s all done by SOIL MAGIC.You can’t argue with idiots. They almost got no brains.

  • spidermean2

    I wonder how these people reached college when their logical thinking is as low as the moronic level.

  • persiflage

    ‘So what’s wrong with “almost got no brains”, idiot?’Pretty much everything – but primarily, the fault lies with the brain that formed the statement, and then was dumb enough to ask the follow-up question….This is what happens when brains turn to mush with the fever of a fundamentalist meltdown. What’s next? Speaking in tongues??

  • persiflage

    ‘So what’s wrong with “almost got no brains”, idiot?’Pretty much everything – but primarily, the fault lies with the brain that formed the statement, and then was dumb enough to ask the follow-up question….This is what happens when brains turn to mush with the fever of a fundamentalist meltdown. What’s next? Speaking in tongues??

  • PSolus

    “It’s religion packaged as science in order to receive public funding that worries me.”You are not alone; creationism and intelligent design worry many people.Not me, however; I think that kids should be exposed to ignorance and superstition at an early age.After all, by you own count, 98% of the people in this world are ignorant and superstitious.Unfortunately, they have to live in this world.It’s better to inoculate at least some of the kids against this ignorance and superstition instead of hiding it from them, and leaving them defenseless when they grow up.

  • spidermean2

    Persiflage,I can see that you have some poetic talent. Your brain is full of poems that you left no room for logic. How did you reach college anyway? How many math subjects you skipped?

  • david13z1

    Believers and non-believers ask many of the same questions. Why are we here and where did we come from and what happens when we die. Neither side can adequately answer these questions. The believer’s claim to know the answers and fall back on “god did it” when pressed. It’s the adult equivalent to “because I said so”. The difference with non-believers is they don’t accept a supernatural reason for everything.That’s it in a nutshell. Either you have the answer to every question or you have questions that may never be answered. Either way, the name calling back and forth only cheapens the dialogue.

  • spidermean2

    Intelligent Design Fools are allergic to the word intelligent. Why don’t we drop the word intelligent to lessen the fear of these idiotic fools?Why can’t they understand that the brain is intelligent. Oh I forgot, their brains are not intelligent. Now we know why their brains can be formed without intelligence.

  • spidermean2

    The brain is so intelligent that it controls every functions in our body like our vision, taste, breathing, heartbeat, smell, hearing and a hundred more functions.It performs “multi-tasking” when the word was not even invented yet.A very intelligent “device” must come from a very intelligent maker. Unless you have a DUMB BRAIN, this is not so hard to understand.Sad because a lot of people has self-inflicted DUMB BRAINS. I don’t want to use the word evolve but that is what happened to their brains. It evolved into DUMB BRAINS.

  • Jihadist

    Evolutionists who practice Evolutionism…””How, exactly, does one “practice Evolution”?Posted by: PSolus******************************************”Evolutionists who practice Evolutionism…”are those who evolved from:- reading Mad Magazine to reading Shakespeare- listening to Lady Ga Ga to listening to Beethoven- wearing polyester to wearing cotton, wool and silk- saying “like, you know, I mean right?” to speaking actual comprehensible – eating with bare hands to using forks and spoons and chopsticks- swinging tree to tree to walking to get about. All the above requires practice, practice, practice, including to get to Carnegie Hall.

  • docfreddy

    Can Reza Aslan be so blind and/or ignorant to dismiss all of the scholarly writing on this subject by ex-evangelists, ex-clergy, and ex-theologians, even ex-apologists?!Has he never read Dan Barker (Losing Faith in Faith), John Loftus (The Christian Delusion), Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus), and others that know this ‘discipline’ more thoroughly then he can even hope to?

  • persiflage

    ‘Sad because a lot of people has self-inflicted DUMB BRAINS. I don’t want to use the word evolve but that is what happened to their brains. It evolved into DUMB BRAINS.’Now I ask you, who sounds dumb here? This sounds like a case of ‘soil for brains’ or something close to that……

  • exhoicat

    There were/are two main purposes behind the bus sign and billboard campaigns in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere: to get people to maybe stop and THINK about what they believe, and why they believe it, and to let the millions of still-closeted atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and doubters know that they are NOT alone. If the signs also give someone a giggle, good! Laughter is good for the body, and a potent weapon against tyrrany of all kinds.

  • Rongoklunk

    One day – I like to think – there will be a law against childhood religious indoctrination. Such a day may be a long way off. But if and when it happens – religion will become as powerful and as influential as tea-leaf reading. It’s in childhood that religion takes hold of a person with all the strength of hypnosis, and one is forever in its grip.As far as we know there are no gods and never were. To raise children to believe that a god or gods really and truly exist up in the sky somewhere has been the cause of all kinds of problems – including wars, burnings, torture, hate and prejudice, suicide bombings and other outrageous acts of martyrdom to please or placate some god or other.Religion is a curse on society and on the way people think. The least we can do is to stop telling our children that there is a god, and allow them to grow up clear minded and free of ancient and agonizing superstitions.

