Idolatry of the atheist kind is just as repellent as any other


For those who don’t know, Todd Stiefel is a wealthy philanthropist who has been giving money to atheist organizations for over a decade. It seemed a good and noble use of his money, but now I don’t know — maybe it wasn’t about the cause so much as it was a cult of personality. He is deeply peeved that anyone would disagree with Richard Dawkins, and is going to use his money to punish those who question his words.

Wow. He will not support organizations that criticize Richard Dawkins — that is his right, of course, no one is going to compel him to donate to non-Dawkinsite organizations — but it’s still a chilling comment. Is there a loyalty oath or statement of faith attached to any grant from the Stiefel foundation? This is exactly what I never wanted to see happen to atheism, that it become a dogma attached to a figurehead, no matter who it is. The details of that letter are ill-thought out, too.

He’s unhappy because the American Humanists were “extremely public”. I don’t know what that means. Did they put on a parade or put up a billboard? No, they issued a mundane press release, kind of the minimum statement to explain a change in their policy. What were they supposed to do, shut up and be silent and not criticize Richard Dawkins at all? As Stiefel writes further down, this was “an opportunity to educate, disagree, and criticize”…which is what they did! They made a statement that said, “Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values”, and removed an honorary award because he no longer represented the values of the organization. That’s it.

To Stiefel, this is “figuratively burning a heretic.”

He goes on to claim that Dawkins is “canceled”, an over-used, meaningless term that right-wingers love. Likewise, he implies that Dawkins has been erased from history. Hyperbole much? Dawkins is still selling books, still being invited to speak, is still living a comfortable upper class life, and still has mobs of fawning acolytes, as we can see above. I am appalled that atheism is now supposed to have idols.

I’m not even going to discuss his entire “transethnic” excuse, other than to point out that Dawkins was using the term entirely according to this definition: “a racist transphobic trolling and derailling tactic deployed when trans oppression is being discussed”. While maybe there are contexts — complex, fraught contexts — where it can be discussed reasonably, a Twitter fart from Richard Dawkins is not one of them.

This has been an issue with Richard Dawkins for over a decade, and he has learned nothing, and gotten worse, if anything. He is still defending his anti-trans stance for which AHA rebuked him.

Dawkins, however, disagrees. He is, he said, not a misogynist, as some critics have called him, but “a passionate feminist.” The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.

“And so I occasionally wax a little sarcastic, and I when I have done that, I then have subsequently discovered some truly horrific things, which is that some of the women who were the butt of my sarcasm then became the butt of really horrible or serious threats, which is totally disgusting and I know how horrible that is and that, of course, I absolutely abominate and absolutely repudiate and abhor.”

Man, Islam is still his excuse for everything. Hey, you American women, shut up and stop complaining about being groped at work or treated sexually in professional situations. Don’t you know Muslim are horribly abused? He still hasn’t grasped the fallacy of relative privation. He still thinks he’s a passionate feminist even as he suggests that women ought to accept that their co-workers get to touch them inappropriately.

Hey, Richard! Stop complaining about being snubbed for an honorary award! Don’t you know that transgender women are still being murdered by Christians, and good Christian lawmakers are busy writing laws to oppress them further, right here in America, and in the UK, too? By comparison, everything that has happened to you is relatively trivial.

When you “wax a little sarcastic”, and discover that your zealous followers are being totally disgusting, do you ever retract and apologize? Have you ever apologized to Rebecca Watson, who is still clearly occupying a quadrant of your great brain? Do you abominate and absolutely repudiate and abhor the fact that you, personally and directly, blacklisted her from any conference that invited you to speak?

Does Todd Stiefel realize that Dawkins has consistently failed to live up to the values of free inquiry?

Comments

  1. says

    Dr Badger’s Sarcasm Wax, coming to fine wooeries everywhere: gives your sarcasm a sniny luster, then drips off! $9.99 at skeevy websites everywhere.

  2. Bernard Bumner says

    It’s an article by Toby Young in the Daily Mail.

    Cited in a Tweet where replies are limited. Effectively warning that their organisations and personalities will wither in the face of ridicule.

    These supposed great thinkers and their patrons innoculating their cadre from criticism seems inconsistent with the values upon which they built their reputations.

  3. kome says

    I wish these idiots would be cancelled, instead of having their messages amplified every single time they say something stupidly bigoted.

