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← Can Critics of “New Atheists” Please Read Some First?

Can Critics of “New Atheists” Please Read Some First? - Comments

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 1 by justinesaracen

There is no "more" under "read more." It is a blank page.

Is it a joke?

If not, please repair. Thank you

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 17:11:46 UTC | #875041

Galactor's Avatar Comment 2 by Galactor

The supplied link doesn't work but you can find the article here

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 17:14:22 UTC | #875042

Jay G's Avatar Comment 3 by Jay G

Why bother responding? If you believe your critics are mis-informed and refuse to BE informed, then just ignore them and continue doing what you're doing.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 17:37:58 UTC | #875046

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 4 by AtheistEgbert

The new atheists in the blogosphere tend to be hyper sensitive when it comes to any criticism that comes their way. Probably because a lot of criticism has been stupid, malicious and unjustified. But that does not mean we should ignore all criticism, rather we need to embrace it when it comes from thoughtful sources.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:02:53 UTC | #875053

/Mike's Avatar Comment 5 by /Mike

Read more link fixed

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:17:41 UTC | #875055

carlmosconi's Avatar Comment 6 by carlmosconi

You have a point Gary, I also think that proponents of heliocentrism shouldn't be so strident in their belief. You can take a hypothesis too far.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:48:27 UTC | #875062

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 7 by Rich Wiltshir

As ever, these aren't even-handed criticism.

For example; consider the 'missing link' claims of religoons who argue that every link of evidence must be provided in order for evolution to be credible (ignoring the fact that evidence produces the theory). They don't apply the same stringency to their own ridiculous assertsings; these 'Mary never got laid, therefore Kent Hovind is totally innocent' arguments are worthy of no respect.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:00:33 UTC | #875064

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons

AtheistEgbert, why do you consider Gutting's latest piece the least bit thoughtful? Further, why do you imagine any genuinely thoughtful critique of the new atheists wouldn't be properly embraced by us?

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:00:40 UTC | #875065

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 8 by Jos Gibbons :

AtheistEgbert, why do you consider Gutting's latest piece the least bit thoughtful? Further, why do you imagine any genuinely thoughtful critique of the new atheists wouldn't be properly embraced by us?

Because I don't think new atheists are as rational as they think they are, nor do I think they are more ethical than the average Christian, nor any less politically naive. While I applaud their promotion of science and reason, they have not worked out any rational ethics or politics, and that makes up the vast majority of their opinions.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:18:15 UTC | #875066

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 10 by rod-the-farmer

How recent does your self-description as an atheist have to be, for you to be "new" ???? I have been one for over 50 years. Maybe that means I don't count as one.....

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:49:33 UTC | #875071

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 11 by El Bastardo

Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert :

Because I don't think new atheists are as rational as they think they are, nor do I think they are more ethical than the average Christian, nor any less politically naive. While I applaud their promotion of science and reason, they have not worked out any rational ethics or politics, and that makes up the vast majority of their opinions.

Really? I thought you would have been around the block enough to know better. "They" don't exist. There is no group mentality in Atheism, as much as P.Z. tried to redefine the word and talk down to what he called "dictionary atheists".

As soon as you try to push a particular political ideology or moral code then you've strayed into something else altogether. Call it a movement, call it a system, call it what you want, but it's not Atheism. Atheism may be a part of it, but it is not Atheism.

Throwing the word "New" in front of the word Atheist doesn't change the definition of Atheism or make it anything more or less than it already is.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:06:56 UTC | #875073

Sofa King Cool's Avatar Comment 12 by Sofa King Cool

"He thinks that the so-called “new atheists” ignore how religion gives people meaning and transcendence, hope and morality, emotional comfort and social support."

