New Atheism

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Richard Dawkins
The new atheist Richard Dawkins declared: "Christianity may actually be our best defence against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world".[1][2] See also: Richard Dawkins and Islam

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.[3]

Richard Dawkins said about New Atheism, "[O]ur struggle is not so much an intellectual struggle, as a political one: What are we going to do about it?”.[4]

Commenting on the New Atheism and British/United States politics, Steven Kettell wrote in the journal Secularism and Nonreligion:

...both countries have also experienced a rising influence of religion in the public sphere since the turn of the century. In the U.S this has centered on the role of the Christian Right, especially under the administration of George W. Bush. In Britain, issues of multiculturalism and faith schools have been particularly prominent. In this context, new atheism can be said to represent something of a defensive rear-guard action, an attempt to push back against the encroaching forces of faith, and a response to a world that, as Aronson (2008) observes, “no longer seems to be going our way”.[5]

The four most prominent writers of the New Atheist movement are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett and they have commonly been called "the four horsemen" of New Atheism. PZ Myers dubbed himself the fifth horseman of the New Atheism movement, but the term never caught on and he was mocked by some fellow atheists such as Michael Nugent.[6] In 2017, Myers renounced the New Atheism movement.[7]

A. C. Grayling, Jerry Coyne, Lawrence Krauss, David Silverman, Bill Maher, Matt Dillahunty and Kyle Kulinski are also widely seen as being part of the New Atheism school of atheist thought.

An irony of the New Atheist movement is that New Atheism is a militant form of atheism and Richard Dawkins has flip-flopped concerning whether he is an atheist or an agnostic (see: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism).

Dissent Magazine declared concerning the New Atheism:

A number of prominent authors and scientists have published books in the past year that advocate a "New Atheism." The books, which include Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens's God is Not Great, have sparked considerable public controversy across the political spectrum.[8]

New Atheism as a reaction to the failure of the secularization thesis

See also: Causes of the New Atheism movement and Secularization thesis and Atheism and politics and Atheist movement

Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, using a wealth of demographic studies, argues that there will be a significant decline of global atheism in the 21st century which will impact the Western World.[9] See also: Decline of global atheism and Desecularization

Richard Osling wrote about the book The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement published by the Oxford University Press:

The tables are turned in a new book, “The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement” (Oxford University Press). Journalists: It’s heady stuff to be a hook for news treatment, but worth the effort.

The book analyzes atheistic causes in North America over the past century, including its internal schisms and contradictions. The work is based on Canadian author Stephen LeDrew’s doctoral dissertation at York University in Ontario and post-doctoral study in Sweden at Uppsala University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society.

Religion newswriters are well aware that those aggressive “New Atheists” sometimes suggest faith is not just stupid but morally evil or a sort of mental illness, such that parents should be forbidden to infect their own children with it. Journalists may be surprised to learn that for LeDrew and others, this sort of anti-religion thinking is outdated and “utterly out of sync with contemporary social science.”

Social scientists long embraced the “secularization thesis,” according to which religion will inevitably decline as modern science advances. But now, says LeDrew, many acknowledge that scenario was “a product of ideology” rather than empirical fact. Thus, the New Atheism could be seen as a promotional effort to defend against “a perceived failure of secularism in practice in late modern society.”... When examined closely, he sees the New Atheism as “secular fundamentalism, a modern utopian ideology” that’s “essentially political.”...

To LeDrew, current atheism is much more than a mere critique of religious faith or absence of belief. It “ignores the reservoirs of knowledge offered by the social sciences, which add complexities to our understanding of religion that the New Atheists prefer to ignore, indulging in the kind of willful ignorance that they disparage religion for promoting.” Therefore, it’s “an ideology,” defined as “a schematic or rigid framework of preconceived ideas that shape, and thus distort, understanding.” It must exclude social scientists’ thinking about religion and obscure “social reality.”[10]

Michael Novak wrote about the books which launched the New Atheism movement: ""there is an odd defensiveness about all these books -- as though they were a sign not of victory but of desperation."[11]

New Atheism as a reaction to the religious right in the United States

Elizabeth Bruenig wrote in her New Republic article Is the New Atheism Dead?:

New Atheists were especially incensed by the dominance of the Christian right in America, with sociologists George Yancey and David Williamson arguing in a 2013 book that GOP-centric Christian conservatism had helped shape its own antagonist through its prominent place in American politics. For a time at least, it seemed that tensions between the stridently non-religious and the ardently faithful would only continue to rise.

