Friday, October 27, 2017

How New Atheism has failed

Scott Alexander writes:
The Baffler publishes a long article against “idiot” New Atheists. It’s interesting only in the context of so many similar articles, and an inability to imagine the opposite opinion showing up in an equally fashionable publication. ...

The New Atheists accomplished the seemingly impossible task of alienating a society that agreed with them about everything. The Baffler-journalists of the world don’t believe in God. They don’t disagree that religion contributes to homophobia, transphobia, and the election of some awful politicians – and these issues have only grown more visible in the decade or so since New Atheism’s apogee. And yet in the bubble where nobody believes in God and everyone worries full-time about sexual minorities and Trump, you get less grief for being a Catholic than a Dawkins fan. ...

This is 90% of popular intellectual culture these days: progressives regurgitating progressivism to other progressives for nothing but the warm glow of being told “Yup, that was some good progressiving there”. Conservatives make fun of this incessantly, and they are right to do so. But for some reason, in the case of New Atheism and only in the case of New Atheism, Progressivism itself suddenly turned and said “Hey, you’re just repeating our own platitudes back to us!” And New Atheism, caught flat-footed, mouth open wide: “But…but..we thought we were supposed to…we thought…”.
There are several problems here.

The leaders of the New Atheists are all creeps, and their groups are dysfunctional. Just read about some of the controversies at their meetings.

The atheists attack Islam, but their appeal is largely to Christian-haters who like the fact that Islam undermines Christianity.

They barely talk about God at all, but try to use their nominal atheism to pretend to have rational thinking underlying their weirdo political views.

Atheism has become identified with leftist politics. I don't know whether the New Atheist leaders intended that, or if leftists hijacked the movement.

For all these reasons, and probably others, atheism has fallen out of favor.

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