When O’Hair smiles

Ho hum. The “help help those god damn pesky atheists are ruining everything” campaign keeps rumbling along. Christopher Stedman covers the “interfaith” outreach branch, and we already know who covers the “how is this helping?” branch; now we have a new branch, the “skepticism isn’t atheism” one, courtesy of Jeff Wagg.

I can see how Vic Stenger’s talk could be appropriate for a skeptics conference, but this really looks like an atheist conference to me…In fact, it looks like an anti-Christian conference.

Aha – the ever-popular move from atheist to “anti-Christian” – the ever-popular insinuation that disagreement with religion and religions is actually hatred of and aggression against religious people. The ever-popular pretense of superior niceness while in fact making a quite filthy accusation against perceived enemies.

to conflate atheism with skepticism dilutes atheism and destroys skepticism.And I fear the damage has already been done. I see a lot of good people leaving the skeptical community because they’re uncomfortable with the tone and disappointed with, frankly, the lack of skepticism presented by many people.

He says, in the process of doing his best to turn lots more “good people” against atheism.

PZ is not much impressed.

Skepticon does have a strong anti-religion emphasis. So? This is a subject open to criticism, and it’s perfectly fair to apply skepticism to religion as much as we would to dowsing or Bigfoot. If someone had organized a skeptics’ conference with an emphasis on, for instance, quack medicine, I doubt that anyone would have squawked that “it’s harming the cause!”, “it’ll make skeptics who believe in homeopathy uncomfortable”, or “it’s diluting medicine and destroying skepticism”.

Nathan Bupp, on the other hand, is impressed. Nathan used to work for the Center for Inquiry; lately he’s been posting a lot of “new atheists are horrible” commentary on his Facebook page. He posted one on PZ’s response today. I find it noticeably…tendentious.

Well lets see PZ, you and your gang have already hijacked the humanist movement, why not the skeptics movement as well. Let’s just turn everything into a crusade for atheism. What movement to subsume next? Madalyn Murray O’hair must surely be smiling…..*somewhere*

What gang? What hijacked? What movements? Since when is PZ a humanist anyway? Since when is disputing religious truth claims “a crusade”?

But the jibe about the famous hate-figure O’Hair is the real clincher. Gnu atheists are endlessly shouted at for triggering a “culture war” but what is the invocation of O’Hair but a really nasty (and unsubtly misogynist) dog whistle?

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