Atheists Aren’t the Problem, Christian Intolerance Is the Problem

By Richard Dawkins and Robyn Blumner | 30 September 2014
TIME

Richard Dawkins speaks during the National Atheist Organization’s ‘Reason Rally’ in 2012 in Washington DC. (Photo: Getty Images)

If Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s disparagement of atheists was just the ranting of a tinpot politician turned Fox News bloviator, it could be left without comment or fuss.

Unfortunately, not only does Huckabee have to be taken seriously as a possible Presidential candidate in 2016, but his suggestion that atheists who work for the government (primarily elected officials) be summarily “fired” is an applause line in too many quarters in the United States. That nonbelievers somehow deserve to be discriminated against is a view widely shared, particularly among Christian conservatives who seem to think “religion by the sword” is an oldie but a goodie.

This latest bit of hate was offered up — where else? — at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The ritual hookup between Christian conservatives and Republican presidential aspirants is a right wing, Jesus-loves-us debauch of Homophobia, Intolerance and Militarism, a trifecta easily remembered by the acronym “HIM”.

Huckabee, in a tortured metaphor about answering phones “God is ringing,” exhorted his audience to answer the God-call by making sure only people with the right values are hired for jobs in Washington and by making sure those who “refuse to hear … God’s heart” are fired. No joke, Huckabee is suggesting that we should: 1) Find out whether government employees are true believers; 2) Fire those who aren’t.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is urging Christian conservatives to vote so that those who “refuse to hear God’s heart” can be replaced by the faithful.

Yes, that is illegal, which makes the suggestion all the more stunning from someone who expects to be taken seriously on America’s national political stage.

But such warped intolerance toward people who simply don’t subscribe to a deity, is considered a ticket to electoral success in some parts of the United States. Consider Zach Dasher’s view of nonbelievers — comments he rolled back on Monday after public pressure.

This Republican congressional candidate in Louisiana and nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, suggested on his faith-based podcast that atheism contributed to the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children and six adults in 2012.

Apparently, the premier driver was not the mental illness from which shooter Adam Lanza clearly suffered, nor was it that an unstable man was able legally to amass a stockpile of weapons, thanks to his mother supplying them.

According to Dasher, “the reason why (the Sandy Hook massacre) happened is that we have denied as a culture that man is made in God’s image.” He said the “atheist agenda” reinforces a message that says “you don’t matter … all you are is chemical, all you are is material.”

Had Dasher bothered to find out about atheism, humanism and the nonreligious, he would have come to understand just how precious this community views life.

Unlike Dasher, who believes there is another existence — a better one — outside the temporal, atheists, humanists and freethinkers believe they have one life and one chance to do something meaningful with it. With no supernatural arbiter to fall back on, nonbelievers know it is up to them and them alone to promote justice, compassion and a fair society.

The proof that secular people are good, care for others and build healthy societies is evidenced in cross-national studies. The research of Phil Zuckerman at Pitzer College, demonstrates that secular societies, such as Sweden and Denmark, among others, are more likely to enjoy broadly shared prosperity and a high level of societal health and happiness than traditionally religious ones, and certainly more so than the United States.

Gregory Paul has done a similar comparison, as well as one between states within the US, and found parallel results. Which way the causal arrow goes is an interesting question: does secularism foster healthy caring, or does religiosity die away in societies where people care for one another? Paul himself says, “once a nation’s population becomes prosperous and secure, for example through economic security and universal health care, much of the population loses interest in seeking the aid and protection of supernatural entities.”

Whichever way the causal arrow goes, politicians like Huckabee and Dasher would do well to ponder (if indeed they know the meaning of the word) on Zuckerman’s summation: “(W)hen we consider the fundamental values and moral imperatives contained within the world’s great religions, such as caring for the sick, the infirm, the elderly, the poor, the orphaned, the vulnerable; practicing mercy, charity, and goodwill toward one’s fellow human beings; and fostering generosity, humility, honesty, and communal concern over individual egotism — those traditionally religious values are most successfully established, institutionalized, and put into practice at the societal level in the most irreligious nations in the world today.”

With that reality, one has to wonder what politicians like Huckabee and Dasher really stand for?

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and internationally best-selling author. Robyn Blumner is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. "With that reality, one has to wonder what politicians like Huckabee and Dasher really stand for?"

    I'm pretty sure it's controlling and forcefully imposing their superstitions on the rest of us in the form of an anti-science theocracy.

