The "New" New Atheism

Considerations of religious issues in general

The "New" New Atheism

Postby Michael » 02 Sep 2012, 16:30

I wonder what Dalrymple would have to say about this article. It served to confirm me in my opinion that the "new" atheism, far from being a respectable philosophical position, is in fact an ideology or, to use more modern terms, a "life style", immune to criticism, opposed to an enemy as illusory as the "bourgeois" opposed by the Marxist-Leninists. Like the Communists, it seems atheists are as prone to factional splitting and vicious infighting as their red banner carrying predecessors. It is becoming another branch of political correctness

Greta Christina has gone so far as to devise a checklist of goals to which atheist organisations should aspire, including anti-harassment policies and ensuring diversity among both members and invited speakers. "To remember that not all atheists look like Richard Dawkins."

That sounds like, at least party, a negative programme - "getting rid of the garbage". Yet the name - or at least the symbol - is pleasingly double-edged. "Atheism plus", the natural reading, implies incompleteness: that other, associated principles need to be added to the core idea to produce a rounded philosophy. But it can also be read as "Atheism positive", going beyond the mere negation of belief. Time will tell whether McCreight's initiative leads to permanent changes in the atheist and sceptical movement, or to the formation of a new and distinct nexus of atheism and progressive politics, or is soon forgotten. But I'd bet against the latter. Whether or not the name sticks, there is an energy behind this new wave that makes it hard to ignore.


Just take a look at these "goals"

The idea that atheism needs more than absence of belief in (and criticism of) belief in the supernatural and revealed religion indicates the hollowness of the lives of so many of its members, who need to belong to a movement in order to define themselves. Again, like the Communists of old. In fact, the explicit linking of atheism and "progressive" (read: radical) politics makes me think that these New Atheists are in the New Communists.

I hope it is soon forgotten.
Michael
 
Posts: 304
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 21:28
Location: Canada

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Damo » 02 Sep 2012, 19:31

As soon as I got here, I stopped reading.

The effects of the Catholic Church on AIDS in Africa.
Damo
 
Posts: 165
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 16:09

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Mike » 02 Sep 2012, 22:47

I stopped reading at a different point - when I saw the word "diversity" three times in as many sentences. ;-)

There are plenty of atheists (like myself) who are increasingly finding themselves embarrassed at the aggressive militancy of the atheist "movement".
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Connor » 10 Sep 2012, 05:52

Mike wrote:There are plenty of atheists (like myself) who are increasingly finding themselves embarrassed at the aggressive militancy of the atheist "movement".


I couldn't agree more. In fact, I actually made the decision earlier this year to start calling myself an "agnostic" rather than an "atheist" just so I could dissociate myself from the New Atheists - a movement that, I'm embarassed to say, I used to have a lot of enthusiasm for.

I've been looking through old threads on this board, and I noticed that quite a few of the people on here used to be outspoken atheist/anti-theist types also, but they've moved on to a more nuanced view of religion. Well, that's certainly been my trajectory, and I'm pleased to see other Dalrymplians have had a similar journey.

I used to be the kind of person who attended organized atheist events in my free time, but I stopped doing so about two years ago. Nowadays, I just think the idea of congregating with other people based on their lack of belief in something seems...well, silly.

This revelation came to me at one of the last atheist discussion groups that I attended. I remember that we were all debating whether atheism should be considered its own religion. Most people present, of course, insisted that atheism is the farthest thing from a religion. Then someone blurted out a maxim that I'd heard quite often from this crowd:

"Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby."

I remember sitting there and thinking: Wait...wouldn't that make this a discussion group about not collecting stamps?

Before long, my career as an atheist was over.
Connor
 
Posts: 113
Joined: 30 Aug 2012, 03:54
Location: New York, NY, USA

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Gavin » 10 Sep 2012, 07:08

Here's a post from me on this topic.

I tried to be an active atheist mainly because of my concern about Islam (which I still have) and my instinctive dislike of people believing things for which there is scant evidence.

