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The 5 Most Awful Atheists

Many notable atheists believe in some powerfully stupid stuff, thereby eroding the credibility of all atheists.

Like a fresh-baked loaf of sanity resting on the window of human possibility, atheism is on the rise in the United States. Will this growing constituency become a formidable political force before global warming decimates civilization? I'm skeptical. But according to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 of Americans now say they're either atheist, agnostic, or that they simply don't believe in anything in particular. That godless number was a scant 6 percent in 1990, and this spring roughly 20,000 atheists showed up—rain and all—at the first ever Reason Rally in DC, so, surely, despite the protestations of Texas Republicans, this newfangled thing called “critical thinking” is poised to better the national discourse, yes? Well...

The thing about the so-called “rationalist” movement in America is that disbelief in gods seems to be the only qualification to join the club. Disbelief in a supernatural creator, especially as the movement becomes more popular or “hep,” as I'm pretending the kids say, in no way guarantees rationality in matters of foreign policy or economics, for example. Many notable atheists believe in some powerfully stupid stuff—likely owing their prominence to these same benighted beliefs, lending an air of scientific credibility to the myths corporate media seeks to highlight, and thereby eroding the credibility of all atheists in the long-term. In other words: The crap always rises to the top.

So while we wait around to fully succumb to drought, crop failure, and famine, here's a list of the five most awful atheists.

Sam Harris

Dubbed one of the “Four Horsemen” of “new atheism,” along with philosopher Daniel Dennett, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens, Harris' atheist fame is both wholly undeserved and utterly embarrassing. Harris represents a disturbing anti-Muslim confluence between atheists and neoconservatives in this here post-9/11 'Murka. While it's fine to ridicule Islam, for the oppression of women, or say, the ridiculous story about Muhammad (PB&J) flying to Jerusalem on a Buraq (a winged and inexplicably shame-ridden horse with a dude's face), it's quite another thing to defend  torture and racial profiling.

For a guy who purportedly came to be an atheist through his intellect, Harris routinely fails to demonstrate the faintest capacity to reason. By shamelessly trotting out the same “ticking-nuke” fairy tale as every other Jack and Jill Bauer on Fox News, he failed to notice that  torture rarely produces reliable intelligence, and that it's a wildly counterproductive  jihadist recruitment tool. And according to security expert Bruce Schneier,  profiling on the basis on ethnicity is useless. But for all Harris' sometimes lofty rhetoric about science, he's just not amenable to evidence.

Most grating, for someone who wrote a book titled The Moral Landscape, Harris' “War on Islam” zealotry is numerically unjustifiable. You're  four times as likely to die of a lightning strike than you are from a terrorist attack, and yet this constitutes the gravest threat to Western civilization, but 100,000 (at least) civilian casualties in Iraq is mere fodder for thought experiment apologia. Harris is basically a low-rent Hitchens, sans wit or the wisdom to waterboard himself.

Bill Maher

The “Real Time” host's thinly veiled misogyny, obtuse notion that fat, poor people just need to, like, shop at Whole Foods, and self-righteous condescension in all things religious and political might be tolerable were it not for the fact that he's on comedic par with cervical cancer. The only difference being: cervical cancer doesn't blame its victims for failing to laugh. Compounding the unpleasant nature of Maher's wheat-grass pomposity is that, from vaccines to the news items he discusses, he's just not very well informed.

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