Atheism becomes bigotry when it makes prejudicial statements about religious people. Prejudice is prejudice and intolerance is intolerance, and both are irrational regardless of who commits it. Despite its scientific pretensions and its pronouncements of love for reason, many atheists offer arguments laden with logical fallacies[,] hasty generalization, strawman arguments, and most of all ad hominem attacks.Aside from the ethical sewer that bigotry leads to if unchecked, there is the further issue of how historically inaccurate, how tendentiously selective, New Atheists’ depictions of religious people usually are. Just look at their dismissive treatment of Christians, who are supposedly uneducated, motivated by hate or living in the past. Negating such bigoted propaganda, Christians are not known for stupidity (only look over the role of Christians in intellectual history, even modern history), they’re among the world’s most active in helping those in need (i.e., sharing love rather than hate), and they are definitely not outdated (they happen to currently exist, in the modern world, in huge numbers).
Dawkins takes the obviousness of his moral frame for granted; he doesn't feel the need to offer an earnest denouncement of these murders because he does not honestly believe any person could view them as an outgrowth of a system decent people like him are a part of. But this is a persistent problem with the New Atheist movement: Because it is more critical of religion than introspective about its own moral commitments, it assumes there is broad agreement about what constitutes decency, common sense, and reason. Yet in doing so, New Atheism tends to simply baptize the opinions of young, educated white men as the obviously rational approach to complicated socio-political problems. Thus prejudice in its own ranks goes unnoticed.Exactly. Dawkins and Harris and their millions of secular fans do not understand culture well enough to realize just how constructed our social ideas are. Our modern Western sense of decency and common sense, as well as our concept of human rights, is the product of a very complex cultural history. It is not “natural”, and Dawkins, who has grown up and continues to live in a culture deeply shaped by its Christian background, is naive to assume that these common values will continue to prevail once one has aggressively turned one’s back on the tradition out of which they grew. There is good reason our modern concepts of human rights and individual liberty arose in Western Europe, i.e., in a Christian civilization, rather than elsewhere. Dawkins, in a very fundamental sense, is biting the hand that feeds him. While he benefits from his privileged social milieu, his angry followers, raised in less “decent” surroundings, may easily turn to less “decent” ways of expressing their anti-religious grudge--a smoldering and irrational grudge Dawkins and Harris glibly fan.