Another h/t to PZ.
The eliminationist language here makes it hard for me to imagine the Rabbi has actual atheist friends. I wouldn't, for what it's worth, like to be compared to a bedbug or a tick or a flea or similar. I would tend to think it was the sort of dehumanizing language one might use if one wanted to, I don't know, propose that the worldview of an entire subsection of humanity was so grotesque as to merit their wiping-out--
Which I would tend to oppose, my not caring who you are, but basically accepting your humanity, even if whole parts of your worldview might appear to be extraordinarily misguided.
So I might submit that the non-theist Gautama Buddha's non-theistic moral system that built from ideas from the Hindu theistisc belief system weren't actually parasitic, but in fact built a great world faith that has a rather logical approach to "right action". Would Lapin care to suggest all of the sangha are parasitic?
Also, if we were to consider the Greek philosophers, from whom our label, "atheist" is derived, as being part of a tradition of pagan theology that enabled thinkers to eventually eschew the reality of gods, and suppose that knowledge could derive from questioning and experimentation--which is the foundation, in a way, of the Enlightenment thinking of democracies, as well as most freethinkers today. Hmm--did they just parasitically draw fron the religious culture without enriching it also?
Did our founding fathers just parasitically use the democracy of Greece whilst eschewing any of its gods, and equally parasitically, not openly state the referent of a Judaic God who inspired the New Testament, as being part of the English diaspora, in that so many of them wanted to follow Him, and consequently felt less like worshipping at the secular-altar of the monarchy? One wonders. Or was the philosophical tradition of the enlightenment that held that man was capable of seeking and even finding truth, through his efforts, not a more reasonable explication of the authority-defying people who created this one nation, indivisible, except by small-minded bigots who want to start trouble?
It seems to me that the moral arc of the human experience indicates that non-theistic folk can both enrich a tradition and sharpen its level of inquiry, force it to face human realities more dearly and also seem to incline towards mental independence, as opposed to parasitic slackness.
Parasitic slackness often occurring, from what I've observed, from within traditons that have not submitted to adequate rigor. And the worst sort of parasite in human communities being the demogogue.