  4. raven says

    As Arkansas bans treatments for transgender youth, 15 other states consider similar bills
    Chelsey Cox USA TODAY April 08, 2021
    and
    Anti-transgender legislation in 2021: A record-breaking year …https://www.cnn.com › 2021/04/15 › politics › anti-transg…

    5 days ago — Thirty-three states have introduced more than 100 bills that aim to curb the rights of transgender people across the country, with advocacy …

    The fundie xian/GOP new hate target is Trans people.
    In 4 months they have introduced over 100 bills targeting Trans people. Mostly children at that.
    They are using the power of the state and the law to do this.
    One of these bills just outright declares that Trans people don’t exist.

    If Dawkins, the Dawkins fanboys, or Tod Stiefel want to do something constructive, they could speak out about the ongoing fundie xian/GOP attacks on a minority of 1-2% of the population!!!
    Their silence is deafening here.
    Instead, they are de facto on the same side.

  5. PaulBC says

    The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

    If only it led him to STFU because he has no idea what he’s talking about. There are many outspoken Islamic women who can address that topic with credibility. Nobody needs Dawkins as their white knight.

    I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler … I then have subsequently discovered some truly horrific things, which is that some of the women who were the butt of my sarcasm then became the butt of really horrible or serious threats

    While I can’t read minds, this distinction suggests “something I may have done and forgiven myself for” vs. “something that of course I’d never do–I’m not a monster”. (Also, though it’s not very relevant: you can be the butt of a joke or comment, but you are the target of a threat. It still sounds like he’s minimizing and just can’t help himself.)

  6. hemidactylus says

    Ah Pinker AND Goldstein have opined.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/sapinker/status/1385011253924478981

    Someone tell me again how Dawkins qualifies as “one of our greatest living scientists”. Really? Seriously?

    Oh and because free speech means every word is sacred Pinker has canceled most everyone by default:

    “Who can reply?
    People @sapinker follows or mentioned can reply.”

    You can’t frickin’ make this shit up!

  7. garnetstar says

    So, Dawkins thinks that the greatest threat to women is posed by Islam, jihadists, etc. Very convenient, as none of those are in his backyard, and occur mainly in countries where he has no influence or effect. Gives him every excuse not to do anything about threats to women closer to home, where he could make more of a difference. Just an excuse not to have to make an effort to address sexism around him, such as harassment in workplaces.

    May I ask: what is “transethnic”? Is that a thing, or is that a word that was made up for Rachel Dolzeal?

  8. garnetstar says

    Sorry, I finally followed the link and read the “transethnic” definition. Just as I thought.

  9. raven says

    The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

    He has a point but not much of one.
    A lot of Islam is a problem for women who live in those societies.
    He loses it where Sam Harris loses it.

    .1. It’s not our problem.
    We don’t live in the Middle East.
    We live here.
    And we have our own problems with misogyny and our own version of Islam called fundie xianity.
    .2. I can’t do much about the problems of women in majority Islamic societies.
    I’m not there, don’t speak the language, and have zero influence or power in those societies.
    I can do something in the USA though!!
    Can, have, and will.
    By myself not much but with a hundred million or so of my friends, we’ve done a lot.

  10. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@9

    Someone tell me again how Dawkins qualifies as “one of our greatest living scientists”. Really? Seriously?

    I guess it depends on how long you make the list. He is (or was) a serious scientist, but his research contributions aren’t primarily responsible for his celebrity status. Pinker (I don’t know about Goldstein) inhabits a world in which it’s all about being a celebrity, so “greatest” may be self-serving. He probably considers himself one of the greatest, as opposed to one of the loudest, in his field.

    Based on comments I’ve read elsewhere, creationists share the perception of Dawkins as the most important living evolutionary biologist. The cult of celebrity is really damaging to the public understanding of science.

  11. raven says

    …and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler

    Don’t touch other people without their permission!!! Just don’t.

    This is for the obvious reasons but made more imperative by the current pandemic.
    It’s also another easy social measure to limit Covid-19 virus spread.

  12. Aoife_b says

    Bloody hell, I just want to live without being miserable. Can we have one day where the cis can’t tweet about us?

