Essays and Reviews

What Ever Happened to the New Atheism?

By posted at 6:01 am on July 20, 2011 26

1. The Revelation of St. Arbitron
covercover“And behold, a door was opened, and I heard a voice saying, ‘In the name of Zarathustra and Inherit the Wind and the H.M.S. Beagle, I will cleanse thee of ignorance and iniquity.’ And I looked, and a throne was set atop the bestseller list, and on this throne sat Richard Dawkins, bearing in his right hand The God Delusion. And a great cry went up throughout the land, yea, even unto the last airport bookshop. Then I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven cigarettes, and upon his cigarettes seven flames, and upon his horns ten copies of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and verily, this was the one called Hitchens. The four angels of radio, print, television, and blog rested not day and night, saying, ‘Holy, holy Hitch; the great day of his wrath is come.’ And he spake many hard words before going away to the green room of Charlie of Rose to sup on sandwiches of watercress and await the final victory.”

coverSo, at any rate, apostles of secularism might recall the mid-Aughts a century from now. Those pre-Crash years also saw the publication of blockbuster critiques of religion by cognitive theorist Daniel C. Dennett (Breaking the Spell) and neuroscientist Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation). By the spring of 2007, when the distinguished British philosopher A.C. Grayling brought forth Against All Gods, a collection of “polemics against religion,” a movement—or at least, a cool name for one—had emerged: “The New Atheism.” But aside from a genre-defining profile in Wired Magazine, the New Atheism was written about more often than well, obscuring the really interesting question. What, aside from a common subject and a serendipity of publication dates, bound these writers together? What exactly made the New Atheism new?

coverOne answer was, simply, the temperature of its rhetoric. Gone was the hedged irony of Voltaire, the allegorical grandeur of Nietzsche, the urbane agnosticism of Bertrand Russell; from titles onward, truculence was the order of the day. (Particle physicist Victor J. Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, from 2007, surely deserves a special place in the annals of unsubtlety.) Gone, too, was the Grand Bargain biologist Stephen Jay Gould had proposed in the mid-‘90s: that science and religion coexist as “non-overlapping magisteria.” For Hitchens, a semi-pro talk-show guest, disagreeing to disagree may have been a point of pride. But for Grayling, an ethicist, it was a matter of principle. For too long, he argued, liberal tolerance had thrown a “diaphanous veil” over religion’s most illiberal drives—toward dogma, toward repression, toward conquest and sectarian violence. Dawkins was even more explicit: “As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith,” he wrote, “it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden.”

To the New Atheists’ credit, their anti-jihad jihad was an interfaith affair, targeting not only bearded Wahabbists but Orthodox Israeli settlers and Bible-thumping televangelists. Hitchens derided the Bush Administration for “want[ing] to hand over the care of the poor to ‘faith-based’ institutions,” even as he bolstered the anti-Islamist case for its wars in Greater Petrolia. Dawkins warned of a “Christian Taliban” in the U.S.

Today, though, the religious foment that seemed just a few years ago to be a species-level threat looks more like random variation in a global evolution toward unbelief. Barack Obama may have been the first U.S. presidential candidate to have to leave his church in order to be elected. Gay marriage just became legal in New York. Osama bin Laden is dead, and the largely secular character of the Arab Spring has muted talk of a Second Caliphate abroad. The Great Economic Stagnation has, give or take a few mosques, redirected our attention from cultural quiddities to our credit-card statements. If a turn toward fundamentalism were truly the alpha and omega of the New Atheist story, we might expect the latter to have run its course.

coverInstead, it’s proven strangely durable; witness such recent titles as The Divinity of Doubt and The Christian Delusion and The Belief Instinct and The Religion Virus and Against All Gods (no relation), not to mention Stenger’s The New Atheism and Harris’ The Moral Landscape and Hitchens’ The Quotable Hitchens and Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ. How to square this abundance of supply with the dwindling of demand? A solution appears when we turn to what is in many ways the most ambitious and interesting of these second-wave works, Grayling’s The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. It is, surprisingly, that the New Atheism’s quarrel isn’t really with God after all.

2. Bringing Down the Velvet Hammer
coverTo the fine art of sacrilege, Grayling brings a lighter touch than Dawkins, the New Atheism’s Cardinal Newman, or Hitchens, its Torquemada. (“I’m the velvet version,” Grayling has said.) Where God is Not Great was content to assert that “The serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy…than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books,” The Good Book aims to demonstrate it. That is, rather than pump out another polemic, Grayling has “conceived selected redacted arranged worked and in part written” a huge and entirely God-free compendium of what the poet Matthew Arnold called “the best that has been thought and said,” from Plato to Cato, from the Metamorphoses to The Origin of Species.