  • docfreddy

    hello Rongoklunk… like what you stated below – here’s one of my favorite quotes from a wise old sage… enjoy:”Nobody should be conditioned from childhood about any religion, any philosophy, any theology, because you are destroying their freedom of search. Help them to be strong enough. Help them to be strong enough to doubt, to be skeptical about all that is believed all around them. Help them never to believe, but to insist on knowing. And whatever it takes, however long it takes, to go for the pilgrimage alone, on their own, because there is no other way to find the truth.

  • Rongoklunk

    docfreddy Thanks doc. Interesting ideas. Sounds like something from Buddhism. And who is Osho?Yes I agree that childhood is a time of exploration, and juggling ideas, and testing things out; a time to be curious and a time to wonder. Pity to spoil it all with religious indoctrination and filling a child’s head with ancient and silly superstitions, which stifle wonder and kill curiosity.Thanks again.

  • cornbread_r2

    Perhaps the clearest indication that Mr. Aslan doesn’t understand the positions of the people he writes about is that, as I far I know, all of these men (and likely the average atheist) has acknowledged the importance of the role of religion in society and some (Dawkins and Dennett) have even advocated

  • Rongoklunk

    Persiflege;Thanks for the info on Osho. So that’s who he is. Still – I enjoyed his ideas on childhood quoted by Docfreddy. Ah well, as Joe E Brown said to Jack Lemmon at the end of the movie “Some Like It Hot”: Nobody’s perfect.Regards.

  • persiflage

    Rongoklunk, you’re dating yourself with the ‘Some Like It Hot’ reference! Joe E. Brown certainly could not have been referring to co-star Marilyn Monroe, who was everyone’s idea of ‘perfect’ back in the day…..the days of great movies and truly unforgettable actors, that is. Those were the days, weren’t they?!best regards

  • gimpi

    The quote you use was a footnote of one judge expressing his beliefs regarding non-theistic religions and philosophies. (Many people use the words interchangeably.) It was not a part of case-law. I think you know that. You say your beliefs may stop you from lying outright, but they appear to let you dance pretty fast around the whole truth. Your original statements implied that there had been a case argued before the supreme court that specifically decided that secular humanism was a religion. There has been no such case. In my opinion, you, not Cornbread was being deceptive, The best I can say is perhaps you didn’t mean to be. You also keep repeating the “Hitler was an atheist” statement, after being specifically corrected. He, in fact, professed Christianity. He most likely did so to appeal to his mostly Lutheran German electorate, but he professed Christianity none the less. This fact is easily verified. As well, the whole anti-Semitic nightmare that made the Holocaust possible was founded in European Christian anti-Semitic beliefs. Ignoring easily verifiable facts such as these is also a form of deception.You then cite the “unholy trio” of Mao, Stalin and Hitler and their appalling body-counts, without taking note of the time (the 20th century) and the technology they unfortunately had at their disposal. What do you think 14th century Spain would have done with tanks, machine-guns, air power and block-buster bombs? Again, to my mind, by not taking that fact into account, you are somehow trying to imply that these tyrants were worse than earlier Christian dictators rather than acknowledging that they simply had access to better technology of destruction. To me, that is another act of deception.You say your “invisible friend” (your words) won’t allow you to lie. You try to imply a moral high-ground. From where I sit, you don’t appear to inhabit it.

  • spidermean2

    The brain is so powerful that it can even evolve into becoming DUMB. Just observe how atheists think. No wonder they equate themselves with animals or even bacteria. They are even dumber than the animals they think they evolved from.How can they not see the reality that the brain is a multi-tasking intelligent “device”. The brain is so intelligent that it controls every functions in our body like our vision, taste, breathing, heartbeat, smell, hearing and a hundred more functions.It performs “multi-tasking” when the word was not even invented yet.A very intelligent “device” must come from a very intelligent maker. Unless you have a DUMB BRAIN, this is not so hard to understand.Sad because a lot of people has self-inflicted DUMB BRAINS. I don’t want to use the word evolve but that is what happened to their brains. It evolved into DUMB BRAINS.As I’ve said , you can’t argue with FOOLS.”The FOOL hath said in his heart that there is no God” FOOOOOOOLS!!

  • spidermean2

    I hope somebody would compile all the atheists thoughts in these blogs. Make a book and title it :WHAT WERE THE DUMMIES THINKING BEFORE THEY SELF-DESTRUCTED.It could have been an all-time bestseller today if somebody wrote during the time of Abraham a book entitled :WHAT WERE THE SODOMITES THINKING BEFORE THEY WERE DESTROYED.

  • PSolus

    “WHAT WERE THE SODOMITES THINKING BEFORE THEY WERE DESTROYED.”This is just a guess, but:”oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god,…”

  • PSolus

    Weird!

  • spidermean2

    The inputs Persiflage and Psolus just posted gives me an idea that for a brain to evolve into a DUMB BRAIN, the person must be thinking about sex and sodomy all the time.Thanks guys.

  • PSolus

    “Thanks guys.”You’re welcome.

