Matt Dillahunty’s Excellent Response to ‘How to Be an Atheist Without Being a Dick About It’

Jezebel’s Lindy West posted an article today called “How to Be an Atheist Without Being a Dick About It“… which gives you some indication of where her mind is at. It’s the sort of thing people say when their impression of how atheists act is limited primarily to reading Internet comments written by anonymous jackasses.

It’s especially rich coming from the same person who wrote a piece titled “Fuck the Pope.”

It’s not that she’s wrong — of course we shouldn’t be dicks. Of course, in any large group of people, there’s bound to be a handful of awful individuals who deserve our condemnation. But that’s not just a lesson for atheists. It applies to damn near everyone, especially when it comes to issues where good people can have serious disagreements.

Matt Dillahunty has done an excellent job of breaking the article down and responding to her (lack of) points.

Like when West writes this:

There are a lot of people in the world who have nothing. Faith in a higher power gives them one thing. You know what we call people who try to take away other people’s one thing?

Dillahunty responds with this:

Ah, the final fallacy. You see these efforts as trying to steal away people’s ‘one thing’ or their ‘hope’… it’s nothing at all like that. A fan once asked a co-host, “When you rid the world of religion, what do you replace it with?” Without missing a beat, my co-host replied “When you cure cancer, what do you replace it with?”

Truth is its own reward. Helping people employee skepticism and exercising critical thinking to free themselves of superstitions and religious thinking isn’t merely taking away their ‘one thing’ any more than it would be if their ‘one thing’ was a thorn; it’s helping them to think and live better lives. If your internal model of reality is inaccurate, your decision-making skills are going to suffer.

Finally, your broader point implies that while you don’t need religion to cope, other people do. The arrogance and condescension in that line of thought is just about as dick-ish as you’ve accused others of being. It’s actually the second time in your article that you portray believers as inferior while lashing out at others for purportedly doing exactly that.

Dillahunty’s whole piece is like that — a lot of shredding to pieces of a faulty argument — and he does it without coming off like a dick.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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