Village atheist

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Richard Dawkins
The new atheist Richard Dawkins has encouraged his supporters to go beyond humorous ridicule.[1] He wrote, "I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt."[2] See: Atheism and mockery

Randal Rauser wrote at the Christian Post:

So far as I can see, the term "village atheist" was first popularized in the 19th century to refer to an atheistic individual within a religious community who vocally (and provocatively) expresses his/her dissent from the religious consensus of the community. For example, G.K. Chesterton identified Thomas Hardy as a village atheist (see Kevin Taylor, Hans Urs Von Balthasar and the Question of Tragedy in the Novels of Thomas Hardy, p. 168).

However, in more recent literature the meaning of the term has evolved to identify a type of popular atheism that is often brash in presentation and lacks critical nuance. (In other words, minority status within a wider religious community is no longer essential to the term.)...

So what exactly is a village atheist? As I define it, this individual is characterized by several traits including the following:

  • The proliferation of binary oppositions: Perhaps the most common (and troubling) hallmark is the simplistic categorization of people into two groups: the irrational, delusional religious "faith-heads" and the rational, irreligious skeptic...
  • A claim of righteous indignation...
  • Lack of prior theoretical reflection...
  • Short attention span: This becomes especially evident when you challenge the village atheist to provide a theoretical framework to back-up their various incendiary assertions. Instead, if any response is forthcoming, it is typically the invocation of some new red herring or rabbit trail.
  • Unresponsiveness to criticism...
  • Caricaturing the opinions of others...
  • The proliferation of tribalism: Village atheists tend to look askance on internal criticism (i.e. one atheist critiquing another), instead insisting that efforts must be focused on attacking Christians and other "religious" people (i.e. the out-groups).[3]

New Atheism was a form of early 21st century militant atheism which had a brief period of higher public prominence compared to the previous less militant form of atheism in the Western World. Since the decline of the New Atheism movement, atheists have been less provocative/militant (see: Decline of militant atheism in the West).

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.[4]

Recommended book on village atheism

  • Village Atheists: How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation by Leigh Eric Schmidt, Princeton University Press (October 4, 2016), ISBN-10: 0691168644

See also

External links