  • Rongoklunk

    Persiflege;Yes you got me, a true movie buff. On The Waterfront, Streetcar, From Here To Eternity, even Ben-Hur. So I’m dating myself. Hey, these films can still be seen on TCM. Last week I saw a wonderful silent film from 1926 called Orphans of The Storm with Lilian Gish, directed by D.W.Griffiths.

  • stanisloski

    Reza Aslan, & the book this essay is found in, derives from but one, post-modernist ideology within respective religions. For example, with Christianity it imagines a golden age, when the religion was actually pro-gay, but fundamenatlism twisted & supressed this “truth”. In reality, the Jewish & Christian Bibles have been interpreted as anti-gay up until the 20th Century when the culture became more tolerant. Coincidence or just a massive rationalization? Churches & synagogues with this ideology are dying by the dozens, & their Muslim counterparts can be found, almost entirely, in NON-MUSLIM nations. They are completely impotent to stop their more conservative counterparts, so they direct their attention to the “new atheists” who have broken their most sacred of commandments: “Don’t attack fellow liberals”. The “new atheists” are actually far more diverse politically than their critics (another sore point with liberals who saw them as a sure vote). As result of all this, Reza’s collegues have sunk to adopting old, disproven insults, from fundamentalists. Yes, Stalin & Mao were probably atheists, but never did they say they performed their attrocities “in the name of atheism”. This hypocrisy of labeling of lumping all atheists together, distinguishes them from “new atheists” who merely see many religious TEXTS as a good source for much the social ills resulting. The worst attrocity one can expect from a “new atheist” is a T-shirt & a snarky remark. Indeed, liberal institutions like the ACLU & even the civil rights movement, had communist & socialist origins. The founder of Planned Parenthood advocated eugeneics! Truth be told, “old atheists” like Madalyn Murray O’Hair would have seen even a Christopher Hitchens as mild! What disturbs post-modernist believers, like Aslan, is the new atheists’ success. They are providing a viable alternative to themselves as the opposition for fundamentalists at a time when they are already dying out.

  • MBDowd

    I have a somewhat different take on the New Atheists. I sincerely thank God for them and see them as playing a prophetic role – helping religions to evolve from the place of primarily valuing ancient maps of what’s real and what’s important to valuing our best evidential understanding of “how things are” and “which things matter”. I’ve written and spoken quite a bit about this lately. For those interested see the following: “THANK GOD FOR THE NEW ATHEISTS!””DARWIN DIDN’T KILL GOD, HE REAL-IZED GOD”

  • MBDowd

    I have a very different take on the New Atheists. I genuinely thank God for them and see them playing an essential and prophetic role of forcing religions to evolve – from thinking that our best sense of “what’s real” and “what’s important” come from old books, to realizing that historical, scientific, and cross-cultural evidence (humanity’s collective intelligence) in fact, provides the best sense of “how things are” and “which things matter”. For those interested, see here:Thank God for the New Atheists!Darwin Didn’t Kill God, He REALized God

  • rustywheeler

    Loved this from GREESTHEMAN:”I can assure you, you won’t change my mind.”Now THAT’S a True Believer®.

  • blasmaic

    “In my opinion, you, not Cornbread was being deceptive, The best I can say is perhaps you didn’t mean to be.”Well, deceptiveness requires intent. And it isn’t my intent to be deceptive. The thread on the supreme court case goes back quite a distance, and you’re refuting things I haven’t asserted. My deceptiveness, if it occurs, would be a sin. Your deceptiveness, if it occurs, is as natural as a predator’s camoflage.Your point about the role of technology in the 20th century’s mass murders is a good one. Your point about the role of Christianity in the Holocaust isn’t solid though. To the extent that it was caused by Christians, the Holocaust was caused by Christians who rejected the morals of their faith. Atheists have only secular law to deter their worst conduct, and the secular laws of Nazi Germany permitted the Holocaust.I don’t attempt to occupy the high moral ground. I occupy the only moral ground. The highest moral ground that Darwinism can claim is the law of the jungle.

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Atheists have only secular law to deter their worst conduct,…”Really?How, exactly, do you know this?Are you an atheist?

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”The highest moral ground that Darwinism can claim is the law of the jungle.”What, exactly, is “Darwinism”?

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”I don’t attempt to occupy the high moral ground. I occupy the only moral ground.”Doesn’t leave any room for anyone else, does it?

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Can you share on all the sources of deterrence that, in your view, might impact an atheist one way or another?”Nope.I can’t speak for atheists any more than I can for theists; I’d rather let each of them speak for themselves.Otherwise, I might say something, uh… unwise.

  • CalicoJ

    @ info53No, I don’t expect any theist will listen to me make my case and suddenly convert. I think you’re missing the larger tactical picture here–if children hear nothing by Billy Graham, nothing but their parents raging against those who have fallen from the straight and narrow, just how many Atheists will there be in another hundred years? Will there still be any national organizations like American Atheists? And what of fundamentalism’s ever-growing impact on politics? With religion actively attempting to stamp out Atheism, staying quiet is a good way to wake up one morning and find the National Day of Prayer is mandatory this year. At least make enough noise to let the next generation know there are other viewpoints in the world, for cryin’ out loud.

