The Sciences

Atheists Behaving Badly

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorAug 15, 2014 1:43 AM

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When evolutionary biologist and atheist superstar Richard Dawkins recently stepped into (yet another) sinkhole of his own making, fellow evolutionary biologist and all-star atheist PZ Myers shook his head sadly. (It was not the first time that Myers had chided Dawkins for "callous indifference.") Dawkins, true to form, could not recognize the sinkhole he created. That led Myers to shake his head again, sadly. As Myers wrote about the latest Dawkins sinkhole, "it hurts to see him say obnoxious things on Twitter, like rating different kinds of rape and pedophilia." Even worse, Dawkins didn't understand "why that’s objectionable," Myers noted. Earlier this week, it was Myers turn to step into (yet another) sinkhole of his own making, with a post that began:

I'm sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family. But his sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.

A collective groan could be heard in the atheist community. The tone-deaf sarcasm from Myers led many of his fans to mumble: "Why, why, why..." Some went further. Fellow evolutionary biologist and equally abrasive atheist all-star Jerry Coyne was unsparing:

This is one of the most contemptible and inhumane things I’ve ever seen posted by a well-known atheist. It reeks of arrogance, of condescension, and especially of a lack of empathy for those who loved and admired Williams not because they knew him, but because he brought them happiness and made them think.

Myers, true to form, could not recognize the sinkhole he created. It's a quirk of human nature that some people can only see when others are behaving contemptibly. Of course, lack of self-awareness is not unique to prominent atheist scientists. Still, I wonder if Dawkins, Myers, or Coyne could give me an evolutionary explanation for obtuseness?

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