I believe I've just had an epiphany.
Nietzsche said that Pascal was the saddest case he knew of a fine mind being ruined by religion.
Last Friday, Richard Dawkins was the 1st guest on "Real Time" with Bill Maher. Bill's 1-on-1 guest. Dawkins appeared on the occasion of his new book, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science.
I haven't read the book, I have nothing to say about the book except that its title made me hope that Bill and Richard might actually talk about science -- the way that Neil deGrasse Tyson did later on in the very same episode. The way that Richard wrote about science up until 2004.
Up until he became a full-time atheist, a New Atheist, a professional atheist.
No, Richard and Bill said fuck-all about science. Within 30 seconds they were knee-deep in those tired old New Atheist cliches and claiming to be oppressed because some people, "deluded liberals," don't like their Muslim-bashing.
Bill isn't a full-time atheist, a New Atheist. Not yet. He still actually talks about a wide variety of issues. Unless he's around Dawkins or Sam Harris.
I'm not as familiar with Pascal's scientific and mathematical work as I am with Dawkins' work on evolutionary biology, and so, for me personally, the saddest case I know of a mind ruined by religion is Dawkins. I'm still an atheist, I haven't stopped being an atheist for an instant over these years of getting to know New Atheists better and better and becoming more and more appalled by them. But one thing which has changed enormously for me is that a person's religious beliefs or lack of them have come to mean less and less to me in my overall opinion of a person. (You notice I said "person," singular. Almost as if I regarded people as individuals or something.) Although I haven't stopped being an atheist for an instant, I still do think about things other than religion, and I sometimes even have very positive thoughts about religious things -- religious art and architecture and music and literature, mostly.
And to those of you who are offended by being compared to religious fanatics, let me quote Dawkins and Hitch and Stephen Fry and the millions of you human parrots who are constantly quoting them: "Oh, you're offended? So fucking what?!"