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."
- 1 Blair Scott about atheist infighting with the atheist movement
- 2 Atheist Neil Carter on the biting and critical nature of atheists
- 3 Atheist Eddie Tabash on atheist cantankerousness
- 4 Atheist infighting and differences in ideology
- 5 Prominent atheists and arrogance
- 6 Elevatorgate, feminism and conflict between atheist men and women
- 6.1 Rebecca Watson declares she gets regular rape threats post Elevatorgate
- 6.2 Greg Laden and Thunderf00t's removal from freethoughtblogs.com
- 6.3 Rebecca Watson response to Thunderf00t and his fans
- 6.4 Matt Dillahunty on the events surrounding Thunderf00t's removal from FreeThoughtblogs
- 6.5 Thunderf00t's October 2014 commentary on Freethoughtblogs
- 7 Progressive atheists vs. non-progressive atheists
- 8 Infighting within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism
- 9 Racial minority atheists vs. prominent, white atheist lead organizations
- 10 Atheist modernists vs. atheist postmodernists
- 11 Atheists infighting is making the atheist community unappealing to many
- 12 Atheists as a population filled with many socially challenged individuals
- 13 Lack of sound atheist leadership
- 14 UK study finds atheists widely distrusted - even among themselves
- 15 Global decline of atheism and the resurgence of religion
- 16 Atheist infighting, pessimism and the atheist movement
- 17 See also
- 18 External links
- 19 Notes
Blair Scott about atheist infighting with the atheist movement
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.
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 irritating..me.||”|
Atheist Neil Carter on the biting and critical nature of atheists
The atheist Neil Carter wrote:
|“||Friends of mine have noted lately how biting and critical the atheist community can be, not only toward outsiders, but even toward its own members. Has there ever been a subculture more prone to eating its own than this one? I really don’t know.||”|
Atheist Eddie Tabash on atheist cantankerousness
Atheist infighting and differences in ideology
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. See: Definition of atheism.
The atheist and secular leftist PZ Myers, who frequently champions feminism (see also: atheist feminism), wrote: "We are fractured because there are deep disagreements about how to address serious social issues. Worse, because some people won’t even accept the dehumanization of fellow human beings as something more substantial than ridiculousness."
Journal of Contemporary Religion on schisms within U.S. atheism
- See also: American atheism
The Journal of Contemporary Religion says about schisms within atheism:
|“||The persistence of internal schisms and regular outbreaks of in-fighting within the atheist movement also ensure that much energy is effectively wasted on parochial concerns and further undermine attempts to establish a genuine sense of group cohesion.||”|
The Journal of Contemporary Religion say that internal divisions within the American atheist movement have to do with:
|“||internal divisions within the movement around issues relating to goals, strategies, and direction. These can be seen most notably in debates about the formation of a collective ‘atheist’ identity, in disputes about the effectiveness of confrontationalism and accommodationism, and in concerns about the movement’s ethnic, racial, and gender profile.||”|
Atheist Tremblay on lack of atheist unity and the apathy of many atheists
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.
Prominent atheists and arrogance
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."||”|
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."
Prominent atheists, misogyny and narcissism
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.
Elevatorgate, feminism and conflict between atheist men and women
Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving new atheist Richard Dawkins' inappropriate comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson. In July 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).
According to Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism. In August 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate. Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.
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".||”|
In addition, Watson declared: "It get regular rape threats. I get regular rape and murder threats".
For more information please see: Atheism and rape
Greg Laden and Thunderf00t's removal from freethoughtblogs.com
The atheist Thunderf00t is the most popular evolutionist at YouTube.
|“|| 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.
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 Women's views of Richard Dawkins and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships).
Rebecca Watson response to Thunderf00t and his fans
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.
Matt Dillahunty on the events surrounding Thunderf00t's removal from FreeThoughtblogs
Thunderf00t's October 2014 commentary on Freethoughtblogs
In October 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. Furthermore, he indicated that their attempt to make him a pariah within the atheist community had virtually no impact.
