Scratch an Atheist, Find a Fundamentalist

Scratch an Atheist, Find a Fundamentalist January 17, 2014

Trendy atheist sect has only been around a year and already they are in schism because one group of human toothaches is mad that the other human toothaches aren’t willing to be as annoyingly arrogant. Ironically, the dynamics one sees in the Reactionary hostility to Francis is seen there in a different key: one group wants to defend ideological purity. Another is thinking about how to reach out to people on the peripheries and wants ixnay on the atheismay since people know hard-core atheists are, you know, human toothaches.


""the idea that an authority can decree what's true and what's false, and punish people ..."

A reader has a question about ..."
"Well, something like that certainly puts things into perspective. I'm sorry for the loss of ..."

A reader has a question about ..."
"Hi llithid,I remember pondering those things as a child. I used to worry about it. ..."

A reader has a question about ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I don’t like these combative titles (“scratch a … find a”), they are little more than confortable and malevolent generalizations, and they don’t help. This one, in particular, seems to me about as fair as saying “Scratch a catholic, find a fundamentalist”.

    • UAWildcatx2

      I’m not sure I see the combativeness in the title. What Mark is pointing out is that with the so-called “new atheists” (e.g. Dawkins, Hitchens, et al), one sees that their biggest arguments against Christianity are gleaned from a very fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture. Interpretations that the Catholic Church looks at and goes, “see? This is why you need an authority to help.” But the new atheists take those claims, say, “see? Look how ridiculous this is” and then raise their arms in triumph over the poor poor pile of straw that’s lying all over the floor.

      • The title says plainly “atheists” I know that Mark knows better than what the title says, that’s why I object to it.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Mark has been using that title for various and sundry articles about the New Atheism for years now.

          • said she

            And it is an excellent reminder that most atheists are woefully under-educated in what Christianity actually teaches. Like UAWildcatx2 said: atheists use strawman arguments rather than actual Christianity as their target.

    • I have, in my experience with the more radical atheists, mostly come to think comparing them to Fundamentalists isn’t right. They’re not, usually, obsessed by a few Fundamental ideas or highly literalist statements.

      To me they’re really more like the most extreme aspects of Traditionalist Catholicism or the form of Rationalism that Catholicism traditionally condemns. They believe that through a fairly austere reasoning they have the Truth, or the best system to find the Truth. Further that Truth should always be favored over error. And that for them it is “indifferentist” to treat Baha’is or Quakers or Catholics or whatever as if their beliefs deserved equal respect to Atheism. And on rare occasion they, by intent, unintentionally agree with some of the most “Radical Traditionalists” that Judaism is a scourge on history if for different reasons. As for them Judaism started the whole Abrahamic religion thing, which they usually have special disdain toward.

      (I’m speaking of radical atheists here. Not the gentler kinds of “Humanists” who say mostly want to say how gosh-darn great humans could be if we tried and are quite willing to work with Christians on science or environmental projects)

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Once again, proof that life is stranger than fiction.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    Mark, you have been indulging in sneers lately. Nobody likes sneering.

    • said she

      I do! Does that make me a bad person?

  • Pavel Chichikov

    However, in a sort of debate with atheists on another site, I did use your image of God taking a shower as a possible proof of God’s existence.

    Or, step onto this scale, Sir.

    One reason you can’t debate atheists is that their concept of God is so primitive.

    Sky Fairy anyone?

  • Matthew Tyson

    If there are going to be different sects of atheism, then how are we to know which atheism is the right atheism? Everyone claims that their atheism is the right kind of atheism. I think the best answer is to just accept that God is real.

  • SteveP

    In the linked article there is NO EVIDENCE atheists are made of dentine, pulp, and enamel, so how can they be human toothaches? Sheesh use some Reason.
    Seriously, though, how does one disagree on how to celebrate such a simple creed as: there is no God? Are we observing closeted liturgists?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      John Adams distinguished between two sects of atheism. The first ascribed everything to mechanical determinism. The second ascribed everything to causeless randomness. Between the two there can be no peace, although I have seen some who will flip from one to the other depending upon whether they are disagreeing with free will or with the cosmological argument.

  • Curiously the Positivist “Church of Humanity” of old, like a 100 years ago, I believe had an NYC and London branch. (Catholic novelist Anna Haycraft was raised in the London branch, American journalist Herbert Croly was raised in the NYC branch) Although I don’t know if the two had any animosity. I don’t think they did.

    As for atheists, even of the ones I get along with, I’d say they tend to at least claim that they dislike organized movements of any kind. Also “atheism”, in itself, is not something that one can really rally around. Because atheism, again in itself, is saying what you don’t believe or aren’t. Ayn Rand was atheist and I’m pretty sure so was Leon Trotsky. For that matter I think they were both atheists of Jewish origin born in the Russian Empire. Yet their ideologies were diametrically opposed or at least had very little in common. (Although for all I know this might be the rare place where I might experience criticism for saying Trotskyism and Randian-Objectivism have almost no commonalities) So if groups try to rally around “atheism” it’s possibly inevitable they’ll splinter because that’s not enough to unite anyone.

    Granted I have seen online “atheist” mean something more clearly ideological that maybe could “unite” certain kinds of people. The kind of “Internet atheism” I mean is a rational-materialist system devoted to the notion that purging oneself of fallacious and/or tradition-based thoughts creates a more truthful and liberated life. It generally believes in proselytism, as does Scientology even if Scientology is about purging anxious or traumatic thoughts instead, and leans toward a strong element of cynicism and sarcasm. But these people, the London ones anyway, sound more like Humanists and Humanists are sometimes more mellow atheists who think Humanitarianism and a secular ethic is all you need in life.