The concerted attack on “New Atheism”

October 8, 2010

Benson accurately summarizes the media consensus:-

“The conventional wisdom goes like this: new atheists are aggressive, strident, shrill, militant, and fundamentalist. Their atheism is itself a religion, Richard Dawkins is their saint, and science is their god. They think science can answer all questions and that atheism can prove that god does not exist. They want to stamp out religion entirely, and if they get their way there will be no more art, literature, emotion, love, morality, or beauty.

… parts of it, and sometimes all of it, show up in newspapers and magazines with stunning regularity in the UK, the US, Australia and even Sweden, as I learned on a recent trip to Stockholm …

Useful well-conducted dissent – accurate, careful, reasonable – is vital for getting at the truth, and that kind of dissent among atheists is of course all to the good. But the backlash isn’t like that. It’s political: it’s an angry, hostile reaction to a challenge to the status quo. Angry reaction doesn’t have much use for accurate and careful – angry reaction is trying to shut down the opposition, not make it better.”

This analysis of the media is correct and Benson makes an important point when she characterizes the reaction to NA as “political”. “Religion” is in many ways an unhelpful word. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are better regarded as political ideologies. The secular settlement of the 17th century served to disguise this, but the accelerating intrusion of the three monotheisms, not to mention Hinduism, into the political arena in the 21st century forces us to face uncomfortable facts. The backlash against NA is an attempt to deny reality.

Russell Blackford talks his customary good sense about dissent within atheism:-

http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2010/10/crude-simplistic-and-nasty-those-horrid.html

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