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JSB2024's Avatar Comment 1 by JSB2024

We did not ask for the name "New Atheists." And the "tolerance and civility" that religion employs as a political concession when it's caught with its' pants down and in a weakened state is not a sign of progressiveness.

"Fire-breathing preachers of the anti-gospel."

Could you please list any genocides incited by the nastily dubbed "New Atheists"? Any widespread scientific ignorance? Any outbreaks of hysteria or mass panic?

Utterly ill-informed at best. Utterly deceptive at worst.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:29:00 UTC | #421005

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 2 by Mr Blue Sky


In response one word is apt this week; Uganda!

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:35:00 UTC | #421009

godsbelow's Avatar Comment 3 by godsbelow

Is it 'cool to ridicule believers'? No. It's just so damn easy.

As for the Palestine/Israel conflict, stating that 'the conflict started as an essentially secular argument over land' is just plain historically ignorant. Zionism is the result of taking Biblical mythology seriously. There would be precious few Jews in Palestine today were it not for the RELIGIOUS belief of modern Israel's founding fathers that Jews were granted the land by YWH for all time. It was this belief that caused Jews from other parts of the world to migrate to Palestine in the first place, rather than migrating to, say, Honduras, or Zambia. It was Judaic RELIGION that motivated the first radical Zionists to start stealing land from Palestinians. Hence the root cause of the conflict is - wait for it - RELIGION.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:42:00 UTC | #421015

Demotruk's Avatar Comment 4 by Demotruk

I see no truth in anything in that piece, aside from the fact that we are hurting the accommodationists. This is only true because accommodationism is a weak position in the first place, and sometimes employs intellectually dishonest tactics (if you say that evolution by natural selection does not imply that there is no God, you are being somewhat dishonest).

Does he have evidence for anything else he asserts? That we think, we might as well not try to solve disputes because religion is the real problem? Does he even have any evidence that we're not still increasing in numbers and the public's awareness of religion?

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:47:00 UTC | #421017

mixmastergaz's Avatar Comment 5 by mixmastergaz

Why should conservative Christians fear that the teaching of evolution might make atheists of "their" children (q.m.)

For good reason; it just might!

Wright has a point. Maybe we should also stop teaching economics since inevitably some of those who study it will become members of the Republican party, and I presume that Wright doesn't much care for Republicans either, especially if they have the temerity to argue their case forcefully with Democrats. For goodness sake some of them may even use sarcasm and irony!

We must stop these BASTARDS right now!

Still at least he comforts us with the unsupported speculation that these no-good "new atheists" with their ice-skating, lemonade and who-knows-what will surely fail. Arabs don't like them either, so Wright must be right!

Oh dear, the sarcasm lock on my keyboard appears to be stuck.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:50:00 UTC | #421019