Which makes today’s relative placidity between the non-religious and religious so remarkable. [12]

New Atheism as a reaction to creationism

See: New Atheism as a reaction to creationism

Social science examination of the new atheists and other examinations

See also: Antitheism and antisocial behavior

New Atheism is a contemporary form of antitheism.

Social science research indicates that antitheists score the highest among atheists when it comes to personality traits such as narcissism, dogmatism, and anger.[13][14] Furthermore, they scored lowest when it comes to agreeableness and positive relations with others.[15]

Using special text analysis software, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt found that new atheists very often wrote in dogmatic terms in their major works using words such as “always,” “never,” “certainly,” “every,” and “undeniable.”[16] Of the 75,000 words in Sam Harris's The End of Faith, 2.24% of them connote or are associated with certainty.[17]

New Atheism and its reputation for shallow arguments

See also: New Atheism criticism

Despite the frequent expressions of certainty by new atheists. New Atheism has a reputation for shallow arguments. A frequent occurrence is that the works of new atheists often betray an amateurish knowledge of philosophy/religion.[18][19] For example, atheist philosopher Dr. Michael Ruse declared concerning new atheist Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."[20] Vox Day's book The Irrational atheist found multiple errors in reasoning and factual errors when it came to the works of new atheist authors.[21] See also: Atheism and irrationality

New Atheism and the media

See also: New Atheism and the media and Atheism and the media

The new atheists Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins had prior experience dealing with the media and used the media to promote their best-selling new atheist books and to create a high level of media interest in the New Atheism movement.[22]

On the other hand, due to their reporting of the Elevatorgate scandal and the events subsequent to Elevatorgate, the media helped cause a marked decline in the New Atheism movement (see: Decline of New Atheism and the media).

New Atheism movement and contention between atheist men and women

See also: Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins and Atheism and arrogance and New Atheism and women

Founders of the New Atheism movement Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, have elevated the amount of contention between men and women within the atheist population and there are now frequently complaints from women that there is a significant amount of misogny within the atheist community and that its leadership is too heavily populated with men.[23][24][25]

Richard Dawkins and Elevatorgate

David Allen Green wrote: "Can Richard Dawkins still credibly pose as a champion of rational thinking and an evidence-based approach? In my opinion, he certainly cannot, at least not in the way he did before."[26]

Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving new atheist Richard Dawkins' 2011 comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson which are perceived to have been inappropriate by a sizable portion of the atheist community and to the public at large.[27]

Prior to Elevatorgate, Monica Shores' Ms. Magazine article titled Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women? criticized the New Atheism movement for being sexist.[28] She also cited Conservapedia in her article and indicated: "The lack of lady presence is so visible that Conservapedia commented on it by noting that Dawkins’ website overwhelmingly attracts male visitors."[29]

Subsequently, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community and in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about the incident which occurred in an elevator (see: Richard Dawkins initial Elevatorgate comments).[30]

According to Rebecca Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism.[31] In August 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate.[32]

Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.[33] The atheist feminist Sikivu Hutchinson concurs with Watson and says that sexual harassment has been institutionalized within the atheist movement and that atheist men have an investment in censoring, controlling and policing women and also have an investment in "male privilege".[34]

Elevatorgate and negative press

The New Statesman reporter and fellow skeptic David Allen Green said he believed Dawkins was a misogynist and a racist.[35] In addition, Green wrote: "Can Richard Dawkins still credibly pose as a champion of rational thinking and an evidence-based approach? In my opinion, he certainly cannot, at least not in the way he did before."[36]

Elevatorgate created negative press for Richard Dawkins in a number of major news outlets (see: Elevatorgate news stories) and within the atheist movement/atheist population (see: Atheist movement). As a result of Elevatorgate, Dawkins popularity among atheists and the public at large plunged (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