But I found that at the meetings almost everyone (if not everyone) was a socialist and they seemed to be just as concerned with gay rights (many seemed to be gay, or at the very least socially unconventional). Their main concern apart from campaigning for gay rights seemed to be the Catholic church. They seemed very reluctant to criticise Islam - very PC.

As all this dawned on me and as I saw them acting in hardly very humanist ways (and I'm talking about some quite high profile figures here) I realised this was not the place for me at all. They're not so much against religion as for socialism, and in some cases nihilism, it seemed to me. The "against religion" thing is almost like a front.

Well, those were my impressions. I too am a bit ashamed of my attitude in those days. When I read Dalrymple I realised matters had to be more nuanced and he seems to be a wiser writer than, for example, someone like Dawkins. If it is any consolation to us I believe TD himself also went on this "journey"!
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3431
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Heather » 10 Sep 2012, 12:03

So a girl organizes an event called Boobquake and then:

McCreight recalls receiving unsolicited sexual invitations and, when she appeared in public, gratuitous comments about her appearance.


I don't know that I'd call them unsolicited.

Men are very capable of boorish behavior, and it's every woman's job to communicate what sort of things she will or won't put up with. There are dozens of similar things that she could have organized to poke fun at religion, but she chose to put on this "empowering" event, and acts surprised when young men take that as a sexual cue.

The fact of the matter is that that sort of male behavior (and of course all sorts of female behavior as well) can be kept in check by only a few civilized things, such as certain religions or higher culture. New Atheism has neither.

I stopped being a New Atheist a few years ago when Dawkins started encouraging everyone to call themselves Brights. What a stupid and ironically holier-than-thou name.
Heather
 
Posts: 132
Joined: 28 Apr 2012, 23:05
Location: The American South

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Gavin » 10 Sep 2012, 12:45

That reminds me of that silly "Slutwalk" thing that was organised. Let me put it like this: it's ultimately the burglar's fault for burgling your house, right, but in a dangerous world it hardly helps if you if you leave your door unlocked and your windows open.

Furthermore, sluts look disgusting. It looks like slutwalk every day in many areas of Britain - they don't need to go organising formal events! I suppose they simply said to the participants "Just turn up in your usual Friday night clothing".
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3431
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Heather » 10 Sep 2012, 13:26

Wow, I wasn't aware of Slutwalk. This has nothing to do with Atheism and I apologize for getting off-track, but there's something I've been wanting to share with the forum, and it fits in here.

Over a year ago, my cousin (I only know her through facebook, though) disappeared literally without a trace, but under very fishy circumstances. There seem to be three possibilities for what happened (or four or five if you consider suicide or a hiking accident, but I know enough about the case to believe those to be false). One of those, rather likely in my opinion, is that she was raped and dismembered by a serial killer in the area. The day or day after she disappeared the police were actually trailing him. He was standing outside bars waiting for lone drunk and under-dressed women to come out, and he'd act drunk too and lure them down dark alleys. Those women (there were several) are lucky that the police were trailing him that day. I think they were able to arrest him for being unable to produce identification. But anyway, my cousin was definitely the type to dress immodestly (not at Slutwalk levels, but still) and get drunk, and it was also her birthday weekend. The police continued to keep tabs on him, but no one really knows exactly what he was up to, until several months later when one of his victims survived an attack and was able to get him arrested. The police didn't even make the connection that "Hey, last year a woman disappeared when we knew he was actively seeking victims." My cousin's sister saw in on the national news and asked the police if they had thought of the connection. They hadn't, and my understanding is that he's currently being questioned about it.

I don't want to be seen as blaming any victims, but the house analogy is a good one. There are bad people in the world, and burglaries, rapes, and murders do happen. It's wise to be careful and take a sensible precaution or two, even when we're just having fun.
Heather
 
Posts: 132
Joined: 28 Apr 2012, 23:05
Location: The American South

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Connor » 12 Sep 2012, 02:35

They're not so much against religion as for socialism, and in some cases nihilism, it seemed to me. The "against religion" thing is almost like a front.


