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The New Atheism, a definition and a quiz - Comments

Librarian's Avatar Comment 1 by Librarian

I really do not like the term "New Atheism." Professor Dawkins has been out of the closet for a lot of years. Since when do you have to be a psychologist, historian or sociologist to express a stand on atheism? Atheism is an intellectual, political and social movement.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:56:00 UTC | #293550

InfuriatedSciTeacher's Avatar Comment 2 by InfuriatedSciTeacher

Silly me for going to the site and thinking there would be a way to take Brown's 'quiz' other than posting in the comments section. I'd prefer to answer and discuss his points here...

I take issue with the concept of faith having to be in contrast to evidence; In some cases it simply exists in the absence of evidence. Otherwise I'd have to score myself as agreeing with that so-called tenet.
Bullets two and three are just fine with me, although the true cure for faith is REASON (as is the true opposite of faith). Science is an excellent vehicle for determining the evidence behind a reasoned position, although one can arrive at conclusions logically and philosophically as well.
I disagree with the fourth point. Unfortunately, I see it as completely pollyanna-ish to view religion as doomed. There is far too much "belief in belief" (to borrow from Dennett) and gross lack of education for it to completely disappear. Religion sprouts from ignorance like mushrooms after a rain.
Brown found it necessary to state that religion existing was a central tenet of the philosophy he's attempting to critique' What a total asshat... if it didn't exist, there's no argument. Next point please. (If the corrolaries to his point WERE his point, he might consider learning to write more clearly, and he's still an asshat. Yes I agree with those ideas)
Faith is CERTAINLY the most dangerous force on the planet today because it causes people to make rash decisions without a modicum of reason behind them. We have people blinded by faith in charge of large thermonuclear arsenals, people who are willing to give up this life for an afterlife that has the drawback of not existing, I can continue ad nauseum and choose not to... Remove faith and you still have to contend with megalomaniacal fucktards like Stalin, Hitler, and Hussein, but at least they didn't justify themselves using an ancient book (and people followed them because they were superb propagandists, or induced enough terror). Perhaps one can attribute part of Stalin's success to a more modern work, but all the same that would fall under faith (Marxism isn't a religion by any stretch, but its adherents also weren't rational in the face of evidence).

edit: I almost certainly made spelling and grammatical errors that I'm too lazy to correct at this time.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:58:00 UTC | #293552

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 3 by Mark Jones

A pretty pathetic article.

He leaves Dennett out of the list just, one can only assume, so he can say there are no philosophers amongst the so called new atheists. Not much point in wasting any more time on this non-article.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 17:59:00 UTC | #293553

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 4 by Steven Mading

Well there's one thing he got right, but not in the way he meant it. He's right that "New Atheists" are primarily about social and political concerns, rather than the philosophical argument. He just fails to see why that's the case. It's because philosophers in the past have already won that argument If he wants to talk about that sort of argument - go check the philosphers of the 1700s, 1800s, and early 1900s. We won that argument already in the philosophy world - it's just that the world is full of dishonest people who don't admit it. The point of the "new" atheists is - what are we going to DO about it now? Okay, so we're on the right side of the facts - NOW what?

And that's why it's a political movement.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:00:00 UTC | #293554

InfuriatedSciTeacher's Avatar Comment 5 by InfuriatedSciTeacher

Mark> I'd wager that he leaves Dennett out because he can't understand Dennett's writing as easily... or because he's intimidated.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:02:00 UTC | #293555

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 6 by mordacious1

"They have two things in common. They are none of them philosophers...".

Why leave out Dan Dennett?

[ooops, Mark said this already]

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:02:00 UTC | #293556

kraut's Avatar Comment 7 by kraut

What the hell is a "new" atheist?
I have been an atheist since I was sixteen, over 40 years ago.
And I concur with many of the things Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Hitchens (although he is my political night mare)et al say.
I guess New Atheism is the definition of those "strident" and "abrasive" atheists who not longer take the invasion of religious dogma and tenets into politics/law making lying down. Time to kick ass, buddy.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:06:00 UTC | #293558

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 8 by mordacious1

I've also always considered Sam Harris a philosopher. He did his undergrad degree in philosophy and just because he did his grad work in neuroscience does not exclude him from being considered a philosopher.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:17:00 UTC | #293564

Fuller's Avatar Comment 9 by Fuller

A search for 'new atheist' on wikipedia takes you straight to 'anti-theist'. Personally, the term doesn't bother me (although it is mainly used by theists and is supposed to be insulting somehow). To me it just refers to the metaphorical refresh button that was hit when that bunch of fine books came out at around the same time.

