Atheist factions

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Richard Dawkins
The New Atheist Richard Dawkins was at the center of the Elevatorgate controversy. [1]

Jacques Rousseau wrote in the Daily Maverick: "Elevatorgate..has resulted in three weeks of infighting in the secular community. Some might observe that we indulge in these squabbles fairly frequently."[2] An ex-atheist wrote: "As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions."[3] See also: Schools of atheist thought

Testimony of Blair Scott about atheist infighting with the atheist movement

David Silverman is the president of the American Atheists organization.

See also: Atheist movement and Atheism and anger and Atheism and bitterness

Blair Scott served on the American Atheists board of directors. Mr. Scott formerly served as a State Director for the American Atheists organization in the state of Alabama. On December 1, 2012 he quit his post as a director of outreach for the American Atheist due to infighting within the American atheist movement.[4]

Mr. Blair wrote:

I have spent the last week mulling over what I want to do at this point in the movement. I’m tired of the in-fighting: at every level. I am especially tired of allowing myself to get sucked into it and engaging in the very behavior that is[5]

See also: Atheism and social intelligence and Atheism and anger and Atheism and profanity

Atheist infighting and differences in ideology

See also: Definition of atheism and Atheism and love and Atheism and intolerance

One of the reasons for the disharmony within the atheist community is the inability of most atheists to keep together for a uniform belief. While there are differences within other religions, such as Christianity, other religions' adherents all share a common belief. In the case of Christianity, some of the basic beliefs Christians share is the deity of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the trinity. However, atheists are unable to even create a coherent definition of their beliefs.[6]. See: Definition of atheism.

Atheist Tremblay on lack of atheist unity and the apathy of many atheists

See also: Schools of atheist thought and Atheism and apathy and Atheist movement

In his essay Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose, the atheist Francois Tremblay compared unifying atheists to herding cats.[7]

The atheist Francois Tremblay wrote in his essay Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose:

Atheism, as commonly defined by atheists, expresses a lack of belief, or disbelief, in deities. It is not a positive belief in anything, but a negative concept. That is why atheists, inasmuch as they are atheists, are nothing like a coherent or concerted group. Organizations like American Atheists serve a role of broadcasting information more than anything else, because there cannot be concerted action when nobody agrees on what to do (except of course on direct concerns like the rights of atheists or separation of church and state). Most atheists disagree strongly on whenever atheism should be propagated, or promoted, and on the matter of doing so.

Another problem of atheism qua atheism is that it does not contain its own basis. What I mean by this is that atheism is a punctual, ontological belief, which is itself the implicit or explicit result of metaphysical and epistemological deductions. Any reply to an attack on this basis cannot come directly from atheism. Concentrating oneself only on being an atheist is like trying to build a house from the second floor up. It may look less costly on paper, and for people who only build houses in their imagination this may be a good way of seeing it, but it's not good enough for a serious endeavour. And most importantly, it's too fragile. I see too many religionists attacking atheism from the bottom and atheists being unable to adequately reply to the arguments. If the atheist cannot answer to his most fundamental beliefs on the nature of reality and cognition, then his atheism is worthless in terms of validation. It is nothing more than a big paper tiger, made from the finest cardboard.

One last problem that undermines any propagation of atheism is inspiration. Let's be honest here, "there is no god!" is not a very motivating call for most people.[8]

Prominent atheists and arrogance

See also: Atheism and arrogance and Atheism and leadership and Atheism and intolerance

Atheist 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]

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."[10]

Prominent atheists, misogyny and narcissism

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and sexism and Atheism and rape

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.[11]

Elevatorgate, feminism and conflict between atheist men and women

Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scanda

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and love

l involving atheist Richard Dawkins' inappropriate comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson. In July of 2011, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community and in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about an incident which occurred in an elevator (see: Richard Dawkins' Elevatorgate comments).[12]

According to Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism.[13] In August of 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate. [14] Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.[15]

Rebecca Watson declares she gets regular rape threats post Elevatorgate

See also: Atheism and rape

Rebecca Watson claimed:

Hundreds of atheists have informed me that either they wanted to rape me, someone should rape me so that I will loosen up or that no one would ever rape me because I am so ugly".[16]

In addition, Watson declared: "It get regular rape threats. I get regular rape and murder threats".[17]

For more information please see: Atheism and rape

Greg Laden and Thunderf00t's removal from

The atheist Thunderf00t is the most popular evolutionist at YouTube.

On July 1, 2012, atheist Ed Brayton wrote about Thunderf00t's banning from Freethoughtblogs:

As many of you are no doubt aware, there’s been a lot of strife in this community lately. Some of it has been in public, some of it was in private and some of it may well go from being private to public as a result of all of this. So let me give you the news and clear the air:

We are parting company with two of our bloggers: Thunderf00t and Greg Laden. We wish them both the best but, unfortunately, their behavior towards other members of the community has made it impossible to keep them as part of our network. This is not a matter of a disagreement or difference of opinion, but of behavior that we cannot condone or support.

