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← Fundamentalists and the Atheists Who Love Them

Fundamentalists and the Atheists Who Love Them - Comments

Ophelia Benson's Avatar Comment 1 by Ophelia Benson

Oh gee, militant atheism meets fundamentalist atheism, how exciting. It's good to know that the wunderkind Douthat is so fresh and original and reflective.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:10:00 UTC | #435989

Eventhorizon's Avatar Comment 2 by Eventhorizon

So Christians are even disassociating themselves from the bible now? Some of us have been doing that for years

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:18:00 UTC | #435994

rokeisland's Avatar Comment 3 by rokeisland

It all goes back to the questions, Which parts do you listen to, and which parts are junk£ How do you know which parts are meant to be metaphor, and which real£

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:25:00 UTC | #435997

Nick LaRue's Avatar Comment 4 by Nick LaRue

Ever since I've become more vocal I've come to dislike the phrase New Atheist, then I got tired of Millitant Atheist. Now I'm just plainly pissed at the Fundamentalist Atheist term. Fundamental about what? How is one a fundamentalist about the non existance of god?
To use an Aussie saying, "Please explain."

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:27:00 UTC | #435998

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 5 by mirandaceleste

Ugh. They're just coming out of the woodwork, aren't they?

Also, I posted a comment over there a few hours ago yet it still hasn't shown up. I'm not sure what is going on.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:29:00 UTC | #435999

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 6 by DamnDirtyApe

6. Comment #455499 by Dwain on January 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm


Last time I checked it was Earthquakes 1, Human Beings (Christian or otherwise) 0.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:36:00 UTC | #436003

Sciros's Avatar Comment 7 by Sciros

Dwain's just keeping score on who's molested more children since arriving in Haiti to give aid.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:42:00 UTC | #436004

jamiso's Avatar Comment 8 by jamiso

Why all the attention on Pat Robertson?

Heck, there are lots of priests, preachers, and regular ol Haitians running around screamin the same thing. There is not a single thing Pat Robertson said that is not said by a million other people. Is Pat Robertson just being a dick? No, he believes this too be true...because he believes god controls everything, and everything has a reason, and god tends to do stuff like this when he's mad....He may have gotten this idea from reading the these people:

""When God speaks we must listen, The earthquake is God's voice and He will do other things. The stars will crash down onto the earth."" - le pasteur Apollon

"We have three elements, water, earth and fire. Now we are waiting for the fire. Only he who believes will survive." - Ouvida Alva, a 38-year-old voodoo leader

Its not that these are bad people...its just that they believe nonsense. The problem is the nonsense.

Therefor, What the heck is wrong with pointing out that the stuff that they are getting the idea from, about how god is punishing them blah blah, is nonsense...?

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:48:00 UTC | #436008

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 9 by Daisy Skipper

It's interesting that when these 'enlightened' christians bash 'new atheists' (I even hate writing that stupid term) they seem to be completely unaware of the irony spewing from their arrogant mouths. They criticize vocal atheists in the same way atheists criticize religionists (minus the well-articulated arguments based on evidence, etc).

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:49:00 UTC | #436009

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 10 by Agrajag

But — and this is important — the Christian religion is not identical to the Bible. It’s a faith based on the Bible, as read in the light of reason and (or so Christians believe) under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

"That's not *my* religion."

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:51:00 UTC | #436010

Logicel's Avatar Comment 11 by Logicel

The fundies don't really care if you think they are idiots, but apparently the moderates do. How dare you say that Robertson is the true Christian? True Christians--don't you know we are nice because we condemn Robertson also--even these so-called milder types, use the same sin, scapegoating, guilt for ancestors sins, weird salvation theme, etc. approach as the fundies. Smarmy, slippery types. Look Douhart, both fundies and moderates lap at the same congealed pool of ignorance and stupidity, that is, Christianity.

Douhart types have been so used to deferential respect on demand, that they still do not get that the basis of Richard's criticism stands and has not been rebutted by the likes of this dipshit just because they label us fundamentalist, militant, or new. And you know Douhart, unlike your type, we really don't care what you think of us. We will continue to ask for evidence and point out the ridiculousness of your beliefs despite your viewing yourself as kinder and gentler.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:52:00 UTC | #436013

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 12 by The Truth, the light

Just as God of Gaps has been rapidly shrinking in recent years, so to the literal interpretation (cretonists notwithstanding)of the bible is shrinking.

I think a lot of Christians are just plain embarrassed by what's in the bible and choose to wave a wand to turn it into wishy washy mush.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:54:00 UTC | #436014

root2squared's Avatar Comment 13 by root2squared

But whether this means that Christians are obliged to interpret the disasters that befall human beings in this life as God’s punishment for specific sins is another question entirely

Translation: You used interpretation number 3,567,897 but I believe in interpretation number 1,234,853.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:56:00 UTC | #436015

jamiso's Avatar Comment 14 by jamiso

Is it just me....or do 'liberal christians' or whatever they are to be called, seem like the most confused people in the world?

