Information icon.svg Our Community Standards are under review. Your comments and inputs are welcome on the relevant project talkpage.

Talk:Atheist fundamentalism

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
This page is automatically archived by Archiver
Archives for this talk page: <1>

Extremist Atheism article?[edit]

If there's one thing the "GOD IS SO GOOD!!!" YouTube kerfuffle has taught me, it's that "extreme/fanatical/zealous atheism" exists, pound-for-pound with "extreme/fanatical/zealous theism". However, this article (Atheist fundamentalism) is really only about the idea that "fundamentalism" isn't an accurate term to use with "atheism" because there's no idea that an atheist can adhere to fundamentally. But it's still obvious that many atheists (no matter how misguided they are) lean more towards the "I believe that God doesn't exist" to such a STRONG degree that they are absolutely willing to force their views down other people's throats--and more than just write books about it. Unless people just want to deny that extreme atheists exist? But I'm sure that's not the case... -- (talk) 08:20, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Or perhaps not. Just recognized that you're more of the guys-sitting-in-the-corner-of-the-pub-yelling-BULLSHIT!-than-an-honest-encyclopedia. Kinda defeats the purpose of being "rational", but then again, it's not my site. Cheers! -- (talk) 08:24, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I hope that little rant has made you feel all betterer. :) MtDPinko Scum 10:47, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I'll just go strap a bomb to my chest and go blow up a tube station in the name of Richard Dawkins, then. Scarlet A.pngsshole 11:32, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I've just been out knocking on doors handing out my atheist tracts and forcing people to read them. It's quite hard work. Maybe writing books that people will chose to read out of interest (or not) isn't such a bad way to do things.--BobSpring is sprung! 12:18, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
To be fair, I'm an atheist too. However, I do have trouble reconciling with some elements within the atheism movement which uses language similar to the religious folk I sought to escape from. Tactics, on the other hand, are a different issue; maybe atheists are not acting to the degree of handing out Chick Tracts or killing others for the sake of their beliefs, but I can't help but feel that many atheists are guilty of use the whole "I'm smart about these things, so I must be smart about EVERY thing" and/or "I'm not acting out of anger, malice or ignorance, so therefore I'm more right" fallacies (I'll be damned if I can't remember what those fallacies was named exactly). Reading some of the comments on the top of the page makes me believe that other people here recognize this too. Of course, if you think I'm wrong about everything, I certainly wouldn't mind a little enlightening. :) -- (talk) 21:48, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I think that what your are talking about are common human failings. Atheists are no more or less likely to be prone to these than any other group of people. --BobSpring is sprung! 11:25, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, how does one separate a militant theist who is seen by certain--perhaps misguided--people as the exact reason why religion is absolutely wrong and detrimental to human society, versus a militant atheist who is seen by certain people as someone who is simply guilty of being human with very human flaws? Is the militant theist also guilty of being human and thus they are not representative of religion (particularly the idea that religion is a bad thing), or is the militant atheist an example of the extent that atheism can take someone and is thus a perfect example of how atheism is "wrong"? It can't be both... right? -- (talk) 03:08, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid that I'm not sure that I fully understand your point. Though I think your may be conflating "religion" and "god". There is no doubt in my mind that religions do many strange and some bad things. But that does not mean that gods do not exist. All religions could be completely wrong and evil and god could still exist. Or god might not exist and all religions might be the best thing since sliced bread. The two things are not dependent on each other though, for some reason, they seem to be combined an a rather flawed argument - "As religion is bad then I don't believe in god". It's really a non sequitur.--BobSpring is sprung! 23:06, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

I think 66...62 is touching on a meaningful point, but not entirely going into it, that this article doesn't seem to deal with the definition of "fundamentalist". Under the original definition--a Christian movement believing in literal interpretation of the Bible--"atheist fundamentalist" is obviously absurd. 'Makes for a pretty empty article. However, the meaning has degenerated past "guys who kill and blow stuff up" to a point of name-calling. Specifically, anyone with views too extreme for the speaker. By that definition, there's an atheist fundamentalist around every corner. (talk) 03:56, 30 March 2013 (UTC)


