And by atheist trolls, he really just means atheists.
Because they hurt his feelings when they say mean things about religion:
… it’s still amazing how people feel that they can casually mock the spiritual and emotional convictions of others — including Tweeting directly at believers that God doesn’t exist and they’re either liars or idiots for saying so. One man who does this with gay abandon is Richard Dawkins… A recent Tweet that caused a stir: “Don’t ask God to cure cancer & world poverty. He’s too busy finding you a parking space & fixing the weather for your barbecue.” Hilarious. Or on Islam: “Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist.”
Just to be clear, Dawkins either sends tweets to his followers or responds to people who say something directly to him. He’s not just finding random religious people on Twitter for the purpose of picking on them. (Stanley even acknowledges this.)
So what exactly is the problem…? It’s like being mad at the Pope for tweeting about Catholicism.
Those tweets of Dawkins strike me as pretty amusing while making simple, honest points.
Stanley later explains why he’s so offended:
When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a God without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy. You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return — perhaps the greatest, most wonderful discovery of my adult life. You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need — filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone. In short, when you try to destroy someone’s faith you’re not being a brilliant logician. You’re being a jerk.
In other words, Dawkins is challenging his faith and Stanley doesn’t like that. So he’s calling Dawkins a bully.
Here’s the difference between Stanley and Dawkins: Stanley wants to live in a fantasy world that comforts him. Dawkins wants to live in the real world even if that requires accepting some uncomfortable truths (like the fact that no one is watching over you).
Of course, Stanley could just stop following people who don’t agree with his superstitions, but why do that when you can complain about the mean atheists who poke holes in your faith?
It’s not “offensive” to call out bullshit. If you don’t like people mocking your beliefs, then stop holding silly beliefs. And if your faith is getting knocked around by pithy remarks on Twitter, maybe it was never very strong to begin with.
There is such a thing as trolling and bullying on Twitter. This isn’t it. This isn’t even close.