This proves there is a God in heaven after all! Just kidding . . .
Atheist Jim Lazarus has written a remarkably fair-minded, objective post on this topic, along with many additional helpful, much-appreciated comments. Remember, folks, the spectrum of atheists runs the entire gamut, just like the spectrum of theists or Christians. Choose your dialogue partners wisely, and use discretion in how you judge an ideological opponentwith regard to how representative he may be of the best thought to be found on his "side".
All words below are his own:
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Fundy Atheists on the Run
The Rational Response Squad, renamed "Fundy Atheists on the Run" (FAOR) by Robert Turkel of tektonics.org, has rapidly grown in popularity over the past several months. The sad part about this is that they have been consistently proving Turkel right. FAOR has been coming up with slogans and catch phrases to advertise their website. Every single catch phrase is something along the lines of, "Believing in God is a disease, and we can cure it!" or "Theism is a mind virus!", etc. The entire project reeks of arrogance. It'd be nice to see them have to deal with a series of intelligent theists, and see how they perform. Apparently, they were having a tough time a little while ago, because they posted a plea on myspace for people to come and help them "fend off" the believers that were coming to the message boards and giving them a hard time.
I ignored the plea, but now I think it's too bad that I missed the fun.
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Yeah, I know, what I said is harsh. But I can't support a movement that depicts theism as a mind disease. It's incredibly arrogant, in my never so humble opinion. I realize that you're trying to do what you believe is a good thing. I don't agree that it is, though.
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Btw, I'm not alone in this assessment. There are several respected atheists that I talk to who are of the same opinion. I will not state their names, because it should [be] their decision to make their views public, and certainly not mine.
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I haven't mispresented your establishment. My problems were based on the arrogance and narrow mindedness of its attitude, evidenced by the way that you've been acting toward believers the entire time. Your catch phrases and slogans are especially telling. Right on the front page: "Fighting to Free Humanity from the Mind Disorder Known as Theism".
And I don't feel especially uncomfortable saying that you have not dealt with many intelligent and well respected believers.
. . . You [Brian Sapient, from the criticized group] also wrote that, "Ultimately the progress of humanity from an atheist perspective relies on us not attacking other atheists who are trying to do their part."
I strongly disagree with this. If an atheist organization views "doing their part" as doing things that are ultimately detrimental to progress and detrimental to the skeptical community in general, then you have a responsibility to call them out. I do not see your establishment as progressive. It certainly could be. But that would require a big change in attitude.
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Simply because I do not endorse the same close-minded and pompous attitude that RRS/FAOR does with respect to believers does not mean that I sit "idly by".
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Suggesting that belief in theism is worthy of comparison to beliefs of men in mental institutions demonstrates the same close-minded and arrogant attitude that I mentioned in my post.
Simply because some believers support ridiculous things does not mean that they all do, or that theism itself is necessarily a deranged idea.
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If you support a movement, and some of your fellows are hurting that movement, then you ought to address them and call out their errors.
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On the point of the RRS/FAOR project being close-minded and arrogant, I referenced your slogans, which are great examples of close-mindedness and arrogance.
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My position is more along the lines that you should be less arrogant and close-minded toward theism, because there are many believers who hold to mature conceptions of theism that are not worthy of contempt. When you classify theism itself as a mind disorder, you do many people a disservice. And because your view is close-minded and arrogant, there's no inconsistency in my having little respect for it.
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Having one intelligent believer on the show hardly boosts the credibility of your establishment, considering the wastes of oxygen that have appeared so far, and considering the way that you've been generalizing about theism in the first place.
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I'm speaking out against arrogance in the form of shallow analysis from a "better than thou" perspective, where "shallow" is essentially a cheap consideration of whatever issue a person is opposing. There's a difference between this and calling a clearly unintelligent person, unintelligent.
If you think that Ray is an intelligent theist, then this would actually prove that you have no idea what an intelligent theist is really like. I've met more sophisticated believers in teenage Christian chatrooms than Ray Comfort. If you're looking for intelligent theists, try Richard Swinburne, or Paul Moser, or William Lane Craig, or many believers in the Reformed tradition, or other up-and-coming names in theistic apologetics such as Victor Reppert, Douglas Groothuis, and others. These are intelligent believers, as well as those who have committed themselves to studying and defending the arguments put forward by them, and the number of those people is growing every day.
By pushing the issue on Comfort, you've more or less proved one of the complaints that I made at the outset. FAOR has set out an agenda against theism, and yet it falls horribly short of that by focusing its criticisms against unimpressive believers. From there, you make sweeping claims about theism in general and by extension believers in general, calling it a mind disease. At the end of the day your project comes nowhere close to a strong critique of theism in general, and therefore "Anonymous" is correct when he or she says that this program is only on the level of teenagers and those people who are "Mad At God".