And notice how quick they are to look down with disdain on their more fundamentalist brethren, why doesnt Pat's beliefs deserve the same respect they demand for their sugar and teddy bears versions of christianity?

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:00:00 UTC | #436018

DoctorE's Avatar Comment 15 by DoctorE

"the Christian religion is not identical to the Bible. It’s a faith based on the Bible, as read in the light of reason"
Reading the bible in the light of reason.. that would mean one would dismiss it.


"and (or so Christians believe) under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit"

Hahaha there reason goes straight down the drain

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:01:00 UTC | #436019

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 16 by TIKI AL

1. Comment #455488 by Ophelia Benson on January 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm

"Oh gee, militant atheism meets fundamentalist atheism, how exciting. It's good to know that the wunderkind Douthat is so fresh and original and reflective."

But you must admit this is much more in depth than his expose, "Mr. Douthat undresses Mrs. Doubtfire".

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:04:00 UTC | #436021

sbooder's Avatar Comment 17 by sbooder

Ross Douthat, please look up irony in the dictionary.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:05:00 UTC | #436023

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 18 by Steven Mading

I applaud moderate Christians for their wholesale throwing out of the majority of the disgusting moral lessons of the Bible and deciding to only keep to that tiny portion of what's in the Bible that doesn't make one act like an ass. But I simultaneously I deride them for whitewashing history by lying about the fact that this is what they're doing. If you get your morality by only taking a very tiny portion of the bible's teachings and throwing out the bulk of them, then your source of morality is NOT the bible. Not really. You are using something else to decide what to filter out and what to keep. Whatever ELSE you are using to decide what to filter out and what to keep, that filtering mechanism is your actual source of morality, rather than the book you are reading through that filter.

But when you lie by pretending that your morality comes from the book itself, you lose any right to distance yourself from the likes of Pat Robertson. All he's doing is using a different filter than you when he reads the Bible. If you want to distance yourself from him, you have to tell the truth and admit that the difference is in the filters the two of you are using, not in the Bible itself. Stop pretending that reading the Bible obviously leads to the morality you practice and not to the morality he does when your filter is doing more work cutting bits out than Pat's is.

This is the message we're trying to get across, and as usual it falls on deaf ears.

We're not asking the moderate Christians to adopt a morality that is more fundamentalilst. We're asking them to stop lying about where they're getting their morality from.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:07:00 UTC | #436027

Logicel's Avatar Comment 19 by Logicel

jamiso, Not only are the moderates profoundly confused and muddled, they rejoice in their gloppy muck expecting that we will say, oh look, see how nicely they are wallowing in their muck and somehow forget to mention the muck in which they so nicely wallow.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:08:00 UTC | #436028

sara g's Avatar Comment 20 by sara g

They use the same words against us that we use against them because they don't understand that the arguments are only valid based on logic and evidence. But on some level they understand that our arguments ARE valid, or they wouldn't think they are scoring points when they repeat them. Every time they say "fundamentalist atheist" or "copy the worst tactics of those they oppose" it is a sign that we are getting through the chinks.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:10:00 UTC | #436031

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 21 by Dr. Strangegod

"I'm rubber, you're glue..."

Seriously, that's the mentality we're dealing with here.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:17:00 UTC | #436034

ANTIcarrot's Avatar Comment 23 by ANTIcarrot

The article needs a correction:

>Let’s consult one of Christianity’s leading appologists on the matter...

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:26:00 UTC | #436041

jcob82's Avatar Comment 22 by jcob82

Wow I just learned something from reading this article. Mr. Douthat has graciously informed me that christianity is NOT the same as the bible. I had no idea those people on campus waving a bible at me, urging me to read "the divine word of god" were not christians. Next time I will tell them that Mr. Ross Douthat says that christianity is not the bible, just based off it. It is kind of like Fox is not a news service just based off one. It is like Eventhorizon said above "even christians are "disassociating themselves from the bible now." Shame on Dr. Dawkins for reading the bible and actually trying to hold christians accountable for the filth in their "holy" book. Dr. Dawkins you need to do what most christians do and that is tell other people to read the bible while never reading it yourself.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:26:00 UTC | #436040

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 24 by the great teapot

Why moderates need extremists.

So they can all sit together and smugly congratulate themselves on how nice and moderate they all are. Not like those horrible people who aren't afraid to call a spade a spade.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:28:00 UTC | #436042

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 25 by the great teapot

Why moderates need creationists.