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 6 by Jos Gibbons

[their goal] wasn't to turn beleivers into atheists, it was to turn atheists into New Atheists -- fellow fire breathing preachers of the anti-gospel. The point was to make it not just uncool to believe, but cool to ridicule believers.
The aim was to encourage those silent out of fear to proudly acknowledge they aren't bad people, and to try to get people to think more about faith, to discuss it openly, and to stop automatically assuming without further justification it deserves certain privileges not accorded to anything else, such as faith being immune to criticism. Insofar as this involvves ridicule, it involves ridiculing ridiculous religious beliefs to the same extent people already ridicule ridiculous non-religious beliefs.
they often abet fundamentalists
Do we have any evidence that a distaste for any or all unbelievers has inspired any Christian or Islamic fundamentalists' worst behaviour? There is plenty of evidence that those who are not fundamentalist, perhaps not even religious, insisting upon respect for faith making it hard to even start to engage with fundamentalists, if there is any chance of doing it.
the last thing you need is for [RD} to be among the world's most zealously proselytizing atheists
If we wish to persuade people who won't accept A because they feel it is incompatible with B, Wright says we should not only inform them in no uncertain terms that A and B are compatible, but should also have grave concerns over famous advocates of A being known for not agreeing with B. This attitude renders B beyond any kind of discussion. How would Wright feel if it was Christians who had to shut up in case evolutionists were concerned Christianity was linked to evolution? The mistake many accommodationsits make is to turn organizations into there's-no-conflict-and-those-who-think-there-is-are-nuts asserters and then give as their excuse the lie that people like RD, JC etc. wish to do the exact opposite, when in fact they have repeatedly advocated that we try not dicsussing the evolution-religion relationship mat all when promoting science.
Making "Western" synonymous with "aggressively atheist" isn't a recipe for quelling anti-Western Islamist radicalism
Such radicals are put off by both atheists and Christians, and are in no danger of forgetting which one is the majority in the US, but if anything is unlikely to quell them it would be the Christianity-inspired foreign policy of recent decades, ranging from conversion to genuine aims at causing Armageddon.
Axiomatic to New Atheism is that religion is not just factually wrong, but the root of evil
RD's view in TGD is that his concern is with whether religion is true, and that it may not be all that evil, and it certainly isn't the root of all evil. SH's argument was that beliefs have a cusal effect on behaviour which can have all sorts of horrid effects, of which the rleigious cases are not the only he identifies. DD's opinions are even further removed from what Wright claims, and Victor Stenger further still. The case with CH is subtler, but he clearly knows of many other sources of evil, and so do all critics of religion. These straw men do not help Wright to earn much respect from those he is asking to shut up.
[SH] wholly dismisses such contributing factors as ...
In the opening of the chapter The Problem With ISlam, he explicitly explains that, although he is aware of those factors, he feels that Islam must play a role too because simialr factors in non-Muslim populations have very different results. I can't make his whole case for that here; it suffices to say no-one like Wright has ever even tried to properly respond to it.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:54:00 UTC | #421022

Madphatcat's Avatar Comment 7 by Madphatcat

"But the New Atheists' main short-term goal wasn't to turn believers into atheists, it was to turn atheists into New Atheists -- fellow fire-breathing preachers of the anti-gospel."

Dur - am I so stupid that I missed this 'goal' from Dawkins and Harris and so on? No? Eh? You're telling me Mr. Wright is on crack? Ok then.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:55:00 UTC | #421025

bethe123's Avatar Comment 8 by bethe123

Well as has been noted, virtually the entire article is either a misrepresentation or just factually wrong regarding the atheist position.

Wright does this because he cannot find a legitimate point to attack regarding atheism, hence he is forced to lie and misrepresent.

The second reason is that he is hoping to promote his recent book.

How very sad.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:56:00 UTC | #421027

DeusExNihilum's Avatar Comment 10 by DeusExNihilum

More BAWWWWING, More accommodation-is-the-only-way bollocks, more bullshit from a 3rd rate journalist with a clear and obvious agenda to make out like Atheists who don't avert their eyes when told to are one step away from flying a plane into a church. *deep breath*

What tripe.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:58:00 UTC | #421031

bigkoala's Avatar Comment 9 by bigkoala

The article is shite. Why waste any more time than that on it?

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:58:00 UTC | #421030

rokeisland's Avatar Comment 11 by rokeisland

The rampant ignorance of this article is breathtaking.

Making "Western" synonymous with "aggressively atheist" isn't a recipe for quelling anti-Western Islamist radicalism

Yes, because religious accomodation and tolerance worked so well, that since the 1970's it has been well publicized (even if it has been ignored by the public in the United States) that Islamic clerics have called for the destruction of the Western World and are finally on the path to realizing that dream.

And there's a subtle but potent sense in which New Atheism can steer foreign policy to the right. Axiomatic to New Atheism is that religion is not just factually wrong, but the root of evil, which suggests that other proposed root causes of the sort typically stressed on the left aren't really the problem. Sam Harris, in discussing terrorism, wholly dismisses such contributing factors as "the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza," "the collusion of Western powers with corrupt dictatorships," and "the endemic poverty and lack of economic opportunity that now plague the Arab world." The problem, Harris states, is religion, period.

