The Imperious Atheist

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Last week, while introducing a moving video by Carl Sagan, I made a rather off-handed generalization about atheists


Perhaps it's just me, but many of my encounters with atheist remind me of my encounters with the born-again. Indeed I often suspect that the latter was once the former, and is really angry about it.

One often doesn't realize he's invoked a stereotype until after the fact. I received quite a bit of pushback in comments, and on twitter, accusing me of doing just that. I actually hadn't realized that there was a stereotype of the overbearing atheist. But I did know that when you generalize about broad groups of people, you often end up in trouble. 

So it was with me.  All I can really say is the following--My bad, ye band of godless heathens. Or more seriously, I was wrong to speak in such a sweeping manner. Weasel phrases like "Perhaps it's just me" don't make it right.

MORE: Shut down the thread. It's rather amazing to start with an apology and see commenters reduced to calling each other stupid. Cleary there's a subject cap here. The quantity of comments never impresses me. The quality--or lack thereof--always does.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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