  13. jenorafeuer says

    … “a passionate feminist.” The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism…

    It really shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but that is just so blatantly a ‘White Saviour’ approach applied to feminism. “Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, I’m smart, I don’t have to listen to you because I already know what you really need…”

  14. hemidactylus says

    @13- PaulBC

    Sorry I was laser-focused on the scientist thing. Susumu Tonegawa is IMO one of our greatest living scientists, doing Nobel Prize work in immunology before moving on to memory research. Dawkins?

    But I truncated the the quote. Pinker and Goldstein said: “Richard Dawkins is one of our greatest living scientists, writers, and humanists.”

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EziMNbQWEAAkRpZ?format=jpg&name=large

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EziLO0CWEAUXBVU?format=jpg&name=large

    He wrote a frickin’ popularized rendition of gene-centrism. Whoopty doo. A great writer doesn’t crap themselves on social media multiple times. A great humanist doesn’t compare trans people to someone who tried to pass herself off as black.

    It’s Dawkins’ revered status as new atheist icon that has his fans still basking in his perceived aura regardless of what he says in public. As teflon as Reagan in their eyes.

  15. hemidactylus says

    Catblogger has revealed over on WEIT that “neoliberal” is another word he deploys (against the “woke”) for which he is clueless. He already demonstrated his ignorance of Frankfurt Critical Theory, now this “neoliberal-woke alliance”. He’s obsessed.

    I will use neoliberal in a sentence. Pinker’s recent books, including Enlightenment Now, read mostly as neoliberal apologia.

  16. says

    @15 Aoife_b

    Good heavens no. Don’t you know that being kind to us is dogmatic groupthink? It is imperative for the noble cause of freethought and open honest inquiry that we be ridiculed, dehumanized, and demeaned at every turn.

  17. specialffrog says

    By his own logic, Dawkins shouldn’t care about atheist issues in Europe / North America because atheists in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh have it much worse.

  18. chrislawson says

    “Neoliberal-woke alliance”? Do these people even try to understand the words they smash together into incoherent rhetorical chimaeras?

  19. chrislawson says

    Richard Dawkins has done plenty of solid scientific work. He is not however even close to one of our “greatest living scientists.” He wouldn’t even be in the top 10,000. And it’s not his scientific work that made him famous. Dawkins’ best original idea is the concept of “memes”, a strong analogy drawn from evolutionary science but not even remotely successful as a scientific concept in the sense of notable experiments or improved theoretical explanatory power in the 44 years since The Selfish Gene was published.

    Also, Todd Stiefel shows just how hypocritical he is for withdrawing funding from the AHA for criticising someone they “agree with 99% of the time.” How come the AHA is morally obliged to STFU about the 1% they disagree with, but Stiefel gets to throw a very public fit over that same 1% disagreement?

    (Not to mention that Dawkins keeps pushing that disagreement level ever higher and higher — repeatedly attacking trans rights, misrepesenting the science around gender, and dismissing sexual harassment concerns is not a “1%” difference, that’s a huge fucking deal! What it means of course is that Stiefel thinks trans rights, scientific truthfulness, and sexual harassment are trivial issues compared to swaddling the reputation of a famous atheist.)

  20. nurnord says

    Wow. He will not support organizations that criticize Richard Dawkins

    That’s not an accurate conclusion at all, that’s an inferred generalisation from one specific instance and is unsupported. We have one statement withdrawing support because of criticism of RD, for a specified reason; nothing suggests ANY criticism of RD will result in withdrawal from other financed institutions.

  21. PaulBC says

    I can’t say I was ever a fan of Dawkins’s confrontational style. I’m sure he has made contributions by popularizing evolution, but maybe not many recently.

    E.g. the weasel program may help overcome mental blocks for someone who does not get natural selection at all or how randomness and convergence can coexist. On the other hand, it’s basically a randomized hill-climbing algorithm in a search space with an accessible global optimum, and recognizable as such to a non-biologist with a little bit of optimization background. It doesn’t really convey the richness of natural selection. It’s amazing how much time has been wasted (particularly by creationists) on a toy example that is really only a starting point.

    If his goal were primarily to teach and inspire, I would support him, but it has always struck me that his goal is really to win arguments. My go-to scientific atheist would probably be Carl Sagan, who never left any doubt about what he believed, but didn’t go out of his way to offend people unless they were dead set on being offended.