I don't think any of the new atheists can fairly be called "atheist fundamentalists". But I think a lot of the communists could be called that. Although the new atheists strenuously disagree with religion, they don't propose unequal rights for religious people - such as, banning religious people from holding jobs, blowing up churches, killing priests/ministers, censoring religious books, etc. But, historically, the communists in the Soviet Union and other countries did all these things. So, although I don't think New Atheism is a form of atheist fundamentalism, I think a lot of Soviet Atheism was. One of the distinguishing features of Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, is not just their beliefs, but also their opposition to the rights of others. New Atheists don't fit the bill, but Soviet Atheism surely did... --(((Zack Martin))) 11:45, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I think that I would agree. Also those communists were atheists as a consequence of a positive belief - the "self-evident truths" of communism. So they actually has some views to be fundamentalist about. But then I'm not sure if that makes them "fundamentalist athiests" or "fundamentalist communists".--BobSpring is sprung! 12:13, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Or, more accurately, fundamentalist Marxists. It's the bit about religion being the opium of the masses that gets jumped upon. Jack Hughes (talk) 14:27, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, there we go. There have exists all-too-human atheists who hate religion to the degree that they would use their powers to eliminate those who disagree with them. Obviously no atheist today is preaching intolerance towards theists... or are they? -- (talk) 21:50, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
The strong atheists and some antitheists would qualify, I think. However, it seems like strong atheism is mostly associated with political philosophies like communism or Objectivism (though Objectivists don't advocate the elimination of religion by force). Really the only one I can think of that would qualify as not subscribing to atheism as part of a political philosophy that requires it is Hitch, especially since he thinks Iraq was worth it to take out the Muslim fundies. Otherwise, I'm drawing a blank. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:22, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I may have misunderstood. Are you saying that strong atheists hate religion and would eliminate it by force?--BobSpring is sprung! 11:28, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
As I've mused at great tl;dr length on the atheist page, you cannot get a stronger form of atheism: "I don't believe in God". It's all relating to your positive attitudes towards it, and the 'strong'/'weak' and the 'implicit'/'explicit' distinctions relate to these attitudes toward the belief, not the supposed "strength" of the belief (e.g., living as if there is no god, actively denying god, and so on). It's wrong to confuse "strong atheism" with "antitheism" as those are different things. You can say that some atheists are anti-theists, and that most anti-theists are atheists. But you cannot say that "more atheist" is a real thing, yet alone say that this equates to anti-theism. Scarlet A.pngsshole 15:22, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
"I may have misunderstood. Are you saying that strong atheists hate religion and would eliminate it by force?" No, just that I'd file them under "atheist fundamentalist" because they claim definitively that no god exists or that they've "disproven" god. But when strong atheism overlaps with political ideologies like communism, they would use force. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:38, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
When I was an atheist, it was not for political reasons. As for the Reds: (1) their anti-religion campaigns were aimed at opponents of communism rather than at theists; (2) the only reason we do not call communism a religion is a rather trivial semantic issue, viz., to date, Reds have merely canonized Marx rather than deifying him. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:04, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, then what's to say that someone like George W. Bush didn't just aim his religious campaigns at American's/freedom's/HIS opponents ONLY because they were his opponents and not because they were actually non-Dubya's-brand-of-Christians? It's quite clear to me that Leaders are guilty of both just using (ir)religion to push their completely non-religious agendas, as well as using (ir)religion to push their completely (ir)religious agendas, and thus use force in order to ensure their victory over their opponents. -- (talk) 04:52, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
If you intended that for a reductio ad absurdum, it is not working, since most critics of Bush argue that he targeted people because they were sitting on oil that his cronies wanted, rather than for any religious reasons. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:08, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
ADK: That's a good point about the difference between "strong atheism" and "anti-theism", I didn't think of it like that. I mean, I'd say I'm a week atheist, as I simply don't have any proof of the existence of (a) God, and that my (weak) atheism doesn't affect whether or not I have some anti-theist points of view (as I still felt this way when I was a theist). So wait, would you say there is a difference between "I don't believe in god(s)" versus "I believe that there is NO god"?
I guess then, maybe this article could address the fact that there is some basis in the concept of "atheist fundamentalism", but that the term "anti-theism" covers this concept better than "atheist fundamentalism"... considering that many (weak and strong) atheists are guilty of having extremely strong anti-theist points of view, at least more than neutral-theist atheist or even pro-theist atheist (those who don't believe in god(s) but still find value in the rituals, teachings and culture found in religions) points of views... and CERTAINLY more atheists are anti-theist than not? But that's just what I think. :) In any case, I do certainly appreciate these conversations, as I have found them to be quite enlightening! -- (talk) 04:52, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Although subtle, nuanced and very small, I would definitely say there is a difference between "I don't believe in god(s)" and "I believe there is(are) no god(s)". The former is merely the absence of belief and, because the ubiquity of religion necessitates it, highlighting it as a position. The phrase "I don't believe in god(s)" is also placed firmly within the context of religion - you acknowledge the beliefs but note that you do not follow them. On the other hand, the latter phrase puts forward a more concrete hypothesis, and is phrased in a more positive sense. A firm statement that there are no gods is somewhat independent of existing religious beliefs - you're saying that no gods exist, regardless if people have thought them up yet or not. This is important because you can't really say for sure that you reject a religion if it hasn't been conceived yet (otherwise you're taking a very big liberty in reason). Again, this distinction is subtle but I think it's very significant. As atheism only really makes sense in the context of existing religions, it makes this so-called "weak" view (that I simply don't believe, rather than I believe it isn't true) more justifiable as it relates it back to existing religions. Scarlet A.pngsshole 17:52, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