See also: Decline of internet atheism

Sam Harris and charges of misogny

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and sexism

Like his fellow new atheist Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris has raised the ire of feminists.[37][38][39] See also: Elevatorgate

In 2014, Harris said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”.[40]

On October 3, 2014, Salon magazine published an online article titled, Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?[41] On September 20, 2014, the feminist blogger Libby Anne wrote an article entitled Is Sam Harris Sexist?[42] Atheist Sam Fincke wrote a piece entitled On Sam Harris’s Reply to Feminist Critics.[43]

In his defense, Harris published an article on his website titled, “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For”[44]

New Atheism and charges of Islamophobia

See also: Richard Dawkins and Islamophobia accusations and Atheism vs. Islam and New Atheism and Islamophobia

According to Pew Forum, by 2030 Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.[45] See also: Atheism vs. Islam

The new atheists Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens have received multiple accusations of engaging in Islamophobic behavior.[46] Dawkins is dismissive of the concept of Islamophobia and declared: "I’m always being accused of Islamophobia, that’s a non-word."[47]

On December 28, 2015, the Daily Express reported about Dawkins:

The furious academic walked out of an interview when a Muslim journalist confirmed he personally believed the prophet Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.

Dawkins, 74, author of best-seller The God Delusion, told the New Statesmen's Emad Ahmed that his belief was "pathetic" before angrily storming off.[48]

On the other hand, defenders of atheist criticisms of Islam/Muslims indicated that New Atheists should be able to criticize Islam without being accused of Islamophobia.[49]

Christopher Hitchens displayed provocative rhetoric and bloodlust towards radical Islamacists.[50] At the opening of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hitchens said of radical Islamacists, "It is a pleasure and a duty to kill these people".[51] Hitchens said of Iran, "As for that benighted country, I wouldn't shed a tear if it was wiped off the face of this earth”.[52]

On June 21, 2014 Harris published an article on his website entitled Response to Critics which was a response to his critics who accuse him of Islamophobia.[53]

New Atheism seen as a narrow and dogmatic religion

See also: Atheism is a religion and Atheism and arrogance and Militant atheism and Atheism and anger

Using special text analysis software, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt found that New Atheists very often wrote in dogmatic terms in their major works using words such as “always,” “never,” “certainly,” “every,” and “undeniable.”[54] Of the 75,000 words in Sam Harris's The End of Faith, 2.24% of them connote or are associated with certainty.[55] In a 2014 New Republic article entitled The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins: His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion, the atheist philosopher John Gray wrote:

One might wager a decent sum of money that it has never occurred to Dawkins that to many people he appears as a comic figure. His default mode is one of rational indignation—a stance of withering patrician disdain for the untutored mind of a kind one might expect in a schoolmaster in a minor public school sometime in the 1930s. He seems to have no suspicion that any of those he despises could find his stilted pose of indignant rationality merely laughable. “I am not a good observer,” he writes modestly. He is referring to his observations of animals and plants, but his weakness applies more obviously in the case of humans. Transfixed in wonderment at the workings of his own mind, Dawkins misses much that is of importance in human beings—himself and others.[56]

For more information, please see:

Cultish characteristics

See also: Atheist cults and Richard Dawkins' cult of personality

The New Atheism movement, which has waned in recent years, was called a cult by the agnostic, journalist Bryan Appleyard in a 2012 article in the New Statesman in which he describes the abusive behavior of New Atheists.[57] Although the New Atheism movement does not perfectly fit the various characteristics of a cult, it does fit some of the characteristics.[58]

Most of the allegations around New Atheism being a cult have been due to the behavior of Richard Dawkins and his fans (see: Richard Dawkins' cult of personality).

Sociologist Stephen LeDrew on New Atheism and intolerance

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.[59]

New Atheism and morality

See also: New Atheism and morality and Atheism and morality

Craig Hazen wrote about New Atheism and morality:

It’s been fascinating to watch the very vocal and prolific new atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, make a case for objective morality. The phrase “objective morality” is a way of indicating that some behaviors are right (truth telling, kindness, tolerance) and some behaviors are wrong (rape, murder, racism) — for real. Morality is not just a matter of personal preference and choice (akin to liking peanuts better than almonds), but rather laws that are real and true and binding no matter what one thinks about them or whether one chooses to follow them.

