Daily Read: Fundamentalist Atheism

Today’s Daily Read is a perfect follow-up to my post from yesterday on religion. Mary Elizabeth Williams says what a lot of atheists like me are thinking when she takes Bill Maher to task for his particular brand of fundamentalist, militant atheism. Writing in Salon, Williams points out that Maher does a grave disservice to his cause when he applies blanket generalizations to religious practices and characterizes them all as worthy of contempt. She is right to call Maher an intolerant bigot. Williams is a Christian, and she makes clear that her Christianity does not make her an extremist or an idiot – and the same is true of the followers of many religions. Maher errs by lumping all believers into the same category. I completely agree with Williams. As I said in yesterday’s post, I think it’s ideology, not religion, that is truly the root of so much sociopolitical and cultural conflict in the world; religion is just the frame that justifies the ideology. You don’t have to believe in the supernatural to believe that your way of life is the correct way. My atheism has not caused me to turn my back on the values of my culture. Most atheists are good people with strong moral codes – just like most Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Atheists like Maher only serve to make us look just as bad as the fundamentalists of any religion, and I wish he would shut up and go away.

Bill Maher’s bigoted atheism: His arrogant shtick is just as ugly as religious intolerance

2 Comments Daily Read: Fundamentalist Atheism

  1. karen

    I’ve always ascribed to the ideal of “live and let live.” Until I got told off for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Now when someone tells me to have a “blessed” day or to have a “Merry Christmas” I either give them a blank stare or say something that is either dismissive or rude, depending on my mood. I am awfully tired of the Christian-leaning preference in this country.

  2. Ranthropologist

    I agree about the live and let live; but I also think that assuming somebody is spiritual or Christian is, in a way, NOT letting live. Still, I’m willing to overlook well-meaning religious greetings, for the most part, as long as people don’t try to get me to convert. My objection is to guys like Maher driving people away from atheism by making it something intolerant and ugly. I don’t think he helps the cause by being arrogant and rude – any more than I think religious folks help their cause by doing the same.

    In hopeful news, the percentage of religious “nones” in this country gets higher all the time 🙂


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