BOB: I have absolutely no solid evidence that strong atheists and/or anti-theists are actively pursuing an agenda to destroy theism/religion through force. Destroying religion through intelligent and rational conversation, perhaps, but that's not through the use of "force". But that doesn't mean I haven't observed rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth atheists, who use language which is too uncomfortably similar to the language that militarized theists use when discussing people who don't share their beliefs. For example, in that "GOD IS SO GOOD!!!" YouTube video, I made some "hey theists and atheists, let's just agree on being humanists!!" However, there was an atheist poster--which was VERY quick to assume stuff about me, btw--who said to me:
"You worship an evil, murderous, savage, psychotic god you fucking bitch. Get the fuck out of here with your fairy tale bullshit you ignorant fuck. Your bible is plagiarized from Sumerian text and other civilizations that existed before your phony bullshit jesus [sic]"
Now this is the kind of language that made me leave religion, but I've been seeing this same shit spewing out of the mouths of a fair share of atheists. Maybe I was naive to assume that atheism would be an escape from people like this guy. .... ANNNYyyyways, perhaps atheists who talk like this guy truly DON'T have any intention of destroying theism/religion through force and are instead simply content at just SOUNDING completely irrational. But still, when I hear atheists talk like that, I have a REALLY hard time trying to believe that destroying religion by force ISN'T on their mind, and would do so, given the chance... if only because the track records of other groups of people with a similar tone aren't all that clean, DESPITE their current unwillingness to rape and pillage. -- (talk) 04:52, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
It's possible that you misunderstand what the word "strong" means in the term "strong atheist". It does not refer to the vehemence of their views. For example Dawkins is not a "strong atheist", as he allows for the minute theoretical possibility that a god or gods might exist. --BobSpring is sprung! 07:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Secondly, you are expecting too much from atheism. You can be an atheist and also be a mass-murderer, a priest, a politician or a bully. You could also not believe in bigfoot and be any of those things. Having said that, many athiests are rational, secular humanists and we would obviously hold them to a higher standard. But simply being an atheist tells people nothing about how you will behave. --BobSpring is sprung! 07:35, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. If we're going to use YouTube comments, I'm going to have to call nutpicking. As Bob says, atheism is no guarantee of, well, sanity. However, the movement here in the US seems to me driven by secularism, the same sentiment expressed so famously in Jefferson's correspondence with the Danbury Baptists. If the rights of the Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. can be taken away, so can ours. Show me a major atheist organization in the US advocating for the forceful abolition of religion and I'll write an RW article tearing it apart. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 08:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually I'm just looking at something else from our IP:
  • Now this is the kind of language that made me leave religion ...
I don't think that's the best of reasons for giving up on religion. I would have thought the fact that religious beliefs are weird would be a better reason then some religious people are weird. You can find some weird people in every group - even here.--BobSpring is sprung! 17:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. Would that be a specific case of argument from adverse consequences? Specifically, the poor attitudes of some adherents is an adverse consequence of adherence. Thus it cannot be used as an argument against holding that belief. Scarlet A.pngsshole 17:55, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Curious about "as atheism doesn't have a system of beliefs that one can fundamentally adhere to"[edit]