This would be a major intellectual achievement in its own right. Owning The Good Book is like having the entire Western Canon on Shuffle (or, depending on your place in the culture wars, being stuck with The White Man’s Greatest Hits). And it’s possible to treat it not as an argument at all, but as a desk reference… or even a cheap alternative to freshman year of college.

Still, there’s a distinctly New Atheist provocation in Grayling’s decision to format his diverse sources in the manner of that other “Good Book.” A one-man Council of Nicea, he has arranged his source material thematically, scrubbed it of attributions, rendered prose into numbered and vaguely iambic verse, and filled in gaps with his own transitional passages. The seams are nearly invisible. What we see instead are fourteen cohesive “books,” with titles like “Proverbs,” “Acts,” and “Parables.” Grayling’s ambition, clearly, is not just to secularize religious accounts of the human condition (à la the Jefferson Bible); it’s to supplant them.

coverHow successful is he? It may be useful to think back to the criteria for belief systems William James laid out a century ago in The Varieties of Religious Experience (still the best book you’re likely to find on the subject of faith.) By James’ first measure, “philosophical reasonableness,” The Good Book blows most scripture out of the water. “The forces underlying everything” in its “Genesis” are the empirically verifiable laws of physics and biology. The apple in this garden is Newton’s. And the scientific account of creation leaves little room for the repressions and mystifications of monotheism. No Adam’s rib, no original sin, and no hang-ups about the body and its urges:

If an individual should be presented to another of the same species and of a different sex,
Then the feeling of all other needs is suspended: the heart palpitates, the limbs tremble;
Voluptuous images wander through the mind

It’s interesting that heterosexism should persist even here, but Grayling’s commitment to objectivity helps dilute it. (Later, in “Acts,” he’ll handle the ancient Greek practice of pederasty with nary a blush.) At any rate, it’s hard to imagine The Good Book driving readers to disown family members on account of sexual preference, or to stone to death women accused of adultery.

The Good Book comes on equally strong in James’ second category, “moral helpfulness.” When God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son,” Cicero’s argument against vice in the name of loyalty (paraphrased in a section called “Concord”) might have come in handy. And to the New Testament’s ethic of judgment (“Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God”), The Good Book counterposes the urbane empathy of Walter Pater:

Not to recognize, every moment, some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing of their ways,
Is, in life’s short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening.

Is virtue possible in the absence of brimstone and damnation? In fact, as the title suggests, a coherent philosophy of virtue is The Good Book’s signal accomplishment.

Grayling’s scriptural ambitions, however, impose on the text a split personality. At any given moment, it speaks with the wise man’s Apollonian serenity. In the exhaustive and exhausting aggregate, though, The Good Book starts to seem anxious that no one’s listening. This anxiety comes to the fore in the penultimate chapter, “Epistles,” which takes the form of father-to-son letters and reads like Hamlet, if Hamlet were a two-hour monologue by Polonius. Over and over, the writer warns his son that “jokers,” distractions, and “weak minds” are all around. We begin to hear echoes of the other New Atheists: of Harris’ attack on “moral relativism;” of Dawkins’ intolerance for semi-believers and Possibilitarians; of Hitchens’ call for “A New Enlightenment.” What elevates “stronger minds” above the masses, in The Good Book, is faith in a very particular strain of the humanist tradition. In fact, that faith is what united the New Atheists all along.

3. Forever and Ever, A Meh…
“Humanism,” as Grayling circumscribes it, is pragmatic, rationalist, and skeptical only in a narrow, scientific sense. The great pessimists and naysayers who haunt Western philosophy appear here and there in The Good Book—a soupçon of Hume in “The Lawgiver,” a dollop of Schopenhauer in “Lamentations.” (Interestingly, these are where the book comes closest to achieving James’ third criterion, “immediate luminousness.”) But in its basic outlines Grayling’s humanism is that of the nineteenth-century positivists, who built a philosophy around their belief in the perfectability of human nature. For Grayling, and for the other New Atheists, reason doesn’t just answer questions about our origins and our ethics; it moves us toward that city on a hill where, The Good Book promises, “the best future might inhabit, and the true promise of humanity be realized at last.”