He also indicated that the accomplishments of Rebecca Watson are very thin and that she promotes feminism in an offensive manner.
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.
Progressive atheists vs. non-progressive atheists
Post Elevatorgate, there has been increased conflict between atheists who espouse political progressivism (feminism, identity politics, multiculturalism) and atheists who disagree with all or part of political progressivism.
The sociologist Stephen LeDrew declared about the new atheists:
|“||As I got to know these thinkers better, I began to see some of their ideas as quite dangerous—such as the intolerance they have for cultural diversity and some seeds of social Darwinism. So part of the motivation for it was that I think atheism can do much better than people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.||”|
Thunderf00t maintains that atheist feminists killed the New Atheism movement. In addition, he maintains that social progressives control the agenda at atheist conferences/events and as a result the events are sparsely attended. YouTube atheist TheAmazingAtheist is also very critical of feminists/progressives.
In 2015, the atheist author Joshua Kelly wrote:
|“||...since the death of Hitchens: angry atheism lost its most charismatic champion. Call it what you like: New Atheism, fire-brand atheism, etc., had a surge with the Four Horsemen in the middle of the last decade and in the last four years has generally peetered out to a kind that is more docile, politically correct, and even apologetic.||”|
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. 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.
In 2009 and a few years afterward, there was 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.
Richard Dawkins is a prominent new atheist. In 2015, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and Center for Inquiry merged (The black atheist Sikivu Hutchinson indicated that the boards of both organization were all white and the new organization is not committed to racial diversity).
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. 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). 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. 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.
Dr. Kurtz described the events surrounding the loss of his leadership position as a "shattering blow".
Schism within the Sunday Assembly atheist church movement
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. 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.
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. In fact, Dr. Harris has said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."
Racial minority atheists vs. prominent, white atheist lead organizations
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.||”|
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.||”|
Atheist modernists vs. atheist postmodernists
See also: Atheism and postmodernism
Postmodernism is an antichristian, far-left, 20th century worldview and academic movement characterized by denial of objective truth, and which asserts that assertions of objective knowledge are essentially impossible.
The Christian apologist Norman Geisler wrote about postmodernism: "In short, the root of Post-modernism is atheism and the fruit of it is relativism — relativism in every area of life and thought." Furthermore, Jeff Myers and David A. Noebel note in their book Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews that "The British Broadcasting Corporation actually lists postmodernism as a subset of atheism."
As far as schools of atheist thought, there are atheists who subscribe to modernism and atheists who subscribe to postmodernism. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Novella, are critical of postmodernism.
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).
Lack of sound atheist leadership
See also: Atheism and leadership
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).
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.
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."
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
UK study finds atheists widely distrusted - even among themselves
In 2015, the Christian Post reported in a story entitled Atheists Widely Distrusted, Even Among Themselves, UK Study Finds:
|“|| Distrust of atheists is "deeply and culturally ingrained" among people, and even many atheists are not able to trust each other, according to a new study carried out by the psychology department at Nottingham Trent University in England.
Published in the International Journal for The Psychology of Religion, the study, "The Robustness of Anti-Atheist Prejudice as Measured by Way of Cognitive Errors," was conducted with 100 participants from the U.K. ....
The study shows that "anti-atheist prejudice is not confined either to dominantly religious countries or to religious individuals, but rather appears to be a robust judgment about atheists."
The Independent reports about the participants of the study:
|“|| Professor Leah Giddings and Thomas Dunn led the study with 100 online participants from the United Kingdom, 70 of whom were women and whose average age was 21.
A total of 43 per cent of the contributors were atheist, 33 per cent were Christian and the remainder belonged to other faiths.
Global decline of atheism and the resurgence of religion
Populations which have a lot contentious individuals and disharmony often see a decline or little growth and an unpromising future. In addition, they often have low morale (see: Atheism movement's dampened expectations).
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."||”|
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."
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. 
Atheist infighting, pessimism and the atheist movement
Frequently, when organizations face challenges that they fail to prevail over, bickering/disharmony occurs within them.