I've heard the argument of "atheism is a belief just like not collecting stamps is a hobby (as in, it isn't)"... but I've also heard the counterargument that "while not collecting stamps isn't a hobby, telling everyone how much you don't collect stamps, and how NOT collecting stamps is an regular part of your life, may be one". Or, to put it in another way, there's a difference between "I don't believe in God" and "I believe that God doesn't exist". With this in mind, wouldn't the later position form the basis of "a system of beliefs that one can fundamentally adhere to", since it clearly IS a specific belief in God's nonexistence, as opposed to a non-belief in God's existence?

If, of course, someone would argue "NO atheist is of the type 'I believe that God doesn't exist"... aside from the fact that you don't hear people organizing along the lines of their non-stamp-collecting-ism (and THEN splitting themselves into New Nonstampcollectionists or Nonstampcollectionist+ sides), there are many people who do consider themselves atheists who outright accept the position of "I believe that God doesn't exist". Even if they are in the minority, wouldn't that mean that there ARE some atheists who have a "system of beliefs that one can [eventually] fundamentally adhere to"? Or would their belief in God's nonexistence imply that they are technically no longer an "atheist" but something else?

I'm sure these are questions people have already worked out, and thus I'm sure there's a reason why it isn't included in the article. I'm also well aware Dawkins clearly stated that saying "God doesn't exist" would be a Faith-based position and thus prefers to say "God almost certainly doesn't exist", and thus wouldn't be someone who would--technically--be considered a Atheist fundamentalist because he doesn't claim a belief. But that's the thing; apparently not everyone who considers themselves to be an atheist follows this position.

I'm ultimately not claiming that atheist fundamentalism exists, just that some atheists DO have a system of belief(s) that they could fundamentally adhere to. Even if it's just one belief... two if the other belief is "all faith-based ideas are counter to scientific thought and should be criticized" (as opposed to the position of Accommodationism). What's your thought? -- (talk) 09:27, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Most athiests I know have the same level of belief in gods as they do in fairies. There is no good evidence for them so they do not believe they exist. Should firm evidence for fairies be provided then the position would change. Now, there is a general belief system here - being that we should only believe things for which there is evidence or - perhaps more accurately - that our level of belief should be proportional to the quantity and quality of the evidence. My guess would be that this is the most common atheist position today.
Having said that, there are other types of athiests.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 10:13, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
It entirely depends on what you want to call a "belief", and whether a certain collection of beliefs constitutes a "system". For instance, you believe there is a person typing this comment on a keyboard, that's a belief. That you can have this belief without having seen it happen first hand based on evidence and the fact you've seen people type into the MediaWiki interface before could constitute a belief system - e.g., methodological naturalism. In that case, atheists can have a belief system, but only in the sense that all people have some kind of belief system so that doesn't say much.
Whether an atheist comes out and says "I don't believe in God" is entirely due to a wider context of how dominant religion is. Christianity rules US politics, the Church of England gets a free ride in the UK legislature - so to come out and say "I have no religion" is a political statement based on such context, not really a statement about whether atheism counts as a belief system to adhere to. Scarlet A.pngtheist 10:39, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Biblical Literalism as Fundamentalist Atheism[edit]

As I understand it, the term "fundamentalist atheist" is used to apply to people who are atheists, but still interpret the Bible in a similar manner that fundamentalist Christians do.

Fundamentalist Christians are notable for looking at the Bible in very black and white terms. The book is either God's Inspired Word, or the entire document is unreliable. For example, G. Richard Bozarth once argued that, if Genesis is wrong about there being an initial Adam and Eve, than Jesus was not really the Son of God and Christianity collapses. A fundamentalist atheist, then, would employ similar logic in an argument about the Bible, bringing up all sorts of Biblical contradictions and saying that this means that we can disregard anything the Bible has to say, because it's clearly not the inerrant and inspired word of God. This, of course, ignores the fact that if the Bible is not the Word of God, it is still an ancient document that must be analyzed like every other document.