But expressed this nakedly, the vision seems Whiggish, even naïve. And certainly outdated. For four centuries after Copernicus uncentered the Earth, reason was on the march, claiming more and more of the territory previously arrogated to religion. In the fields of biology and cosmology and paleontology, angels rushed out wherever wise men dared to tread. (Grayling, alone among the New Atheists, has emphasized this historical long view: “Today’s ‘religious upsurge,’ is a reaction to defeat, in a war that it cannot win.”) More recently, though, various experiments in the sphere of culture—laissez-faire economics, Politburo politics, literary Deconstruction—have suggested that irrationalism persists, or even thrives, where religion has been elbowed aside. (A Good Book-style anthology limited to the post-1960s period would echo Ezekiel, by way of the Byrds: “overturn, overturn, overturn.”)

covercoverTo the beleaguered humanist, the hard sciences of the 21st Century offer scant consolation. Indeed the great boom-discipline of the age—neuroscience—suggests that where reason exists, it is, no more or less than its opposite, a mere byproduct of electricity and chemistry, a ghost in the machine. The New Atheists make various attempts to countenance this; in this way they are cousins of the modish authors of Blink and Proust Was a Neuroscientist and The Wisdom of Crowds. Harris goes so far as to suggest, in The Moral Landscape, that brain-imaging studies may lead to a new science of morality. So far, though, Neurobiological Man so far bears little resemblance to the rational paragon of the humanist imagination.

Moreover, the humanists’ triumphal account of scientific history focuses on the Newtons and Darwins while overlooking the folks tinkering in the lab. Herbert Marcuse long ago pointed out the patent irrationality of the world order to which such tinkering, in the form of the atomic bomb, gave rise. And in the information technologies currently transforming our lives, applied science has allowed us to redraw the line between fact and belief, offering the body politic an inoculation against scientific consensus. On comment-threads and twitter feeds, Arnold’s “ignorant armies” can clash ad infinitum. Evidence is whatever we can Google. No wonder the New Atheists feel like an aggrieved minority.

cover“The truth explains everything,” runs one of Grayling’s “Proverbs.” It’s an article of faith for these writers. But they must sense, even as they affirm it, that the real threat to the cult of human reason in the 21st Century is not the religious, but epistemological. We live today under the dispensation of what one contemporary wise man calls “truthiness.” In the great ecumenical marketplace of our culture, belief systems thrive not on compulsion, or verifiability, but on narrative interest. This helps explain why, with better-defined enemies in disarray, the air has started to leak from the New Atheist balloon—why Dawkins’ forthcoming riposte to J.K. Rowling, The Magic of Reality, sounds so distinctly un-magical, and why Grayling’s Good Book, laudable in its aspirations, is ultimately more fun to think about than to read.

This is not to say that the scriptures of this particular group of unbelievers hold no interest for us. But even a half-decade on, we can see that they’ll someday seem exactly as remote—exactly as poignant—as the lapsed religions they sought to supplant. That is, the New Atheism now appears to us godless cosmopolitans like any other faith: as noble, as fallible, as wondrously, humanly, world-historically beside the point.





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26 Responses to “What Ever Happened to the New Atheism?”

  1. Mark Tiborsky
    at 9:51 am on July 20, 2011

    Nice article, but I don’t think so.

    The so-called “new atheists” have been the catalyst for a definite change in society, like it or not. No longer is religious dogma immune to scrutiny, and no longer is it necessary for a nontheist to stay “in the closet”.

    Do some homework- ten years ago it would have been difficult to find a regional atheist/agnostic group, but now nearly every major city in the U.S. has a good-sized organization. Meanwhile, the membership of national orgs. such as FFRF is rapidly increasing (theirs has nearly tripled since 2005).

    Most importantly, reputable polls have been showing that the fastest-growing “religious” group is the “nones”. Add to this the “atheist advertising” with billboards, bus ads, etc. which was nearly non-existent 10 years ago… activity in this area continues to increase.

    None of this new vocal atheism is showing any signs of abating… the “new” atheists’ influence is here to stay!

  2. Bonnie
    at 11:52 am on July 20, 2011

    Mark, religious dogma has never been “immune to scrutiny.”