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Please clarify if you feel I’ve used a term imprecisely.”I really don’t know what it means; for example, if you were to use the words “Newtonism”, “Planckism”, “Einsteinism”, or “Lorentzism”, I would have no idea what you were talking about.

  • cornbread_r2

    Pity the Decalogue doesn’t prohibit self-deception.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    As all the many religons trudge on their many paths to the summit of the mountain, it is safe to say that in their quest for transcendent knowledge of man and the universe, they all have a single universal truth that we can celebrate as the unifyer of all mankind:HATE THE GAYS.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    To be fundamentlist, you have to hate the gays. It is because God has told you to. And if you do not obey God and hate them, then there can be some big trouble. Sort of like Tom Sawyer, when he decided to help the runaway slave, Jim, even though he knew he would go to Hell for doing so. Study, study, study, and get a PhD in religion. You will find that most of it is speculative, except for one fundamental truth: HATE THE GAYS; that is universal, AND it is easy. And if you don’t, big, big trouble awaits you, up ahead.How can atheists be fudnamentalist, when they don’t hate the gays? That doesn’t make sense. Of all the transcendent experiences of religion, the most transcendentest one of all is the realization that gay people are an abomination and disordered, and they can’t be fixed, converted, or helped, just reviled, ostracized, punished, imprisoned, and killed. Even Hitler, Stalin, and Mao knew this. Maybe they weren’t completely bad, after all, were they? because they were in complete and total agreement with established religious tradtion and authoristy: HATE THE GAYS.Don’t enjoy your life; spend it working against the gays.Do it for with a cross, a cresecent, or a swastika hanging on a chain around your neck, but just do it, and your life will have meaning. Do it with a smile on your face and a song in your heart; hold hands and sing songs as you get rid of the gays. Push them back in the closet and if they won’t go, then toss them in the ovens.How can atheists be fundamentalists? I just don’t see it.

  • Secular

    Blasmaic, display of ignorance is in full display. You are conflating evolution with morals. Just as Theory of Gravitation, or Quantum Theory do not provide any guidance to morality and ethics neither doe Theory of Evolution. All these theories under the weight of enormous evidence explain how the nature works or has worked in the past. Nothing more and nothing less. In fact using if we were to try to find guidance in Evolution at best it will be a benign guide and worst a really terrible guide, almost as bad as your Bible or your Koran or for that matter any other book of fables.How do we get our morals from, from human zeitgeist. By that I mean by consensus by slow and incremental means. If we were to follow from your book of fables, half the women in America would have to be stoned to death, for not being virgins at the time of their nuptials. Is that the type of morality you wish upon your daughters? We would also be holding slaves, keep harems, and selling rotten meat to the strangers. It is the zeitgeist that has changed all that. It will continue to do so. Does this clear it up for you? Now that you have been reassured do you want to come over, leave those books of fables behind?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    BlasmaicScience is not a religion. If someone worships science, whatever that would mean, then that is not science. What you call “Darwininsm” is not science; if someone says thay are a Darwinist, then that has nothing to do with science, but who calls themselves a Darwinist? Nobody! That is NOT what people call themselves, but what people GET CALLED by people like you.You seem to think that science is a fraud and basically untrue. Is that really what you mean? If so, then your credibility on just about anything else is Zero.

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Evolutionists can (and sometimes do) practice a religion of science just like artists can fall in love with their models.”How do you know this?Are you an “Evolutionist”?What, exactly, is an “Evolutionist”?Are there also “Gravitationists”, “Electromagnetists”, “Thermodynamists”, “Quantamists”, “Stringists”?And, what’s wrong with an artist falling in love with a model?And, what has that to do with atheism?

  • cornbread_r2

    …deception for an evolutionist is as natural as a predator’s camoflage. Human beings aren’t born as “evolutionists”, but as we’re constantly told by theists on these pages, we

