In a remarkably ignorant piece for the Bangor Daily News, writer Heather Denkmire makes the unjustified claim that “New Atheists” are “just as dangerous as the religious extremists they rail against.” As if vocal atheists are the ones murdering people who hold different beliefs or pushing policies to force their views upon everyone else.
And that’s just the problem with the headline.
She falls into the fallacy of saying that two people with opposing views, both of whom are confident and vocal, must be equally wrong. Just look at the lazy way she compares the two groups, “new atheists” and fundamentalist Christians:
Both depend on extremist and simplistic views of right and wrong, creating starkly defined roles of “us” and “them.” Both have visions of a great utopia, where only those who have the right beliefs will be saved. And the two groups are cartoonish versions of day-to-day moderate atheists and Christians. It’s ironic that these new, very vocal and fundamentalist atheists spend so much time arguing against religious beliefs when their own views are just as misguided, fantastical and harmful — just as religious, in a word — as those they claim are the source of all the world’s problems.
To quote Sam Harris, “There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.”
And think about what atheists tend to fight against: Faith-based discrimination against LGBT people. Faith-based legislation forcing women to have their rapists’ babies. Faith-based privilege for those who believe in a god.
These are perfectly justified, urging the government to maintain religious neutrality. It’s the religious extremists who want to impose their faith on the rest of us.
Claiming they are one and the same is as irresponsible as saying MSNBC and Fox News Channel display the same kinds of bias, but on different sides of the political spectrum. One side uses facts and reason; the other depends on lies and fear.
Denkmire also claims the New Atheists are harmful:
It is when those worldviews are taken to extremes — as “new atheist” leaders Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have done — that the real damage begins.
Just to state the obvious, those guys write books. They have ideas. At worst, Richard Dawkins writes sloppy tweets and Sam Harris makes controversial claims (which he’ll then freely debate and try to defend). The point is: you don’t have to like them or agree with them, but that’s it.
Meanwhile, the Religious Right has harmed public health through the opposition of comprehensive sex education, hurt science education in states where Creationism is given a backdoor into classrooms, and threatened our future through the denial of man’s contribution to climate change.
But sure, a careless tweet is just as bad.
It goes on like this for a while, as atheists are accused of thinking science is the solution to everything and advocating for “scientific racism.” The claims are so poorly defended that I’m tempted to believe CJ Werleman is writing under a pseudonym.
Either way, it’s appalling that the Daily News felt it was worthy of publishing.
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