It has been suggested in discussions, both here and elsewhere, that there are "atheist fanatics" and that they are "just the same" as religious fanatics. Personally, I find this assertion ludicrous and loathsome. To me, it is simply a new formulation of the "fundamentalist atheist" canard--it is just a way of trying to get vocal atheists to shut up by bringing social pressure to bear. It is just another way of calling us "intolerant" for daring to think they are wrong. I think this is the first step to forcing us all to either embrace religious belief again or go back in the closet and pretend to embrace religious belief.
So the question for discussion is whether atheistic fanaticism really exists and, if it does, whether or not it is comparable to religious fanaticism.
As I think I have made clear, I do not think that atheistic fanaticism really exists. I think it is just a label put on those atheists who dare to state that they are right and the religious are wrong as a matter of fact. The religious can say this without a label being attached to them; we cannot.
I think it is also clear that even the most extreme atheists do not even remotely come close to the fanaticism of the religious.
To further expand a bit, I'd like to go back to the previous example of the Soviet Communist example of atheist killing and toturing Christians (and Jews during pogroms) in the early days of the USSR.
First, I'll specify a bit how I'll use the word. I find food, wine, car, etc., "fanatic" is a bit of an overapplication of the term. I find the word enthusiast to be more applicable and descriptive when used in a positive sense. So in context of the discussion and the following, I'll work under the presumption that it refers to negative fanaticism, and fanaticism to be the irrational acts/behavior of a fanatic. Essentially, illogical behavior.
Secondly, I'll have to say I don't find an immediate issue with atheists being fanatics. They won't be religious fanatics, but they can easily be fanatics for other causes. Seeing as people occationally get killed over weak performance in sport events, humans seem to have the ability to be fanatical about pretty much anything.
My third point will revolve around the USSR. Your interjection that (applied) Communism shares many values with religion (i.e. personality cult based, thought control, world conquest, indoctrination of children, subjugation of women, and importantly: justifying killing of non-believers) is certainly valid, but it's moving the goal post a bit too far in my opinion. Communism doesn't have an expressed wish of atheism. However, it does logically follow from its philosophy as religion will hold non-state power over people, which there is an expressed regulation of.
Fourth, Lenin was certainly militantly anti religious. Though Stalin might just be concidered someone with enormous psychological issues willing to kill anyone without cause, Lenin was a slightly more docile figure by comparison. That the killing of a large number of Christians, even by using Christian symbolism in the act, occured, caused by his commands, is therefore evidence that they were killed primarily because they were religious, and caused by atheist fanatical hate.
Therefore, as communists were both atheist and fanatical, as well as killing probably hundreds of thousands because they refused to renounce religion, I would conclude with atheists not only having the capability of being fanatical, but already having killed in the name of atheism.
I appreciate the analysis, but I think the people slaughtered under Stalin were slaughtered to get rid of the "useless eaters", and any excuse was a good one for such a regime. It was more political than religious, imho.
I think there are two forces of thought at play here. 1> Not to be referred to as "fanatics" is to comfortably and smugly know that science and logic are on our side. And, when the religious try to brand us, as to identify and marginalize us, we can smile, shake our heads and be quiet. 2> But if we embrace the term "fanatics", and in doing so, 'fess up to who we are, we make it clear that humbly living in a world, dominated by the insane, makes US even MORE insane. When the rapture doesn't come, and lions don't lie down with lambs, the religious fanatics will lose what is left of their beliefs and do what all prisoners do when security breaks down, they riot and kill. They will have not themselves in whom to believe. There is nothing more scary than a Southern Baptist who finds out that he is wrong.
We know!! They don't. We'll survive!! They won't.
If Atheist fanaticism does not exist, then we need to make it so.
Yes-you're post brought a thought to my mind-last time I checked, there were no "Atheist Missionaires", nor has an Atheist knocked on my door, or gotten on my TV telling me there would be a hurricane if I didn't become an Atheist....I don't think Atheists are very "fanatical", by those standards:)
I think atheist fanatics ... if they are exist, Then perhaps fanaticism is a part of their nature! just like racism..
or perhaps some of them grew up in a society that a dopts fascist ideas. or racist society.
If they are exist, then this is sad indeed.
Anyway atheists are not the same for sure.
Lots of things are theoretically possible, but I don't see any evidence to support the hypothesis that "there are fanatics on both sides". In fact, what I see is a disturbing lack of engagement on the part of atheists. The theists are actively trying to "take over" in many places, including the U.S., and impose theocracy. Most atheists act like they just don't really care much about that. In Europe, they are sometimes affirmatively aiding those who want to take over because they can't deal with conflict. If there are atheist fanatics, I don't see much evidence of them.
I think what is usually meant by such comments is that people like Dawkins and Hitchens should stop speaking the truth.