Deathmatch 2007: Fundy Atheists v. Soft Atheists

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting opinion piece entitled True Unbelievers -- A sectarian split among atheists by Christopher Orlet, about the rising backlash by more moderate atheists against the so-called New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. While Mr. Orlet clearly does not think much of atheists period, he makes some interesting points. For example, the article notes:

The soft atheists have it in for three bestselling authors in particular: Richard Dawkins (author of "The God Delusion"), Sam Harris ("Letter to a Christian Nation") and Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great"). Though they differ on many points of scripture, all three are passionately antireligious. Mr. Dawkins considers God "a psychotic delinquent." The doomsayer Mr. Harris thinks religion will destroy the world if not stopped, and Mr. Hitchens holds that "religion poisons everything." Mr. Epstein finds these authors rigid and intolerant, which ultimately makes them no different from the religious fundamentalists they condemn. Nor is he alone. As one English dean told the Guardian, Mr. Dawkins is "just as fundamentalist as the people setting off bombs on the tube."

Harvard's E.O. Wilson, another secularist, has also criticized the New Atheists, and suggests their tone is alienating important faith groups whose help is needed to solve the world's problems. "I would suggest possibly that while there is use in the critiques by Dawkins and Harris, that they've overdone it," Mr. Wilson told the AP.

Messrs. Epstein and Wilson have a point. Mr. Dawkins, et al., are intolerant. Mr. Hitchens, in particular, is intolerant of a great many things: Hypocrisy. Vacuity. Bad books. Henry Kissinger. He is especially intolerant of the multiculti Europeans, whom he considers too tolerant of intolerant Islamic fundamentalists. Though to expect an old pugilist like Hitch to ease up on believers would be like asking Joe Frazier to go easy on Mohammed Ali.

Overall, an interesting read.


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