Militant atheism vs militant religion

Throughout the summer we have been bombarded by images of ISIS, a bloodthirsty group of medieval savages threatening to torture and murder anyone who does not subscribe to their specific version of Islam. ISIS is guilty of every allegation made and odds are, when and if the desert dust ever clears, we will learn of even more horror visited on innocent bystanders. Nick Cohen explores this further and contrasts it with atheists organizations in The Guardian:

My family went into central London last week. After they’d gone, I found myself checking the web for reports of bomb blasts. Absurd and paranoid of me, of course. Rationally, I know that a motorist is more likely to kill you than a terrorist. Ever since Iraq, I have also known that the intelligence services’ “threats” can be imaginary. But I know this, too, and so does everyone else: if a bomb explodes, no one will think that a “militant atheist” has attacked his or her country. No one will mutter: “I wonder if someone has taken this god delusion argument too far.” Or: “Atheists should have known that violent words lead to violent deeds.”

The police don’t send undercover agents into sceptic societies and parliament doesn’t pass emergency laws to combat atheist violence. Fanatics threaten European Muslims if they abandon their faith but no atheist will attack them if they keep it. No one thinks that atheists threaten the lives of their fellow citizens anywhere in the west.

I’ve lost track of the number of dumbass atheists I’ve encountered over the years. But I’ve yet to meet a single one who thinks we can sway the public into seeing things our way by posting videos of hostages being beheaded or flying jumbo jets into skyscrapers.

You also won’t see many atheist suicide bombers. That short-lived profession is restricted to those who believe they will be rewarded by a grateful deity in a supernatural afterlife.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    A US radio station had me seeing stars of fury yesterday. The “experts” were discussing whether or not the IS posed a threat to the United States, and their consensus was that, no, Europe was really the one that was in the crosshairs, and that Europeans would be the ones who would see an upsurge in IS-trained terrorism while we could rest safely on this side of the Atlantic.

    As if many of us don’t have friends in Europe. As if many of us don’t go on vacation there. As if they aren’t our closest allies. As if we aren’t all one species with some modicum of responsibility for one another no matter where we live.

  2. ianrennie says

    Some quite short memories at work here, sadly. Remember that the group “militant atheists” also included Joseph Stalin. Remember that the Soviet Union had campaigns of severe and violent repression against religious organizations. I won’t get into the issue of suicide bombings and the Tamil Tigers, but let’s just say that the issue is a lot more complicated than “you won’t see many atheist suicide bombers”.

    People can be utterly horrible and religious. People can use their religion as an excuse for being utterly horrible.
    People can be utterly horrible and atheist. People can use their atheism as an excuse for being utterly horrible.

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    That short-lived profession is restricted to those who believe they will be rewarded by a grateful deity in a supernatural afterlife.

    Of course, due to translation errors in that “infallibele” “holy” book it may turn out that these murderous “martyrs” for moon-god “Allah” may get less than they metaphorically bargained for :

    Raisins numbering 72 not endless sex with endlessly heavenly virgins.

    (Or given the whole thing is a complete crock anyhow, sadly not.)

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