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← Response to My Fellow 'Atheists'

sbe's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by sbe

Maybe if Sam Harris' point were put in a different way, it might be more comprehensible to some people who are having difficulty with it:

It's not about you, it's about the task at hand.

It really doesn't matter what people who support reason, science, and secularism call themselves, as long as we achieve our goals. And Sam's point is that what we call ourselves is vastly less important than acheiving our goals and, furthermore, if what we call ourselves actually hinders what we're trying to accomplish, well then the name simply has to go.

This may be surprising to some, but this argument doesn't even conflict with Richard Dawkins Out Campaign. Because Dawkins' campaign is not about yelling about being an atheist, but coming out as someone who wants to live in a secular world ruled by reason -- you can come out for that and still call yourself anything you like.

I can't say much about Ellen Johnson, but PZ Myers is a clown in my opinion. I stopped reading his blog a long time ago. He rarely has anything interesting to say and, to me, he mostly comes off sounding like a nut. And Myers is the poster boy for the argument that atheism is rapidly becoming a cult.

Sam Harris is really the only person who seems to be thinking about the secularist movement in a truly strategic way. I hope people can break free of the group think that dominates much of the online atheist community and take a sober look at what Sam Harris is trying to say.

On a tangential note (with all due respect for Dawkins and Harris), I really find it creepy to compare the "plight" of atheists to the very real plight of gays and blacks. Unlike being gay or black, atheism is a choice, but then so it religion. No one has ever said "I can't help being reasonable, I was born this way" any more than someone is likely to say "I can't help being pentecostal, I was born this way."

Actually, I think atheists/secularists are missing an opportunity to turn the tables on the fundamentalist canard that being gay is a "lifestyle choice"--no it isn't, but being an intolerant ignoramus is. Sure, being an atheist can get you killed in some places in the world, but so can drinking alcohol during ramadan. In the western world, being an atheist might cause you some trouble in certain places and situations, but it's hardly the same hardship that gays and blacks have faced. Let's keep a little perspective here.

Mon, 08 Oct 2007 13:20:00 UTC | #73483