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Memo to Neil Rickert: The establishment supports the atheist troll but avoids saying so

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In response to our post on a really bad recent piece of sociology, “Atheists most distrusted in society?: Study”, Neil Rickerts writes,

What the cited study seems to be showing, is that when Americans hear “atheist” they tend to think only of outspoken atheists rather that the vast majority who keep their views on religion to themselves

He is doubtless right.

Indeed, Darwinian philosopher (he calls himself that) Michael Ruse once wrote Richard Dawkins an irritated letter, pointing out the damage that new atheist trolls were doing to the cause. Of course – except for fatuous Christian Darwinists pointing gleefully to that letter as evidence for something or other that supports them – crickets chirped. That’s because the establishment generally supports the troll but refrains from saying so. The recent Dawkins-Paxman episode on Brit Tax TV demonstrated the matter with no room for reasonable or honest doubt.

Most viewers today are helpless to do anything except judge the participants as they ought to be judged – or fail to do so because the establishment supports trolldom.

Or take a look at Dawkins and Coyne’s tasteless grousing about Lynn Margulis’s obituary. Most people won’t read that but many see and hear things done and said by the outspoken “new atheists” that leave no doubt whatever about what sort of society they aim for.

It’s very similar, really, to the situation experienced by Muslims: Most Muslims we know are good citizens and reasonable people. Then there are the human hate machines belching away in some mosques. Telling the rest of us to quit thinking that all Muslims are human hate machines is merely an insult, intended by craven bureaucrats and politicians to delay grappling with a serious problem: They hope to retire before confronting the hate machines, no matter who gets hurt in the process. And many people have been hurt.

And the rest of us know. And are increasingly indifferent to insults from willing collaborators in government, religion, and media.

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Petrushka, there are differeing views. My problem with atheism in regard to ID is that the materialist, like you, that push it are ignoring material evidence. Ignoring material evidence is an empirical no-no. It's anti-science. It's that simple. Upright BiPed
It's pretty clear from reading this blog that atheism is associated with bad behavior. How many threads have been published here asserting that one cannot be moral without a set of rules made by a deity? Petrushka
You seem to be making that up as you go along. When a business looks to hiring a new employee, they do background checks on whether the candidate has been trustworthy in the past. Most businesses do not even ask about the religious background of the candidate. Neil Rickert
The point and the study is not about those we know, but rather about those we do not know. In order to "prove someone trustworthy", one must initially trust them to begin with. The question is, if you know they are an atheist to begin with, do you offer that trust to begin with? Secondly, if you have trusted them in the past, does finding out that they are atheists affect your trust? Which comes down to the point, which is not about "not knowing" if someone is an atheist or not, but how trust is affected upon finding out or being told they are an atheist. Again, why should anyone begin to or continue to trust someone who is found out to have no objective grounding for moral or ethical behavior? Why shouldn't it affect your view of their trustworthiness? It's not a trivial consideration. William J Murray
I think that Mr. Rickert is constructing an apologetic narrative that diverts attention from a very obvious question: why should anyone trust someone who has no objective grounding for moral or ethical behavior?
We generally trust people who have proven consistently trustworthy in the past. We do not go around snooping into their private lives to dig up evidence on whether they have objective grounding for their moral and ethical behavior. Neil Rickert
Dawkins and other trolls are achieving their goal perfectly. The goal of making truck loads of cash by being controversial. I thought Hawking was trying his hand at this in his latest book. Mytheos
I'm not sure which "establishment" you are referring to, so I doubt that your assessment is correct. I agree with you that Jerry Coyne says some tasteless things, and not just about Lynn Margulis. I groan at some of what he posts. I can't really comment on what Dawkins writes and posts, because I have not bothered to read any of his anti-religion works - the title was already a turn-off. That said, I am a believer in free speech. I support their right to say such stuff. There are theists who also say some pretty outrageous things, and I also support their right to do so. Neil Rickert
I disagree that Mr. Rickert is even close to being "right", much less "doubtless" right; nothing in the story even mentioned any correlation to "famous" atheists like Dawkins. I think that Mr. Rickert is constructing an apologetic narrative that diverts attention from a very obvious question: why should anyone trust someone who has no objective grounding for moral or ethical behavior? I think that is really the reason most people distrust atheists, not because famous atheists behave obnoxiously. William J Murray

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