The reason it has been fun to watch the new atheists defend this idea is because atheists of an earlier generation (such as J.L. Mackie and Bertrand Russell) thought it folly to do so. Classic atheists from the mid-20th century were very reluctant to grant that there was an objective moral law because they saw that it was just too compelling for believers to take the easy step from the moral law to God who was the “moral law giver.” Accepting a real objective moral law would be giving far, far too much ground to the Christians and other theists.

In my view, this shift in attitude toward moral values among the new atheists is an indicator that our work in Christian apologetics and philosophy has had an impact. I can’t count the times when in forums on various college campuses more traditional atheists and agnostics have had to squirm under the questioning from me or my colleagues about basic moral questions.

“Is it wrong to torture babies for fun?” “Is it wrong to treat a person as subhuman because she has darker skin?” As you can imagine, if an atheist were to answer “no,” or “well, it depends,” or “I prefer not to do these things, but how can I judge others,” to these questions he would be running into some real trouble with the audience. Whether the audience is filled with conservative Christians or radical unbelievers, people in our culture have an aversion to those who waffle or dodge on such fundamental and obvious moral values.

I think the new atheists got tired of being in such a public relations conundrum, so they began embracing basic morality as some sort of natural feature of the physical universe. They now tend to maintain that there are objective morals, but that these morals did not come from God. Is it wrong to torture babies for fun? Of course it’s wrong, says the new atheist. Goal accomplished. No more looking like an uncaring monster on stage in debates with Christians.

On the one hand, I think the new atheists have been helped in public discourse by their recent adoption of rudimentary moral values. One rarely feels now like one is being addressed by an amoral scoundrel when a new atheist is speaking in public. On the other hand, the new atheist now suffers from a problem that the old atheists would have quickly warned them about: How in the world are we going to explain where these objective moral values came from?

...the daunting problem for the new atheist is the nature and source (ontology) of the moral law. Here are some questions you can ask Richard Dawkins the next time you sit next to him on a bus:

• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth “love your enemy?” If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?[60]

The author and poet Michael Robbins declares about the morality of new atheist Richard Dawkins:

Nietzsche’s atheism is far from exultant—he is not crowing about the death of God, much as he despises Christianity. He understands how much has been lost, how much there is to lose.

. . . Nietzsche realized that the Enlightenment project to reconstruct morality from rational principles simply retained the character of Christian ethics without providing the foundational authority if the latter. Dispensing with his fantasy of the Übermensch, we are left with his dark diagnosis. To paraphrase the Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, our moral vocabulary has lost the contexts from which its significance derived, and no amount of Dawkins-style hand-waving about altruistic genes will make the problem go away. (Indeed, the ridiculous belief that our genes determine everything about human behavior and culture is a symptom of this very problem.)

. . . The point is not that a coherent morality requires theism, but that the moral language taken for granted by liberal modernity is a fragmented ruin: It rejects metaphysics but exists only because of prior metaphysical commitments.[61]

Decline of New Atheism

See also: Decline of militant atheism in the West and Decline of New Atheism and the media

The economist Tomáš Sedláček (left) and the atheist philosopher John Gray (right) at ZURICH.MINDS 2012

On November 6, 2015, the New Republic published an article entitled, Is the New Atheism dead?[62] In 2013, Theo Hobson wrote an article published at The Spectator entitled Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists[63] The atheist and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson wrote, "The world appears to be tiring of the New Atheism movement.."[64]

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."[65]

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.[66]

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?[67]

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.[68]

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 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."[69] 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...".[70] Myers' also lost favor among his fellow atheists after his inappropriate remarks about the death of the popular comedian Robin Williams.[71][72] Myers is one of the more prominent bloggers at Freethought Blogs and the blogging website has been losing a significant amount of web traffic since 2012 according to Quantcast which directly measures its web traffic.[73]

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).

Theo Hobson on young atheists and the New Atheism approach

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.[74]

Christian apologetics response to the New Atheist movement

See also: Christian apologetics response to the New Atheist movement

Christian apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith through logic/evidence based arguments.

