There’s been a big brouhaha in the secular community over the use of the word “fundamentalist” to describe people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.
The word just doesn’t seem appropriate, especially when that word is used to describe religious people who adhere to the literal words in a holy book regardless of what common sense and science will tell them.
The vocal atheists have reason and logic behind their beliefs. That alone makes them stand out.
Dawkins himself has said that we should not make the mistake of confusing fundamentalism with passion:
I don’t particularly mind being a bogeyman [for religious people] – I do mind being a fundamentalist. I think a fundamentalist is somebody who believes something unshakeably, and isn’t going to change their mind. Somebody who believes something because it’s written in their holy book. And even if all the evidence in the world points in the other direction, because it’s in the holy book they’re not going to change. I absolutely repudiate any suggestion that I am that. I would, like any other scientist, willingly change my mind if the evidence led me to do so. So I care about what’s true, I care about evidence, I care about evidence as the reason for knowing what is true. It is true that I come across rather passionate sometimes – and that’s because I am passionate about the truth. Passion is very different from fundamentalism.
But what name should we call those very outspoken atheists? Should we call them anything at all?
As a friend said, the last thing we need in the atheist movement right now is another thing to call ourselves.
Do you think it’s OK to refer to certain atheists as being atheist fundamentalists?
Is there a better term than “fundamentalist” to describe those non-believers who are uncompromising in their blunt criticism of religious beliefs?
What do you think about labeling certain atheists or humanists as extreme, militant or intolerant?
Do you believe that the non-religious should take a soft or a blunt approach to speaking out against religion?
How can “New Atheists” and “New Humanists” work together?
You can submit your thoughts to IHS by clicking here, or feel free to leave a comment on this thread.
In addition to the questions, there are also some interesting opinion pieces within the same page.
[tags]atheist, atheism, fundamentalist, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Duncan Crary, Institute for Humanist Studies, Humanist Network News, New Atheists, New Humanists, IHS[/tags]