No, there really are some people whose deaths should be celebrated because they leave the world a better place--Hitler and his ilk being the most obvious. Phelps, certainly. Falwell a gray area.
And no, Stalin and Mao were not the slightest bit atheist. They regarded themselves as next to God. See Chavez for a second rate modern day version. So, no, people have not been killed in the name of atheism. They were killed in the name of communism, nazism or some other ism.
I often joke about the crusade between the atheists and agnostics. The atheists charging up the hill screaming, "THERE IS NO GOD!" while the agnostics charge down screaming, "WELL, THERE MIGHT BE!"
Nope. Never going to happen.
One gets out of religion exactly what one puts into it, as Sept 11 proved. It makes the good slightly better and the evil much worse.
And yes, I very much look forward to the day religion is an amusing historical footnote. I'm not interested in killing or even arguing over it, though.
Every religion on Earth thinks every other religion is screwy nutjobbery. They're all correct.
Now, he's correct that both sides are convinced they're correct. He's also correct that public chest-thumping about one's position, with the assumption that of course everyone agrees, is really annoying and the cause of much trouble.
I also like his comments about actions speaking louder than words. I've made the same argument myself--when I dispense charity or aid, I do so WITHOUT ANY EXPECTATION OF AN ETERNAL REWARD. Religious-minded people are expecting a reward. I'm not. Which of us is more altruistic and moral?
Answer: Who cares, as long as those who need help get helped?
Too many Christians focus on "not by your works shall ye be judged" and forget that "alone" is between "works" and "shall." In other words, doing good works to get into heaven won't work. But believing in Christ as savior by itself won't, either. You have to act in a moral fashion BECAUSE YOU WANT TO. See the story of Cain. So I can well believe, if there's a god anything like that portrayed in the bible, that he'll treat a good many atheists better than many so-claimed Christians.
And if he won't, let's face it, he's an extortive, whining, petulant little asshole and beneath our respect.
Further on, he conflates philosophy and metaphysics with an acceptance of religion. If an atheist "loves" someone, he's not acting in pure rationality.
Of course not. An atheist/agnostic has the ultimate answer to such questions--we're a flawed, successfully-but-only-just evolved animal with primitive instincts under the cap of reason. I like it that way. Sex is fun, meat is tasty, and alcohol makes the room go round. But that all existed BEFORE religion, and will exist after it, too.
Oh, and this statement:
[quote]And please don't come at me with the, "Christians hate Phelps because they know he's saying out loud what they're secretly thinking! They secretly hate homosexuals just as much!"[/quote]
I've never heard anyone say that. I'm sure there are some people who believe it, but this is a case of overgeneralizing. It's okay. I forgive him. Especially since his next comment:
[quote]Please. The White House and Congress and the Supreme Court are full of Christians, always have been. If all Christians thought like Phelps, American gays would be in concentration camps. There'd be nobody to stop it.[/quote]
Thank you. I don't live in a state of fear that I'm going to be forced to be Christian. Besides, I have enough guns to avoid that.
[quote]Atheists. You hate wars. You hate genocide, you hate iron-fisted dictators who line up peasants and jump over them with monster trucks.[/quote]
Actually, that last sounds pretty cool. I'd pay money for it.
At the end, he comes back to the claptrap that religion creates a sanctity for all life that somehow prevents wars from happening. Obviously, this is not so. The first error is that it only creates a sanctity for ONE'S OWN GROUP OR FAITH. Those infidels deserve what they get. Second, is that a belief in some mystical afterlife where everything is put right allows the rationalizations that one can be a fuckup this time around and it's no big deal (as long as you say the right prayers/make the right sacrifices/believe in the right person/thing), and second, that if you do wipe some tribe off the planet, that they're somehow better off in the "arms of god."
Ah, well, at least he's trying. And I don't hate him for being wrong.
I think that's the important part in all this.