So they can point to someone and say "well our claims are ridiculous yes, but at least they don't appear as dumb as theirs"

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:32:00 UTC | #436046

dac74's Avatar Comment 26 by dac74

Amazing that Christians quote some 'nice' Jesus quotes to buttress their views. It does leave the open to counter attack. I'll get things started. Here's a Jesus saying of a very different stripe. It's only a few verses after the last one Douthat quoted, actually. Surprised he didn't use it:

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:49-50

Oh wait, this one is to be taken metaphorically, isn't it.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:40:00 UTC | #436051

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 27 by mordacious1

19. Comment #455527 by Steven Mading

Well said.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:40:00 UTC | #436052

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 28 by Mark Smith

The usual lazy rubbish: Set atheism up at the opposite extreme from fundamentalism and claim the (never defined) middle ground.

To add to the crap, he quotes Jesus in support of the claim that Christians are not obliged to interpret the disasters that befall human beings in this life as God’s punishment for specific sins, when in fact the passages he cites state precisely the opposite. Eg Luke 13:4-5: 'Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all other men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay; but unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' This doesn't say, as he implies, that they didn't die because of their sins. It says the opposite, 'they died because of their sins, and unless you repent the same will happen to you because you are a bunch of sinners too'.

Ross Douthat has fallen in to the common error of thinking Jesus was a nice middle class liberal Christian.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:55:00 UTC | #436061

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 29 by Stafford Gordon

There's more chance of sweeping water into a pile than engaging in fruitful discourse on this subject.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:57:00 UTC | #436063

s.k.graham's Avatar Comment 30 by s.k.graham

Frankly, I think that Mr. Douthat has made a fair criticism specifically of Richard's recent opinion piece. Richard chose to castigate the moderate christians as hypocrites. Pardon me, but a hypocrite is generally someone who espouses a belief or morality but who actually does not believe it or does not act accordingly. It is just as intellectually dishonest for us to tell self-described 'Christians' or other theists what they believe and accuse them of hypocricy for not actually believing it, than it is for theists to tell atheists what we do or do not believe and likewise accuse us of hypocrisy or other failings based on such a strawman.

The full force of our contempt, and Richard's scorn, is deserved by Pat Robertson and his ilk.

We should welcome the agreement from religious moderates who likewise condemn Pat Robertson for his ridiculous statements. The fact that they also hold to beliefs that we yet find irrational or downright silly does not make them hyprocrites. Their condemnation of Mr. Robertson is every bit as genuine as our own.

If we parse out the moderate's beliefs, then, for some of them, we may find inconsistencies and internal contradictions -- places where they just avoid thinking too hard about it and keep their thinking a bit fuzzy round the edges. So what? This does not make them worthy of contempt. It certainly does not make them hypocrites. They are being as true to themselves and to their genuine beliefs about the world and about good and evil as they are able, just as much as any fundamentalist or atheist. If you know of specific individuals to whom this does not apply, if you know a religious moderate who actually is a hypocrite, then by all means call him or her out on it -- as an individual for whom you have actual evidence of hypocrisy. But to paint all moderate Christians with the brush of hypocrisy, because they condemn rather than applaud Mr. Robertson, is beyond the pale.


I have great respect for you and for your writings. The God Delusion was a wonderful "consciousness raiser". But, this habit you have of condemning the moderates as somehow less deserving of respect than fundamentalists and other religious fanatics, this is unbecoming. A matter in your thinking that stands in need of correcting. It may well be that some moderates with whom you converse are "wishy washy" if you try to pin them down, but even if that is the case, they are nonetheless attempting, as best they are able to be true to themselves and what they believe is 'good'.

I submit for consideration. The brain can, in part, be considered a machine for generating beliefs about the world. For any given brain, among its beliefs will be some estimation of its own fallibility. Now, once a belief-engine incorporates a belief about its own fallibility in forming beliefs it must then recognize that its beliefs about the trustworthiness of various sources of infomation are likewise flawed (from its own senses to the utterances of various authority figures or experts). There is no strictly rational basis upon which such a brain can decide how much to trust any particular source. It is likely the case then, that religious moderates still trust certain sources, up to and including their own 'gut feelings' too much to fully embrace a strictly scientific approach to assessing the truth-value of available information.

BUT, at least most if not all religious moderates have made the step of recognizing their own uncertainties. If they have inconsistent or "fuzzy" beliefs, this is only natural for any belief-engine that recognizes its own limitations and is faced with conflicting sources of varying degrees of estimated trustworthiness.

The fact that such moderates honestly confront a degree of self-doubt makes them vastly more worthy of respect than theistic extremists in their unflinching certainty. The literalists fail the first test of wisdom: they do not know that they do not know.

Atheists must, of necessity, disagree with religious moderates. If they say something silly or self-contradictory, by all means call it out with some good humor. But please, people, let us cast our scorn, our fiercest ridicule, where it is truly deserved: on the Pat Robertsons of the world.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 22:02:00 UTC | #436065