Author Topic: The New Atheism is Dead  (Read 273 times)

Offline SGOS

The New Atheism is Dead
« on: June 09, 2020, 08:25:33 PM »
I got to thinking that we haven't heard much from Richard Dawkins lately, so I googled some question like, "What's Richard Dawkins been doing," and Google handed me a bunch of articles discussing the "Death of New Atheism."  A horrifying thought, until I noticed that all these articles were from Christian sites.  None the less, there hasn't been much written about atheism as of late.  Hitchens died of course, and he caught a lot of attention and was a bear-cat at debating.  Sam Harris has been quiet, and his last book skirted around seeking out his own spirituality.  I found it short and not particularly interesting, although others might like it better.

But I'm closing in on my point... finally.  What is the new atheism?  Wiki even briefly mentions it, but mostly just noted the main spokesmen around which the new atheism revolved, but it didn't actually say what it was.  This confirmed my own bias.  A while back atheists forums were bombarded by angry theists decrying the "new atheism," and I was put to wondering what new atheism was.  Atheism is a simple concept.  It's straight forward and clear.  There have always been atheists.  It' not like it has been invented only recently by some cult leader with a monstrous gun collection and a picture of Adolph Hitler on his wall.

The only thing that was marginally new was that there was a popular market for books about atheism from current authors.  I say marginally new, because atheist writers have been with us for generations.  I sensed that Christians had become triggered by more atheists declaring their views openly.  I don't think atheists coined a new term, but I could be wrong, and I don't think they did much more that open the closet door a little bit more for people to realize that we are about.  And to many Christians this was alarming and "new."

So here we are, atheists passing the time of day and living out our lives, and Christians declared a "New Atheism", a new more evil threat to their special-ness, and 10 years later, they now declare new atheism dead.  Clearly a great victory for God.  Christians of the highest moral standards identified a new evil and killed it in short order.  Praise be to Jesus. 

Meanwhile, I'm going to mow my lawn, something I enjoy very much in my later years on my riding lawn mower, and I'll pretend that atheism is still a thing practiced by many of my friends.  Well, they don't really practice atheism.  None that I know of recite a creed and promise to remain atheists until they die.  I have no plans of reverting back to the old atheism, but then I never felt like there was much new in "new" atheism anyway.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 08:30:14 PM by SGOS »

Online Hydra009

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2020, 10:02:23 PM »
It's been a while, but at the time, "New" Atheism was associated with a more strident and outspoken tone - not merely eschewing religion but criticizing it openly with no punches pulled.  In particular, echoing Dawkins' rejection of non-overlapping magisteria (the idea, proposed by Gould, that religion and science operate in two different and non-overlapping spheres - science in facts, religion in values)

Imo, the "New" part is best exemplified in the fact that a book entitled The God Delusion was published by a reputable publisher - Bantham books.

In contrast, "Old" Atheists may be respectful or accommodating towards religion and relatively tolerant of religious fundamentalism, while "New" Atheists are not.

Online Hydra009

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2020, 10:06:53 PM »
Alternatively, you could make a decent case that New Atheism is entirely a media-manufactured term, beginning with the 2006 Wired article.  Rather glaringly, New Atheism is used extensively in a flurry of articles in those years - deployed mainly as a pejorative - and they never seem to define what they're talking about.

Online GSOgymrat

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2020, 10:59:19 PM »
"New Atheism" died the same death as "Tea Party" and "Gamergate." The issues are still around but the catchy media labels are now dated.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2020, 11:16:06 PM »
It's been a while, but at the time, "New" Atheism was associated with a more strident and outspoken tone - not merely eschewing religion but criticizing it openly with no punches pulled.  In particular, echoing Dawkins' rejection of non-overlapping magisteria (the idea, proposed by Gould, that religion and science operate in two different and non-overlapping spheres - science in facts, religion in values)

Imo, the "New" part is best exemplified in the fact that a book entitled The God Delusion was published by a reputable publisher - Bantham books.

In contrast, "Old" Atheists may be respectful or accommodating towards religion and relatively tolerant of religious fundamentalism, while "New" Atheists are not.
Granted respected spokespeople speaking out all together in numbers of maybe 10 or so may have been a change, although I don't know if they felt what they were doing was new.  I've recognized my atheism for 25 years, and that recognition became "new" for me the day I came to my senses.  With that recognition I also felt a deep disdain toward the bullshit that I had tried so hard to cling to and defend before I admitted the truth about myself.  When I started reading Dawkins and the others, their contempt for religion was nothing new at all to me as a relative newcomer.  It just seemed like part of the turf. Perhaps atheists before that time felt no contempt for the scam.  I can't say.  But it's hard for me to imagine that those feelings were not always there for others.  Being a former Christian, although doubtful, may have made it different for me.  No one likes admitting they were defrauded by snake oil salesmen, even if the salesmen believed in their own snake oil.

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2020, 11:24:05 PM »
"New Atheism" died the same death as "Tea Party" and "Gamergate." The issues are still around but the catchy media labels are now dated.
Perhaps without the media talking about it, Christians feel like the perceived threat is gone, so we don't have them stopping by to tell us the new atheism is a terrible mistake, and we need to get back to holding our opinions to ourselves.

Online GSOgymrat

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2020, 11:30:03 PM »
Perhaps without the media talking about it, Christians feel like the perceived threat is gone, so we don't have them stopping by to tell us the new atheism is a terrible mistake, and we need to get back to holding our opinions to ourselves.