    Before TNA (like that? I like that), people just had to use more creative means of scrutiny. These dudes just get away with straight up bitching, “NO! NO! NO! YOU’RE WRONG, YOU IDIOT ZEALOT!”… and so what? I’m supposed to see the fact you’ve got yrselves some fancy public clubs with potlucks and mailing lists as a mark of progress? Progress of what–institutionalized atheistic assholery (as opposed to the institutionalized religious assholery to which you oppose yrselves, of course)? Congrats, then, on “finding yr voice.” And thank Hitchens we’ve got more atheistic billboards–wouldn’t want any spectacular views of nature corrupting us with a sense of magical wonder. Nope, can’t have that, by Newton.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about some expansion of humanistic ethics, so cheers to Grayling for the intent (though my preferred slogan would be something more like “IMMANENCE, BITCHES!”). And Walter Pater is, indeed, the bizness. (Not least of all b/c of his curiosity and willingness to explore the aesthetic tensions between forms of appreciation like mysticism and scientism, but why bring that up? It’s not like it may have been a contributing factor to his capacity for “urbane empathy” or anything.) I just can’t get past all this TNA toe-sucking at the altar of reason. It’s as ignorant of its own ignorance as most any other toe-sucking dogmatism you’ll find. Case in point: Mark, five bucks says you balk when folks report hearing the voice of God, yet you’ve got no problemo whipping out “reputable polls” –dubious entities if ever there were entities to be doubted–as evidence… a source, presumably, of ye olde reliable stuff like “accuracy”, “truth”, “knowledge”, BS, hornswaggle, etc., etc. Dawkinsdammit, man!

    Grayling’s assholery is less abrasive than the rest, but when it comes right down to it, nobody likes debunkers–especially debunkers who don’t successfully convey an appropriate understanding of how the dogmatic presumption of their own positivistic delusion so closely resembles the same abhorrent tendency in their object of debunktion.

    Oh, the TNAers a catalyst alright: for pissin’ me off as bad as the fundies.

    Good piece, Hallberg.

  3. Jake
    at 12:37 pm on July 20, 2011

    Yeah, Mark, I think the idea is that these books might not become part of the White Man’s Greatest Hits. The TNA (that’s good) should read themselves some Marilynne Robinson.

    “And here we are, a gaudy efflorescence of consciousness, staggeringly improbable in the light of everything we know about the reality that contains us. There are physicists and philosophers who would correct me. They would say, if there are an infinite number of universes, as in theory there could be, then creatures like us would be very likely to emerge at some time in one of them. But to say this is only to state the fact of our improbability in other terms.”

    -Absence of Mind

    “And Walter Pater is, indeed, the bizness.” That’s good also…

  4. Austin McGrath
    at 12:49 pm on July 20, 2011

    The wonder is that such a shallow,verbose article should conjure up an even more impenetrably wordy response from Bonnie.Sounds like theologians playing word games.

    We can Google anything we want ,just to take one point, and find out all about say the wonders of homeopathic medicine and the ‘evidence’ for it but I won’t be treating my kids with it the next time they’re sick. Some things really are completely wrong.

    Really is astounding to a European that all this hot air is taken seriously or maybe now there’s just so much internet space to be filled that any old drivel will do

  5. Kai Teorn
    at 12:58 pm on July 20, 2011

    Joseph Conrad once wrote to Herbert Wells: “You don’t care for humanity but think they are to be improved. I love humanity but know they are not.”

    It may be even more true than most realize – or rather, more symmetric.

    The conservative love that fails to acknowledge both the fact of slow changes in the human nature and the dire need for such changes is just as blind as the silly technology-touting speculative utopias.

    Both Wells and Conrad were deluded – just differently. What we urgently need is a new kind of love: one that cherishes the “fleeting charities” of life and mind but at the same time is not scared of the wider vistas opened by the insights of science.

  6. Mark Tiborsky
    at 1:08 pm on July 20, 2011

    Re: Bonnie- That you’ve just nearly had a conniption underscores my point… the so-called “new atheism” continues to have more of an effect than many folks would like. And thank you for the straw giants! :)

    Re: Jake- Look… gods are either real, or they’re not. No amount of phillosophical Jell-O will make the truth be “in between”. No one can provide any verifiable credibility to any theological claims- nor can any credibility for theology be found in anywhere in nature. The sum of theology amounts to hearsay.

    Thus it is perfectly logical to reject all theological claims- which is what the “new atheists” are all about, not unlike the “old” atheists.

  7. Miguelito
    at 3:55 pm on July 20, 2011

    Why are so many people obsessed with ‘tone’? Bonnie’s verbal meltdown is a clear example of the confusion that so many have (due in part to a lack of critical thinking). What is so wrong about saying that someone is wrong? We seem to suffer from the delusion that certain things (ie. religion) are to be sheltered from inquiry and criticism. Why? We don’t do this in other areas of discourse but when it comes to someone’s untestable beliefs, you become an ‘asshole’.

