Just to be clear, I'm going by the dictionary definition here:
- a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
That being said, I have a perverse sympathy for him. You see, I used to be just like him.
When I was twelve years old, I realized I didn't know much about my Christian faith, so I started reading the Bible. When I was thirteen, I started voluntarily attending church and went to Sunday school. In reading a children's illustrated Bible, I saw a picture of the animals flooding out of Noah's Ark, walking over the body of what appeared to be a drowned baby diplodocus. That's the point where I realized seven days and millions of years of evolution didn't match (I grew up in the deep south and we were Bible literalists). To cut a long story short, it was the beginning of the end of my faith.
Now that I had "seen the light", I wanted everyone else to see it too. I became a horrifying cross between Bertrand Russell and Rush Limbaugh. I'd say almost anything to win my point and being far better versed in the Bible than my fellow students, I managed to antagonize the hell out of them and make my own life miserable. Naturally, I blamed them.
Fast forward many years and I've calmed down quite a bit. Frankly, I don't give a damn what you believe; I give a damn about whether or not you're a good person. However, there are still those who attack their straw-man version of "atheism" on the grounds that Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot were atheists. I'm not going to repeat the idiocy of these debates. I'm just going to state the obvious: some people are good and some people are bad. Whether or not they use a set of beliefs to justify this is incidental.
Dawkin's tweet seem to suggest that it's Islam which is violent and other religions have left this behind. People forget about many recent terrorist attacks committed in the US in the name of Christianity. Of course, people will dismiss them as "lone nuts," but there does appear to a systematic rise in Christian terrorism in the United States. It's just that our news media, for whatever reason, doesn't find this narrative compelling. And Dawkins didn't write "two religions conspicuously didn't [give up violence]."
OK, so a handful of lone nuts and a growing, but small group of extremists are committing acts of terror. But they can't be Christian because that's not what a Christian would do!
I hereby rename the No true Scotsman fallacy the "No true Christian" fallacy.
While the IRA and Maronite Christian terrorism appears to be behind us, Christian violence is alive and well.
I'm sure some people still vaguely remember the Lord's Resistance Army. Wasn't there some guy named "Kony" or something?
Yeah, they are Christian terrorists.
Or you've probably never heard of the Christian anti-balaka militia in the Central African Republic. Though existing partially in response to fight the Muslim Séléka fighters, their brutality is horrifying to read about. Neither side is innocent. Both sides have a religious identity.
Or you can read about the Tripura, Christian terrorists in India.
Or the South Maluku Republic, a Christian terrorist organization in Indonesia.
In Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (a.k.a., "Mend"), known for years for kidnapping oil executives blowing up pipelines, killing policeman, and other terrorist acts, now seems to be trying to garner goodwill by threatening Boko Haram with violence.
I could go on an on, but the sad reality is that outside of the US and Europe, most Christian terrorism is committed by and against poor brown people in countries most couldn't find on the map. Nobody in the developed nations really gives a damn.
So when Dawkins claims that Islam is the religion that hasn't given up violence, he doing his usual job of being an ass and a bigot. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, Muslims and Muslims leaders all over the world have not only condemned terrorism, but helping to fight it, and here in France, French Muslims strongly support Christians against Islamic militants.
So while I may be an atheist, I'm not going to blame religion on people being evil, any more than I want religious people to blame atheism for some atheists being evil. If you're going to single out an entire group based on a stereotype, that's pretty much a textbook example of bigotry.
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