Are you a “fundamentalist atheist” and what is your view of religion?

March 31, 2007 at 6:31 pm 15 comments

In the Associated Press article “Atheists Split Over Message,” Greg Epstein, a humanist chaplain at Harvard University, refers to those involved in the militancy of “New Atheism” as “atheist fundamentalist.” The article lists Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as the “pre-eminent New Atheists.” It describes them as saying that “religious belief is so harmful it must be defeated and replaced by science and reason.

According to the article:

[Epstien] sees them as rigid in their dogma, and as intolerant as some of the faith leaders with whom atheists share the most obvious differences.

While many of us may agree that religious beliefs can be harmful and they should be replaced by science and reason, I have not encountered many of these “atheist fundamentalist” in community of bloggers. Of course, I’m new to this group.

If you are an atheist, I’d like to ask a few questions:Question Marks

  1. Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?”
  2. What is your view of religion?
  3. Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?
  4. Atheists are a minority* and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?

Thanks for you input. Please also include a link to your blog in your response.

* In a Newsweek poll (March 31, 2007):

  • 91% of Americans believe in God.
  • 3% claim to be atheists.
  • Only 48% of Americans know an atheist (or at least know that they know an atheist).
  • 62% would not vote for an atheist.

– Agnostic Atheist

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Entry filed under: agnostic, agnostic atheism, agnostic atheist, atheism, atheist, faith, freethinking, Religion, skeptic, skepticism, spirituality.

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Simen  |  March 31, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    1. No, not at all. In fact, I find the phrase meaningless. The so-called atheist “fundamentalists” so often caricatured are not fundamentalists because of atheism but rather because of other, extreme views.
    2. I think religion is a natural feature of humanity, one evolved and therefore unlikely to go away anytime soon. I do not think it is strictly necessary for a functioning society.
    3. When religion makes truth-claims on scientific territory, such as about the origin of the universe, the earth or life, or about the nature of purported “miracles” and such, it must clearly not be tolerated. There are areas of science where religion makes claims, and if religion stopped making these claims they could co-exist. However, religion tends to put forward faith as a virtue, and science most emphatically does not. These two completely opposite views (and I’m certain which is the right one) are hard to reconcile.
    4. If, by “respect”, you mean listening to their arguments and answering them, and otherwise treating them as worthy, intelligent fellow human beings, then of course. If, by “respect”, you mean refraining from criticism of religious ideas or special pleading allowing religious claims to be rested on shaky evidence and logic, then of course not. There seems to be two different opinions on the word respect here. Atheists construe respect as something humans, not ideas, are allowed. Theists on the other hand tend to view respect as something that extends from people to ideas, believing that the only way to respect people is to “respect” their ideas (i.e. not question them). Once again, I’m certain which view is the most correct.

    Click on my name to get to my blog.

    Reply
  • 2. nullifidian  |  March 31, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    1. Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?”

    Certainly not.To be a fundamentalist atheist, I would require to have some kind of basic atheist dogma to adhere to: I do not, and as far as I know, there is no such thing.

    2. What is your view of religion?

    This depends on the religion. In general terms, I find the concept quite bizarre. Those that are non-violent and non-imposing, I have no issue with. Those that advocate (or seek to promote) adherence even by non-believers, I will fight against. Those that discriminate for irrational reasons, I detest.

    3. Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?

    As long as religion remains the property of the practitioner alone, I have no issue. As soon as they attempt to bring it into the public sphere and make non-believers succumb to their will, I gladly fight it for the freedom of all. I don’t care when, where or how they practice their religion, as long as they don’t try to limit, affect or harm anyone else.

    4. Atheists are a minority and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?

    Where I come from, atheists are probably in the majority (I have no proof of this claim, merely experience of life here). However, as far as, for example, the situation in the USA goes, I am firmly of the opinion that atheists should be respectful of the people (if it’s deserved) and laugh at ridiculous claims without evidence.

    Hope this is of some help.

    My blog should be linked from my posting name, of feel free to email me at the address used for this comment.

    Reply
  • 3. Patrick Craig  |  March 31, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    1. Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?”

    Nope, I’m a moderate. A moderate activist.

    2. What is your view of religion?

    As with such things as communism, not bad in the ideal, but it really sucks in practice.

    3. Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?

    No need to push for religion’s eradication. Sure, I’d like to see it go away, but I don’t see any need to bash it repeatedly to help it do so. My activism centers around protecting the civil rights and dignity of all those under assault by religion; beyond that, religion does a great job of destroying itself. Can Atheists and theists co-exist? Sure, if they’ll just stop being intolerant…

    4. Atheists are a minority* and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?

    Certainly! We can “kick theism in the butt” respectfully. There is no call for name-calling or violence or anything like that.

    Pat Craig
    The Passionate Atheist
    http://patrickimo.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • 4. Everyday Atheist  |  April 4, 2007 at 12:02 am

    1. Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?”

    Definitely not. The fact that I’m an atheist is probably the least interesting thing about me, it’s the ideas and the freedom that flow from that fact that make a difference in my life.

    2. What is your view of religion?

    I think religion is just an organized way of preserving beliefs and practices. There is nothing inherently wrong or dangerous about that, it depends on what kinds of beliefs and practices are being preserved. Many religions promote false or harmful beliefs, and useless or dangerous practices, and that’s what I’m against. I’m against those things whether they are enshrined in religion or not, and I have no problem with religions that teach positive values, and inspire people to do good things.

    3. Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?

    One of the first rules of being happy is getting comfortable with the fact that you cannot control what other people think. There will always be people believing in silly things, whether it be angels or aliens. I think the important thing is to fight against fear, intolerance, and hatred. Someone harboring those feelings can be dangerous no matter what they believe. To answer the question, religion might go away, but silly beliefs will always be with us, so we have to learn to coexist with them.

