The Myth of Atheist Fundamentalism


From the Dallas Morning News comes yet another ridiculous editorial which attacks atheists on the basis of something coined as "atheist fundamentalism." Before, we look at the article, lets get the definition of what fundamentalism is out of the way. From Mirriam-Webster:
1 a often capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b : the beliefs of this movement c : adherence to such beliefs
2 : a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles
Obviously the 1st definition can't apply to atheists so lets look at the second. What set of basic principles do atheists adhere to? None. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. There are no sets of laws we obey as atheists, no consistent interconnection at all between atheists beyond the lack of belief in god. Now, socially religious fundamentalism is attached to behaviors that are viewed as extreme and closed minded to other interpretations of the same source material - often holy texts like the Bible. Fundamentalist christians believe the world is 6000 years old because the bible says it is, and they follow the bible literally. Islamic fundamentalists believe in jihad in the name of their religion because of passages found in the Quran. What is the belief or behavior that categorizes atheists as fundamentalists? According to Rod Dreher, it seems to be those atheists who are vocal about their atheism.

This is the same old song and dance that has been trotted out since atheists began being publicly vocal about their beliefs - atheism is acceptable, but why do you have to be so LOUD about it?

It seems the inspiration for this rant was that most evil of all atheist creations, Camp Quest! Yes, the secular (NOT atheist, secular) summer camp is, in Dreher's opinion...well, I don't know. I actually can't figure out exactly what his problem with the camp itself is besides it being an institution which has the support of that evil atheist monarch, Richard Dawkins. If Dawkins supports something, it HAS to be bad, right? Let's see:

And how did you spend your summer? Having more fun, I hope, than the English kids marched off to Camp Quest, a five-day atheist camp supported in part by Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins. The idea, Dawkins said, is "to encourage children to think for themselves." Yes, well, as long as they don't think well of religion, tykes are welcome to join his herd of independent minds.

It's hard to see the pleasure of sitting around the campfire, learning from grown-ups that the world is disenchanted after all. (No ghost stories for you, lad!) But if eat-your-spinach skepticism strikes your fancy, the Lone Star version of Camp Quest will be a one-day affair in late summer, sponsored by the North Texas Church of Freethought (www.churchoffreethought.org).

This is a blatant attack on an institution this man knows nothing about based on the involvement of a person this guy doesn't care for. Super awesome editorial journalism, friend!

The piece goes on to trod out the tired old attacks that atheists have had thrown at them time and again. He mentions Hitler, talks about 'militant' atheism by attributing negative acts perpetrated by atheists as indicative of atheism itself (please ignore that none of this was done IN THE NAME OF atheism - evidently that doesn't factor into the equation) and even quotes his 'atheist friend' quite a bit - a tactic that is humorously reminiscent of the old 'I'm not a racist, I have a black friend!' BS of old.

By the end of the article, we atheists are not only anti-religion but anti-art as well (...ok?) and ends with that delightfully familiar christian claim that we are too closed minded to understand what life is really all about.

In short - epic fail