You know, I usually don't get myself caught up in the politics of the atheist movement, but this article just pissed me off. Written by the supposedly agnostic Bryan Appleyard, it attacks the New Atheist movement, going as far as to call it a cult. Now, anyone who has read my blog knows my opinion towards Dawkins and co. They are good talkers, but less than impressive Theologians. Furthermore, I have had run-ins with "New Atheist" types before, and their ignorance is staggering. But to call the New Atheism a cult? What does he even mean by a cult anyways? Something like the Jim Jones movement? Because I seriously doubt that New Atheism is ever going to have its own Jonestown.
But enough about that. I agree with him that the New Atheist movement is embarrassing- even if I find it much less embarrassing. Where we differ a lot, however, is in why we find it embarrassing. I find the new atheism embarrassing primarily since it endorses Jesus Mythicism. Many notable New Atheists hold that mythicism is either true or likely true, like Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and the late Christopher Hitchens. Many of them never even bothered reading respectable secular historians like the ever popular Bart Ehrman. Another thing that irritates me is that the New Atheists criticise Philosophy without even remotely adequate knowledge of it. Now, I am not saying that they have to learn Philosophy in order to be responsible Atheists. That's just absurd. What I am saying, however, is that they should only critique it if they know it. It's like me rating a film one star out of five without even watching it. My rating of the film would be worthless.
Appleyard, on the other hand, just hates the tone of their voice. That's it. He hates them because they are mean and they poo poo the ideas of non New Atheists. I still don't see the resemblance to Jonestown. Sorry, but the New Atheists are not planning to exterminate Religious people. Yes, they want you to convert- but they don't want your bodies in a concentration camp. Besides, its not like their the only group that wants you to join them. Ever heard of the Mormons? The only serious offense the New Atheists committed was sending hate mail and death threats to Alain De Botton for his atheist church idea. And, although I find it embarrassing, I couldn't help but remember that Dawkins gets hatemail as well. In my view, the New Atheism is comparable to an ordinary Religion- but not a cult. And if Appleyard wants to defend the rationality of Religion but irrationality of the New Atheism, he will need to sow how they are actually different.
Oh yeah, and he also goes into a rant over how Communism was Atheisms fault, and how Darwinism is false, and a bunch of other shit nobody takes seriously. The Communism thing is absurd, considering that Communism was based off of Lamarkian Evolution, not Darwinian Evolution. But I'm not even going there. If he wants to bitch about Communism and Evolution, maybe he'd find the likes of Dinnish Desouza interesting. Communism and Evolution are non issues most professional Atheists rarely ever think about. If were gonna complain about the New Atheists, lets at least use real issues, like that they undermine Philosophy and NT Scholarship.