Decline of militant atheism in the West

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In 2007, Dr. Theo Hobson wrote that atheism is "pretentious and cowardly".[1] See also: Atheism and cowardice

New Atheism is a form of militant atheism in terms of its rhetoric.

The term New Atheism, which first appeared in the November 2006 edition of Wired magazine, is frequently applied to a movement spawned by a series of six best-selling books by five authors that appeared in the period between 2004–2008. These authors include Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Victor J. Stenger.[2]

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.[3]

Decline of New Atheism

See also: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence and Decline of New Atheism and the media and Atheist movement

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins declared "Christianity may actually be our best defence against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world".[4][5]

See also: Richard Dawkins and Islam

On November 6, 2015, the New Republic published an article entitled, Is the New Atheism dead?[6] The atheist and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson wrote, "The world appears to be tiring of the New Atheism movement.."[7]

In March of 2015, the atheist philosopher John Gray in an article at The Guardian titled What scares the new atheists reported:

Today, it’s clear that no grand march is under way...The resurgence of religion is a worldwide development...For secular thinkers, the continuing vitality of religion calls into question the belief that history underpins their values."[8]

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.[9]

YouTube's 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?[10]

Besides the death of Nitchens, another major of factors which caused the decline of New Atheism were: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence due to his Elevatorgate scandal and his critical comments toward Islam (see: Richard Dawkins and Islamophobia accusations).

As far as new atheist PZ Myers losing influence, in April 2015, Atheist Ireland announced, "Atheist Ireland is publicly dissociating itself from the hurtful and dehumanising, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of the atheist blogger PZ Myers."[11] The atheist biologist Massimo Pigliucci said of Myers, "one cannot conclude this parade without mentioning P.Z. Myers, who has risen to fame because of a blog where the level of nastiness (both by the host and by his readers) is rarely matched anywhere else on the Internet...".[12] Myers' also lost favor among his fellow atheists after his inappropriate remarks about the death of the popular comedian Robin Williams.[13][14]

Professor James W. Jones wrote at a Oxford University Press website:

We seem to be witnessing a broad reaction against the New Atheism movement by atheists as well as religious believers, whether undermining the idea of a long-standing conflict between science and religion, or taking a critical view of their political agenda. James Ryerson recently examined three new books (including my own) in the New York Times Book Review – a small sample of a growing body of work...

The New Atheism movement is receiving a powerful attack from another side as well — the politics implicit in their worldview. Two books published this year exemplify this critique, in which militant atheism is seen as an anti-progressive “secular fundamentalism.” C.J. Werleman, in The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists, himself formerly a militant atheist, describes the New Atheists’ uncritical devotion to science, their childish understanding of religion, their extreme Islamophobia, and intolerance of cultural diversity.[15]

In addition, New Atheism's abrasiveness/aggressiveness caused it to wore thin over time in terms of its public relations (see also: Atheism and public relations).

Decline in online interest for Richard Dawkins

Initial loss of web traffic to Richard Dawkins's website post Elevatorgate

According to the web traffic tracking company Quantcast, the web traffic of Richard Dawkins' website fell in 2012.[16] By October 2014, the web traffic for his website fell to a lower level according to Quantcast.[17]

In October of 2012, Rebecca Watson published a story about Elevatorgate and its aftermath in Slate entitled, It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too: I spoke out about sexual harassment among atheists and scientists. Then came the rape threats.[18]

The web traffic was measured via Quantcast which directly measured Dawkins' website traffic via embedded code on his website.[19]

Web traffic of Richard Dawkins' website has seen a dramatic drop

The above graph shows the monthly website traffic to Richard Dawkins' website as of June 22, 2015 in terms of unique monthly web visitors.[20] As you can see above, in 2012, Richard Dawkins saw a very large decrease in web traffic.

The website traffic is measured via Quantcast which directly measures Dawkins' website traffic via embedded code on his website.[19]

Alexa ranking of Richard Dawkins' website

See also: Alexa rankings of Richard Dawkins' website

According to Alexa, Richard Dawkins website lost a large amount of its global market share during to period between 2010 and the beginning portion of 2012.
In 2016, Richard Dawkins' website lost a considerable amount of global market share according to the web traffic tracking company Alexa.
In 2015, Richard Dawkins' website fell in terms of its Alexa ranking.
In 2016 and the in the beginning portion of 2017, the global internet market share of Richard Dawkins' website has been falling according to the web traffic tracking company Alexa.

See also

Essay:

Notes

  1. Atheism is pretentious and cowardly by Dr. Theo Hobson
  2. http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/battle.html
  3. Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists by Theo Hobson
  4. Professional Atheist Dawkins Says Christianity ‘Bulwark Against Something Worse’, by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D, Breitbart News Network, Jan 12, 2016
  5. Richard Dawkins says Christianity is world's best defence against radical Islam, Christianity Today, January 2016
  6. Is the New Atheism dead? by Elizabeth Bruenig, New Republic, November 6, 2015
  7. The New Atheism as a Stealth Religion: Five Years Later by David Sloan Wilson, Evolution Institute website
  8. What scares the new atheists by John Gray, The Guardian, March 3, 2016
  9. Uproar Against Dawkins Is Sign of New Atheism Retrogression by Joshua Kelly
  10. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  11. Atheist Ireland publicly dissociates itself from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of PZ Myers by Michael Nugent, April 7, 2015
  12. Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements By Massimo Pigliucci Scientia Salon, Posted: May 13, 2015
  13. On Robin Williams's Death, a Revealing Dispute Between Atheist-Evolutionist Spokesmen
  14. P.Z. Myers is (Surprise!) Unmoved By Suicide of “Wealthy White” Robin Williams
  15. Growing criticism by atheists of the New Atheism movement by James W. Jones, Oxford University Press, OUPblog
  16. 2012 has been a very BAD year for Richard Dawkins's website according to Quantcast
  17. Richard Dawkins' loss of influence
  18. It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too: I spoke out about sexual harassment among atheists and scientists. Then came the rape threats by Rebecca Watson, Slate, October 2012
  19. 19.0 19.1 Quantcast - Quantcast Measure
  20. Web traffic of Richard Dawkins' main website

External links