The Enemy …

This quote from Babylon 5 sums up why I often get a very nervous feeling from some of the New or Gnu Atheist and anti-theist arguments and comments, and even the whole incivility debate:

“You forgot the first rule of a fanatic. When you become obsessed with the enemy, you become the enemy.” — Sinclair to ‘Tular’ in Babylon 5:”Infection”

I see a lot of the discussions being about there being enemies, and evil to fight.  There being sides, and having to choose sides, and how not choosing the exact side that people think is right is a sign that you’re the enemy, too.  I worry that there are going to be fundamentalist anti-theists who are going to become obsessed with the enemy, and thus become it.  And the enemy of everyone.

There’s a common comment that extremist religious people kill and oppress people, while extremist atheists simply talk nastily about those things.  Which is a fair comment.  But I’m less concerned about the specific actions and more concerned about the attitude, because given the same circumstances anyone with that attitude will commit the same sorts of crimes.  It’s the attitude, not the source, that causes the problem.  And I see a lot of the attitude in some of the comments that get made, mostly by the “rank and file” in comment threads as opposed to those who take a bit more time to think about what they’re saying (although it’s there as well, at times).

Steven Wineburg is often quoted as saying “In order for good people to do evil things it takes religion” (or something similar).  He’s flat-out wrong.  In order for good people to do evil things, it takes two things:  1) A belief that the ends justify the means and 2) A belief that they have sufficient ends.  The modern anti-theist and anti-religion movement clearly has the second.  Some clearly think they have the first.   That is not a good thing.

Atheism or even humanism does not make one immune to evil, any more than religion does.  And if anyone thinks it does, then they are, in fact, dangerously wrong.

One Response to “The Enemy …”

  1. Making enemies left, right and centre … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] I’ve talked before about how it seems to me that the Gnu Atheists are getting obsessed with th…, but reading the first few pages of Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith” has driven home another thought: just how many enemies the Gnu Atheists are making. And by that, I don’t mean people who consider them enemies, but people they consider enemies. There are: […]

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