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,My research on the Internet indicates that “Darwinism”, “Darwinist”, and “Evolutionist” are words that are used by uneducated people to criticize a branch of science that they do not understand, but that they seem to fear.So, my guess is, you are using both words correctly.Congratulations.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    So, Evoluionism is a religion?What about Geologism? Is that a religion, too? What about Astronomism? Thermodymanicism? Acousticism? Chemistyism? Neurobiologism? Wow, there are sure a lot of religions in science. What asout Spectroscopism? And of course the big one, the biggest fraud of all: Physicsism! Maybe all those scientific equations don’t even mean anything; maybe they’re all just lies; maybe God just makes scientists think science is true, and then he makes scientific things just happen by magic, to fool us all.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    What is considered “unbelief?” Any kind of philophical questioning, that deviates from orthodox, standard, common, or folk relgious belief.But some people have a philosophical take on things; that is how they are made; and such people question the religion that the previous generation hands to them; and this questioning leads them towards various modes of philophical specualtions, which may diverge from religion and may conflict with religion. Such people are born to speculate thus, and so become known as “free thinkers.”Free thinkers have a difficult time in a world in which it is politically incorrect to be an unbeliever. Atheists are such free thinkers, and religious people look down with contempt and scorn, on atheists. Christians, for the most part, do not even pretend to love atheists; they do not try to understand atheists, but simply mock them and belittle them. So, if atheists, in their frustartion react and push back, I do not think anyone should wonder why.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    There is no methodical or organized way to form a valid image of the world that we inhabit; we form it creatively, by gathering “chunks of knowledge” strewn throughout the landscape of experience, placed there through centuries of writing, study, experience, and science; and we take these chunks of knowledge and arrange them around in our minds, this way and that, as an artist would do, until one way seems better and more satisfying than all the rest. But we keep gathering more and more chunks of knowledge, as we go through our lives, and we have to fit them in somehow to our scheme of the world, sometimes, to modify and embellish, what we already know, sometimes to radically rearrange, and make something new the centerpeice of our thinking. There is no natural law, no laws of nature or of science; there is not even any such thing as nature. There is no such thing as chaos, nor even of randomness. Our sense of a moral law or a law of nature, or laws of science is a metaphorical comparison to animal experiences of causation, to which we impart a real existence but which, it seems, have no real aspect at all, except within the consciousness of man, demonstating the the enigma of a self-aware intelligence in an animal body able to sense of local landscape experience.Instead, there is order, pure order which defines all that is; and all, that is, reflects this order, a pure order, undesigned, without justification, or laws; nothing causes anything else to be, but all things that exist define themselves by the fact of existence.The pure order of the universe does not cause anything to happen but, rather defines everything that is. There can be no intelligent designer, for that pre-supposes an intelligent design, and there is no reason to suppose that anything has been intelligently designed. All that we are and have become, our evolutionary ascent from the lower animals, was already defined by the pure order of all that is and has always been. All that we humans create by our own intelligent design is in reality, merely our deciphering of a pure order which defines our being, and which we merely discover.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Wow, my last one was posted purely by mistake; I was doing some cutting and pasting to try and pull out a couple of thoughts from a previous post on an earlier thread, and poof, it just got posted. I guess I still don’t know how to work this crazy thing.

  • 1FLWB2

    Methinks that Aslan is simply justifying the books that create a tidy paycheck.Nothing more and nothing less. Typical in today’s society. Create a stir among the least educated, sell some books (which I find a delicious irony) and then the more notoriety, the higher the speaking engagement fees. (Sarah Palin anyone?)I deplore the term “New Atheist” it is a misnomer. It really is “Vocal Atheist”. With the new religious fundamentalist wave attacking our secular societies it is simply a matter of the secular folks wanting to keep the status quo. I don’t begrudge another their religiom. Yet I do feel sorry for them that their lives require having blind faith in an imaginary friend.Provide some testable evidence and I would be convinced. But since I have studied so much history of the Abrahamic religions I know for certain that it is all a man-made method of justification and control.It is one of the oldest con games in the known universe. The proof is in the teaching. Especially the most basic tenent which cannot be proven without death. Nice little grift huh?

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”And yet the evolution record is repleat with errors and outright frauds.”What, exactly, is “the evolution record”?What, exactly, are the “errors”?What, exactly, are the “outright frauds”?

  • 1FLWB2

    blasmaic,You do have a tendencey to blather on about something you really know very little.I commend you in having so forthright an attitude about your own ignorance.Every time you post you prove the point of those you so oppose.Bravo!

  • 1FLWB2

    blasmaic,Congratulations for having the unwavering courage to intone on and on about a subject you obviously know so little.I applaud your tenacity and precise display of the Dunning-Kruger effect.Bravo!

  • gimpi

    Blasmaic,Thank you for your response. I’m a bit confused. If you weren’t trying to assert that secular humanists had been found to be practicing a religion, as defined by law, what were you asserting? Frankly, the footnote you cited doesn’t seem to have any meaning, unless that was your point. Since that point clearly wasn’t true, citing the note seemed like the classic “telling only the part of the story that supports your stance” form of deception. If that wasn’t your goal, what were you trying to say?As to the Holocaust, I can provide many references to the massive anti-Semitism of the Christian Church, up through the early 20th century. Jewish people were one of the major targets of the Inquisition. The whole ghetto system was lifted directly from medieval practices in Christian city-states. Jews were banned from working in most trades, had to pay special taxes and were regularly accused of ridiculous crimes. (The whole Despotic leaders (and some non-despotic ones) have often targeted unpopular groups, diverting blame to them for problems either of the leader’s making or beyond his control. Sadly, it generally works, but only if the general populace is predisposed to dislike and distrust the targeted group. That’s where the Christian history of anti-Semitism came into play. It’s what made the whole scam work. As to the Christian people who fell for the “scapegoat” scam and turned on the group being targeted, yes, they didn’t live up to the best aspects of their faith. They lived up to the worst ones. And they weren’t the first, of any faith, to do that.Do you really believe only your group can be ethical? That seems to be a bit much. There are many people, with many and diverse opinions, but only those who mirror yours can be counted among the few moral people in the whole world? Yikes! I try to follow the basic “golden rule” without all the baggage about sexuality, food, or clothing that many religions bring to the table. It seems to work fine.

