Atheism and leadership

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Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins lost a significant amount of influence after his Elevatorgate scandal. See: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence

A major hurdle for atheist leaders and the atheist movement as a whole, is the apathy of most atheists when it comes to promoting atheism (see: Atheism and apathy).

In addition, the leadership status of prominent atheists/agnostics in the secular community at this present juncture is increasingly transient due to:

1. Atheist infighting (see: Atheist factions)

2. New Atheism failing (see also:Richard Dawkins' loss of influence)

3. The decline of liberal media market share (more difficult to be a celebrity atheist)

4. A loss of confidence within the atheist community (See: Loss of confidence within the atheist population).

5. The decline of global atheism

6. The secularization rate being zero in former areas of influence such as Protestant Europe and France. (see: Decline of atheism and Atheist factions).[1]

A recent example of the dissension within the atheist community is Richard Dawkins' loss of influence in the atheist community post subsequent to the Elevatorgate controversy (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence). Another example of this is Paul Kurtz, the father of secular humanism, who left no significant legacy.[2]

The British academic and agnostic Eric Kaufmann recently wrote, "Worldwide, the march of religion can probably only be reversed by a renewed, self-aware secularism. Today, it appears exhausted and lacking in confidence."[3]

The current lack of a leading spokesperson for atheism in the Western World

See also: Decline of militant atheism in the West

In his 2004 book The Real Face of Atheism, the Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias wrote, "Atheism has never lacked a spokesperson".[4]

New Atheism is a form of militant atheism in terms of its rhetoric. Since the new atheist Richard Dawkins ' book The God Delusion in 2006, Dawkins' has been the face of atheism in the Western World. Post the Elevatorgate incident in July of 2011, Dawkins had a major loss of influence however (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

In 2007, Dr. Theo Hobson wrote that atheism is "pretentious and cowardly".[5] See also: Atheism and cowardice

Theo Hobson wrote in The Spectator in 2013:

The atheist spring that began just over a decade ago is over, thank God. Richard Dawkins is now seen by many, even many non-believers, as a joke figure...

Atheism is still with us. But the movement that threatened to form has petered out. Crucially, atheism’s younger advocates are reluctant to compete for the role of Dawkins’s disciple. They are more likely to bemoan the new atheist approach and call for large injections of nuance. A good example is the pop-philosopher Julian Baggini. He is a stalwart atheist who likes a bit of a scrap with believers, but he’s also able to admit that religion has its virtues, that humanism needs to learn from it. For example, he has observed that a sense of gratitude is problematically lacking in secular culture, and suggested that humanists should consider ritual practices such as fasting.[6]

YouTube atheist Thunderfoot said about the atheist movement after Reason Rally 2016 had a very low turnout:

I'm not sure there is anything in this movement worth saving. Hitchens is dead. Dawkins simply doesn't have the energy for this sort of thing anymore. Harris went his own way. And Dennett just kind of blended into the background. So what do you think when the largest gathering of the nonreligious in history pulls in... I don't know. Maybe 2,000 people. Is there anything worth saving?[7]

In addition, in recent times, there have been some notable instances of atheists being reluctant to debate (see: Atheism and cowardice and Atheism and debate).

Prominent atheists admitting that fellow prominent atheists are arrogant

See also: Atheism and arrogance and Atheist movement

John W. Loftus, one of the more prominent atheists in the atheist community, cites John Draper (a Canadian atheist blogger), saying about prominent atheist PZ Myers: "According to PZ you either agree with him or you are the scum of the earth. If anyone is giving atheists a bad reputation it's PZ - he shows no tolerance or respect for anyone other than himself."[8]

PZ Myers wrote: "But see, this is why the atheist movement can’t have leaders. The ones we’ve got, informally, all seem to think they’re like gods and popes, infallible and unquestionable, and that normal, healthy, productive criticism within the movement is all a conspiracy to dethrone them."[9]

Cultish characteristics of the New Atheism movement

Please see:

Token efforts to extend racial minorities leadership positions in atheist organizations

On October 9, 2014, the atheist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson declared:

Despite frequent tokenistic calls for “diversity” within the “movement,” there are virtually no people of color in executive management positions in any of the major secular, atheist, or Humanist organizations —notable exceptions being Debbie Goddard of Center for Inquiry and Maggie Ardiente of American Humanist Association. People of color are constantly bombarded with claims of separatism, reverse discrimination, and “self-segregation” when they point to the absence of social justice, anti-racist community organizing, coalition-building, and visibility among secular organizations. After the Washington Post article, the vitriol and denialism among the “We are All Africans” white atheists was off the chain. This illustrates yet again that sticking a few of us on conference panels or secular boards is nothing but cheap appeasement.[10]

Racial minority atheists vs. prominent, white atheist lead organizations

See also: Western atheism and race

Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote:

The recent merger of the secular organization Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Richard Dawkins Foundation (RDF) has been dubbed atheism's supergroup moment. Acknowledging the two organizations' outsized presence in the atheist world, Religion News Service acidly declared it a "royal wedding". The partnership, which gives Richard Dawkins a seat on the CFI board, smacks of a vindication of Dawkins' toxic, reactionary brand of damn-all-them-culturally-backward-Western-values-hating- Muslims New Atheism. As one of the most prominent global secular organizations, CFI's all-white board looks right at home with RDF's lily white board and staff.

Meanwhile, atheists and humanists of color have been going against the white grain to address issues that much of organized atheism and humanism are resistant if not outright hostile to.[11]

The secular humanist document Human Manifesto II, which was written in 1973 by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson, decried racism and it declared:

The beginnings of police states, even in democratic societies, widespread government espionage, and other abuses of power by military, political, and industrial elites, and the continuance of unyielding racism, all present a different and difficult social outlook. In various societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively challenge our generation.[12]

Atheist leaders and misogyny

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and sexism

James Randi is a leader within the atheist community. Brian Thompson, former James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) Outreach Coordinator, wrote:

But I no longer identify with this community of benevolent know-it-alls, because not all of them are the best folks in the world. In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club. They’re dishonest, mean-spirited, narcissistic, misogynistic. Pick a personality flaw, and I can probably point you to someone who epitomizes it. And that person has probably had a speaking slot at a major skeptical conference.

I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.[13]

Many atheists see atheist leaders and an oxymoron

A significant portion of atheists believe an atheist movement and atheist leadership is pointless. In short, they see no point to organized atheism or organized religion.

The atheist François Tremblay pointed out that atheists: are not a coherent/concerted group, atheism has no proof and evidence for its claim that there is no God and that atheism is not an inspiring ideology. As a result of these attributes of atheism and the atheist population, Tremblay indicated that endeavoring to rally atheists is like trying to herd cats.[14]

Chinese communist leaders are panicking about the rapid growth of Christianity

Communist China has the world's largest atheist population and China's atheist leaders are panicking about the explosive growth of Christianity in their country.[15]

A number of articles have been written about the poor leadership skills within the atheist community and its contributory effect on the decline of atheism:

Currently, global atheism is in decline in terms of its adherents and global market share.

Atheist leaders and immoral relationships

See also: Atheism, polyamory and other immoral relationships and Atheism and women and Atheism and rape

An essay by the Christian apologist Dr. James Spiegel describes Bertrand Russell as a "misogynistic and a serial adulterer; a chronic seducer of women, especially very young women, even in his old age."[16]

On June 14, 2012, an article entitled Atheist leaders and immoral relationships declared:

The website Submitted to a Candid World is written by an agnostic and the website was praised by the prominent atheist PZ Myers in the past.

On April 20, 2012 an article appeared in Submitted to a Candid World which declared:

'Several of my close friends — coincidentally, all extremely intelligent, math/science oriented, and leaders in the freethought/rationality/atheist communities — find themselves practicing and promoting an arrangement they term “polyamory.” Essentially, this describes a post-jealousy, highly rationalized state where participants date each other, and several others simultaneously...

In the ideal polyamorous relationship, one man is seriously “dating” several women, each of whom is in turn dating several men.'[17]

The article Atheist leaders and immoral relationships further declares:

Several leaders of the "freethought"/atheist community are practicing and promoting polyamory. This is not going to help the poor reputation that atheism already has among the public. The Mormons promoted bigamy for a while and later retracted their position due to the public outrage.

Of course, atheist leaders engaging in and promoting practices such as polyamory is one of the many reasons why atheism has such a bad reputation in the world.[18]

See also

External links