Athiests only agree on one point, that God(s) do not exist. You'll find talking heads debating these points back and forth in every college in the world. Not every athiest agrees that religion is the sole root cause of war, but it is certainly one of the most major contributing factors, and that is ignored at peril. Besides which, the British controlled the palestinian area, it was not controlled by any Arabic countries and it had no internal organization. It was divided up by the British (with UN help) into Israel and Palestine, and ever since then the countries of the area have been at war with Israel. Until the Jews were alloted plots of land, no one wanted it. Now that the Jews have it, everyone wants to kick them out. You can't tell me that religion isn't a driving factor in that.

All the great religions have shown time and again that they're capable of tolerance and civility when their adherents don't feel threatened or disrespected. At the same time, as some New Atheists have now shown, you don't have to believe in God to exhibit intolerance and incivility.

Gee, let me list. Intolerance to homosexuality, abortion (denial of communion for a legal policy, anyone£), privacy rights (can't worship in your home), religion in gov't, anti-semitism, school prayer (indoctrinating children in the Christian God), intelligent design (come on, I thought THAT one up when I was 11), Creationism, Earth-centric thought, witch trials, stoning for adultery, slavery, jihad, suicide bombing, indulgences, book burning, paedophilia, anti-birth control, outright lying to the uneducated, child-marriage, torture, amputations, unequal rights to men and women, unequal rights to people of different races....

My fingers are getting tired. I'm sure people can add to the list. The point being, all of these took place well before athiests began speaking out. And if sometimes civility gets lost in the debate, well, we are only human and our blood gets hot the same as everyone else, even those who believe in charity and turning the other cheek.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:04:00 UTC | #421034

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 12 by Colwyn Abernathy

"Fire-breathing preachers of the anti-gospel."

I still find it amusing how theists continue to use religious language to criticise their critics. (Which is what we essentially are) It amuses me how they try to paint US as hysterical, wrong, and violent when a) none of those are evidently true, and b) the irony of making "preacher" a perjorative.

Again, as Hitch has said before:

"What can be asserted without evidence, can just as easily be dismissed without evidence."

How apt, especially here.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:13:00 UTC | #421036

annabanana's Avatar Comment 13 by annabanana

How do so many different people in different places consistently write the same article over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum?? How are there so many of these articles? Are these people really that out of touch that they haven't read about a bazillion of these already?

Though the New Atheists claim to be a progressive force, they often abet fundamentalists and reactionaries, from the heartland of America to the Middle East.

I just loved that sentence. That's a bold claim to make, especially when it isn't backed up at all! There are not even any supporting sentences, let alone evidence to make the case for this.

Also, last time I checked, I just identify myself as an atheist, not a "New" atheist. Let's make up a new name for Christians and their annoying apologists and see how they like it.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:17:00 UTC | #421040

George Lennan's Avatar Comment 14 by George Lennan

Re-read it replacing 'atheist' with 'democrat' and 'evolution' with 'liberal values' (perhaps 'faith' with 'conservatism' too) to see just how vacuous this is.

Basic argument? Do not talk about religion, it's impolite. bah.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:20:00 UTC | #421042

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 15 by Colwyn Abernathy


Also, last time I checked, I just identify myself as an atheist, not a "New" atheist. Let's make up a new name for Christians and their annoying apologists and see how they like it.

How about the New Spineless? OOO! The Paperback Christians! Because they have no hardback spine!


I'll just get my coat. Back to the lab with me then!