  • rentianxiang

    It is obvious that, besides citing the names of several famous intellectuals, Reza offers nothing in this article that adds to the debate nor detracts at all from the validity of the atheists positions. The reason why atheism is growing in popularity, whether the religious apologists want to admit it or not, is that their arguments are more convincing.

  • dangeroustalk

    Is atheism a religion?Read the rest of this article:

  • JPDG

    There are no atheists, only idolaters. Peace, -JPDG

  • PSolus

    JPDG,”There are no atheists, only idolaters. Peace, -JPDG”Don’t forget the fornicators. Groovey, -PSolus

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Part 2What specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature does Evolution make, that distinguish it as a religion? … what are its sacred scriptures, what kind of prayers are said as part of Evolutionist belief? … what are the rituals of the Evolutionist religion? … what are the religious laws of Evolution? … what kinds of buildings do the Evolutionists meet in to say their prayers? … what are the ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology of Evolutionism? … have any Evolutionists ever knocked on the door of your home at mealtime to talk about Evolution, and to see if you might be interested in joining and asking your for a donation, and leaving some Evolutionist literature for you to read, and a number for you to contact them? … do Evolutionists tell you about their personal faith and and about their mystic experiences associated with Evolution?Science is not a religion and Evolution is not a religion. There is a great deal of philosophical speculation about the meaning of sciene in the human experience and why it is possible in the physical world, even among scientists themselves, but THAT is not the same thing as science.Most of what you confuse as Evolutionary religion is actually a kind of philosophical speculation. Science can be true and Evolution can be true, without reference to moral values. In fact, the exploration of morality and ethics is philosophy; supposing cosmic laws of morality laid down by God, is religion. Science cannot be judged by its failure to comment on moral values, since that is not the goal or objective of scientific inquirey.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    BlasmaicPart 1Some definitions:RELIGION … PHILOSOPHY …SCIENCE … Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as Evolution-ism or Darwinism; and there are not very many people with the job title “Evolutionary Scientist.” When you say “Evoltionism,” I must infer that you are conflating science and religion, and when people like you say “Darwinism,” I must infer that you are conflating science and philsophy. (Conflation means, regarding two different things, ususally mistankenly, as a single thing).Evoltuion is not a religion; science is not a religion. Repeating this error endlessly does not make it so.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Religion is handed to you to believe or nor, by the previous generation that defines your culture. It is based on theology, written down by other people, from other times. Philosophy is conscious speculation. You can read it in books, or make up your own, creatively. Speculation about the nature of existence, is a parrticular interest that some people have, and others do not have. If you don’t have this interest, then you are likely to be a standard believer of some sort; because it is too much trouble to work out your own thoughts, and then to try and persuade others, and then to find your own niche, that may be culturally unacceptable.But if you have a bent towards philosophical speculation and exploration, you are sure to end up with a reputation, at the very least, of a “Bohemian” free-thinker, but maybe even worse, as a God-less atheistic threat to national security.So, I think people are pretty much fixed in their religious views, as either being of a religous nature, or of a philosophical nature. And very few are the people who can be both, at the same time.But evolution is neither; it is science.

  • gimpi

    blasmaic,OK, I am now officially confused. In your first post, you did indeed seem to be saying the 1961 case regarding religious litmus tests for public office declared secular humanisim a religion. It was pointed out to you by myself and others that the decision in question said no such thing, that the footnote you cited represented one judge’s As to the “two obstacles” vs “three obstacles theory, there’s plenty of evidence that showes that’s not accurate. People who went to see accused heretics burned alive, and cheer the death of a former friend and neighbor did not believe they were turning their backs on their faith, they believed they were following it. Anyone can fall into cruelty and barbarism. There’s no evidence that religious folks are less likely to do so. Understanding the facts of biology certainly does not make you more likely to.

  • blasmaic

    Gimpi, Your analysis of the moral obstacles that block a person’s actions is no refutation of my assertions. You say religious believers have done terrible things in spite of their religious beliefs, or even because of their religious beliefs — that more harm has been done in the name of God than any other cause. Okay. More good has been done in the name of God than any other cause too. The omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent ancient imaginary friend does work as a deterrent to misconduct and an incentive to do good. Of course, religion can’t accomplish these things when atheistic leaders such as Stalin and Pol Pot are working to suppress through violence all religious belief. Religion may not live up to its ideals, but atheism fails humans even more surely.Ninety-eight percent of all humans hold some religious beliefs, although they may not believe in the great Robert E. Lee in the sky per se. Religion to the human is as natural as sex. Dawkins understands this, and that’s why he advocates for the teaching of evolution and atheism before children can receive religious instruction, actually other religious instruction.

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Religion to the human is as natural as sex.”And, it is usually practiced similarly; I won’t go into detail, but if you’ve ever had sex, you’ll know what I’m alluding to.