These fundamentalist atheists might even criticize Christians for not interpreting the Bible more literally, which they believe is the "right" way to interpret the Bible. — Unsigned, by: Ermac / talk / contribs

An interesting interpretation which I haven't heard before. But wouldn't that mean that only athiests who had a particular opinion about one particular old book could be "fundamentalist atheists"? Someone who just dismissed the bible as total and utter irrelevant crap wouldn't be one? Or an ex Muslim with an opinion about the Koran but not about the bible couldn't be a "fundamentalist atheist"?--Weirdstuff (talk) 15:27, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
As much as I dislike the odd "extreme" athesit, the anti theist ones, I've never once met or read an athist who thinks the bible was written lterally or to be read literally, any more than they would think people who wrote myths or fairy tales wrote them literally. Green mowse.pngGodot The ablity to breath is such an overrated ability 16:35, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
But most athiests would say that the Bible literately says that the world was created in seven days and that a talking snake persuaded Eve to eat an apple which then caused God to curse all women in perpetuity. And the Bible does literally say this. Nobody could argue that this is not what the bible literally says. It is also what a large number of Christians literally believe to be true.
Another group of Christians would interpret the various biblical stories in different allegorical ways. I guess that he is suggesting that a "non-fundamentalist" atheist would chose one of these various allegorical meanings and espouse it as the "true meaning" of the Bible.
I have two objections to this. The first being that it interprets atheism only in the light of the Christian religion and the second is that it suggests that athiests should have some opinion about what the Bible "really means" which is different to what it literally says.--Weirdstuff (talk) 17:18, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I would happily mock the literal interpretation of the Bible. But I also happily, and regularly, mock Twilight. It doesn't mean I think Bella Swan literally exists, only that the interpretation from the inside is highly mockable. You know, how the mark of intelligence is to entertain an idea without accepting it. It's an interesting use of the term "fundamentalist atheist", but I've never encountered it before. I would say that it's awkward nomenclature at best, though. That said, "These fundamentalist atheists might even criticize Christians for not interpreting the Bible more literally, which they believe is the "right" way to interpret the Bible." does sound like familiar behaviour of the sort of atheist who would be deserving of the "fundamentalist" label. Scarlet A.pngtheist 18:01, 30 August 2013 (UTC)


Hi, AFAIK it was Derrida and other French Deconstructionists that coined the term in the 1990s. Almost his last work was on 'The God Hypothesis' to counter Dawkin's 'The God Delusion. His position was that the same lack of logical thought was seen in both theist and atheist fundamentalists. Belief in facts from non-priori sources, inability to tolerate others beliefs, belief that their position made them more worthy than others and devoted effort into spreading their beliefs amongst others and silencing detractors. (Source: Provocation and Negotiation.: Essays in Comparative Criticism. ISBN 978-9042037052.) Sorry for the clunky reffing but it's a point internally discussed by the author in the series of works originally published within the scientific periodicals given over to the specialists in that specific discipline. I will have to consult my French bookshelves which are unhelpfully stored at my sisters home. I hope it is useful but admit I have no formal training in philosophy although part of my education was given over to the study of ethics. Cheers, Sean — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Moved. Herr FüzzyCätPötätö (talk/stalk) 18:43, 8 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that insight, Sean! As someone who actually has a formal university education in philosophy, I'm going to let you in on the fact that the very concept of "Atheist fundamentalism" is a bit flawed. Here's why, in a nutshell. Now, Derrida was an interesting thinker to be sure, but that's not measured against the fact that there was very much indeed that he got wrong. All the best, Reverend Black Percy (talk) 12:20, 9 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that insight. I've often wondered why people identify as atheist rather than humanist. - My best wishes to you and to everyone you care for RBP. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
No problem buddy. Welcome back anytime. All the best, Reverend Black Percy (talk) 16:11, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

suggestion for additonal content[edit]

I would recommend including this explanatory video by one J.P. Holding in this article, along with a link to the Horseshoe Theory article:

Skadooshbag (talk) 21:20, 15 June 2018 (UTC)