In June 2012, the UK based Dorset Humanists wrote:

There’s been a forceful backlash against the ‘new atheism’ of writers like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, inspiring a new wave of Christian apologists. This group includes: Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology at King’s College London, Keith Ward, former Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Many atheists make the mistake of assuming religion is wholly irrational, relying on faith alone but, in a series of interviews recorded for DVD, the apologetics heavyweights from the list above demonstrate their ability to challenge us with reasoned arguments.[75]

The Christian apologetics organizations Ratio Christi and Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology formed after the launch of the New Atheism movement and before the decline of the New Atheism movement.

New atheists and debates against Christian apologist William Lane Craig

Letter to Richard Dawkins from Oxford atheist and academic Daniel Came

In a letter to the agnostic and evolutionist Richard Dawkins which was subsequently quoted by The Daily Telegraph, Oxford University atheist and professor Daniel Came wrote concerning Dawkins' refusal to debate the Christian apologist William Lane Craig:

"The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[76]

One of the frequent criticisms of the New Atheism movement is that it avoids the strongest arguments of its opponents.[77] See also: Atheism and cowardice and Richard Dawkins and debate

Christopher Hitchens' debate against William Lane Craig

Christopher Hitchens debated William Lane Craig at Biola University in 2009 in a videotaped debate.[78] The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote concerning the debate: "The debate went exactly as I expected. Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child."[79]

Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate

See: Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate

Impact of the New Atheism

See also: Desecularization and Atheist pessimism about the atheist movement

The New Atheism has not had much of an impact in terms of gaining new adherents to atheism. In a March 10, 2008 USA Today article Stephen Prothero stated the following regarding the impact of the "New Atheism":

Numbers lie, but they also tell tales untrustworthy and otherwise. So the key question stirring around the much discussed U.S Religious Landscape Survey released in late February by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is what tale does it state about the state of the union.

For some, the story of this survey, based on interviews in multiple languages with more than 35,000 adults, is the strength of American Religion.

Not too long ago, I wrote that American atheism was going the way of the freak show. As books by Christopher Hitchens and other "new atheists" climbed the best seller lists, I caught a lot of flak for that prophecy. But atheist make up only 1.6% of respondents to this survey....[80]

Alister McGrath indicates that interest in the "God question" saw a surge due to the New Atheism movement.[81]

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?[82]

Stephen LeDrew wrote at Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World website:

The ten-year anniversary of the publication of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is approaching, and it has already been over ten years since Sam Harris published The End of Faith.

Social science in general has not yet fully appreciated the significance of the New Atheism and has tended not to take it very seriously, with the exception of those working in the new sub-discipline of secularity studies. But whatever one might think of the New Atheists’ ideas, an honest appraisal would recognize that they have had a significant and lasting impact.

They should be remembered for catalyzing a movement for religious dissent and inspiring atheists to come together and find a voice in American public life. But there’s a much darker side to the legacy of the New Atheism that stems from its imperialist and xenophobic tendencies, to say nothing of some thinly veiled Social Darwinism and arguments for eugenics. Sam Harris in particular is now known more for supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine and ethnic profiling at airport security than for his science-based critique of religious faith. Richard Dawkins’ personal legacy has taken a heavy hit in the past few years, as his rambling criticisms of feminism and Muslim “barbarians” on Twitter have led to charges of sexism, racism, and general arrogance and intolerance.[83]

On November 4, 2015, Elizabeth Bruenig published an article in the New Republic entitled Is the New Atheism Dead? which declared:

Coming at a time of sharpening political divisions over the issue of religion, it would seem the stage is set for the kind of religious versus anti-religious antagonism that gave birth to the New Atheist movement in the early aughts. But in significant ways, New Atheism seems to be on the wane, suggesting a new era of growing conciliation between the two sides.[84]

A common criticism of the "new atheism" is the shallowness of its material. For example, even atheist philosopher Michael Ruse stated that that Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion made him "embarrassed to be an atheist".[85]

The "New Atheism" largely has an unfavorable view outside the United States as well. The liberal leaning British newspaper The Guardian said about New Atheism:

Anti-faith proselytising is a growth industry. But its increasingly hysterical flag-bearers are heading for a spectacular failure...