None of this is a reflection on the worth of the many contributions that both of these people have made to the atheist cause. I hope and am confident that they will both continue to offer a lot of good things to this community.[18]

The matter which appeared to spark the contention was how to properly deal with the significant amount of misogny within the atheist community (see: Atheism and women and Atheism and rape and Elevatorgate and Women's views of Richard Dawkins and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships).[19][20][21][22]

Vox Day wrote that Thunderf00t's removal from Freethoughtblogs exemplified PZ Myers's unwillingness to intellectually engage his opponents and his lack of integrity.[23]

Rebecca Watson response to Thunderf00t and his fans

See also: Atheism and women and Rebecca Watson and Thunderf00t factions of atheism

On July 1, 2012 Rebecca Watson wrote post Elevatorgate controversy:

Skepchick has been exposed for what it is: a totalitarian Nazi clique who created an anti-harassment policy specifically so that men could harass women in bars and Muslim could force us to wear burqas. I know it’s true because noted atheist intellectuals Paula Kirby and Thunderf00t said so!

I debated whether or not to write about this because the recent insults about Skepchick have been so self-evidently ignorant and wrong that I felt it would look like we were picking on tiny, angry babies. And no one likes to see that. I’m relenting only because the sheer amount and absurdity of the insults have reached a level that cannot be ignored, like a large mob of angry babies brandishing pacifiers and blankies as weapons.[24]

Matt Dillahunty on the events surrounding Thunderf00t's removal from FreeThoughtblogs

According to the atheist Matt Dillahunty Thunderf00t acted dishonestly and inappropriately subsequent to his removal from Freethoughtblogs and he had "gone off the deep end".[25]

Thunderf00t's October 2014 commentary on Freethoughtblogs

In October of 2014, the popular YouTube atheist Thunderf00t indicated that the bloggers at Freethoughtblogs (Freethoughtblogs is the most popular atheist blogging community) accidentally put him on their email list and that they spend a considerable amount of time emailing each other engaging in petty matters. In fact, he indicated that they spent more time emailing each other than engaged in actual blogging. He also questioned the impact of the bloggers of Freethoughtblogs on social justice.[26] Furthermore, he indicated that their attempt to make him a pariah within the atheist community had virtually no impact.[27]

He also indicated that the accomplishments of Rebecca Watson are very thin and that she promotes feminism in an offensive manner.[28]

In addition, Thunderf00t commented on how Jen McCreight, the founder of the atheist feminist movement Atheism plus abandoned her movement within two weeks. And how Richard Carrier "the intellectual artillery" of the movement, quit promoting the movement within a month.[29]

Infighting within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism

See also: Atheism, social justice and hypocrisy

Paul Kurtz was an atheist philosopher who formerly taught at the State University of NY at Buffalo. Kurtz is considered by some to be the founder the secular humanism movement.[30] In addition, he also founded the organization the Center for Inquiry which focuses on promoting secular humanism. In 2009, Dr. Kurtz experienced the humiliation of being stripped of his leadership position at the Center for Inquiry.[31]

Currently, there is an ideological struggle within the secular humanism faction of atheism concerning how militant the movement should be which primarily arose post New Atheism movement which is a more militant form of atheism. (see also: Militant atheism. Paul Kurtz was against the secular humanism movement becoming more militant but some newer followers of secular humanism disagree with Kurtz.[31]

Kurtz's ouster from the Center of Inquiry leadership position

On October 10, 2010, a contentious exchange between members of the Secular Humanism faction of atheism founded by Paul Kurtz and the atheist Ron Lindsay was caught on tape.Video - Part oneVideo - Part 2 During the exchange Ron Lindsay said that infighting has been occurring within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism for years.[32] A Paul Kurtz supporter said that Kurtz was censored by Ron Lindsay and his supporters and Kurtz was driven out of the organization that he founded (Center for Inquiry).[33] Lindsay claimed, however, that Kurtz voluntarily resigned from the organization he founded and Kurtz was never censored. Furthermore, Lindsay said that Kurtz's idea of a "planetary federation" was impractical. [34] Kurtz countered that he was never allowed to publish why he resigned from the organization and that he was censored by the organization that he founded.[35]

Dr. Kurtz described the events surrounding the loss of his leadership position as a "shattering blow".[31]

