The following is an open letter to James Taranto, in response to the item “Self-Chosen People” in the October 3, 2007 issue of the “Best of the Web” newsletter, which is distributed by the Wall Street journal:

Dear Mr. Taranto,

I understand that the loud ones are the ones who make the news, but I wish you would stop labeling people such as [Richard] Dawkins simply as “atheists”. It is an act akin to pointing to a televangelist and saying, “that’s what Christians are like.”

While Dawkins is certainly an atheist, he makes the news because he is, more specifically, an anti-theist. Atheists do not believe in God. Anti-theists actively fight against religion. There is a rather large distinction between those two.

Through the Internet, (especially blogs) I have come to know a great number of highly intelligent and reasoned atheists. Steven Den Beste, who has been published in the Wall Street Journal, comes to mind. (You can see examples of his writing at <>.) Dawkins and his ilk are more prominent as atheists because atheism itself is a crusade for them. The vast majority of us are quite content to let people believe what they choose to believe. As such, we remain largely invisible.


Stephen Rider


Taranto responds! Via email:

It seems I myself am a “celebrity atheist”:

So it appears I’m preaching to the choir?]

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2 Responses to “Anti-anti-theism”

  1. Steve B Says:

    I wrote a somehwhat similar post, asking why so many atheists seem to go beyond a mere passive disbelief in a creator god, and move into open hostility against those of faith.

    I like the term anti-theists. Seems to some it up quite nicely.

  2. Stephen Rider Says:

    Steve B — link?

    [edit: found the link]

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