  22. imback says

    I would say Dawkins may be one of our greatest living science popularizers. I still think The Ancestor’s Tale is a fantastic book. However, such a description should not protect one at all from being called a creep when one is behaving like one. Or worse, as in the case of James Watson.

  23. hemidactylus says

    @23- chrislawson

    Meme wasn’t very original. Julian Huxley had contemplated “noogenetics” much earlier and IIRC may have invoked anthropologist David Bidney’s triad of mentifact, artifact, and socifact. JZ Young used the notion of “mnemon” as memory unit. Emile Durkheim used social facts as units of collective representation. Karl Lashley used “engram” as a memory unit harkening back to Richard Semon’s mneme as organic memory. Not unique at all was memetics. Just Dawkins taking an unintended dump on other fields of thought of which he was apparently quite ignorant.

  24. nurnord says

    imback

    I would say Dawkins may be one of our greatest living science popularizers. I still think The Ancestor’s Tale is a fantastic book.

    I’ve read all his books, the evolution stuff is magnificent; the quality of the writing itself in terms of style and prose is exemplary. But it’s much more than that; his ability to explicate in an engrossing and informative way is superb too.
    This passage from The Blind Watchmaker is Richard describing a swarm of ants on the forest floor in Panama, the prose of the 2nd paragraph is magnificent…

    Forgive my curiosity to see her: I prodded the ball of workers with a long stick, in a vain attempt to flush
    out the queen. Instantly 20 soldiers buried their massively muscled pincers in my stick, possibly never to let go, while dozens more swarmed up the stick causing me to let go with alacrity.
    I never did glimpse the queen, but somewhere inside that boiling
    ball she was, the central data bank, the repository of the master DNA
    of the whole colony. Those gaping soldiers were prepared to die for the
    queen, not because they loved their mother, not because they had been
    drilled in the ideals of patriotism, but simply because their brains and
    their jaws were built by genes stamped from the master die carried in
    the queen herself. They behaved like brave soldiers because they had
    inherited the genes of a long line of ancestral queens whose lives, and
    whose genes, had been saved by soldiers as brave as themselves.

  25. Tethys says

    I had to look up Todd, and it appears he is a film producer who is passionate about atheism. He is also responsible for the film ‘Super Troopers 2’, which is about a group of disgraced former police being given badges and proceeding to be disgusting, crude, and generally disgraceful asshats.

    I wonder where people are getting the idea that Richard’s award was revoked because of a singular instance of saying horrible things out loud in public? There is a well documented, decades long pattern of him personally increasing the misogyny, racism, and now anti trans hysteria, in atheist-dudebro Western culture.

  26. says

    @28 nurnord

    Yeah, too bad he’s been throwing his weight against the latest and best medical and scientific information on this topic, isn’t it?

  27. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    So is Steifel the guy behind all the regressive atheist organizations? Getting AAI to hire shitbricks like Sherlock and Silverman? Funding a certain organization based on a certain island led by a certain wanker?

  28. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Jesus. I’m still so surprised by Dawkins.

    “I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.

    I can maybe excuse “by comparison, relatively trivial” as poor messaging. However, I cannot excuse – or understand “I occasionally get a little impatient”. Like, what the fuck Dawkins? They should just shut up an accept it? Let me put it in terms that you would understand. “I occasionally get a little bit impatient with American men who complain of being sucker-punched at the water cooler”. I mean, if the sucker-punch doesn’t do lasting damage, then no harm, no foul, right? /s

    Good riddance to his award.

  29. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    nurnord in 32
    That letter is half what-about-ism, and the other half is “how dare you recall his award – that’s the same thing as destroying free speech WAAAA”. The action to recall the award is entirely appropriate. If Dawkins’ current behavior was just an isolated incident, and Dawkins showed some remorse and some improvement, then the action would be rather extreme. However, this is not an isolated incident. People have tried to engage with Dawkins for years on this matter, including in this very blog (ex, see “Dear Muslima”), and Dawkins has not improved, and actually has gotten worse.

  30. PaulBC says

    Reading this again

    of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee

    how’d I miss it?

    So much. So wrong. Wow.

