Atheism and leadership

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

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

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

1. Atheist infighting (see: Atheist factions). See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and sexism and Western atheism and race

A recent example of the dissension within the atheist community is Richard Dawkins' loss of influence in the atheist community post subsequent to the Elevatorgate controversy (see: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence). Another example of internal dissension affecting an atheist leader is Paul Kurtz, the father of secular humanism, who left no significant legacy after he was stripped his leadership position.[1]

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

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

4. A loss of confidence within the atheist community. Currently, there is low morale within much of the atheist movement.(See: Decline of the atheist movement and Loss of confidence within the atheist population).

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."[2] Numerous atheists have declared that the "atheist movement is dead" or that it is dying.[3] See also: Decline of the atheist movement

5. The decline of global atheism (see: Global atheism statistics).

6. The secularization rate being zero in former areas of influence such as Protestant Europe and France. (see: Decline of atheism and Atheist factions).[4]

7. Fiscal mismanagement is common within atheist organizations (see: Atheist nonprofit scandals).

Sexual assault allegations against David Silverman and Lawrence Krauss in 2018

See also: Atheism and sexism

David Silverman served as the President of the American Atheists organization. [5] In 2018, Silverman was fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault.[6] Silverman, through his lawyer, denies any wrongdoing and indicates he has never had a non-consensual sexual encounter.[7] In his book, Fighting God, Silverman indicates that he is a “proud feminist.”[8] In 2018, the atheist Lawrence Krauss also faced sexual assault allegations.[9]

Atheist PZ Myers on the atheist movement and leadership/other positions

See also: Atheist cults and Atheism and groupthink

In 2018, the atheist PZ Myers wrote:

I noticed the “troubling turn” about 8 years ago, as more and more atheists began to rally around two themes: the Glorious Leaders who were fonts of inarguable Reason & Logic, and a definition of atheism that exempted them from all social responsibility or ethical obligation.[10][11]

PZ Myers said about the atheist Seth Andrews:

Here is another problem though with the atheist movement. That we tend to inflate people beyond their capacity.

So Seth Andrews, he's got really good voice. OK, I will admit that. Ah, his position ought to be, you know, reading out transcripts of things that people more qualified, more intelligent than he is have written out. Ah, but no, he's now an atheist thought leader and I have heard anything from him that I have found particularly thoughtful.[12]

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

See also: Decline of militant atheism in the West

In his 2004 book The Real Face of Atheism, the Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias wrote, "Atheism has never lacked a spokesperson".[13]

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

In 2007, Dr. Theo Hobson wrote that atheism is "pretentious and cowardly".[14] See also: Atheism and cowardice

Theo Hobson wrote in The Spectator in 2013:

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

Atheism is still with us. But the movement that threatened to form has petered out. Crucially, atheism’s younger advocates are reluctant to compete for the role of Dawkins’s disciple. They are more likely to bemoan the new atheist approach and call for large injections of nuance. A good example is the pop-philosopher Julian Baggini. He is a stalwart atheist who likes a bit of a scrap with believers, but he’s also able to admit that religion has its virtues, that humanism needs to learn from it. For example, he has observed that a sense of gratitude is problematically lacking in secular culture, and suggested that humanists should consider ritual practices such as fasting.[15]

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?[16]

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

Prominent atheists admitting that fellow prominent atheists are arrogant

See also: Atheism and arrogance and Atheist movement

John W. Loftus, one of the more prominent atheists in the atheist community, cites John Draper (a Canadian atheist blogger), saying about prominent atheist PZ Myers: "According to PZ you either agree with him or you are the scum of the earth. If anyone is giving atheists a bad reputation it's PZ - he shows no tolerance or respect for anyone other than himself."[17]

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."[18]

Cultish characteristics of the New Atheism movement

Please see:

Token efforts to extend racial minorities leadership positions in atheist organizations

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

Despite frequent tokenistic calls for “diversity” within the “movement,” there are virtually no people of color in executive management positions in any of the major secular, atheist, or Humanist organizations —notable exceptions being Debbie Goddard of Center for Inquiry and Maggie Ardiente of American Humanist Association. People of color are constantly bombarded with claims of separatism, reverse discrimination, and “self-segregation” when they point to the absence of social justice, anti-racist community organizing, coalition-building, and visibility among secular organizations. After the Washington Post article, the vitriol and denialism among the “We are All Africans” white atheists was off the chain. This illustrates yet again that sticking a few of us on conference panels or secular boards is nothing but cheap appeasement.[19]

Racial minority atheists vs. prominent, white atheist lead organizations

See also: Western atheism and race

Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote:

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

Meanwhile, atheists and humanists of color have been going against the white grain to address issues that much of organized atheism and humanism are resistant if not outright hostile to.[20]

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.[21]

Atheist leaders and misogyny

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and sexism

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

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

I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.[22]

David Silverman, former president of American Atheists, fired due to sexual assault allegations

