Atheists v. Humanists

At the center of this controversy is the humanist chaplain of Harvard University, a 30-year-old "secular rabbi" named Greg Epstein. In March, in remarks to the Associated Press, Epstein called the popular writers Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins "atheist fundamentalists." He accused the best-selling authorsâ..he now includes Christopher Hitchens among themâ..of being more interested in polemics, in tearing down and waging war on religion than in doing anything positive; his own responsibility, he says, is to speak out for the positive aspects of disbelief. "My problem with the atheists," he told NEWSWEEK, "is not that they're saying God doesn't exist. What I'm saying is we've got to build something." (Harris calls the term atheist fundamentalist "an empty play on words.")

In the blogosphere, where the atheist community is very active, some people aligned with Epstein, condemning the marquee-name atheists for their mercenary and destructive impulses. "The polemicists are interested in nothing more than selling," says Jeff Nall, a peace activist and grad student in Brevard County, Fla., who wrote a piece on this issue for The Humanist magazine. "The danger is in this ridiculous star statusâ..they're seen as representative of the broader atheist community."

BeliefWatch: An Atheist Uproar - Newsweek Beliefs -

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