  • manofredearth

    The idea that one should arrive at atheism by scholarly means lest s/he be a “lazy” athiest is utter bunk perpetrated by the religious and unintelligent. This may come across as inflammatory, but it is a matter of fact: the burden of proof is on the one making the assertion in the positive. One proves many things in the same vein as a deity: fairies, ghosts, aliens, etc… but they all use the same procedures: piles of anecdotal stories, many which are blantantly contradictory, coupled with “I don’t have to PROVE it because I KNOW it.” Rubbish. Athiesm is the logical choice in an otherwise rational world and no one can say otherwise (or else present the evidence aside from all the logical fallicies presented up to this point).That being said, I’m not an athiest (so skip your clever yet ineffectual ad hominem attacks).

  • memew

    Wow, this column is a lot of babble. Trying to bind together the mutually exclusive creeds of a thousand faiths and reject the global attempts at syntheiszing an evidence-based worldview through science is absolutely beyond your skills.I had been urged to read one or two of your books, but given the inability to reason from facts in a short essay, I would not hold out any hope for what I might find for longer form efforts. I’ll pass on the books.

  • hightech2

    Humans can only flee from Inequality, in one place, to start it in another place. How much Inequality is there in the USA if we just open our eyes? Saying there is Equality in the USA or any Country, is not True. The Poor get Poorer and the Rich get Richer.

  • gimpi

    Blasmaic,Thank you for your response. You seem to have misunderstood. I do say that religious believers have done terrible things, but no more so than anyone else. Nowhere do I say that religion is responsible for more atrocities than anything else. Others may have, but I haven’t. In fact, that would be against my whole point. That point is that people are just people. Believing in a religion, any religion, or none, is no guarantee of good behavior or bad. Believers burned other believers at the stake because they believed God wanted them to. Believers flew planes into skyscrapers because they believed God wanted them to. And unbelievers savaged their compatriot because they believed it was the right thing to do. Certainty that you are right, a lack of doubt or humility and an inability to see the humanity in those you are set against, those are most often the killers. Believers are very capable of that kind of certainty. You seem to keep tossing out whole generalities (evolution is a religion, evolution is unproven, atheists are incapable of moral behavior and so on) without backing them up. I tried to back up my statements with historical evidence that is in general knowledge. Cornbread quoted the actual supreme court case you misrepresented. You have honestly responded to neither. Religious belief may or may not be

  • gimpi

    Blasmaic,Thank you for your response. You seem to have misunderstood. I do say that religious believers have done terrible things, but no more so than anyone else. Nowhere do I say that religion is responsible for more atrocities than anything else. Others may have, but I haven’t. In fact, that would be against my whole point. That point is that people are just people. Believing in a religion, any religion, or none, is no guarantee of good behavior or bad. Believers burned other believers at the stake because they believed God wanted them to. Believers flew planes into skyscrapers because they believed God wanted them to. And unbelievers savaged their compatriot because they believed it was the right thing to do. Certainty that you are right, a lack of doubt or humility and an inability to see the humanity in those you are set against, those are most often the killers. Believers are very capable of that kind of certainty. You seem to keep tossing out whole generalities (evolution is a religion, evolution is unproven, atheists are incapable of moral behavior and so on) without backing them up. I tried to back up my statements with historical evidence that is in general knowledge. Cornbread quoted the actual supreme court case you misrepresented. You have honestly responded to neither. Religious belief may or may not be

  • blasmaic

    Gimpi,I reject the negative things you said about me. A soft ad hominem attack is still an ad hominem attack. In truth, I could burn in flames for eternity if I were guilty of some of the things you accused me of. I know you don’t face any eternal penalty for wrongdoing, but please respect that I could before making groundless accusations.Dawkins’s desire to teach evolution to children before they have a chance to learn religion at home was a pretty specific example. Dawkins clearly wants evolution and atheism to supplant other religious beliefs, and he wants to achieve it by using the public school teacher to proselytize children to his own views.There is now even an effort among believers in evolutionism to identify some sort of altruism gene. They recognize the enormouse amount of progress and pure good that is attributable to people acting in accordance with their faiths. Atheist now accept that they must somehow co-opt goodness into their philosophy… that’s an example of how atheism is reshaping itself into a religion.Ninety-eight percent of all humans on earth hold religious beliefs. Religious belief is natural, and Dawkins now realizes he’ll have better luck spreading his gospel of atheistic evolution in the form of a religion that humans will accept. But Americans do not permit the teaching of religion in local public schools.The 1961 Torcaso v Wakins Supreme Court case clearly identified Secular Humanism as a religion for first amendment purposes. Let’s not have any misunderstanding on that point. The Supreme Court can change its mind, and when the lower court re-clarified the status of Secular Humanism in 1994, it did so by contrasting evolution science with creationism. Anytime I see evolution establishing its credibility in contrast the creationism, an alarm goes off. That’s because evolution science in truth is so weak that the only thing it can beat is Young Earth Creationism. Evolution science is a pair of dueces… and in my mind it takes Jacks or better to open.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    blasmaicWhat is Dawkins’s plan for teaching children about evolution before their parents teach them about religion? Is he going to setup seminars in the hospital nurery? You have some weird unreasonable fear about this.Evolution is a science. It is settled science. As with all of science, you are not required to believe it or buy into it. So don’t. The loss of knowledge is your own personal loss, and if you gon’t get it, then it is of no consequence to science or scientists.Science goes on its way, and cannot be influnced by personal political or religious prejudices or inlcinations.

