Oh noes, it’s the new atheists

Oh look, a new Chris Mooney, just what the world needs. He’s here to tell us the ‘problems’ he has with ‘the radical atheists.’ You’re excited already, aren’t you! And rightly so. He tells a thrilling tale.

Starting in 2005, American public was hit with a fresh wave of secular thought openly criticizing organized religion and religious faith…Many have called these authors and their followers the “New Atheists” – practitioners of a form of atheism that is outspoken and brash in its condemnation of religion and religious belief. These atheists were not content to disbelieve and go on with their lives; they also wanted to let religious beliefs know they were wrong (though it should be added it is not like these men broke into homes; they sold books and wrote blog posts). But this new, bold assault on religion did bring many secularists out of the woodwork – and what made wave perhaps unique was a call by men such as Dawkins and Myers to organize around atheism and sharp rhetoric.

That’s not the most elegant writing we’ve ever seen, but never mind, it’s easy to spot the Mooneyisms – the accusation of ‘openly criticizing religious faith’; the sneer behind ‘brash’ and ‘assault,’ the bizarre notion of organizing around sharp rhetoric. We have been here before.

[I]t is generally agreed that some good did come from these books in that they pushed important issues to the public. However, an issue that received less focus was a more strategic one: the fact that many atheists define their entire lives around unbelief and critique of theism.

No they don’t. And what makes Michael De Dora think he knows they do? He doesn’t say. He perhaps means that many atheists give a lot of time and attention to critique of theism – but he said more than that.

Atheism isn’t enough. This is the first argument against atheism. It is not a philosophy or a worldview, it is a lack of a specific religious belief, and that isn’t enough to carry us forward in any meaningful way.

That’s an argument? For what? That doesn’t look like an argument to me; it looks like a free-standing assertion which doesn’t say much of anything.

This brings us to the second argument: atheists tend to view religion as either the problem, or the cause of the problem, even when other problems are apparent. But while theism is a problem, it is not the problem, and while atheism might be correct, atheism is not the answer.

Oy. Who thinks anything else? No one, that I know of. That is some heavy-duty strawman.

The third argument against the march of organized atheism is it’s tendency toward an angry, uncompassionate line of attack. It is argued that the general approach to the matters taken by, foremost, Dawkins and Hitchens is one of sneering at religious belief…However, there is something to hearing these men speak, and reading certain of their writing, that sends the message they have a short temper for religious belief…Yet the problem isn’t necessarily the arguments, but the tone. There is not enough room or time here for an exhaustive sampling, and a quick visit to Myers’ blog, or YouTube to watch some clips from Hitchens or Dawkins would give you a better insight…

And we’re off, into a long and screamingly familiar laundry list of things Michael De Dora doesn’t like about MyersDawkinsHitchens…including, of course, ‘Myers has publicly desecrated a communion wafer and called the WWII Pope Pius XII a “sniveling rat bastard”’ – which, also of course, does not bother to say why Myers did that.

This brings us to the fourth argument: this view of the world divides people rather than bringing them together.

As does all disagreement, which is why in the New Dispensation disagreement will be forbidden and we will all be Brought Together. Disagreement shall die and from the ashes shall arise a brand-new Buick furnished with a beaming nuclear family and their dog Spot, driving off into the sunset of togetherness.

Anyway. There’s a fair bit more, but you get the idea. I dislike it. I dislike the rhetoric, I dislike the sly tattle-tale manner, I dislike the coercive conformism, I dislike the anti-intellectualism. It gives me the creeps. And this is the Center for Inquiry.

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