What with the death of Christopher Hitchens on the front page of pretty much every news outlet in the world, the comments are full of people’s opinions about atheism and atheists. In the spirit of Shakesville, asking the question “Which film trope needs to go away forever?” (somebody quoted me there, which is how I saw it), I want to know which atheist tropes need to take a dirt nap.
I’ll start (thus snagging the easy ones): Inflamed hemorrhoid and commenter “Art Aficionado”, on NPR, on his third comment in the first eight on Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s piece on Hitchens (seriously, NPR, BBH? Were all the interns gone on college break?) writes “I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Hitchens prayed to God in his final moments. It’s very plausible.” He repeats this claim several times across the comments, in response to those who show him how unlikely this would be, and how irrelevant.
In the same thread, we see multiple commenters noting that Hitchens, despite Dinesh D’Souza’s (again, NPR, this is why BBH shouldn’t have been let near this piece) description of Hitch as “a happy atheist” (given D’Souza, this description made him stand out from other atheists), seemed to them to be bitter, unhappy, and angry. This trope imposes a personality on atheists that outshines any description or actual evidence of happiness, and it’s old, by this point.
Oh, but there are more! Another commenter pulls out the old favorite “atheism is like a religion in many ways.” In the same way that it is like peanut butter, or b-flat, or fuzzy kittens, maybe—they are both nouns. Any way that atheism is like religion, that is not much more true of Manchester United fandom, is utterly irrelevant.
I could go on, but that would defeat the purpose. What atheist tropes can we bury in an unmarked grave in Potter’s Field?