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”Dawkins clearly wants evolution and atheism to supplant other religious beliefs, and he wants to achieve it by using the public school teacher to proselytize children to his own views.”I think you are being a little hysterical here.”There is now even an effort among believers in evolutionism to identify some sort of altruism gene. They recognize the enormouse amount of progress and pure good that is attributable to people acting in accordance with their faiths. Atheist now accept that they must somehow co-opt goodness into their philosophy… that’s an example of how atheism is reshaping itself into a religion.”OK, now I’m sure of it; you are being hysterical.”Anytime I see evolution establishing its credibility in contrast the creationism, an alarm goes off.”You have no reason to fear evolution theory.You are, however, free to do so, if you choose.

  • hightech2

    Teaching Children that Earth was Supernaturally Created by a Spirit God ‘in our image and likeness’, and made Eve from Adam’s Rib, can be Understood and accepted in Genesis 1,2, as the High Tech Science Colonization and Reproduction of Purebred Asexual/Celibate Male and Female Clones. What is ‘super’natural about that today with our High Tech … See MoreLabs? All this information was handed down to Body Birth Children, when Adam and Eve Asexual Clone Equal Helpmeets, with High Tech Science Eternal Physical Life, on Planets and in Spaceships, began Heterosexual and GLBT Body Birth Children, with Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth, and were Grounded. It’s in Genesis! Also ‘supernatural’ Myths about a High Tech Science Atlantis Civilization that split apart and sank under the sea, is also the Noah Flood recorded in Genesis 7,8, which records the windows of heaven broke open and the fountains of the deep broke open, and the Flood lasted 1 year, 1 month, and 27 days. It’s in Genesis! Why is it taught by … See Morereligion today as a 40 day local flood? Handed down to Children this way? How could Mount Ararat be under water and not the rest of the Planet? The Planetary Flood changed the Earth’s Axis, the Ice Crystal Canopy fell, the seasons began, rain and a rainbow began, and a new top soil littered with the Noah/Atlantis High Tech Society, megalithic ruins, bones, etc. The Ice Crystals are in Caves and is the Ice at Both New Poles and Glaciers.The Bible and Myth are full of Supernatural High Tech Science like today. It was on Earth ‘in the beginning’ and the Reproduction of the Female from the male Rib, and during the Noah/Atlantis Society, and again today.Life did not evolve to High Tech for the first time 100 years ago.

  • Akaei

    I tried to post a comment showing how Aslan was demonstrably wrong on many counts. They did not get published in the comments in this comment section (probably due to volume). But the comments can be read here:(In my best conspiracy theorist voice:) These are the comments THEY don’t want you to read, maaan.

  • matverberkt

    After reading the article (did some editor check some improper and incorrect statements?) and comments, I wonder why Americans all (pro & con) getting so spastic when even the word atheist is mentioned.

  • CalicoJ

    After re-reading this article again, I keep feeling like this Aslan dude just doesn’t get the New Atheism movement. First, he overgeneralizes what it is–as with any philosophical movement, it has varients and splinter groups. Secondly, he just gets insulting and biased right out of the box–I didn’t read much of anything along the lines of an attempt to explain the Atheist viewpoint anywhere in the article, he just attributes a variety of negatives to it as if they were fact, launches some insults, and moves on. This guy is clearly not someone to take seriously. The author of two bestselling books? How depressing.

  • trubble

    Wow, I guess journalists don’t feel the need to actually research their subject anymore.It’s so stuffed full of propogandic rubbish that there’s no point in highlighting the individual mistakes.Absolute drivel, and somehow the author still picks up work. Perhaps his prayers are answered, or maybe the devil really does look after his own. Either way, writing of this poor quality does nothing good for the WP.

  • Weep4Reason

    Amazing. I think Reza’s point is proven by the intolerant repertoire of comments generated here. It seems that everyone keeps confidently slandering him as a propagandist while they ironically give no cogent reasons for why this is so. It’s one thing to be angry because someone aired out your dirty laundry. It’s another to be childish about it . But hey, I guess this is what the new “Reason” is all about. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go pick up a Bible.

  • CalicoJ

    @ Weep4reasonI lodged two main complaints, explained why I thought thusly, and you then accuse people who dislike the article of never giving a cogent reason why they dislike it? Dude, in that one short paragraph, three-quarters of it was explaining why I disliked the article.I assure you, you are excused from the conversation. But I wouldn’t bother picking up the Bible–or any other book–until you’ve brushed up on your reading comprehension skills.