Religion Must Be Destroyed, Atheist Alliance Declares

Science must ultimately destroy organized religion, according to some of the leading atheist writers and intellectuals who spoke at a recent atheist conference in Northern Virginia. God is a myth, and children must not be schooled in any faith, they said, at the "Crystal Clear Atheism" event, sponsored by the Atheist Alliance International.

Some of the luminaries who spoke at the conference, held at the Crown Royal Hotel in Crystal City, Va. over the weekend, included Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, author Sam Harris and journalist Christopher Hitchens. The Atheist Alliance International describes itself as "the only democratic national atheist organization in the United States."

While most attendees on Friday night were adamant that God was a myth, the convention, attended by hundreds of people, brought into focus a divide among atheists as to their identity as a movement and the nature of the enemy they faced.

In his speech, Dawkins portrayed a black-and-white intellectual battle between atheism and religion. He denounced the "preposterous nonsense of religious customs" and compared religion to racism. He also gave no quarter to moderate or liberal believers, asserting that "so-called moderate Christianity is simply an evasion."

"If you've been taught to believe it by moderates, what's to stop you from taking the next step and blowing yourself up?" he said.

By contrast, Harris's speech was a more tempered critique of the atheist movement itself. While Harris said he believed science must ultimately destroy religion, he also discussed spirituality and mysticism and called for a greater understanding of allegedly spiritual phenomena. He also cautioned the audience against lumping all religions together.

"The refrain that all religions have their extremists is bull-t," Harris said. "All religions do not have their extremists. Some religions have never had their extremists."

Specifically, he noted that radical Islam was far more threatening than any radical Christian sect, adding that Christians had a right to be outraged when the media treated the two religions similarly...

Dawkins was particularly critical of parents who raise their children as a "Catholic child" or "Protestant child." Children must not be labeled as subscribing to a particular religion, he said, and should be allowed to examine the evidence and determine their beliefs for themselves...

Atheists are still a small minority in America. A Newsweek poll earlier this year found that 91 percent of Americans believe in God. A more recent Pew Research Center poll found that atheists were among the most distrusted people in the nation, with 53 percent of Americans holding an unfavorable opinion of them.

But they are a proudly elitist and self-certain minority. When asked what the main difference between believers and atheists was, Dawkins had a quick answer: "Well, we're bright."
No word on whether tolerance was a subject of discussion although one of the speakers at the conference, Sale McGowan, believes "humility is the natural inheritance of atheism." I'm not sure one reconciles these "bright" atheists pronouncement that religion must be destroyed with the pronouncement that "humility is the natural inheritance of atheism." Anyone? Or is it all just an atheist aversion?

Also, is anyone out there in fear of moderate Christians taking the next step and blowing themselves up, or is Harris right in that "Christians had a right to be outraged when the media treated the two religions similarly?"