I don't think you need to qualify the term 'new atheists' by putting 'so called' in front of it every time. It's a pretty innocuous term, and it means there's a new movement with which to title - which must be a good thing.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:18:00 UTC | #293565

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 10 by NewEnglandBob

I give Andrew Brown six raspberries for his muddled thinking.

Brown has no inkling of subtlety and obviously does not comprehend much of what he reads. How sad for him.

As Mark Jones said, this article is pathetic.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:48:00 UTC | #293584

cristinabories's Avatar Comment 11 by cristinabories

Ok, but why not discuss the validity of the bullet number five
"More moderate forms are false and treacherous: if anything even more dangerous, because they conceal the raging, homicidal lunacy that is religion's true nature. [Sam Harris] "

Do we really all feel that strongly about it?
Could it be that accepting softer forms of religion was tolerable because we really need to concentrate in crushing the toxic forms?
Or is Sam Harris right?
And as important, which would be the best strategy if our goal was say.. "erradicate all forms of religion in the next one hundred years"?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 18:56:00 UTC | #293586

CShepGuy's Avatar Comment 12 by CShepGuy

"new atheism" Does anyone here know what that means? Is it just an attempt at making atheism sound like any old trend? I'm pretty sure atheists hundreds of years ago felt pretty much the same way I do now about religion, etc. Oh and this article is pretty lame.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:16:00 UTC | #293593

skyhook's Avatar Comment 13 by skyhook

has anybody actually spelt out the difference between an (old) atheist and a "new" atheist?

presumably there are new christians for example? You know, those who are very wooly about the old testament and its nastiness, very wooly about the discrepancies in jesus' life, very wooly in general about christianity because, quite frankly, it's an outdated, hypocritical, ignorant view of the world that I, and other, atheists are fed up with interfering in all areas of life. And that goes for all religions.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:30:00 UTC | #293598

Virgil's Avatar Comment 14 by Virgil

New atheism gives the feeling that there was a bad or unwanted atheism at some point, apparently referring to Stalin and co.

Who started the term New Atheism?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:58:00 UTC | #293607

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 15 by Ed-words

Wouldn't philosopher-historian-mathematician
Bertrand Russell have gotten a "6" on this quiz?

New, old, what's the difference?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:01:00 UTC | #293609

mithraman's Avatar Comment 16 by mithraman

Hey, like, those old atheist are just a bunch of squares who don't know where its at, man. Ya dig? Like, the new atheists are hip and cool. and far out. and groovy. dude! where's my god?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 20:06:00 UTC | #293611

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 17 by Rob Schneider

Bah! "New Atheism." It's just a marketing ploy designed to drum up a public outcry demanding a return to the old recipe. Eventually, we'll be able to choose between Classic Atheism, New Atheism, Atheism Zero, and Diet Atheism.

Cheers! :-) (I particulary like Captain Morgan's with my New Atheism.)

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:04:00 UTC | #293619

Daniella's Avatar Comment 18 by Daniella

Here's what 5 min research and google can produce:

Richard Dawkins - Balliol College, Oxford, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1966, D.Phil., 1966.

Sam Harris - completed a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience at UCLA

Christopher Hitchens - educated at the Leys School, Cambridge, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

RD, SH and CH all studied philosophy (as if it makes any difference)

Obviously, this Andrew Brown is part of the wave of so called 'New Journalism' which doesn't find it necessary to fact check before publishing an article.

What a twat.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:43:00 UTC | #293629

Marku's Avatar Comment 19 by Marku

Religion is the easiest thing to discredit, for it represents how fallacious "man" can be. It doesn't take a high I.Q. to read a few history books to discredit this human-only-phenomenon as rubbish.

"New Atheists" are lucky, in the sense that we don't need "New Philosophers". Once again, anyone with half a brain can go to his/her library, or search Google to find a bazillion examples of atheistic philosophy that is light-years ahead in thinking than the average Joe-Schmo out there that probably only has read two books since his/her mother spawned his/her existence, one of which is probably not the bible, indeed.

For some reason I feel the need to use the words rubbish and indeed when I think of Richard Dawkins, or British people in general.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 21:46:00 UTC | #293631

demognome's Avatar Comment 20 by demognome

The only difference between an "old" athiest and a "new" athiest is that the new athiest is able to illuminate such a position with more experience and a wider knowledge base than was available before, hence criticizing more fields of (ir?)rational thought with logical deconstructionism (is that a word?.. anyway).

and as Mading (#4) and others have already pointed out, the only thing "new" about athiesm these days is that athiests find new problems to solve. or something like that.

anyway. after living in Indonesia for 22 years, I'd have to say Harris is right on the money about the threat of Islamic doctrine itself-- far far far more dangerous than Christianity *currently* is, mostly because Science has been able to disarm Christianity to a large extent.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:02:00 UTC | #293635

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 21 by mordacious1

Comment #308356 by Marku

"For some reason I feel the need to use the words rubbish and indeed when I think of Richard Dawkins, or British people in general."

