Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breaking News. When atheists start to organize, certain kinds of ...intolerant, thoughtless, bullying behavior normally associated with ...organized religion start to manifest themselves.
Even at its best, organizations like NYCA (and some of their national counterparts) come across as strident, angry, and overall unpleasant. There certainly is a time and a place for anger and protest, but those components by themselves never go very far. That is why my model in these matters is Carl Sagan, not Richard Dawkins. I know that god is a delusion, and I know that s/he ain’t great either, Mr. Hitchens, but I also know that we need much more than angry denunciations to overcome the religious fundamentalist onslaught and change society for the better. This change comes to pass through real tolerance and pluralism, not the fake kind espoused in “sermons” preached by autocratic atheists. As I wrote in other contexts before, the problem isn’t religion, pace Dawkins and the New Atheists. The problem is uncritical adherence to any kind of ideology, and atheism can be as unpleasant an ideology as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. We can do better, and the cleaning has to start at home. That is why, with much regret, I left New York City Atheists.

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