Fundie Atheists

In the spirit of this discussion about atheism, this speech by Natalie Angier is a good example of the sort of nutcases who are representative of “mainstream atheism” (for lack of a better term. Angier is discussing how to raise “100 percent guaranteed god free children” and mentions her daughter, Katherine,

Admittedly, Katherine is lucky. She lives in a very liberal community, Takoma Park, Maryland, which went 91.8% for Kerry; and a lot of other kids, she told me, share her views about god. A couple of times she’s been told she’s going to go to hell – or, as she phrased it, the opposite of heaven; she’s remarkably curse-averse – but she says she doesn’t care because she doesn’t believe in either destination anyway. But in some places in the United States, it’s extremely tough to be an atheist, even fatal. Last October, in Taylor, Michigan, a former Eagle Scout shot another man to death because, he said, the man was “evil; he was not a believer.” We all know the sort of tolerance they teach in the Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts of America, of course. No gays allowed – guess you don’t expect them to be very good at pitching tents and tying knots, right? – and no atheists. They kicked out Darrell Lambert, a model scout if there ever was one, because he refused to say he believed in God, remember? At which point, I’m proud to say, my husband, who was a boy scout and an eagle scout and learned many skills as a scout and had earned many patches and badges, decided to send back his eagle scout medal to the Boy Scouts of America; and he wrote a beautiful essay about his decision for the Washington Post. The director of public affairs at the organization sent him an answer, saying, We accept your decision, but we hope that someday, you will come to be more open-minded in your views.

So, what advice do I have for nonbelievers trying to raise their children in a rigidly religious, small town environment? Move.

I kid you not. I went to high school in a small Michigan town, very religious, lots of baptists, also lots of drunk drivers, and believe me, they were the worst four years of my life. Move to a big city in just about any state, or move to a medium-sized city in a blue state, move to Takoma Park, or move to Canada if you can stay awake. Move to a university town. Because there are plenty of secularists out there, oh yes. Sure, weÂ’ve been told repeatedly, weÂ’ve been beaten practically comatose, with the notion that we live in an extremely religious country.

The shooting Angier mentions was committed by 49-year-old Arthur Shelton. He murdered his 62-year-old roommate, Larry Hooper, in October 2004 after the two had a long argument over religion. Shelton is apparently a very disturbed individual. He told police that his roommate was the “anti-Christ” and his public defender filed a motion saying that Shelton was “delusional” and unable to cooperate in his own defense.

And from this, Angier would actually have us conclude that living in places like Taylor, Michigan, is dangerous if you’re an atheist and that, should you find yourself in such a city, the best option would be to move out. And, on top of that, of course, implies that the Boy Scouts are churning out killers because they exclude gays.

And Angier has the gall to lecture others about the scientific method and rationality?

This view that religion is dangerous because it is irrational is one that is relatively common among nuttier atheists on the web. It makes about as much sense as conservatives such as George Gilder do when they try to link atheism with the crimes of Communist mass murderers of the 20th century. One could make exactly the sort of fallacious argument that Angier does about atheists, noting that from Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot, many of the most prominent mass murderers in history were atheists. What do you do if you find yourself in a country governed by an atheist? Move, ASAP!


TAYLOR: Death is result of debate about God. Joel Thurtell, The Detroit Free Press, October 28, 2004.


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