    4. Atheists are a minority* and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?

    I don’t think it would be fair to ask for respect without reciprocating. That said, I do think we need to speak out against beliefs that we feel are false, and/or harmful, whether it be hatred of gays, denigration of women, or anti-intellectualism. For me, generic God belief isn’t really an issue. If people want to believe in a benevolent creator, or 20 of them, that doesn’t affect me. It’s the ancient religious texts that justify corrosive attitudes, beliefs, and practices that are harmful to individuals and society. I think the biggest problem religion poses today is the idea that God wrote one of our books a long time ago, and we cannot question what it says.

    Reply
  • 5. "Fundamentalist" Atheism Questions « Everyday Atheism  |  April 4, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    […] 5 04 2007 Agnostic Atheist has some questions for other atheists about their views on “fundamentalist” atheism. Go tell him what you think.  You know you want to.  Here are my responses to the questions […]

    Reply
  • […] 5th, 2007 Recently, many atheist’s blogs have commented on “Fundamentalist Atheists.” However, if there are fundamentalist atheists, they seem to be a minority group within a […]

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  • […] Finally, I always find articles like this a little strange. They seem to imply on some level that atheism constitutes a body of like-thinking people. There’s no Church of Atheism. We don’t have membership cards or weekly meetings. Well, sometimes groups do form, but they are not representative of atheists in general any more than one book club represents all readers. As mentioned in a blog post I read recently, we come in all shapes and sizes. […]

    Reply
  • 8. anti-nonsense  |  May 9, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?
    No. I thnk that’s a stupid term made up by people that want to make atheists look bad.
    What is your view of religion?
    it depends on the religion, i don’t mind things like Wicca or jainism, or buddhism really because they tend to be peaceful and not try to shove their beliefs down other people’s throats, but I find that many religions are violent and dangerous, and some of them are interfering with scientific progress and making human suffering worse.
    Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?
    I don’t support the forceful eradication of all religions but I believe that we need to fight against the fundamentalist religions that refuse to admit any dissent from their beliefs, thjese are the kind of people that think even other sects of their same religion are evil and deserve to burn in hell or whatever. if you want to believe that the universe is actually a giant bowl of rice or something then fine, but if you try to force everybody else to believe not only that the universe is giant bowl of rice, but that it’s brown rice and not white rice and everybody who believes that it’s white rice is evil, ten i have a problem with you.
    Atheists are a minority* and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?
    Of course we should show respect for religious people, provided their beliefs don’t cause harm. But i will still excercise my right to strongly and publcally disagree with them, I just will try to attack the ridicolous beliefs and not the people holding them.

    Reply
  • 9. Anonymous  |  May 30, 2007 at 10:13 am

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  • 10. Anonymous  |  May 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm

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  • 11. Agnostic  |  May 30, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Oh I understand now. You are “blogging” in tongues. 😉

    Reply
  • 12. Mark  |  March 19, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Do you consider yourself an “atheist fundamentalist?”
    Nope, I guess I’d consider myself an Agnostic Atheist, or secular Humanist. I think fundamentalism has more to do with society, and individual personality, than any particular ideology. The term ‘atheist fundamentalist’ has definately been over-used by theists recently, and only reflects a minority of non-believers.

    What is your view of religion?
    It depends, very much, on the particular religion, as well as the strength of faith and personality of individual believers. I think it’s dangerous to generalise theists.

    Do you believe that atheism and religion can co-exist or do you support the eradication of religious beliefs?
    NO! By no means do I endorse the forceful eradication of religious beliefs, such as that seen in communist Russia and China. However, I do belief, very strongly, in having a secular State and secular education. People should be presented with the ‘facts’ and opinions; allowed to be as free as possible to choose their beliefs, without being preached at by Atheists or Theists.

    Atheists are a minority and we would like our views to be respected. However, do you believe that we should reciprocate that respect to those who do not believe as we do?
    Definately, alienating, ignoring and patronising people, different to ourselves, only excacerbates the divisions in society.

    Reply
  • […] Are you a “fundamentalist atheist” and what is your view of religion? Another interesting blog post, by Agnostic Atheist […]

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  • 14. chairman bill  |  October 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    1. I have a fundamental lack of belief in god(s). That’s what atheism is – lack of belief in god(s). It is fundamentally nothing more than that. So fundamentally, as an atheist, I fundamentally lack such a belief. Is that enough ‘fundamentalism’?
    2. Religion – it’s just silly. Grow up people, please. If you’ve still got an invisible friend and you’re older than seven, you really do have issues.
    3. I’m not for eradicating people based on their beliefs – I’ll leave that to religious folk. I don’t even have a problem with people believing in gods and stuff, so fill yer boots & believe all you like. Just keep your nonsense to yourself, and don’t tell me I have to believe it too, and don’t insist I respect it, and don’t expect government to promote it, in any way. Ever.
    4. Respect for people’s right to hold beliefs is one thing, but there can be no requirement for us to respect the beliefs themselves. And that cuts both ways.

    Reply
  • 15. chairman bill  |  December 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Fundamentally I don’t have any beleif in god(s), so fundamentally I’m an atheist, and I’m quite fundamental about it. Does that make me a fundmentalist atheist, or is it just a bloody silly term of abuse, used by linguistically challenged god-botherers? I tend towards the latter.

    Reply

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Agnostic Atheism Wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God, you will be judged on your merits and not just on whether or not you ignored the lack of evidence of his/her existence and blindly believed.

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