“No different from fundamentalists/ a cult”

It’s one thing to accuse atheists of making their atheism like a religion, or accuse a particular group of atheists of being cult-like. In my experience there’s never anything behind those accusations, but in theory you could have a conversation about them by asking, “in what ways?” and so on. But whenever I hear accusations of being “no different” from fundamentalism or a cult, it just makes me rage. Last week I got two examples of this.

The first came from a (now ex-) Facebook friend:

I find it ironic that people who are adamently anti-religous usually cite religion’s intolerance and judgements. By mocking biblical versus and working to get people to turn away from there faith, aren’t you being equally closed minded.

The other came from the comment thread on my “Neuroscience basics” post:

I would stay away from LessWrong if I were you. Everything I’ve read about it suggests it’s effectively a cult based around the ideas of this Yudkowsky guy, not meaningfully different from Raelism or Scientology.

In both cases, my response is, “Excuse me? Do you understand the equivalence you’re making, or are you just ignorant?” Here is what intolerance in the Bible means, and here is a list of criticisms of Scientology. Whatever you think of people who are anti-religious, or whatever you think of LessWrong, it should be *obvious* that they are not the same.

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