  2. Oh well then, if Sweden and Denmark have fewer Christians and they function on a higher morality and socioeconomic level than the US then I guess its case closed, thats the way to go. Uhhh, but what about all those mass genocides carried out historically by Atheistic countries like China, Russia, Germany, etc … With no higher power to answer to after you die then who cares if you kill millions of people off while your alive. In evolution its survival of the fittest, and whos to say that by culling the heard you can't make society better and stronger. Oh, I can hear it already…"how many people died during the crusades under Christianity?" A few thousand… Not millions! And Jesus didnt endorse anywhere forcing conversions onto people, that was man's sinful idea. I love the superstion, anti-science remark. You need to read some modern cutting edge molecular biology and maybe some math journals on statistics. It takes more faith to believe in evolution. Have you ever proven macro evolution via the scientific method? No, because you cant. What they teach in school today is only about 20 years behind in current modern scientific thinking as far as how life began. Micro evolution is a viable reason for how species adapt. It is not a viable reason for how a species changes into an entirely different species, nor is evolution a creating force. It cant explain how life began. Oh, i know, a primordial soup created the first cell. Really? So we're intelligent beings but we cant create life, but randomness can?! Have any idea what the odds are of a single protein being created from random occurence is? Mathmaticians do… They calculated that it would take 10 to the 171th power in years for a single protein molecule to be created by random chance. Uhhh….problem. The earth is nowhere near old enough for that time to have elapsed. The simpliest protein in an amobea requires over 400 amino acids that have to be in an exact order to function. And lets say it did happen…okay it took all those years to create one protein. Well, you need 239 proteins to create a single simple cell. So…math says its statiscally impossible, so to believe in it requires faith. Sounds like you believe in superstition too. And i havent even covered DNA. A code, or a language. First rule of language or messages…they require a mind to create them. The more complex something is, the least likely it was created by random chance. You would never look at HTML code and assume it created itself from random chance. Yet thats exactly what you do when you say you believe in Evolution and no creator. Truth of it is you dont want to be held accountable. Well whether you want to or not, you will be. God Bless.

    • you out the part about the russians and chinese being communists and stateists.

      you also missed out who made god.

      you also missed out who made the person who made god.

      i could go on :)

      • You missed the part about the good U.S. Christians committing genocide on the Native Americans.
        You missed the part about the good U.S. Christians torturing captives. You may want to check out what George Washington said about treatment of British prisoners, DESPITE the horrors American soldiers were subjected to by the British.
        You also may want to familiarize yourself with what Theodore Roosevelt said about his intent to punish every U.S. soldier who waterboarded Filipino prisoners when the U.S. overthrew their elected government following the Spanish-American War.

        You also left out the part about Protestants and Catholics killing each other for hundreds of years.
        And the Inquisition.
        And the burning of hundreds of thousand of women "witches" in Europe by good Christians.
        Not to mention the mass killings of "heretics" in the earlier days of Christianity when people who had different Christian beliefs were slaughtered by other Christians.

        Those are just for starters.

    • Dustin, you have just made a complete fool of yourself. Let me guess….you were home schooled by parents who think that the Old Testament is a science textbook? Please….stop repeating the same, tired, ridiculous garbage from Answers in Genesis…..every "argument" that you just copied from them was torn to pieces and completely decimated many years ago.

      You know absolutely NOTHING about evolution, molecular biology, statistics, history, anthropology, genetics….OR even the basics of the scientific method (which has NOTHING to do with "faith"). Your paraphrased rant provides AMPLE evidence that you are completely and utterly clueless.

      I think that you were making an attempt to argue for "irreducible complexity"….again, most 10 year olds with half a brain can blow this idea to pieces. This is a simple, easy to understand video on the fallacy of "IC": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP3AY0iHEUA

      Do you even know what evolution is? Or "survival of the fittest"? Natural selection? According to what you said above, you don't even have a BASIC understanding of either. These topics are thoroughly covered in most 8th or 9th grade classrooms (who don't look to the Bible for their science). Your REPEATED referrals to "random chance," again, have almost NOTHING to do with evolution.

      But here's the real kicker……you state that there is no way that a single, simple cell could have existed without the "assistance" of an exceedingly complex, invisible, omnipotent, highly intelligent being. So who created this astounding "being"? You just completely destroyed YOUR OWN ARGUMENT!

      Science is coming very close to discovering the origins of life and the universe. Both may be common knowledge within my lifetime.

      I am so glad that there are so many brilliant scientists and researchers among us who don't shrug their shoulders when difficult dilemmas present themselves….this is part of the beauty of science. Scientists LOVE mysteries…..the unknown inspires them to work long hours and collaborate with other brilliant minds. Scientists won't say, "Well, that origin of life stuff is just too tough for me. God did it!" Such responses are not only lazy, but inexcusable; especially when you try to convince young, curious, intelligent minds that what you claim is true.

      Oh, thought I might add….most who are reading this do not believe in the eternal "celestial dictatorship," as Hitchens so eloquently said. We believe in your god/s about as much as you believe in flying rainbow unicorn that will come sweep you off your feet

      Before you embarrass yourself any further by making such comments, please read 2 books: (I've read your Bible at least 6 times from front page to back page….with every bit of mass murder, horrific violence, misogyny, human and animal sacrifices, rape, torture, and kidnapping of innocent young women, genocide….all of which your loving god encouraged and condoned…..if I can get through that horrible book, created by Bronze Aged desert wanderers, you can read these 2 books). 1.) Richard Dawkins: "The God Delusion" and 2.) Christopher Hitchens: "God is NOT Great: Why Religion spoils Everything." If they are above you reading level, I'm sure that folds on this message board cab try to simplify them for you.

    • There's an important detail you missed which could have saved you much of your rant. The Atheistic countries responsible for atrocities did not commit the atrocities in the name of Atheism. Germany was not an Atheistic country.

  3. The Republican Congress and all GOP legislatures are bringing us closer and closer to a Christian Theocracy. It is getting dangerously close to a Christian Taliban. Im not sure whats to be done now but something has to be done. And soon.

  4. I have been watching other things as well where I am living up north along the coast the local churches are making sure that they are putting christians in managment positions for low income housing they then discriminate by putting new carpet ect in christian renters apartments and allow them to be late on their rent ect I have eight apartments surrounding me I know six out of eight are christians. They put pressure on you trying to get you to conform to there religious and political beliefs.

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