The Best They Can Do Is Insult Us?

The level of anti-atheist propaganda is reaching a fever pitch of late. One can only assume that’s because we’re making inroads. The truth does sometimes hurt. In this shameless propaganda piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty about the Crystal Clear Atheism Conference, we are called just about every name in the book, and peppered with insults that come so fast and furious you almost forget that Dougherty has absolutely nothing to say. Almost.

Here is a summary of the slurs and defamations from just this one article:

We are shrill losers who don’t have jobs and live with our parents, wear bad haircuts, are anti-social, dippy, plagiarizing and unoriginal, hypocrites (because Sam Harris and Dan Dennett dabble in meditation), don’t really actually disbelieve, are rebellious, Pavlovian (going after intellectual “red meat” with no thought), idol worshipping, randy and sexually frustrated (waiting to get into our empty hotel rooms without supervision), anarchist, bizzare, proselytizing, boring on dates, making evangelical war on Christian popular music, lawless, annoying, socially inept, worse than the Inquisition, archconservative supporters of the Bush doctrine, ignorant of religious people, running out of energy, nursing resentments, full of knowingly false hopes, and finally, so bored and dispassionate that some of us have to fight to stay awake.


And that doesn’t even touch most of the mirror-image rhetoric about the “religious” tactics of atheism. Oh, and the title of the article “Secular Fundamentalists.” Which only proves to me once again that conservative religious writers can’t see through any other lens than their own, and engage in relentless psychological projection–which is just a fancy grown-up way to say “I know you are but what am I.”

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster strike me down with his noodly appendage, if I ever write an article this intellectually weak or full of gratuitous insults. Mockery is one thing when artfully employed to make a point–I use it often myself. But it falls completely flat if pressed in the service of falsehood and self-contradiction. That’s right, there’s not one single solitary substantive argument in the whole piece. If I’d written it, I’d be royally ashamed of myself.

Here are the excerpts. If you don’t believe it could be this bad, or this repetitive and unoriginal, go read it for yourself.

From The American Conservative:

screeching…Young men with haircuts fit for their mothers’ basements…atheists even have their own dippy hostess…cribbed-from-Voltaire insults against the pious…After only one night together, the leaders of unbelief are exposed as potential monks and mystics…comes close to acknowledging the existence of God then raises its fist—a finite gesture of rebellion against an infinite tyranny…Tossing the crowd a little red meat…But apparently denying God’s existence doesn’t preclude idol worship: “I got to smoke with Christopher Hitchens!…the teens in attendance seemed thrilled with the prospect of little supervision and empty hotel rooms…versions of the letter A that look like the symbol for anarchy and a circle with the bizarre Greek formulation “atheos.”…helpful for reverse proselytism…A nice thought, she admits, before hectoring about evolution and how there are “flaws” in the human eye. I bet she’s fun on dates…the evangelical war on popular music (in the form of Christian rock)…In an apparent nod to authenticity, the Gandhi of impiety was recently detained by Arizona police…Go out into the world and make annoyances. I worry what I might say if he sneezes in my presence…The Inquisition at least allowed defendants the chance to recant—often many chances…He keeps the Crusades but dumps St. Augustine and just-war theory in favor of the Bush doctrine…Dawkins seems to be ignorant of religious people as a species…the atheists seem to have run out of energy…Apparently, you can bring home the good times of nursing resentments against your churchgoing neighbors…There is hope, the atheists remind each other. But the enthusiasm seems forced…It is Sunday, the day atheists stay in bed…In the fourth row, a man in a black t-shirt is slumped over, fighting the urge to sleep.

All that vitriol from a supposedly moral and upstanding conservative Christian? And we’re supposed to be the fundamentalists?

Comments (15 comments)

Mana / November 8th, 2007, 2:27 pm / #1

Here’s my favorite, “Dawkins seems to be ignorant of religious people as a species.” When did I miss the news that atheists and religious folk can’t produce off-spring (or produce infertile offspring)? Imagine a “cross-species” marriage that’s not just religiously (or is it intellectually) infertile but also biologically infertile.

I know you are too much of a good writer to say things as I’m about to say, but this dude is such a donkey that he even missed the school species lesson about the donkey, the horse and the mule.

vjack / November 9th, 2007, 5:37 am / #2

I’m not sure there is anything more truly Christian than hating those who do not agree with one’s particular brand of religion.

Infidel753 / November 9th, 2007, 10:27 am / #3

I do actually know an atheist who has a pretty bad haircut, so I guess Dougherty scores a point there. Aside from that, I think you’re right. He sounds like he’s seriously alarmed and agitated and doesn’t know how to respond.

I wonder if that gal who understands the flaws-in-the-eye problem with intelligent design lives anywhere near me? I bet she’d be more fun on dates than someone whose idea of debate is a barrage of ad hominems.

Liquid Egg Product / November 9th, 2007, 12:41 pm / #4

the teens in attendance seemed thrilled with the prospect of little supervision and empty hotel rooms…

Um…what teen wouldn’t?

^BlacksuN / November 12th, 2007, 8:17 am / #5

Just passing through…
Was just browsing, and stumbled upon the site, very impressive yeah, but the content came across as a little upsetting.
Haven’t read an awful lot so presumably I’ll be verbally crucified later for an absence of research, but – it seems that although atheists rightfully defend their right to be individuals in their belief in the absence of a higher entity, ‘before it all’, and being seperate and individual, there’s a worrying amount of negativity towards Christianity here..