Schism within the Sunday Assembly atheist church movement

British atheist Sanderson Jones

See also: American atheists and church attendance

The Sunday Assembly atheist church movement was founded in 2013 by the secular humanists and comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones.[36] In 2014, it was reported that there was a schism in the movement as far as whether or not they should use the word "atheist" in their movement and/or whether they should just cater to atheists..[37]

Dr. Sam Harris is one of the founders of the New Atheism movement. Sam Harris is quite aware of the stigma surrounding atheism and has even advocated that atheists no longer call themselves atheists.[38] In fact, Dr. Harris has said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."[38]

Atheists infighting is making the atheist community unappealing to many

The significant amount of unpleasant personalities within the atheist population and the resulting amount of atheist infighting has made atheist community unattractive to many people who are looking for a sense of community and/or a common cause (see: Views on atheists and Atheism and morality).[39][40]

For more information please see: Unattractiveness of atheism and Hopelessness of atheism

Atheists as a population filled with many socially challenged individuals


Lack of sound atheist leadership

See also: Atheism and leadership

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins

(photo by Shane Pope, Title: Richard Dawkins, obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

The leadership status of prominent atheists/agnostics in the secular community at this present juncture is increasingly transient due to atheist infighting, the significant amount of unpleasant personalities within the atheist population, the New Atheism failing, the decline of liberal media market share, a loss of confidence within the atheist community, the decline of global atheism and the secularization rate being zero in former areas of influence such as Protestant Europe and France. (see: Decline of atheism).[41]

A recent example of the atheist movement lacking sound leadership 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 legacy.[42]

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 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."[43]

Using academic studies, survey data and other information, supporters of the Question evolution! campaign maintain that there is a lack of sound leadership within the agnostic/atheist and evolutionist communities in dealing with the global decline of atheism and agnosticism.


Cultish characteristics of the New Atheism movement and other atheist movements

Please see:

Global decline of atheism and the resurgence of religion

See also: Global atheism and Decline of atheism and Global Christianity

Populations which have a lot contentious individuals and disharmony often see decline.

On July 24, 2013, CNS News reported:

Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass."[44]

In 2009, the book A sceptics guide to atheism indicated: "A worldwide poll taken in 1991 put the global figure for atheists at just 4.4% of the population. By 2006 it was estimated that only 2% of the world population were atheists."[45]

Watoto Children's Choir, Uganda.

In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[46] See: Global Christianity

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [47]

See also


External Links


  1. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can rip my soul
  2. The atheist community and internet atheism is still a hostile wasteland
  3. An Open Letter from Blair Scott
  4. An Open Letter from Blair Scott
  6. Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose by Francois Tremblay
  7. Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose by Francois Tremblay
  8. The delicate ego of Mr Michael Shermer by PZ Myers, 16 January 2013
  9. Can PZ Myers Change His Ways? Should He? By John W. Loftus at 7/30/2012
  10. Myers, P. Z. (March 31, 2014). "When will this situation improve?".
  11. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  12. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  13. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  14. PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty
  15. FreeThoughtBlogs and PZ Myers
  16. Major changes at freethoughtblogs - Ed Brayton
  17. Thunderf00t, check your email - PZ Myers
  18. Thunderf00t on how to handle misogny in the atheist community
  19. SkepchickCON and the Harassment LOL-icy
  20. Is it ‘Freethoughtblogs’ or ‘Group-think-blogs’?
  21. [ Vox Fay on Freethoughtblogs
  22. Hot Gossip: We’re All Burqa-wearing Nazis
  23. Regarding Thunderf00t, FTB, harassment and privacy
  24. Atheism+ Stream: How SJWs pushed their way into Atheism
  25. Atheism+ Stream: How SJWs pushed their way into Atheism
  26. Atheism+ Stream: How SJWs pushed their way into Atheism
  27. Atheism+ Stream: How SJWs pushed their way into Atheism
  28. The New Atheism and Secular Humanism. Center for Inquiry]. 19 October 2009. "Paul Kurtz, considered by many the father of the secular humanist movement, is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo."
  29. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Redirecting a Long Life of Godlessness
  30. Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  31. Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  32. Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  33. Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  34. Atheist Church Split: Sunday Assembly And Godless Revival's 'Denominational Chasm', Huffington Post, 2014
  35. Atheist Church Split: Sunday Assembly And Godless Revival's 'Denominational Chasm', Huffington Post, 2014
  36. 38.0 38.1 Roberts, Jessica, et al. (June 19, 2007). "Interview with an atheist". News21. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
  37. Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph, How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet, August 14th, 2013
  38. Atheism cannot replace religion
  39. Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph, How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet, August 14th, 2013
  40. Paul Kurtz: Another atheist failure who left no legacy
  41. [ Shall the religious inherit the earth
  42. Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020]
  43. A sceptics guide to atheism, page 4
  44. Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  45. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013