Boy, taken out of context this could be insulting.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:09:00 UTC | #293637

Patrick McArdle's Avatar Comment 22 by Patrick McArdle

"But those are the six doctrines which I would reject when saying rude things about the new atheists."

It's all about the projection, isn't it? Look, religious believers have doctrines: virgin birth & resurrection, Moses on the mountain, Mohammed receiving the arch-angel, whatever. An "atheist doctrine" is a contradiction in terms. "A theos" simply means "no god", and implies nothing beyond that. No two atheists need ever agree on why they do not believe in gods; for my own part, no theist has ever produced any evidence that any god exists.

(Please click over to the original article and comments thread, wherein Dr. Dawkins et. al. hand the author's head to him.)

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:31:00 UTC | #293643

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 23 by Richard Dawkins

Dan Dennett wasn't the only philosopher omitted so that Brown could say "They are none of them philosophers." There's also A.C.Grayling.

Incidentally, on one of Andrew Brown's books, his publishers had such a hard time finding endorsements from distinguished people to put on the cover, they resorted to fine-sounding quotations which, if you looked carefully, turned out to have nothing to do with Brown's book. The only quotation that mentions Andrew Brown, or his book, was the following, from Dan Dennett:

I wouldn't admit it if Andrew Brown were my friend. What a sleazy bit of trash journalism!


Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:43:00 UTC | #293646

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 24 by Cartomancer

I was also under the impression that Anthony Kenny is far from a critic of the "New Atheists". Didn't he endorse Richard's pro-atheism work somewhere?

I don't like the term "New Atheists" much either. Is there any catch-all term we actually do like for the spate of pro-atheism books and cultural products over the past few years?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:49:00 UTC | #293647

Styrer-'s Avatar Comment 25 by Styrer-

Comment #308372 by Richard Dawkins on December 29, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Thank you for a much-needed laugh after wading through yet another piece of pitifully scribbled detritus.

While Brown falls most sweetly into a lexical swamp of his own making (and never has a dunking of a head been so genuinely in need), New Atheism, Atheism, atheism and atheist all linguistically loom large in satisfyingly verbal manner as ideas against which he has not one slight iota of a jot of evidence to offer in support of his risible contention.

What is transparent is that the word 'atheist', and its cognates, is really bugging these pathetic little oiks, and is driving them to produce ever increasingly flailingly inept prose for newspapers with a cheque book hanging out of each orifice. It's a proud moment, where all of us who were terrified of dissenting from Sam's attack on the word, but who were equally scared of having no word at all by which to make clear their atheistic identity, can say 'YES!!! Wonderful! Brown has effected a lexical resurrection for us all!'

Now go forth and multiply. Linguistically, of course. Nothing naughty. Immorality would not look too good after such a tremendously generous gift from our benefactor Brown. Good egg.


Mon, 29 Dec 2008 23:33:00 UTC | #293655

cyris8400's Avatar Comment 26 by cyris8400

To Dan Dennett and A.C. Grayling as "New Atheist" philosophers you could also add Michel Onfray.

How awful this Brown is.

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 23:35:00 UTC | #293656

Goldy's Avatar Comment 27 by Goldy

24. Comment #308372 by Richard Dawkins

Heheheheh! Reminded me....

I have a book - "The Hidden History of the Human Race" by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson.

They put in what they called "adverse crticisms"

From Richard Leaky we have "Your book is pure humbug and does not deserve to be taken seriously by anyone but a fool. Sadly, there are some, but that's part of selection and there is nothing that can be done."

Graham Hancock liked it, mind :-)

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 00:01:00 UTC | #293663

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 28 by Dr Doctor

More trash from Andrew "I've got enough chips for everyones' shoulders" Brown

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 00:16:00 UTC | #293666

Pidge's Avatar Comment 29 by Pidge

@ Mark Jones - comment #3 -

"He leaves Dennett out of the list..." - good point - why did he not mention Dennett?

I know a lot of scientists and people from the arts (I include lawyers, social 'scientists' and economists in that category) - it seems to me that the scientists can easily take to the arts in a very short time but the arts people can rarely take to the sciences. This annoys the arts people.

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 00:30:00 UTC | #293673

krazyowl's Avatar Comment 30 by krazyowl

What the hell is the new atheism? You are either a person of reason or of superstition.

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 00:35:00 UTC | #293675