    How do you equate being touched without consent and being invited for coffee? The latter is not harassment. Sure, making continued “invitations” after rejection is a form of harassment, but just saying “Would you like to get coffee?” is often normal, professional behavior. I mean you could suggest coffee to anyone in place of a work meeting. You could even ask someone socially after knowing them and talking to them now and then. It would be inappropriate if it was the first thing you ever said to them, but probably not actionable by HR (but don’t!). “Inappropriate touching” should just get you fired on the spot.

    I suspect there is a lot more to his choice of examples than meets the eye and maybe some personal history behind it. One thing I don’t see is any empathy for the victim of these transgressions that would allow him to make a quick determination of what counts as behaving like a decent human being. It’s like he has to struggle a little to tease out what’s different from the invitation to coffee, the groping, and the death threats. Hint: imagine you are subject to these and how you’d react. Is he capable of this?

  31. flange says

    I’m a lifelong atheist. I’m an introvert. I belong to few organizations.
    I think “organized” atheism suffers from many of the same problems as organized religion. An atheist organization can have racists, liars, egomaniacs, and assholes as members, just like Christianity.
    Atheists as a group have nothing to offer the welfare of people. But individually, we can belong to organizations that try to keep religion out of government, combat racism, discrimination, militarism, etc. It’s most important to try to be a decent person.

  32. Tethys says

    PaulBC

    <

    blockquote>
    How do you equate being touched without consent and being invited for coffee? The latter is not harassment.<\blockquote>

    In this case, it is a direct reference to Rebecca Watson pointing out that men at professional conferences shouldn’t proposition women in hotel elevators at 4 am because it’s creepy AF.

  33. hemidactylus says

    Well Mehta is still sticking to his original critical stance and does a run down of quotes (rogues gallery?) from Ye Faithful Defenders of Dawkins:

    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/04/22/heres-how-well-known-atheists-are-defending-richard-dawkins-anti-trans-tweet/

    Dennett too? Ughh!!!

    https://twitter.com/danieldennett/status/1384879170216513537

    “The AHA statement about Dawkins rejects the interpretation that he was pointing to an apparent inconsistency in the current norms of political correctness, while simultaneously providing an example of precisely the confused thinking that he claims he was pointing out. Discuss.”

  34. Aoife_b says

    @39
    I’m glad to see Hemant standing on this. I took a fairly long hiatus from reading Friendly Atheist because it started to feel like apologetics for the worst atheists

  35. says

    David Futrelle’s blog “We Hunted the Mammoth” is named after an infamous anti-feminist trope, where internet warriors claim that they should inherit the credit for facing down prehistoric dangers for the benefit of pretty much anyone other than themselves, because of course prehistoric men never ate mammoth meat and all prehistoric men stood in front of charging elephants to get food for the tribe instead of rigging rabbit traps. This is meant to be contrasted with the trivial efforts and ignoble work of prehistoric women, who frolicked in the meadow eating berries and nothing else.

    Dawkins stance:

    “I concentrate my attention on [the muslim] menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee,”

    recalls this so strongly, and is so common among anti-feminists in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA that I’ve got to wonder when they’re going to set up a blog for racist misogynists titled

    We Hunted The Muslim.

    So brave. So selfless. So noble. Why won’t women worship their anti-muslim protectors?

  36. Silentbob says

    He is still defending his anti-trans stance for which AHA rebuked him.

    [… ]

    He still hasn’t grasped the fallacy of relative privation. He still thinks he’s a passionate feminist even as he suggests that women ought to accept that their co-workers get to touch them inappropriately.

    PZ, you write as though the quote is contemporary, but your link and the quote are from 2014.

    I remember it well because it was first time he ever even mentioned “elevatorgate” publicly.

  37. consciousness razor says

    It seemed a good and noble use of his money, but now I don’t know — maybe it wasn’t about the cause so much as it was a cult of personality.

    Uh, yeah, sure, whatever…. People with more money than sense doing whatever the fuck they want, simply because they can afford it while others can’t, to make it seem like what they do is good and noble. What could go wrong?

    Likewise, he implies that Dawkins has been erased from history. Hyperbole much? Dawkins is still selling books, still being invited to speak, is still living a comfortable upper class life, and still has mobs of fawning acolytes, as we can see above.

    Huh? Who’s this “Dawkins” fellow that everyone’s been blathering about? I can’t find him in any of my history books.
    What’s going on now?

    Wait a minute … has It™ begun? Okay, I’m not taking any chances here. If anyone asks, I’ll be locked in the bunker.

