If we speak about morality we are hyper-moralistic

My understanding of it is that god to a lot of people is less of any sort of central intelligence, and more of an emotion. That's why I say it's their community, because that's what they're feeling. It's the feeling of community and..damn. What's the word again? I can't remember it.

In any case, they feel it in their church. And that's what they perceive god to be. And that's real. I don't believe it actually IS god, in how we define a "god" to be in terms of our discourse...which is basically again an ultra (if not omni) powerful intelligent force, but there's no disputing, at least to me that emotional connection is real. It's something I'd dare say we've all experienced.

Which goes to various religious groups fighting against non-religious gatherings, in that people might realize they can get those emotions in places other than church, but that's neither here nor there.

In any case, I'll let all the people here who might not get it into a little jasmin live secret. Atheists tend to be hyper-moralistic. Really. The reason for that is probably years of being told that we're not moral at all..so it's sort of a rebound type effect. Folks such as Dawkins, are making moral type arguments, not against religion just for its own sake, but against the perceived immorality of religion. Truth and lies and all that.

I think he and the others kind of miss the point on the definitions thing...I think that realizing that modern religion is less about anthromorphic intelligence and more about community emotion is essential to understanding the movement...however the greater point stands.

Is it about breaking down negative stereotypes about atheists? At this point? No. It's not. It's about breaking down positive stereotypes about theists. This is something that in my opinion is much worse and gives cover to a lot of the crimes and tragedies that take place in this world. The concept that your moral worth really has nothing to do with your religion is too important to leave in the closet.

What the New Atheists Don't See

I do think that a big part of the hysteria is the fear that Christmas will be taken away. Because a lot of people - myself included - genuinely love Christmas, despite the consumerism. I love the carols; I love the food; I love giving presents even more than getting them. Plus it's nice to get a week off in the depths of winter.

And, frankly, I have run into some people on chaturbate rooms (not a lot, but some) who really seem to be Puritanical in the other direction, as in if it ever had anything to do with religion, ever, it MUST BE PURGED FROM PUBLIC LIFE!!!

I would respectfully posit that this has less to do with the existence of relief

The Rude Atheist, and its close associate, The Militant Atheist Who Gives Atheists a Bad Name, are rampant, and they make discussion of atheism very frustrating.

I had this problem recently in an online discussion of belief and respect thereof. There was some very thoughtful discussion between a faithful Catholic and a couple of atheists, wherein we managed to explain that, no, we could not respect a belief that we think is flawed just because that relief is religious, but that we were perfectly capable of respecting the intelligence of the person holding that belief (we all have irrational and false beliefs. It was going well.

Then another jasminelive commenter appeared and repeated the old canard that militant, aggressive atheists are responsible for the reputation of atheists and any crap that they get from theists. In a bizarre stretch of non-logic, he compared the Rude Atheists to the Westboro Baptist Church (when I asked in subsequent posts how militant atheists could be responsible for distrust and hatred of all atheists, while Christians are still generally liked and respected in spite of the existence of WBC, no answer was forthcoming).

Blaming the victim tends to anger me, so I responded and argued his claims. A bit angrily, yes. I felt, given that (against the rules of the discussion) a group of people had been attacked, that it was not unjustified. The debate intensifies, and this fellow informs me in his follow-up that HE is an atheist!

And that's what kills me: atheists buy into this bullshit, too! The belief that, when atheist refuse to play by the rules (i.e. shut up and pretend you don't really exist), they are being militant and aggressive and hurting their own cause, is deeply entrenched even among our supposed allies. I would like to point out to these people that things weren't any better when we weren't speaking up. It reminds me of bigots saying that they don't care about gay people, they just don't want them being openly gay.

It is especially difficult to inform people that atheists need to be able to speak when so many "out" atheists live in a bubble. This fellow showed that he has a nasty case of White Man syndrome ("my life is representative of the experiences of most people") when he claimed that atheists aren't marginalized and oppressed, because he's never experienced any trouble as an atheist. Of course, he lives in eastern Massachusetts, probably not working a government job.

I agree 100% with Dawkins: there is no reason for religion to get special treatment, simply because it is a "sincerely held" belief. Well, my belief that people who profess a love for ginger chews must have experienced a frontal lobotomy at one time is also sincerely held, but that doesn't mean it deserves respect. And I also agree with Amanda: the criticism of Dawkins stems from his refusal to play by the rules and tiptoe around religion. If believers can't take a direct challenge, maybe they should examine their faith more deeply.

I'm pretty sure that I didn't say religious discrimination is acceptable

In the specific case I'm thinking of, it was actual death threats against the "Christ-killer." A little more than exclusion of a minority religion, and not the kind of situation where it's useful for the Jewish kid to tell the bullies that believing in God is stupid anyway.

All I'm arguing for is freedom of discourse - and making religious beliefs sacrosanct and immune from question and debate is contrary to that freedom. But freedom of discourse freedom to persecute. I never said that.

Freedom of discourse is fine - I agree that religion should be treated like any other philosophy in the marketplace of ideas.

It's when people try to extend that to the actual marketplace that the trouble starts. Which is why the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and federal and state laws guarantee freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion. So I do think that, based on several hundred, if not thousands, of years of human history, that religion does require a few extra safeguards that a belief in UFOs or veganism does not.

Of course, for these purposes, atheism falls into the "religion" category as far as the more stringent protections go, ironic as that may seem. An atheist is and should be entitled to the same protections under the law as a Jehovah's Witness and a Wiccan.

It is basically an exercise in desperate interpretation

My godless mother loves Christmas, and among the seasonal decorations she alway assembles a manger scene. Over the years we've accreted figurines, so that now we have the three kings and also three 3/4 scale kings, as well as shepherds, comical camels and dinosaurs. Once it's part of the tradition you can't throw it out.

So we have the Starship Enterprise ornament, the rotating balloon that demands its own void in the holiday pine, infants roasting on an open fire - what, is it Christmas again? It's still t-shirt time in southern California.