I think you might be on to something with that "socialism" idea, Gavin. Case in point:

I just received an e-mail today from the old atheist group I referenced in my previous post (I swear, I keep removing myself from their mailing lists, but they keep finding me!). Anyway, it informed me about their big atheist-themed outing that's coming up in a few months. Can you guess what it is?

A tour of Cuba.

Yes, I'm serious. I have to say that even I am a little surprised about this.

Keep in mind that it's basically illegal for people in the US to even visit Cuba. The people who planned this trip must have spent a lot of time, money, and resources to find a way to get there. The event is described as being a "private tour" of the country with an English-speaking tour guide (who, no doubt, will give a very balanced and realistic view of what life in Cuba is really like).

It's amazing to think that people around here would spend a huge amount of money to visit an authoritarian regime just because it's nominally an "atheist" society.

Maybe next year it will be off to North Korea...
Connor
 
Posts: 113
Joined: 30 Aug 2012, 03:54
Location: New York, NY, USA

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Elliott » 13 Sep 2012, 04:14

Connor, it's hilarious that a group advocating Atheism would choose a Communist country, quite randomly of course, for their jaunt overseas.

There definitely seems to be a consistent (if not constant) link between Atheism and political extremism, especially Communism/liberalism. I think they are essentially idealists looking for something else to believe in, and once they "accept" that God doesn't exist, they have to look immediately for something else that can take His place.

For some, Communism is the ideal substitute, for reasons I probably needn't list. And for others, modern liberalism is equally enticing. All of my left-wing friends on Facebook post stuff attacking conservatives and capitalists and singing the praises of equality and diversity. There is obviously a need there. After all, they're not doing it for fun, are they? It's not "fun" to post a status message indicating your belief in the importance of "equality". No, it must be satisfying a deeper need in the person.

I would go so far as to say that Man without something to believe in is a lost and frantic creature. I don't think that we need religion, because clearly it is possible to live a successful and fulfilling life without it, but I think the longing for it remains. People seem to long to be part of a transcendent project - not just a collective project, but a transcendent one, which elevates the believer out of the everyday. I know I certainly do.

Atheists ignore the above aspect of human nature (assuming I am right and it is an aspect) but furthermore they cannot see that they themselves are acting on the same impulse. Of course it's fine to be an Atheist, but why all this preaching and the mockery of non-Atheists? Why does it annoy them so much that some people still have the temerity to not be Atheists? Why do Atheists have to go on and on about their Atheism? (They can't seriously believe that the war against Christianity has not yet been won, surely!)

What I will say for Atheists is that they, as yet anyway, haven't resorted to the extremist tactics of religious fundamentalists. Maybe that is a cause for celebration? Or maybe it's just a matter of time before they do? Or maybe the reason it's not happening, really, is that they know the only religious extremists left in the West are Muslims, but blowing up a mosque would incite violent reprisals; blowing up a church would not lead to revenge beheadings and so on, but it would be pretty much pointless in the modern West.

A Facebook friend of mine is part of a group called "Political Loudmouth". This group, as well as posting weak jokes about the Republican Party, capitalism and conservatism in general, is also strongly New Atheist. In my friend's timeline yesterday, this photo appeared courtesy of the Political Loudmouth group. (If it doesn't show, a smaller version can be seen here.)

A string of smug New Atheist comments trailed under it. I contributed:
Didn't Atheist extremists murder about 100 million people throughout the 20th century?


I got the following response, whose wording bespeaks the smugness and self-assurance that is so typical of New Atheists:
Elliott: Cite one example please. Remember, this is an example of an atheist murdering someone with religious motivation. Just one example. It's OK, we'll wait.