The atheist movement saw a number of setbacks during the latter portion of the 20th century and beyond in terms of historical events/trends. As a result, it has lost a considerable amount of confidence (see: Atheists and the endurance of religion and Atheist pessimism about the atheist movement).
- Fratricide: New Atheists vs. Framing Atheists by Michael Egnor
- Sociologist Stephen LeDrew on the Rift in the Atheism Movement, Publishers Weekly
- Atheists eat their own
- Atheism a house divided & in global decline - YouTube video by Shockofgod
- Of sexism and atheism: Richard Dawkins gets in trouble with feminists, Washington Times, July 16, 2011
- Richard Dawkins: Skeptic of women? - Salon, July 8, 2011
- Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
- Richard Dawkins Torn Limb From Limb—By Atheists - Gawker
- Atheists address sexism issues - USA Today
- Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can rip my soul
- The atheist community and internet atheism is still a hostile wasteland
- An Open Letter from Blair Scott
- It’s Past Time for Atheism to Grow Up by Neil Carter
- Atheists Speak Up - Eddie Tabash - Part 2 of 4
- What if the atheist movement needs to die by PZ Myers
- Divided We Stand: The Politics of the Atheist Movement in the United States by Steven KettellJournal of Contemporary Religion, Volume 29, Issue 3, 2014
- Herding Cats: Why atheism will lose by Francois Tremblay
- The delicate ego of Mr Michael Shermer by PZ Myers, 16 January 2013
- Can PZ Myers Change His Ways? Should He? By John W. Loftus at 7/30/2012
- Myers, P. Z. (March 31, 2014). "When will this situation improve?". Freethoughtblogs.com/Pharyngula.
- Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
- PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty
- FreeThoughtBlogs and PZ Myers
- Major changes at freethoughtblogs - Ed Brayton
- Thunderf00t, check your email - PZ Myers
- Thunderf00t on how to handle misogny in the atheist community
- SkepchickCON and the Harassment LOL-icy
- Is it ‘Freethoughtblogs’ or ‘Group-think-blogs’?
- Vox Fay on Freethoughtblogs
- Hot Gossip: We’re All Burqa-wearing Nazis
- Regarding Thunderf00t, FTB, harassment and privacy
- Atheism+ Stream: How SJWs pushed their way into Atheism
- Sociologist Stephen LeDrew on the Rift in the Atheism Movement
- How Feminism destroyed New Atheism! by Thunderf00t
- #ReasonRally Crash n burn. Thanks SJWs!
- Uproar Against Dawkins Is Sign of New Atheism Retrogression by Joshua Kelly
- 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."
- Redirecting a Long Life of Godlessness
- #AtheismSoWhite: Atheists of Color Rock Social Justice by Sikivu Hutchinson
- Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
- Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
- Atheist Church Split: Sunday Assembly And Godless Revival's 'Denominational Chasm', Huffington Post, 2014
- Roberts, Jessica, et al. (June 19, 2007). "Interview with an atheist". News21. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
- NEWSWEEK Poll: 90% Believe in God, Newsweek 2007
- Humanist Manifesto II
- John F. MacArthur, "Think Biblically!"
- A Response to Philosophical Postmodernism by Norman L. Geisler
- Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews By Jeff Myers and David A. Noebel, page 192 (endnote section)
- History of Modernism, Miami Dade College
- Postmodernism disrobed by Richard Dawkins
- Postmodernism – Sophisticated Nonsense by Steven Novella
- Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph, How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet, August 14th, 2013
- Atheism cannot replace religion
- Paul Kurtz: Another atheist failure who left no legacy
- Shall the religious inherit the earth
- Atheists Widely Distrusted, Even Among Themselves, UK Study Finds, Christian Post, 2015
- Anti-atheist distrust ‘deeply and culturally ingrained’, study finds, The Independent, 2015
- Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020
- A sceptics guide to atheism, page 4
- Is Christianity taking over the planet?
- 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013