  8. Tim Campbell
    at 4:28 pm on July 20, 2011

    Sorry, Bonnie, but essentially, the so-called New Atheists made their point in a dramatic fashion and now, those readers who are able to think critically about religion and God are free to do so. Some will remain rooted in what they deem to be familiar territory–religious faith–others will see faith for what it is and reject it.

    Faith: belief in unverifiable ideas, events, or beings, without any actual evidence to support that belief.

    Not much difference between faith and wishful thinking, except that faith comes to the faithful from other humans who have claimed for themselves a special authority to make these unverifiable claims.

    The writings of the New Atheists are simply starting points. For those who might be interested in following up on the New Atheists can read such writers as Bart Ehrman (New Testament textual criticism), Tim Callahan (comparative mythology), Jerry Coyne (Evolution(, Michael DeGrassee Tyson (astronomy and physics), Evalyn Gates (astrophysics), Timothy Beal (New Testament history),Robert Price (critique of Christian apologetics), Robert Pennock (Science Philosophy and the ID scam), and many others.

    These writers are not outselling Stephen King or Robert Patterson, but so what? They are providing educated, measured, and rational presepctives on these topics. Read them and then make up your own mind on what makes sense and what is really just pre-scientific myth and superstition.

  9. Sam Salerno
    at 7:00 pm on July 20, 2011

    Bottom line be as deluded as you want. But stay out of our govt’ our schools and quit mentally abusing children with false indoctrination. And you can go tiptoeing around the fairy bushes all you want. But until that happens I will not shut up.

  10. Matt
    at 7:20 pm on July 20, 2011

    the New Atheism has definitely had an effect…I can’t tell you how many bright, conscientious 20-somethings I’ve talked to have causually brought up their atheism in conversation, almost taking it for granted. Religion is taken with a bigger grain of salt when it’s brought up in the culture. For me the question will be to what extent it’ll last, simply because it’s in the mainstream dialogue. We don’t know if TNA (I like it, too!) will be just an ephemeral status symbol or a real change in thinking. Time will tell.

    I love the way you wrote your comment, Bonnie, but I don’t think the equivalence is fair. The fundies are annoying for the reasons I think are pretty obvious, but I don’t think TNA is as objectively annoying as it may be to you, specifically. Different TNA writers phrase things more aggressively, for sure, but ultimately they are all going to agree that you can’t know the unknowable, and even if they might be snottier about it verbally I think their ultimate point is much more humble, philosophically. I don’t think it’s fundamentalism in a different guise.

    Pater is SO the bizness…

    I think the problem is that what TNA want is to reach what’s ultimately unreachable- the believer’s belief, which is ultimately going to be maddeningly, inscrutably subjective. Hitchens and Dawkins can argue magnificently, endlessly, persusaively, and the believer can simply smile, nod, and say “yes, that’s all well and good, but you just don’t know what God means to me”…and ulimately, that’s where you’re stuck. I think it’s ultimately about culture, and how vehement people will get when they want to hang on to it.

    What’s good about TNA is that it will at least challenge this state of affiars, and if one’s faith can’t be argued away in all, er, good faith (as it was for me, so long ago) it might at least bend if not break- which is a mighty good thing. Let’s at least have believers who are going to acknowledge their faith-covered empty spaces, if believe they must.

    It might even be how we get to Kai’s idea of love, but let’s not ask for the moon.

  11. Kevin
    at 7:23 pm on July 20, 2011

    <3 Austin McGrath's comments

  12. Greg
    at 12:21 pm on July 22, 2011

    New atheism? As an atheist I always thought of “new atheism” as a crock. Simple minded dolts with a grudge against the church mostly. Pay no mind to them. I don’t.

  13. Lary Nine
    at 11:11 pm on July 22, 2011

    I read somewhere recently that trying to get atheists to join a “common cause” movement is like trying to herd stray cats. As an atheist for well over 20 years, I can confirm the validity of that bit of Twainian cleverness. It’s clear that the “New Atheism” is an press-invented phrase to describe the efforts of particular atheists to publicly appeal for equality of treatment in a world where anyone who is candidly atheistic is viewed as a morally untethered Frankenstein monster. It’s a response to the aggressive marginalization by society-at-large as it deploys its vestigial medieval attitudes in between school board meetings to cast out demonic evolution education..