To which I replied, perhaps a bit hot-headedly:
The self-righteousness of Atheists is astonishing. It's as if you expect a medal for not believing in a "sky fairy", like you think you're really, really clever for being "nobody's fool" etc. You are a tedious, tedious bunch. As for an example of an Atheist murdering someone "with religious motivation" and don't worry you'll "wait", how very generous. Keep waiting. The fact remains that the most extremist, intolerant Atheists of the 20th century were genocidal maniacs who had replaced one utopian vision (a religious one) with another (a political one) and used that to justify and promote mass violence. To claim there is no connection between their godless extremism and their murderous ferocity is to betray a somewhat threadbare grasp of human psychology. But, of course, you New Atheists aren't really interested in humans, are you? You're only interested in being clever. I despise you.


I expected that such a rant would inspire much vitriol from the NA crowd, but in fact it got only one reply, which was so facile it does not deserve repeating.

But this thing about Atheists being behind so much political extremism in the 20th century (Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot...) is one that comes up a lot. I have had several discussions with my NA friend about it. What tends to happen is, as in the example above, that the New Atheist demands evidence that the Atheistic mass murderer was inspired to kill by his Atheism. Or, they claim that Hitler and Stalin were not Atheists at all (in the FB thread mentioned above, it was claimed that Hitler was a devout Catholic, and by another person that he was a devout Pagan, and another that he was into the Occult). But this is to miss the point.

The point is that Atheism is no defence against irrationality or brutality. It is not the haven of clear-thinking and goodness that New Atheists claim it to be. On the contrary, it is a place free of the moral rules and compass that a religion provides; it is a place where man is free to roam wild. And I mean wild. Of course, such a place is fine for some people; but for others, it is the arena of moral chaos.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Michael » 13 Sep 2012, 18:41

Good post, Elliott. I was thinking earlier today that it says something very interesting about a person when seemingly without motivation they decide to latch onto a Cause, be it religious or political. Consider the teenager who, despite never having met any strong evangelicals, who decides they are going to be a New Atheist and make a stand with the "Brights". The same thought covers all those in the last century who decided, without real motivation other than perhaps boredom and annoyance at their parents, that they were going to be Communists. As you point out Elliott such a person clearly suffers from a deep need or psychological lack that is not being met, a need for personal significance and transcendence.

I believe that a lack of humility is one of the greatest faults in our current Western society, where people have difficulty accepting their place and situation, and feel the need to be a center of attention. When they have no exceptional traits (artistic creativity, musical talent, scientific aptitude) they latch onto an existing movement which is only influential because it is attracting many of the same people with the same needs. In a way the New Atheists are the equivalent of the Evangelicals they despise so much, people not content to have their beliefs and keep to themselves. They need to trumpet what they believe as loudly as they can - it also fulfills a need many people have for enemies, for an opposition in relation to which they can be Good simply by not believing what the other side does.

In fact, the retreat of religion is one of the primary causes of such inflated self-estimation and need for significance; religions at their best teach humility before the infinity of Creation and the power of the Creator. Such humility, by blunting somewhat the need for distinction (or at least reminding people that seeking to be the First Among Men is not the be all and end all of life) preserves civil order and peace.
Michael
 
Posts: 304
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 21:28
Location: Canada

Re: The "New" New Atheism

Postby Heather » 13 Sep 2012, 19:05

Most Cuban-Americans I know are Catholic. I don't know about all Cuban-Americans, but to the ones I know it partially represents a rejection of Castro's regime and atrocities.

The Atheists are in for a surprise!
Heather
 
Posts: 132
Joined: 28 Apr 2012, 23:05
Location: The American South


Return to Religion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron

User Menu

Login Form

This site costs £100 per year to run and makes no money.

If you would like to make a small contribution to help pay for the web hosting, you can do so here.

Who is online

In total there are 2 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 2 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 175 on 12 Jan 2015, 18:23

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests
Copyright © Western Defence. All Rights Reserved.