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:24:00 UTC | #421045

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 16 by Quetzalcoatl

If we're doing names, something with dopey in it. Or credulous. Quite a few wouldn't know what that means anyway.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:27:00 UTC | #421048

MrPickwick's Avatar Comment 17 by MrPickwick

I Think Jerry Coyne's prediction about Mr Wright (after reading this article) is worth mentioning here:

(...) A world in which the Templeton Foundation laps up this brand of piffle like a cat after cream. And so I proffer a prediction: Wright will win the Templeton Prize within two years.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:28:00 UTC | #421049

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 18 by Colwyn Abernathy

Oh, off topic, but this was just upped to ThinkProgress:

Come on, fellow feminists! THIS is where we need to focus our efforts.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:30:00 UTC | #421052

annabanana's Avatar Comment 19 by annabanana

Haha, good one Colwyn!

Heh, Quetz, now, no stereotyping! ;)

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 17:34:00 UTC | #421053

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 20 by Chrysippus_Maximus

The Left's shift away from support for Israel is disturbing. This conflation of Zionism with the state of Israel is just painfully stupid.

The '67 war was not about Zionism, and nor is the occupation. It's about security.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:12:00 UTC | #421064

Logicel's Avatar Comment 21 by Logicel

Wright's pearls are duly clutched. Fetch the smelling salts!

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:17:00 UTC | #421066

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 22 by Richard Dawkins

Robert Wright is a prime exemplar of the power of the Templeton Temptation. The world of science is crawling with previously decent people who are now greedily and shamelessly sucking up to the faith-heads. Only one person can win the Templeton Prize in any one year, so it is not all that expensive for the Foundation. If it only suborned the winner in any one year, it would hardly be cost-effective. But, for every previously distinguished winner who takes the bribe to betray science there must be a dozen losers. Robert Wright is surely a born loser (not distinguished enough to be Templeton-bait), but losers still try just as hard, and the resulting subversion of everything that science stands for is what Templeton stands for.


Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:23:00 UTC | #421068

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 23 by HughCaldwell


I think you're mixing up this Robert Wright with another one. This Wright is no scientist.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:38:00 UTC | #421075

David-in-Toronto's Avatar Comment 24 by David-in-Toronto

I think you're mixing up this Robert Wright with another one. This Wright is no scientist.

He’s written on science; Dr. Dawkins has got the right Wright.

David in Toronto

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 19:06:00 UTC | #421082

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 25 by DocWebster

This Robert Wright, while being a writer, is certainly no reader. This being he writes about, This New Atheist, I have yet to find one. All I see and hear are atheists who are speaking up for themselves against the onslaught of the faithful trying to shift the social mean from inherently material to inherently immaterial. The only reason we do speak up is because, as we have learned from countless genocides, waiting for your turn at the gallows to complain about persecution only allows the hangman the final word

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 19:32:00 UTC | #421092

Ned Flanders's Avatar Comment 26 by Ned Flanders


Mon, 07 Dec 2009 20:09:00 UTC | #421114

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 27 by Crazycharlie

Richard's view that religion causes, or is the main cause of the Israeli / Palestinian wars IS RIGHT. Jews from around the world emigrated there because God says in their holy book the land is theirs. If the dispute was originally secular, it quickly turned toxic because of religion. No dispute could ever stay secular in "The Holy Land".

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 20:54:00 UTC | #421134

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 28 by SaintStephen

13. Comment #439526 by annabanana on December 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Let's make up a new name for Christians and their annoying apologists and see how they like it.
If we are the New Atheists, then let's simply call them the "Old Atheists."

We go (at least) one god further than they ever did.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 21:03:00 UTC | #421139

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 29 by Crazycharlie

So," All the great religions... are capable of tolerance and civility when their adherents don't feel threatened or disrespected."

What he's really saying is the adherents feel threatened when their religion is disrespected. Or even mildly criticized.

Also, isn't it nice to know that religion is "capable of tolerance and civility".

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 21:17:00 UTC | #421145

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 30 by Quetzalcoatl


Heh, Quetz, now, no stereotyping! ;)

But where's the fun in that? ;)

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 21:30:00 UTC | #421151