(Thank you R. Greenwald. You make getting out of bed a joy.)
Atheism is a purely negative ideology, which is its problem. If one does not believe in God, what should one believe in instead?
This is the nut of the argument, and a point that can be answered. Atheism is not ideology. It is the rejection of the need for ideology. Just as a baby can locate and suckle a nipple without any ideology of hunger or food or mother or self, so can we leave the comfort of bed without the heckling of a capricious god or the ransom of fabulous bribes.
I think I agree with Daniel Lazare about at least one thing: We shouldn't chop off heads until we have the political infrastructure erected to replace the leaders overthrown. But it is hard to find argument amidst his rant. Is Lazare warning that something worse than Christianity will fill the void atheist evangelicals create? Or is he arguing that intellectuals should shut up and allow the mob to work its magick?
If only the Maccabees had stood by as Antiochus IV Epiphanes looted the temple treasury, the world could have skipped 2,000 years or so of religious fanaticism and proceeded directly to the founding of the Council for Secular Humanism... But just as it takes a child a long time to mature, it takes a long time for society as well.
So how is society to mature, Mr. Lazare, if you would have us all prostrate before our culotted betters?
And by the way, the religious zealotry most dangerous to the Western world didn't surface on 9/11. It is the evil spawn of folks like the (at last) late Jerry Farwell and his immoral minority.