With everything going on in the world, I think atheism has dropped down on the list of the average Christian's anxieties.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2020, 11:30:33 PM »
Alternatively, you could make a decent case that New Atheism is entirely a media-manufactured term, beginning with the 2006 Wired article.  Rather glaringly, New Atheism is used extensively in a flurry of articles in those years - deployed mainly as a pejorative - and they never seem to define what they're talking about.
I did think the term was used as a pejorative, and that Christians much preferred to live with the "old" atheism.  I don't know if the media meant it as a pejorative, but even if the media didn't define it clearly, whatever was happening with atheism at the time, seemed like it raised the hackles of theists.  Maybe it was just that we got too much attention.

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2020, 11:37:40 PM »
With everything going on in the world, I think atheism has dropped down on the list of the average Christian's anxieties.
Yeah, the media is going to focus on those other "new" things, and as we know, they like to milk those things that excite anxieties, and theists are as excitable as anyone else, maybe even more so.  The new atheism, just like the old atheism becomes but a minor trigger.

Online Hydra009

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2020, 11:43:17 PM »
This was at a time in which both Islamic and Christian fundamentalism were very much in the zeitgeist (and the headlines).  Obviously, they're both still very much around, but it really hit fever pitch in the 2000s and the US in particular had something akin to a revival of religion shortly after 9/11.

This was an age in which creationism intelligent design was a serious issue and I distinctly remember having heated talks with relatives, disputing whether "both sides deserve to be taught" and "both sides have their merit".  I recall taking a stand - a more or less universal opinion now, but not very popular at the time - that this is superstitious hokum posing as science, lacks merit entirely, and that it's infuriating that it is even considered as belonging in a science classroom.

Given the societal and especially political inroads fundamentalism made in such a short time, there was a significant secular pushback.  Granted, there have been atheists firebrands before, but this felt different somehow.  A more no-holds-barred approach that didn't let well-meaning religious people off the hook and didn't give a deference to religion for grandma's sake.  It's difficult to explain.

Online GSOgymrat

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2020, 11:55:21 PM »
Yeah, the media is going to focus on those other "new" things, and as we know, they like to milk those things that excite anxieties, and theists are as excitable as anyone else, maybe even more so.  The new atheism, just like the old atheism becomes but a minor trigger.

Speaking of triggers, I would like to know how Christians felt about federal police in riot gear firing gas canisters and grenades containing rubber pellets to scatter the largely peaceful, and presumably predominantly Christian, demonstrators to clear the way for Trump, surrounded by the nation’s top law enforcement and military leaders, to walk to the historic St. John’s Church for a three-minute photo op holding a Bible. If I was a Christian, I imagine I would have some feelings about that.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2020, 12:04:45 AM »
Granted, there have been atheists firebrands before, but this felt different somehow.  A more no-holds-barred approach that didn't let well-meaning religious people off the hook and didn't give a deference to religion for grandma's sake.  It's difficult to explain.
Actually, that explains it quite well, at least in how I perceived it.  The debate was no longer devoted to only heated exchanges with hard core fundamentalists.  The issue also addressed the mainstream as in: "You may mean well.  You may be a nice person, but you are supporting archaic superstitions that are counter productive to the human growth and development of our species. You are supporting related ideologies that seek to dumb down our children, even if you don't do that yourself."  I'm paraphrasing there.  I can't remember specifically, but I remember feeling like the mainstream was being addressed, and that they were hearing.  And shortly after, there was a drop in church enrollment.  A correlation, but not necessarily cause and effect.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 12:14:21 AM by SGOS »

Offline SGOS

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2020, 12:09:56 AM »
Speaking of triggers, I would like to know how Christians felt about federal police in riot gear firing gas canisters and grenades containing rubber pellets to scatter the largely peaceful, and presumably predominantly Christian, demonstrators to clear the way for Trump, surrounded by the nation’s top law enforcement and military leaders, to walk to the historic St. John’s Church for a three-minute photo op holding a Bible. If I was a Christian, I imagine I would have some feelings about that.
I did see some reader's comments after some articles that seemed to be highly critical.  They sounded like they were coming from Christians, but I couldn't be sure.  I don't spend a lot of time on those comments, but I don't get the impression that there was overwhelming support for Trump's decision.

Offline Baruch

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2020, 12:15:13 AM »
Speaking of triggers, I would like to know how Christians felt about federal police in riot gear firing gas canisters and grenades containing rubber pellets to scatter the largely peaceful, and presumably predominantly Christian, demonstrators to clear the way for Trump, surrounded by the nation’s top law enforcement and military leaders, to walk to the historic St. John’s Church for a three-minute photo op holding a Bible. If I was a Christian, I imagine I would have some feelings about that.

Most Christians support Trump, they don't support criminals and communists.  The Christians I know are pacifist, not revolutionaries.

The New Atheists: Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens

Sam Harris - 53 years old, moved on to debating Jordan Peterson

Richard Dawkins - 79 years old, tired out

Christopher Hitchens - passed away, totally conservative in his later politics, because he hated Muslims.

Old posters don't realize that is 15 years ago.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 12:20:29 AM by Baruch »
Ha’át’íísh baa naniná?
Azee’ ła’ish nanídį́į́h?
Táadoo ánít’iní.
What are you doing?
Are you taking any medications?
Don't do that.

Online GSOgymrat

Re: The New Atheism is Dead
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2020, 12:22:42 AM »
Most Christians support Trump...

Christians do have a thing for authoritarian, angry father figures whose "love" somehow ends up resulting in suffering.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön