Jul 14, 2009


I usually like Matt Yglesias a lot, but this just pisses me off:
I think another way of thinking about it is that Dawkins has basically tried to reformulate atheism in the evangelizing and illiberal mode of illiberal evangelizing religion. Thus, much as right-wing Christians and right-wing Muslims can simultaneously loathe each other and have structurally similar views, so, too, can “new atheists” join the party. Elsewhere you have a liberal ethic adhered to by people who identify with different spiritual traditions and also by what I think are “normal” atheists, just people who don’t identify with a religious tradition, rather than people who want to construct a self-conscious atheist identity and go to battle over it.
First, conflating someone like Dawkins (who is a little pissed at religion for my taste, but otherwise a great educator and science popularizer, and quite liberal) with bona-fide douchebags like Harris and Hitchens is stupid. Second, it's a hideous exaggeration to equate Dawkins' strong atheism with the evangelizing illiberal mode of Christianity. Seriously, when atheists have the kind of witch-burning track record of fundamentalism, then we can talk. Until then, STFU.

Also, what the fuck is wrong with a "self-conscious atheist identity?" If you happen to believe strongly in hugely important questions like "where did the universe come from?" and so forth, then you're abnormal. In order to be normal, according to Matt, you have to just "not identify with a religious tradition" (which covers a lot more ground than atheism, by the way).

I don't consider myself an atheist (more like an agnostic in the mode of Carl Sagan), but this was a real clunker from Matt.

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