Ask a deeply religious Christian if heâ€™d rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists donâ€™t seem so bad lately.
Heh. Scott Adams is quite amusing in his advocacy of atheism, but I think it has less to do with social acceptance due to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, and more to do with a plethora of atheist voices finally being forcefully raised.
Richard Dawkins has always been an outspoken atheist. His role at Oxford is in the promotion of scientific understanding and he has never been shy about his views on religion during the last 30 years that he has been a prominent evolutionary ethologist.
Likewise Penn & Teller have not been backward about being forward about their atheism. It has been an “open secret” within the entertainment industry since the 80s. Their recent syndicated show is along the lines of the public denunciations and skepticism that James Randi did in the 70s and 80s.
What the present environment has done is made atheists less complacent. For too long they have considered religion to be harmless nonsense. Like a child believing clapping will save Tinkerbell they sit mindlessly in prayer, and achieve nothing. But this opinion has changed, as Richard Dawkins pointed out in a call to arms to his fellow atheists,
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labeled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let’s now stop being so damned respectful!
Atheists have had it with being polite and demure and are now pointing out, quite forcefully, that religious thought itself is the basis of religious fanaticism.
And that moderate, or liberal, religious faith is the petri dish in which fundamentalist doctrine germinates.
I think Bill Gates is a good candidate for President. A person who believes in genuine charity rather than the conditional charity of most religious organizations. [The ones without a secular operating principal. The ones that insist on either conversion or religious attendance before charitable actions take place. i.e. The majority.]
He has also shown that he can change strategically stupid decisions, i.e. MS Bob and believing the internet was a fad, into overnight economic successes.
He works far more like the US Marines than any draft dodging, cocaine abusing, bible-bashing, rapture believing President ever could. He changes, even 180° changes, his direction based on the latest information. Just like the marines, if the conditions do not fit the intelligence then rethink the strategy. [I doubt Iraq would have been as much a mess had he been in charge. I also doubt it would have been a bed of roses, but the ability to determine and drastically change a failing strategy is why Microsoft is still the dominant player in IT. And such an pragmatic attitude is far more beneficial than any ideological fanaticism.]
He is also an atheist. And perhaps it is about time the most powerful country in the world was no longer controlled by people who believe in fairytales.
My point, from which I have digressed, is that atheists are not coming out of the closet because the world is less frightened of them than Muslims, but because atheists have decided that enough is enough are are coming out of the closet anyway.
It is far more of a conscious positive change than a passive one.