At least I am not one of them

More fact-checking to do.

Harris’s “The End of Faith” launched the so-called “New Atheist” movement, a make-no-apologies ideology that maintains that religion is not just flawed, but evil, and must be rejected.

No, that’s wrong. “New Atheism” doesn’t necessarily claim that religion is flawed; it claims that theism is wrong – not true, mistaken, false; and that it’s permissible to say so in public discussions.

Within two years, Harris was joined on the best-seller list by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, who all took religion to task for most — if not all — of the world’s ills.

No, that’s wrong. As usual with these things, it’s off the mark about Dennett’s book. Lazy journalists who simply parrot what 40 thousand other journalists have already said should be sent back to journalism school. Kimberly Winston obviously never read a word of Dennett’s book.

“9/11 ushered in a big change, in that it put Islam squarely in the center of the discussion,” said Tom Flynn, director of The Center for Inquiry, and a supporter of the New Atheists. “Previous freethinkers would have said religion is horrible, look at the Crusades, look at the Inquisition. This opened up the possibility of directing strong arguments against religions other than Christianity.”

Flynn points out that atheists have long called for an end to religion. What’s “new” about the New Atheists is their stridency and refusal to compromise.

Since Tom Flynn is a supporter of the “New Atheists” he won’t have said it that way, but the reporter apparently summarized what he did say that way. Nice.

Ryan Cragun, a sociologist of religion at the University of Tampa, is more qualified in his assessment. In their extremism and intolerance, he likens the New Atheists to Fox News Channel — “so far to the right,” he said, that they opened up the middle.

“Now it is OK to be a moderate atheist because you can point to the stridency of the New Atheists and say, ‘At least I am not one of them,”‘ he said. “It opens up a bigger space for freethinkers to actually communicate.”

Overton window. You’re welcome.



55 Responses to “At least I am not one of them”