  38. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    To Stiefel, this is “figuratively burning a heretic.”

    More proof that back in the day, we on the good side should have made it abundantly clear that our atheist organizations will also be humanist organizations, and we should have provided some details on what “humanist” means, along with an explicit disclaimer “if you don’t like it, get the fuck out”.

  39. John Morales says

    I did wait.

    First, this stance accords with the goddists who go on about “the atheist worldview”.
    Second, idolatry is the worship of an idol. Dawkins is not an idol, nor is he worshipped.

    I mean, sure — atheist movements try to shift public opinion and change laws and whatnot, but personal atheism doesn’t entail any of those. So, as usual, when the distinction between a movement and personal belief is elided, confusion arises.

    Gerrard:

    More proof that back in the day, we on the good side should have made it abundantly clear that our atheist organizations will also be humanist organizations

    First, that’s not “proof”; second, not all humanists are atheists, just like not all atheists are humanists. Conflate the two at your cognitive peril.

  40. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    John,
    You of all people are going to play the “dictionary atheist” card, really? And here of all places. You’re such a goddamned troll.

  41. =8)-DX says

    The utter audacity of the man. Richard Dawkins, you get Rebecca Watson’s “sarcastic butt” out of your filthy mouth. The utter audacity of the man, to complain all he did was make one comment, when the fucker had her blacklisted at multiple venues for saying “guys, don’t do that.”

  42. John Morales says

    Gerrard, again: if movement atheism doesn’t espouse goals, what’s the point?
    Personal atheism, that’s different. It can range from apatheism to anti-theism, from an attitude to an ideology. And, you being you, you can’t but help thinking in terms of ideology.

    Anyway, if you want to conflate humanism and atheism, I can’t stop you, and if you want to imagine there are rules for being an atheist, same again.

  43. semsnyid says

    I am amazed that they still use the argument that free speech is being attacked. They really think that ‘free speech’ means being able to say anything without criticism or consequence.

  44. hemidactylus says

    @45- John Morales

    Are you straining for a hernia to be contrarian on this? Dawkins is every bit the idol (in a manner much after matinee idol), the revered and adored star who swashbuckled against many a theist or creation monger on the Youtube screen. He rode heroically into town on horses alongside his posse [Harris, Hitchens, Dennett] as if a nonbelieving Magnificent Four come to save the townspeople. Much like Reagan in days of yore he would try his hand at political and culture warrior themes and despite his utter incompetence at it, his aura and charisma carried him through for his mesmerized followers, a cult of personality, an Unshatterable Golden Gaffe of Teflon to whom nothing bad sticks.

    Well this sticks:

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idol

    “an object of extreme devotion//
    a movie idol”

  45. hemidactylus says

    Trump made a quite apt observation relevant here: “”I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Trump remarked at a campaign stop at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. “It’s, like, incredible.””

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/23/464129029/donald-trump-i-could-shoot-somebody-and-i-wouldnt-lose-any-voters

    And this applies: “One supporter, who spoke to ABC News, said he found Trump’s point clear — but mentioned Trump could have articulated it differently.”

    Yeah sure.

  46. Silentbob says

    @ 44 GerrardOfTitanServer

    More proof that back in the day, we on the good side should have made it abundantly clear that our atheist organizations will also be humanist organizations, and we should have provided some details on what “humanist” means, along with an explicit disclaimer “if you don’t like it, get the fuck out”.

    Um… You’re aware that this happened, right? It did not go well.

  47. yknot says

    Despite the risk of being “cancelled” myself, I say there’s something not right about someone complaining about being cancelled after supporting cancelling others. Have our Confederate ancestors not shown the folly of that hypocrisy? People with multiple passions have to set their priorities, in this case whether Atheism or gender issues take precendence. People who agree in principle can still honestly disagree on which has the greater import.

  48. PaulBC says

    John Morales@45

    not all humanists are atheists, just like not all atheists are humanists. Conflate the two at your cognitive peril.

    This is a rare case in which I read something John Morales wrote and can only say “Hear! hear!”

    OK, I lied about “only.” Dawkins is clearly an atheist (unless he’s really good at keeping a secret). I’m skeptical that he’s a a humanist, though if he self-identifies as one, it is hard to refute.

    He’s not a humanitarian, which I realize is something different (cognitive peril alert!), but is more along the lines of what I was thinking to begin with. I don’t think he cares much at all about actual human beings. Even his claimed concern for the plight of Islamic women seems driven by his hatred of a foreign religion more than by human suffering.

    He may believe in human-centered morality, but he and his defenders seem more interested in preserving their own privilege as a particular subgroup of humanity. Regardless, AHA did not take away his right to call himself a humanist if he likes. They simply stripped him of an award that they issued and are solely responsible for granting.

  49. stroppy says

    Putting aside my natural anathema to anything with an -ism on it, implying a closed and siloed system of thought, the idea that social justice (for example) aligns naturally with atheism seems suspect to me. Maybe they should align, but I don’t see an inherent connection.

    I’d like to see that assumed connection explained without suggesting that it exists because atheism is loosely constructed in opposition to theism.

  50. AKron says

    I’ve cancelled the entire human race. Fuck religious people and fuck atheists. Thanks for that. Also, thanks PZ for not even bothering to send me a thank you letter for the $100 I sent you last December. FUCK!

  51. PaulBC says

    stroppy@57 There’s a connection (not an alignment) based on the assumption that all consequences of action occur in this life and not in some putative afterlife. This isn’t even a matter of atheism specifically, since you could propose a deity who creates ephemeral beings without an afterlife (like Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaids).

    Humanism is the affirmative claim that values are centered around human beings. It’s a matter of association rather than logical consequence that many people identify as both atheists and humanists. You also still need to fill in the values. I don’t believe Dawkins shares my values, though both of us may believe that our values are human-centered.

  52. says

    Dawkins did in fact apologize to Rebecca Watson, kind of, in 2014.

    …What I say about Dawkins, that he’s wrong about a lot of things, but at least he doesn’t have a reputation for womanizing or sexual violence, like certain other atheist celebrities. A lot of problems with Dawkins would be solved if everyone just started ignoring him. His transphobia makes it harder to do that though.

  53. says

    I apologize, AKron. My only defense is that money goes into that account, and then flies out even faster to service our legal debt. I’ll try to be more attentive in the future.

  54. says

    @54 yknot

    People with multiple passions have to set their priorities, in this case whether Atheism or gender issues take precendence.

    Those are in no way in conflict. For examples, see practically everyone here.

    I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a really weird defense of Dawkins or of the people who love him becaquse of his bad takes or what.

  55. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    To Silentbob
    I didn’t follow “atheist-plus” as much as I should have. Even trying to define “atheist-plus” is difficult, and what little I know is probably from unreliable sources. I have heard that there were some overreactions and overzealous behavior on one certain “atheism-plus” forum, and maybe that’s what you are referring to. However, I’m referring to places like this blog, and other atheist places that share its value. PZ Myers is quicker to ban an obnoxious TERF than he is to ban an obnoxious religious preacher, and I like that, and I support that. That is what I would mean by atheist + humanism, a commitment to shared atheist spaces which are also humanist spaces. Other (horrible) people can have their atheist spaces without humanism, but I don’t want to be part of those spaces.

  56. yknot says

    @abbeycadabra, if there is no conflict, then American Humanists would not have taken away Dawkins’ award. A cancelled B because B cancelled C because… It’s cancels all the way down. To have differing points of view and to express them responsibly are also fundamental human rights that need to be proritized here.

  57. says

    @67 yknot

    The only question is whether your utter misunderstanding of what happened is innocent or bad faith. I suspect the latter based on your use of the right-wing dogwhistle “cancelled”.

    The only way your claim that there is conflict between atheism and “gender issues” (i.e. supporting trans rights) makes any sense at all is if you believe trans people exist only as part of a religion.

    The way you MEANT it most likely included both a well-supported assumption that atheists were strongly pro-science, and a powerfully wrong assumption that trans people’s identities are not supported by the latest science, which they very much are. This is transphobic.

    And all of this was even missing the important point that this was not an Atheist award, this was a Humanist award, and shitting on marginalized people as Dawkins has made a hobby of for years, is very much in conflict with humanist values.

    We now have good evidence that you are a troll.

  58. semsnyid says

    “I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.

    Basically he is saying “excuse me … I expect you women to be quiet and just accept the sexual harassment you are enduring while I work to save the world”

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