What is Fundamentalist Atheism? Who are Fundamentalist Atheists?:
There seems to be an increasing number of people responding to atheist critiques of religion or theism by labeling the person a "fundamentalist" atheist. The label is problematic because there are no essential or "fundamental" beliefs for an atheist to be "fundamentalist" about. So why do people use the label? Why do so many people feel that the label is appropriate? This seems to be mostly due to misunderstandings about and prejudice against fundamentalism, but also prejudice against and misunderstandings about atheism. What is Fundamentalist Atheism?
Fundamentalist Atheists are Elitist, Privileged, Look Down on Others:
Some religious theists try to rebut atheist criticisms of religion by saying that so many atheists are 'fundamentalists' because they are 'elitist.' Apparently, atheists can't really claim to truly understand religion because they are so privileged economically, socially, and academically. They haven't lived alongside regular religious believers, especially poor ones, who gain so much from their religions and religious beliefs. Like so many other myths, this horribly misrepresents atheists. Fundamentalist Atheists are Elitist
Fundamentalist Atheism is Authoritarian, Give Science too much Authority:
One of the most serious problems with religion is how often and easily it can tend towards or support authoritarian movements. This is something irreligious atheists frequently criticize about religion, so perhaps it should be expected for religious theists to try to turn this back around and accuse their critics of being authoritarian as well. In doing so, however, they not only misrepresent atheists and atheism but completely distort the nature of authoritarianism itself. Fundamentalist Atheism is Authoritarian
Fundamentalist Atheists are Dogmatic, Dismissive of Research into Religion:
Fundamentalist atheism cannot exist because there are no 'fundamental' beliefs for atheists to hold. This myth demonstrates why this is true by attempting to create out of thin air a belief for atheists: the idea that they reject religion so firmly that they no longer care about further research on it and are therefore dogmatic in their views. The errors made in this myth are so simple, basic, and obvious that it's difficult to credit anyone who repeats it with understanding atheism at all. Fundamentalist Atheists are Dogmatic
Fundamentalist Atheists Lack a Sense of the Mysterious and Beautiful:
It's not a coincidence that allegedly 'fundamentalist' atheism is being paired with science here because this is basically the same complaint which some religious theists - and perhaps some of the same religious theists - make about allegedly "fundamentalist" science itself. Whether the target is atheists or science, the basic claim is the same: subjecting empirical claims about the world to rational, methodical scrutiny removes magic, mystery, and beauty from the world. Fundamentalist Atheists Lack a Sense of the Mysterious and Beautiful
Atheists Are Becoming More Rude by Criticizing Religious Believers:
One complaint which some religious theists keep raising is how allegedly 'militant' atheists are 'rude' because of the ways in which they publicly, unapologetically, and pointedly challenge religious believers. Such atheists ask that believers actually defend and support the claims they publicly make. Such atheists criticize those beliefs, pointing out the flaws in them and argue that they are mistaken, wrong, or even dangerous. Some religious theists find this intolerable. Atheists Are Becoming More Rude
Atheists are Making a Tactical Mistake by Insulting Religious Theists:
An increasing popular criticism of atheists today is that they are too rude and insulting to religious theists this typically goes hand-in-hand with the claims that atheists are "intolerant" and should be more "respectful" of religion, religious beliefs, and theism. According to purveyors of this myth, atheists are just hurting themselves and their own causes by being so rude and impolite. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so atheists should try to moderate their tone. Atheists Shouldn't Insult Religious Theists
Intolerant & Disrespectful Atheists: Should Atheists Respect Religion, Theism?:
Atheists are Intolerant for Criticizing Religion, Theism
There are several myths here, all tightly intertwined for the apparent purpose of getting atheists to cease making uncomfortable and unwelcome criticisms of religion and theism. Religious believers, mostly Christians, are responding to atheistic critiques of religion by claiming that vocal, unapologetic atheists are analogous to religious terrorists and that criticism of religion is a form of religious intolerance. The implication is that believers shouldn't have to be faced with criticism.
Should Atheists Respect Religion and Theism?
There is an increasingly popular attitude that religion and theism deserve automatic respect and deference from everyone - even those who don't share that religion or that theism. People attack atheists for failing to show the appropriate respect to religious and theistic beliefs. Atheists shouldn't say things which constitute pointed, direct, or harsh challenges to religious and theistic claims. At the risk of further accusations of being intolerant and disrespectful, this is nonsense.
Disagreement is Not Intolerance
Many religious theists insist that irreligious atheists who criticize religion, religious beliefs, and theism are being intolerant and disrespectful. What are these irreligious atheists doing - are they calling for religion to be banned? For religious believers to be put in jail? No, nothing of the sort. All of this alleged intolerance and disrespect occurs because irreligious atheists disagree with religious theism, say it is wrong, argue that it's harmful, and want people to change.
What is Respect?
What does it mean to 'respect' someone's religion or religious beliefs? Many religious theists insist that their religion deserves to be respected, even by non-believers, but what exactly are they asking for? If they are simply asking to be let alone in their beliefs, that's not unreasonable. If they are asking that their right to believe be honored, then I agree. The problem is, these basic minimums are rarely, if ever, what people are asking for; instead, they are asking for much more.
What is Intolerance?
More and more, religious theists are insisting that atheists are being intolerant and rather than criticizing or mocking religion, atheists should become more tolerant of religion. Liberal democracies place a high value on tolerance, so this sounds at first like a reasonable request but it's not because of how "tolerance" is being defined.