I’m a casual believer.. let’s just have our own beliefs and not deviate too violently from them. Vjack’s aforementioned comment seemed negativity incarnate as far as I’m concerned. Just seemed a little harsh on every day Christians.. As in the one’s who aren’t zealots or extremists. We’re not all as blindly introverted as some comments have made us appear.

Take it in your stride, just an opinion you’ll agree I’m welcome to.
Everyone should have a voice, yeh?
Yours faithfully,

BlackSun / November 13th, 2007, 4:31 pm / #6

@Mana, good analogy. I think the writer was simply throwing out the typical red-herring about atheists “oversimplifying” or “not understanding” religion. Of course, most of us study religion much more intensely than the religious. But the theologians aren’t used to playing by normal academic rules.

@vjack, exactly.


I wonder if that gal who understands the flaws-in-the-eye problem with intelligent design lives anywhere near me? I bet she’d be more fun on dates than someone whose idea of debate is a barrage of ad hominems.

It’s Julia Sweeney, and from her monologue she sounds like she’s probably a lot of fun.

@LEP, very true.

@^BlacksuN, if you post here under an impostor name again, you will be banned.

^BlacksuN / November 15th, 2007, 5:01 am / #7

Been my nick for too many years to recall, so while googling it I stumble upon this site, and you chastise me for it? Why expect me to change it, as if I was impersonating you? Didn’t know you were born during an eclipse too.

Ban is welcome,

BlackSun / November 15th, 2007, 8:02 am / #8


Even if you went to someone’s blog and their name was John Doe, you should give an explanation–like what you just said. “I was born during an eclipse–funny we have the same handle.”

When you just use the same name without explanation it just seems like you’re trying to be a dick.

Cykio / November 15th, 2007, 8:29 am / #9

@Vjack : Hmmm I thought the most christian thing was forgiveness not hatred but judging here some people don’t know that by saying comments like that or other people agreeing with that comment

^BlacksuN / November 15th, 2007, 8:34 am / #10

Just didn’t welcome the ban threat immediately, so I wasn’t going to jump to either justify or change my name, especially as it seemed you were being dismissive on whatever I wrote, which you can criticise as being totally incorrect, or a fundamentally wrong basis for argument, but – is it just irregular jibes at christianity here, which are assumedly offensive to a vast majority, or is it more common?

Tear the zealots and the crusaders to bits, but they’re not us. My, maybe even our, principle belief is forgiveness, not ‘hating those who do not agree with one’s particular brand of religion.’
Just abit harsh on the genuine christians out there?
As editor(Correct me if I’m wrong please),you made an atheist discussion forum, or a just a discussion forum for attaining empirical knowledge, I just thought it was better than irregular low-brow insults against christianity.

^SuN, respectfully altered

BlackSun / November 15th, 2007, 12:31 pm / #11

Thanks, SuN

Well, a Christian is as a Christian does. I think what vjack was saying is that many of them are prone to the kinds of dismissals and mockery printed here. We look at the google results every day and read how atheists are immoral, hopeless, and the whole litany of insults.

I’d love to find areas of agreement with Christians. This can come through moving away from literalism and toward a properly agnostic attitude toward how we all got here and what our purpose is. It’s the certainties that cause all the problems.

Then we can focus on self-development and improvement, building bridges and commonalities. But as long as some people are insisting that their brand of fantasy is real and everyone else is immoral and going to hell, we will never get anywhere.

Cristy / November 15th, 2007, 12:34 pm / #12

The funniest thing here was the bush doctrine thing. I mean, Bush is part of the Religious Right. He self-identifies as Christian and uses that as an excuse for the things he does. Bush also supports discrimination against atheists. I have never met an atheist who was a Bush fan, nor does it seem likely that I ever will.

I just realized there was a vagueness as to which Bush, but on second thought, it seems to apply to both.

BlackSun / November 15th, 2007, 12:42 pm / #13


I think this was a mistaken reference to the fact that Sam Harris and Christopher Httchens have taken positions at times that could have been construed to be neo-con positions (support of Iraq war, use of torture under certain circumstances, etc.

But, you’re right. There is no nuance to these accusations. They are a smear tactic.

^BlacksuN / November 15th, 2007, 12:51 pm / #14

There are exceptions to every rule, and exceptions to every belief. For every sword-wielding crusader, there could equally be a zealot crucifying those for believing in a higher existence. Of course, that’s the extreme deviation of either of our belief systems, probably.

We all have our own flaws and faults, but sometimes with fundamentalists and zealots, it gets out of hand. Thankfully, we, the vast majority of both theists and atheists are quite sane.
I’m actually Irish, and am woefully uninformed as to Bush’s creed but if you think Bush is a discriminating fascist bastard, I’m entirely with you.

Thanks for the civility in addressing my point,


SDC / April 18th, 2009, 10:26 pm / #15

I have a deep felt hatred for Christians, to me they are hypocrite, to me they are filth. To all Christians I say, go worship your bloody white corpse on stick, fill your heads with your bible of lies, continue to twist the word of god to fit your own self serving false prophesies, and I'll see you all in hell.

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