Religion Must Be Destroyed, Atheist Alliance Declares [Excerpts]
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."
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.
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.
But whatever differences the speakers had with each other, they were united in their contempt for religion and their belief that religious faith had to be challenged and ridiculed by secularism and reason.
Further emphasizing the attendees' distaste for conservative religion was the convention gift shop which, in addition to atheist materials, sold politically liberal-themed bumper stickers and pins, including "Impeach Bush" and "Stewart/Colbert '08."