See also: Atheist nonprofit scandals and Atheist feminism and Atheist hypocrisy

David Silverman served as the President of the American Atheists organization. [23] Silverman was fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault.[24] Silverman, through his lawyer, denies any wrong doing and indicates he has never had a non-consensual sexual encounter.[25]

In his book, Fighting God, Silverman indicates that he is a “proud feminist”.[26]

Concerning Silverman's scandals and subsequent firing, atheist and feminist PZ Myers said, "It's a terrible day for organized atheism."[27] Myers spent $1200 for a lifetime membership with American Atheists because he was impressed by the way Silverman went after the “anti-feminist” atheists.[28] See also: Decline of the atheist movement

American Atheist replacement of David Silverman. Commentary by atheist Ed Brayton

See also: Atheism and sexism and Western atheism and race

When David Siverman was replaced by Nick Fish who is also a white male, the atheist Ed Brayton wrote:

In the wake of the firing of David Silverman after allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, American Atheists has named Nick Fish, formerly the national program director for the group, as the new president to replace him. I find this news to be quite disappointing and it has nothing to do with Fish personally.

...I’m disappointed that they didn’t take the opportunity to appoint a woman to lead the group. Especially in the wake of Silverman’s actions that led to his downfall, I think that would have sent a very important message. More than that, it would have helped bring a perspective that is far too often ignored, dismissed and even denigrated within the broad atheist community.

We need more women in positions of leadership, and more minorities as well. We need to stop being a community led mostly by old white men like me.[29]

Many atheists see atheist leaders and an oxymoron

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

The atheist François Tremblay pointed out that atheists: are not a coherent/concerted group, atheism has no proof and evidence for its claim that there is no God and that atheism is not an inspiring ideology. As a result of these attributes of atheism and the atheist population, Tremblay indicated that endeavoring to rally atheists is like trying to herd cats.[30]

Chinese communist leaders are panicking about the rapid growth of Christianity

Communist China has the world's largest atheist population and China's atheist leaders are panicking about the explosive growth of Christianity in their country.[31]

Currently, global atheism is in decline in terms of its adherents and global market share and the decline of atheism is China is expected to play a major role in terms of 21st global desecularization (see: East Asia and global desecularization).

Atheist leaders and immoral relationships

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

An essay by the Christian apologist Dr. James Spiegel describes Bertrand Russell as a "misogynistic and a serial adulterer; a chronic seducer of women, especially very young women, even in his old age."[32]

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

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

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

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

In the ideal polyamorous relationship, one man is seriously “dating” several women, each of whom is in turn dating several men.'[33]

The article Atheist leaders and immoral relationships further declares:

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

Of course, atheist leaders engaging in and promoting practices such as polyamory is one of the many reasons why atheism has such a bad reputation in the world.[34]

See also

External links

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

Notes

  1. Paul Kurtz: Another atheist failure who left no legacy
  2. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  3. Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph, How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet, August 14th, 2013
  4. http://www.atheists.org/about/Board_of_Directors
  5. This Firebrand Atheist Was Just Fired After Allegations Of Financial Conflicts And Sexual Assault
  6. American Atheists President David Silverman Fired After Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Christian Post, 2018
  7. David Silverman was a “Proud Feminist”
  8. Get out of my head, Eiynah! by PZ Myers
  9. A shambolic atheist community faces some tough choices by Denyse O'Leary
  10. Seth Andrews Gaslights His Critics: w/ PZ Myers & Kristi Winters
  11. The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias, page 23 (paperback)
  12. Atheism is pretentious and cowardly by Dr. Theo Hobson
  13. Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists by Theo Hobson
  14. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  15. Can PZ Myers Change His Ways? Should He? By John W. Loftus at 7/30/2012
  16. The delicate ego of Mr Michael Shermer by PZ Myers, 16 January 2013
  17. Atheism and social justice: Sikivu Hutchinson on the first People of Color Beyond Faith conference, Chris Stedman, Religious Service News, Oct 9, 2014
  18. #AtheismSoWhite: Atheists of Color Rock Social Justice by Sikivu Hutchinson
  19. Humanist Manifesto II
  20. Myers, P. Z. (March 31, 2014). "When will this situation improve?". Freethoughtblogs.com/Pharyngula.
  21. http://www.atheists.org/about/Board_of_Directors
  22. This Firebrand Atheist Was Just Fired After Allegations Of Financial Conflicts And Sexual Assault
  23. American Atheists President David Silverman Fired After Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Christian Post, 2018
  24. David Silverman was a “Proud Feminist”
  25. David Silverman fired from American Atheists by PZ Myers
  26. David Silverman was a “Proud Feminist”
  27. Nick Fish is New Leader of American Atheists, Ed Brayton, 2018
  28. Herding Cats: Why Atheism Must Lose by François Tremblay
  29. China's atheist leaders and intellectuals are panicking about the rapid growth of Christianity in China
  30. The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief By James Spiegel, page 72, Moody Publishers, 2010
  31. Atheist leaders and immoral relationships
  32. Atheist leaders and immoral relationships