  14. Joey
    at 12:46 pm on July 23, 2011

    I agree with Greg, most of the New Atheists seem like people that have a beef with something that they grew up with or where they grew up. I am living in one of the reddest states in America and i am a non-believer who can find solace in both Shakespeare and The Gospel according to Matthew. Also i see New Atheism as just being a reaction and not something that is offering anything new, and it seems like they are playing by the rules that religions have set out, which seems to give too much credit to what they are trying to debunk. I feel like i can read Ecclesiastics or Psalms or Joan Didion or the Lotus Sutra or Nietzsche and gleam something about the human condition from them and not have to believe in human beings living in whales or people being raised from the dead. and that doesn’t seem that difficult to me.

  15. Julie
    at 5:11 pm on July 24, 2011

    @Jake — Hear, hear on M. Robinson!

  16. Alexander T!
    at 6:14 pm on July 24, 2011

    You are right. Responding to ridiculous assertions that dominate political motivation (at least in rhetoric) must have something to do with what happened to these people as children. It is akin to being gay, right?

    Grow up.

  17. Joey
    at 11:33 pm on July 24, 2011

    and what you said isn’t a ridiculous assertion at all, is it? what i am saying is that in my case most of the Atheists i have known grew up in small towns that were dominated by hypocritical southern Baptists. and therefore they reacted to these people by rejecting the religion altogether. so in essence the people i am referring to aren’t really atheists but anti-Christians. which is something that is completely understandable.

    how is it akin to being gay? you are born gay, you realize this right?.

    also telling someone to grow up is about as juvenile and condescending as one can be,.

  18. Kendrick
    at 10:36 am on July 25, 2011

    @Bonnie While the tone of the new atheists might invoke some resemblance to fundamentalist prattle (in the sense that they’re convinced they’re right in this argument), making an equivalence between the two is not fair or even honest. Most of the more scathing arguments against religion come from peer-reviewed scientific research, whose advancement is wholly due to rationalism and skepticism. We wouldn’t be where we are as a society if the scientist community took for granted anything that was put on print in a journal. It’s because these ideas survived the thorough criticism of the scientific community that the new atheists show something so similar to faith in their arguments.

  19. Ruby
    at 5:10 pm on July 25, 2011

    Many years ago I was in a 12-step program and couldn’t get with the program–the higher power stuff just made me gag. In Seattle at the time there were two atheist & agnostic meetings. What they did made me gag, as well. They carried on, hollered, screamed, spiraled into total nuttiness over religion and what it had done to them. They spent so much of the meeting howling about religion and religious belief that very little attention was paid to the addictions that brought us there in the first place. How about disengaged atheism. Makes total sense to me. I don’t have to defend it or discuss it or have it torn into by some well-meaning (really?) believer.

  20. Alexander T!
    at 9:14 am on July 30, 2011

    @Joey, I was not talking to you. I have no idea why you think I was.
    Grow up.

    But, in addition to that, if you think the “New Atheists” mentioned in this article are reacting to growing up around conservative Christianity that dominates Boston, Nairobi, and Portsmouth, UK, then you seem to have a very bizarre understanding of the world.

  21. Roy Madron
    at 9:59 am on August 1, 2011

    http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2011/07/god-evidence-believe-world

    Amusing selection of reasons not to believe in the God-nonsense of any kind. My favourite is Ben Goldacre’s ” There still hasn’t been a word invented for people like me, whose main ex­perience when presented with this issue is an overwhelming, mind-blowing, intergalactic sense of having more interesting things to think about. I’m not sure that’s accurately covered by words such as “atheist”, and definitely not by “agnostic”. I just don’t care.” But many of the usual suspects offer a summary of their views. Enjoy.

  22. Brian
    at 7:36 pm on August 6, 2011

    Tim Campbell, I like your thoughts…Faith: belief in unverifiable ideas, events, or beings, without any actual evidence to support that belief. As a human, man, person…I don’t understand why I have to call myself anything but…human, man, person. Is the term Athiest or New Athiest a positive term? Does it not still hold a social stigma initiated in religion? I don’t like to call myself athiest…I let those with their “faith” call me that. To do so is canonize the debate. I call myself human, man, person…Brian. I expect my friends and family to do the same.

  23. Brad
    at 7:40 am on August 15, 2011

    It seems to me the New Athiests are often pushing their own religion – that of positivism or scientism. It scares me that they are now denying the fact that we have free will and are looking to ‘science’ and our ‘human nature’ for pointers on morality. These folks are bright and are capable of applying science, but they could stand to pick up a philosophy book or two in order to learn how to steer it.

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