By Seth Richardson
If anyone were to wonder why it is that Atheists are disliked, mistrusted and marginalized, one need look no further than the Richard Dawkins Foundation website for salient examples. According to a study from the University of Minnesota, 47.6 percent of people asked said that they would disapprove of their children marrying an atheist and 39.5 percent said that atheists do not share their vision of American society, a higher percentage than the same question about Muslims, homosexuals, Hispanics, Jews, Asian-Americans and African-Americans.
ABC News puts it this way: “Atheists are seen by many Americans (especially conservative Christians) as alien and are, in the words of sociologist Penny Edgell, the study’s lead researcher, “a glaring exception to the rule of increasing tolerance over the last 30 years.” ”
This should come as no real surprise to anyone in Colorado Springs, where our local Atheist pest, Mikey Weinstein, is constantly in the news over his hyperbolic indignation at any public display of religious faith, particularly at the Air Force Academy.
I need to point out a contextual usage here. I’m distinguishing between “atheists” (small “a”) and “Atheists” (big “A”) for a very specific reason. Small “a” atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in god or gods. Big “A” Atheism, however, meets the definition of a religion, and those that adhere to the tenets of Atheism are themselves very often religious practitioners (and they absolutely hate it when someone points this fact out).
The details and arguments are a bit complex, so I won’t go into them deeply, but for those who wish to look up “implicit and explicit atheism” at Wikipedia, the distinction is that there is a substantial difference between those who simply have no belief in god because they have never been exposed to theistic concepts and cannot therefore form a belief about them (like small children) who are “implicit atheists,” and those who have been exposed to theistic concepts and has made a deliberate decision to deny or reject that such concepts are true, who are “explicit” atheists.
The distinction is important because “explicit atheists” can, and very often do (though they will universally deny it), meet the necessary criteria for holding religious beliefs and can be part of an atheistic religion built around the foundations of anti-theism, religious skepticism, and science. Big “A” Atheism meets the definition of “religion” because it is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,” and “something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience,” and “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.”
Unfortunately rather than clear thinking, the hallmarks of militantly-religious Atheism are unreason, irrationality, illogic, prejudice, bigotry, hatred and intolerance. And no one exemplifies that religion better than Richard Dawkins, self-described “fairly militant atheist,” the High Priest of militant Atheism and relentless critic of all things theistic and religious. Dawkins, a former professor at Oxford university, noted biologist and prolific writer, is also a lapsed Anglican who has taken up radical anti-theistic religious Atheism as a post-academic avocation, apparantly funded in part by donations to his foundation.
In 2006, he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and opened what came to be one of the most active and vibrant atheist discussion forums on the Internet, with more than 70,000 members at its peak. On February 23, 2010, the world’s busiest atheist form was suddenly and unexpectedly shut down by Dawkins, leaving tens of thousands of atheists puzzled as to why. The controversy raged for months, and continues even today, with lawsuits flying about the Dawkins Foundation over alleged fraud and mismanagement. It’s never been made clear to former members why the forum was shut down.
The latest incarnation of the website is not a discussion forum per se, but does provide a blog-like discussion section where selected discussions that have been carefully vetted by the moderation staff are posted and people can (at least in theory) make and respond to comments.
It’s a kludge of a discussion site, but then again it’s intended to be limited and hard to use, and it’s very closely monitored by the Inquisitors of the Congregation for the Propagation of Militant Religious Atheist Orthodoxy, who censor anything that they find displeasing or disturbing (which means anything that might intellectually challenge an Atheist), so as not to ruffle the feathers of the Illuminati of Atheism or disturb the sheep-like complacency and comfort of the Atheist congregation, and particularly so as not to annoy or bother the Vicar of Atheism, Dawkins himself, who doesn’t like anyone questioning his revealed wisdom.
Today’s incarnation of radical militant Dawkinsian Atheism is as arrogant and intolerant of diversity of opinion and devoid of reason and rationality as it ever was.
How do I know this? Well, as a proud and unapologetic long-time secular critic of the bigotry and prejudice of radical, militant Atheism and it’s relentlessly negative, insulting and often libelous attacks on religion and people of faith, I have been banned from both the original Dawkins forum, the spin-off “lifeboat” forum Rational Skepticism, which was organized by former staff at the Dawkins forum after the Great Purge, and now the new incarnation of the Dawkins website.
Why? Well, for asking nettling questions and critically examining and challenging the often-fallacious and irrational and illogical claims and pronouncements of militant Atheism in ways that leave on-line Atheists fuming and furious that they can’t manage to win an argument I’m involved in by trying to try to dismiss me a as a delusional theist, which is the classic Atheist response to debates involving theism. Because I’m so tenacious, and so expertly deconstruct their fallacies and unreason, their only recourse to salve their wounded egos is to cut me out of the conversation, which is a sign of serious weakness in their dogma and their rhetorical skills.
The fury that militant Atheists feel at my criticism is magnified by my status as a non-theist, to the point that the Inquisition at RichardDawkins.Net has flatly stated, “We don’t believe your claim not to be a theist.” Solicitation of a more detailed explanations and indeed any attempt to discuss their decision was refused by the moderating staff, which said, “All moderation decisions are entirely at our discretion, and we will not be entering into any further correspondence with you about this. ”
Fair enough, it’s their website and they can run it however they please, but that’s hardly upholding the mission statement of the Foundation “to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.”
Evidently they think that “critical thinking” is enhanced by dogmatic militant Atheist religious fundamentalism, intolerance, censorship and the suppression of criticism or analysis of Atheist arguments that violates their religious orthodoxy.
I won’t go into detail about the dispute, but I will refer readers to the website and discussion that resulted in the Inquisition declaring me to be a heretic. It can be found in this discussion, starting at comment 213 on page 8, for those willing to wade through the swill to find the pearls of wisdom.
It looks very much like Richard Dawkins and his Foundation can dish it out, but can’t take it. Not that this is any surprise to anyone familiar with Atheists like Dawkins and Weinstein.
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