[From the GameSpot forums. You can read the thread I posted this in here.]

Read this.

Seriously, what is this? Militant atheists, eh? Where are they?

Here's a primer on atheism:
http://www.atheistrev.com/2008/06/militant-atheism.html

Here are a couple cartoons that illustrate the situation very well:
http://www.jesusandmo.net/2008/06/20/lake/
http://www.offendedyet.com/2008/03/same-thing.html

Here's a video that says it even better:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5OEocRp2wA

And no, the term "fundamentalist atheists" isn't accurate, either:
http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismmyths/p/Fundamentalist.htm

Reread the "primer" again if you have to. Let this all sink in. These atheists that people are calling "militant", "fundamentalist", etc. are not, in general, the perpetrators of bigotry--they are the victims of it. They're being held to a double standard by hypocrites who are so accustomed to their religion being favored by the state that they don't see injustice when it happens. Tell me, what would it take for a Christian or a Muslim, for example, to be called a "militant Christian" or a "militant Muslim"? Whatever your response is, see if those requirements for militancy are being met by atheists who are being called militant. If they aren't being met, then be sure you don't use the term unless it's use is warranted. If these atheists really are militant by your requirements, then be sure you apply the term to believers who also meet the requirements. If you aren't going to be consistent, you're a hypocrite who is instituting a double standard.

Now, about Spore: I have no problem with religion being included as an option for one's creatures to practice. That would certainly make it realistic if we're talking about creatures that are mentally somewhat similar to us humans. Without further information, though, I can't say why those atheists were upset. From what Will Wright said, I suspect that it might have something to do with the player having some level of control over his/her creatures, which is not the way that evolution in the real world works, or appears to work. It is, however, the way that theistic evolutionists believe it works, and this realization opens up room for potential criticism. But also, in trying to simulate biological evolution, do it right. You can certainly be afraid of offending the religious/theists, but please don't misrepresent the way the world works for the sake of appeasing them. I hope you aren't doing this, Will.

But back to the point of this post: Think for a moment of a well-known type of creature that you don't believe exists--for instance, a giant, invisible pair of hands (GIPoH). Let's say that everything these hands can supposedly do is or can be better-explained by the behavior of things that are confirmed to exist (i.e. there is no evidence for the GIPoH). Furthermore, let's say that there are 100 people in our society and that you and five others do not believe that the GIPoH exists (which is NOT the same thing as believing that they don't exist). Let's also suppose that the other 94 people in our society are more prone than the other 6 are to doing bad, harmful, stupid, or illegal things because of their belief in the GIPoH, and that there are many known instances of such actions being committed.

For many centuries, the GIPoH-ians have been given special privileges by the government, and they have been spreading horrible, vile, but entirely false, rumors about the a-GIPoH-ists. When the GIPoH-ians have come in conflict with other, similar (to their own), groups in the past, their interactions have consisted of violence and hatred--i.e., militancy. When the a-GIPoH-ists try to point out injustices being perpetrated in their 100-person society, via means of talking, writing, and going to court, they are given the label "militant". Doing so spreads the bigoted misconception that they are being like the GIPoH-ians were to other groups in the past.

Now, isn't there something fishy about that?
"Militant" my ass. I'm tired of all the bigotry.

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Tags: atheism, atheists, militant

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Comment by Mark C. on August 14, 2008 at 12:08am
The funny thing is that the guy who was interviewed, Will Wright, is himself an atheist. I definitely could have linked to a better instance of the claim of "militant" atheists, but this was the last straw before I wrote on the issue.
Comment by Ian Andreas Miller on August 13, 2008 at 1:47am
Nice post! I was thoroughly appalled by the "militant" thing.

I wrote about it:
http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/1137094.html

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