Tone deafness

So, thanks to Ace, I found this article this morning and read it.  For those of you not willing to churn through a bunch of navel gazing about "why New Atheism failed" (surprising me both that there was a "new" atheism and that it's already been determined to have failed; given that I knew nothing about it in the first place), in short it wonders if this "new wave of atheists" failed to gain any traction in society because they were preaching "obvious truths" to like-minded believers (no pun intended).

And as I read it, it discussed the fact that 80% of Americans identify as "religious", 63% "claim" to be absolutely certain there is a God, and 46% think the Earth was literally created in seven days.  So I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the author (who seems to be an atheist) to say, "you know, maybe mocking people who believe different things than we do is the reason we don't gain converts from among them".  And it simply never happened.

This person literally questioned everything about why the New Atheist movement (and again, my apologies, I never even knew this was a thing) failed to gain traction, and never once thought about the fact that by basically calling every person of faith deluded, wrong, and even stupid (in fact, the author goes so far as to say religion causes homophobia and terrorism), that they just might not be willing to give your philosophy a fair hearing.  One almost gets the feeling from the article that the author never expects to sway the other 4/5ths of their countrymen, and have written us off entirely.  Almost completely admitting that they don't actually care what the rest of us think.

Now, let me be clear, my very best friend in this world (besides my wife) is an atheist.  And unlike this author, he neither looks down upon or denigrates those who do not believe as he does.  I have even seen him take other (more militant) atheists to task for trying to berate someone for praying.  "You are the kind of person who makes atheists like me look bad", were his exact words.  I have no issues with someone who simply does not feel what I feel, what I have issues with is someone who demands that not only do I give up my faith, but that I (in effect) admit how stupid I am for having it in the first place.  The first is non-negotiable, the second is laughable.  "Molon labe" comes to mind.


Grim said...

Well, 'deluded, wrong, stupid' and evil. Hitchens, whose writing I admired on many subjects, was incapable of seeing virtue in religiosity -- indeed, his opinion of Mother Theresa remains one of the most hostile things I've ever read. Your average religious person believes that she was a saint; your average irreligious person at least believes that she was a kindhearted woman who meant well and devoted her life to good works. To be persuaded by Hitchens, you have to reject all of that and endorse the view that she was actively wicked.

Do I wonder why the movement failed? I do not.

Ymar Sakar said...

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 3 now that Hitchens is dead.... and waiting to be resurrected.

The conflict is framed as one between atheism and religion... I find that interesting, wrong but interesting.

The conflict is closer to what I wrote about here.

Marx and Hussein promised salvation for all through the Utopian secular dream.

The Patriarch of Rome promised salvation via indulgences, where a soul will spring out of purgatory the moment the money clinks into the coffers.

Both are merely humans deceiving humans, on the inspiration and orders of the Elohim, the former counsel of Watchers.

The fact that human civilization considers itself wise and educated, is the biggest joke of them all.

A couple of evidence case examples for show and tell.

The problem are not the atheists, they will solve themselves in due time come Ragnarok or afterwards. The problem are the theists. If supernatural does not exist, then it is just humans vs humans. We all know how that works. Just kill em, it works.

But if there are supernatural entities... good luck killing them, because it doesn't actually work. They wouldn't be called gods if they were so easy to kill.

To be a deus slayer, is similar to a dragon slayer. You need some kind of divine armament, knowledge, or status.

It's better to be an atheist than a theist that sides with the Vatican belief in Lucifer. Far far better. It is better to be ignorant, than to know evil and to choose it.

Ymar Sakar said...

As Grim noted, I have observed similar things on Hitchens. Reading the various quotes taken from Hitchen's novels about REligoin and God(s), it is amazing how low his IQ falls. Ripe for the Elohim to manipulate this human that thinks himself one of the four horsemen.

Elise said...

I read the linked Slate Star Codex article and I got something different out of it. To me, the author is asking how New Atheism failed so miserably among those who should embrace it; that is, among the "Baffler-journalists", those who aren't religious, don't believe in God, don't think the world was created in seven days, etc. Why are other loud, boring, and pointless messages embraced by progressives while the New Atheists were "cast into the outer darkness." To me, this article is a wonderful, somewhat sly skewering of both New Atheists and progressives.

Tangentially related, I found an interesting religion/philosophy Twitter account and blog recently. I don't know how I found it but the original thread I linked to is this about atheists:

As for the New Atheists generally, The Irrational Atheist is data-rich and a lot of fun, and The Devil's Delusion is laugh-out-loud funny. How can I not love a book that in the Preface says: When [Sam Harris] remarks that he has been dumbstruck by Christian and Moslem intellectual commitments, I believe the word has met the man.

Texan99 said...

I have more than one progressive relative or friend who are deeply suspicious of people like Mother Teresa or, indeed, any Catholic charity. Their view is that you can't trust these people not to exercise undue influence over vulnerable needy people. They'll pretend to be healing lepers, then pounce in a weak moment and try--gasp--to convert them. Best to prevent them from helping anyone at all, to be safe. I'm barely exaggerating.

Eric Blair said...

What Tex said. I've seen this myself in the past.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

T99 - yep.

Scott alexander at SSC is great. His "Toxoplasma of Rage" is the best essay of the 21st C. He does keep getting caught up on that 46% believe in 7-Day Creationism, though. That number moves about quite a bit depending on how the question is asked. 46 is the high number. It also doesn't reveal that the number is above 80% with African-Americans and over 70% among Hispanics. (Again, depending on how it's phrased.) That queers the narrative a bit, so it doesn't get mentioned. The preferred image is that the Trump-voting half of the country, who all live in Tennessee trailer parks and had trouble passing 10th grade, are the Young Earth Creationists.

As for atheist friends, I posted Michael Novak's "Christmas Atheists" years ago, which identifies types of atheists. It was fascinating to me how my atheist readers did not find themselves that clearly in the entire list. There are many kinds of atheists, and it is unwise to generalise.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile the Trump supporters are busy providing some welcome aid and comfort to atheists, agnostics and christians, all at the same time and place. The groups recognize that they have a common appreciation for western civilization and values.

When a group gets together online and talks about what they appreciate about one another, it is called a "circle jerk" by those interested in derision. I see an affirmation of our social compact. This is the antidote to the deliberate society-killing divisiveness we have been seeing in other places.

Atheists aren't going anywhere. They haven't failed. Those of good will simply abandoned a negative, non-productive movement for something more satisfying.


Anonymous said...

I've come to mentally separate them into atheists - people who do not believe in a god or gods, and antitheists - people who don't believe in a god or gods and loathe/despise/hate both the non-existent deities and anyone who believes in them.


Texan99 said...

And some of them converted to Christianity after decades of struggling with making sense of atheism. :-)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Notably, Anthony Flew