These increasingly hysterical books may boost the pension, they may be morale boosters for a particular kind of American atheism that feels victimized - the latest candidate in a flourishing American tradition - but one suspects that they are going to do very little to challenge the appeal of a phenomenon they loathe too much to understand.[86]

In 2010, it was reported that The God Delusion sold 2,086,402 copies and 907,161 of those copies were sold in North America. Contrastly, in 2010, the evangelical Christian Rick Warren sold between 25,000,000 and 50,000,000 copies of his book The Purpose Driven Life.[87]

New Atheism movement and American negative views on atheists increasing

An April 17, 2011 atheist essay entitled Are atheists strengthening religion? declared:

The Christian backlash and response to new atheism is/was considerable, and neither can the consequences, changes, and foci which marked their response be ignored.

In the end, have we simply made the aforementioned goal more difficult to accomplish?[88]

Negative views on atheists sharpened during the period between the beginning of the atheist movement and its decline.

A 2016 press release of a University of Minnesota study on atheists reported: "Survey data collected in 2014 shows that, compared to data collected in 2003, Americans have sharpened their negative views of atheists..."[89]

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. commentary on the New Atheism

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

Dr. Alfred Mohler Jr. describes some of the key attributes of the "New Atheism":

Now, WIRED magazine comes out with a cover story on atheism for its November 2006 issue. In "The New Atheism," WIRED contributing editor Gary Wolf explains that this newly assertive form of atheism declares a very simple message: "No heaven. No hell. Just science."...

Wolf accomplishes a great deal in his article, thoughtfully introducing the work of militant atheists such as Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett. At the same time, he probes more deeply into the actual meaning of the New Atheism as a movement and a message.

At the beginning of his article, he gets right to the point: "The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it's evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there's no excuse for shirking."[90]

Immaturity of new atheists

Christopher Loring Knowles wrote:

Nü Atheism is an adolescent movement. The adults who follow it have adolescent (or pre-adolescent) temperaments and personalities (Maher, Dawkins, Gervais, Myers etc) and it's grown in popularity since you have a large generational cohort reaching young adulthood and seeking to set themselves apart from their parents. But it's reactionary and petulant. A pose, not a philosophy.[91]

Recommended books

  • True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, Tom Gilson (Editor), Carson Weitnauer (Editor), Publisher: Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (February 1, 2014). ISBN 0825443385. ISBN 978-0825443381

See also

External links


Video:

Notes

  1. Professional Atheist Dawkins Says Christianity ‘Bulwark Against Something Worse’, by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D, Breitbart News Network, Jan 12, 2016
  2. Richard Dawkins says Christianity is world's best defence against radical Islam, Christianity Today, January 2016
  3. http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/battle.html
  4. Faithless: The politics of new atheism by Steven Kettell
  5. Faithless: The politics of new atheism by Steven Kettell
  6. The New Atheism is dead. Long live atheism.
  7. http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=928
  8. Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  9. This just in from Oxford Press: Turning the intellectual tables on 'New Atheists' by Richard Osling
  10. The godless revolution that never happened by Paul Copan
  11. Is the New Atheism Dead? by Elizabeth Bruenig, New Republic
  12. Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded
  13. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  14. Science Shows New Atheists to be Mean and Closed-Minded
  15. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  16. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  17. The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion edited by Graham Oppy, Chapter 4, New Atheist Approaches to Religion by Trent Dougherty and Logan Paul Cage, page 52, see: Google books excerpt
  18. http://www.alternet.org/media/47052?page=entire
  19. http://www.alternet.org/media/47052?page=entire
  20. Excellent refutation of ‘new atheists’ flawed by heterodox open theism, A review of The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens by Vox Day, Benbella Books, Dallas, TX, 2008, reviewed by Lita Cosner
  21. Faithless: The politics of new atheism by Steven Kettell, Secularism and Nonreligion website
  22. Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women?, Ms. Magazine
  23. Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  24. Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women by Monica Shores, Ms. Magazine
  25. Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women by Monica Shores, Ms. Magazine
  26. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  27. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  28. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  29. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  30. Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  31. Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  32. Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris? by Amanda Marcotte, Salon magazine, October 3, 2014
  33. Is Sam Harris Sexist? by Libby Anne at the blog Love, Joy, Feminism, September 20, 2014
  34. Atheist writer Sam Harris faces backlash over 'estrogen vibe' comments by Heather Tomlinson, Christianity Today, September 17, 2014
  35. Atheist writer Sam Harris faces backlash over 'estrogen vibe' comments by Heather Tomlinson, Christianity Today, September 17, 2014
  36. Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris? by Amanda Marcotte, Salon magazine, October 3, 2014
  37. Is Sam Harris Sexist? by Libby Anne at the blog Love, Joy, Feminism, September 20, 2014
  38. On Sam Harris’s Reply to Feminist Critics by Daniel Fincke, September 16, 2014
  39. “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For” by Sam Harris, September 15, 2014
  40. 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe by Conrad Hackett, Pew Forum, November 17, 2015
  41. Richard Dawkins defends Ahmed Mohamed comments and dismisses Islamophobia as a 'non-word', Independent, 24 September 2015
  42. ['Pathetic': Richard Dawkins in extraordinary outburst against Islam] by Jason Taylor, Daily Express, December 28, 2015
  43. New Atheism should be able to criticise Islam without being accused of Islamophobia by Andrew Zak Williams, New Statesman, Published 19 April 2013
  44. UnHitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens By Richard Seymour, Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (January 16, 2013), page 92
  45. UnHitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens By Richard Seymour, Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (January 16, 2013), page 92
  46. UnHitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens By Richard Seymour, Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (January 16, 2013), page 92
  47. Response to Critics by Sam Harris, June 21, 2014
  48. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  49. Why Sam Harris is Unlikely to Change his Mind by JONATHAN HAIDT, February 3, 2014 8:36 pm
  50. The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins, New Republic by John Gray
  51. The God wars by Bryan Appleyard, New Statesman
  52. How cultish is the New Atheism?
  53. Sociologist Stephen LeDrew on the Rift in the Atheism Movement
  54. Can We Be Good Without God? by Craig J. Hazen, Biola University
  55. Know Nothing: The true history of atheism By Michael Robbins
  56. Is the New Atheism dead? by Elizabeth Bruenig, New Republic, November 6, 2015
  57. Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists by Theo Hobson
  58. The New Atheism as a Stealth Religion: Five Years Later by David Sloan Wilson, Evolution Institute website
  59. What scares the new atheists by John Gray, The Guardian, March 3, 2016
  60. Uproar Against Dawkins Is Sign of New Atheism Retrogression by Joshua Kelly
  61. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  62. Growing criticism by atheists of the New Atheism movement by James W. Jones, Oxford University Press, OUPblog
  63. Atheist Ireland publicly dissociates itself from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of PZ Myers by Michael Nugent, April 7, 2015
  64. Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements By Massimo Pigliucci Scientia Salon, Posted: May 13, 2015
  65. On Robin Williams's Death, a Revealing Dispute Between Atheist-Evolutionist Spokesmen
  66. P.Z. Myers is (Surprise!) Unmoved By Suicide of “Wealthy White” Robin Williams
  67. Freethoughtblogs - Quantcast
  68. Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists by Theo Hobson
  69. Philosophy, Science and the God Debate
  70. Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  71. Richard Dawkins says he won't debate William Lane Craig
  72. Christopher Hitchens vs William Lane Craig - Does God Exist - 2009.
  73. The Craig-Hitchens Debate by Luke Muehlhauser on April 4, 2009 in Debates,Reviews,William Lane Craig
  74. American Faith: A Work In Progress by Stephen Prothero, USA Today, March 10, 2008, page 11A
  75. 'Why God Won't Go Away' by Alister McGrath
  76. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  77. The legacy of the New Atheism by Stephen LeDrew wrote at Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World website
  78. Is the New Atheism Dead? by Elizabeth Bruenig, New Republic, November 4, 2015
  79. http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/47052/?page=3
  80. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2074076,00.html
  81. How Many Copies of The God Delusion Have Been Sold?
  82. Are Atheists Strengthening Religion?
  83. Atheists Remain Most Disliked Religious Minority in the US
  84. http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2006-11-21
  85. "The Church and the Black Swan", The Secret Sun 3.28.15.