We don't ignore this, some of them just can't believe we can be happy, moral, and comforted without belief in a god. Just keep it to yourself and don't try to push it into government and schools and make laws with it or say it is the only way to be truly moral. If the only way you can get hope and comfort from a god is by having a large number of people believing the same way then it must not be that comforting. Your so called "personal" god must suck if you need to be told how good it is for you.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:11:21 UTC | #875075

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 11 by El Bastardo :

There is no group mentality in Atheism,

This is not a pantomime but oh, yes there is.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:11:55 UTC | #875076

achromat666's Avatar Comment 14 by achromat666

It should also be mentioned a great deal of the people that accept Christian beliefs are nowhere near as critical of the works of people that share their viewpoint as it works against their interests. And of course many of them just take what their church tells them as fact and don't bother reading much of it themselves of worse don't examine it closely.

So nothing in the article surprises me at all.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:19:42 UTC | #875081

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 15 by Mr DArcy

I suppose professional philosophers have to write something to earn their crust. It seems to me that Gutting is doing just that. I haven't read his stuff, only the above article, but from the author's summary, it seems about as exciting as a clothing philosopher's view on whether Milan scored more points in the fashion shows than London did. I'm not quite sure how relying on "scientific and rational arguments" can be a fault, but then I would need a philosopher to explain that to me. Hopefully the said explanation would be expressed in a code that I could understand, and not some Kantian verbiage written in early German, translated into Greek and Latin, and then back into English!

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:33:28 UTC | #875082

Sean the Sorcerer's Avatar Comment 16 by Sean the Sorcerer

Attention people of RichardDawkins.net:

If you didn't already get the memo, here it is:

Atheism is disproven, because I am God! As God-Emperor of the Sith Empire and absolute ruler of the local group of galaxies, I demand regular tributes and ritual worship from all my subjects. From Andromeda to Triangulum, the Milky Way to the Magellanic Clouds, all who disbelieve in Me shall face My wrath! The choice is yours: believe in Me, or die!

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:43:03 UTC | #875084

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 17 by Zeuglodon

Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 11 by El Bastardo :

There is no group mentality in Atheism,

This is not a pantomime but oh, yes there is.

At the risk of sounding like a party pooper, El Bastardo, I agree with AtheistEgbert on this point. After a while, explicit and self-aware atheists tend to categorise themselves into a group. Human is as human does, after all.

Because I don't think new atheists are as rational as they think they are, nor do I think they are more ethical than the average Christian, nor any less politically naive.

Irrational and politically naive, certainly. It'd be like suggesting a cricket-player makes a good footballer - after all, if he wins in one arena, he wins in another, right? Ethical, I can't tell, but again there's probably not much difference among religious moderates and atheists and so on. The consensus seems to jog back and forwards, though, and is so warped by biases that it's probably safest to suspend judgement until something approaching a comprehensive analysis is undertaken.

While I applaud their promotion of science and reason, they have not worked out any rational ethics or politics, and that makes up the vast majority of their opinions.

I'm not sure that's true. I get the impression a lot of atheists also tend to gravitate towards certain positions, such as political liberalism, secular humanism, religious skepticism, and skepticism and secularism in general. I make no comment on the causal links between them, and I don't deny that you can get a mixed bag among an atheist crowd, but my hypothesis is that if you were to survey a large sample of the world's atheists, you'd get a conspicuous statistical leaning towards positions like the ones I've mentioned.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:47:01 UTC | #875086

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 18 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #875066 by AtheistEgbert

Because I don't think new atheists are as rational as they think they are

That doesn't prove of any given form of rationality (e.g. embracing thoughtful critiques of the new atheism) we wouldn't do it.

nor do I think they are more ethical than the average Christian, nor any less politically naive

I don't see how that is relevant to the question at hand.

they have not worked out any rational ethics or politics, and that makes up the vast majority of their opinions.

Even if those claims are true (I dispute the first one on the basis of attempts at that, of which Christina's piece gives multiple examples; I don't find the second one convincing), it wouldn't be a problem unless one had to have original opinions. One's opinions need only be rational.

Now, to get somewhere, please provide one of these thoughtful critiques we should embrace but sadly do not.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:54:01 UTC | #875088

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 19 by Sean_W

Comment 16 by Sith Master Sean

Why that's hardly fair, you should make it more difficult to decide! By the way, can I just say that's a lovely cloak. No seriously, it suits your divi -er, dark nature.

Comment 6 by carlmosconi

As in,

Knock Knock

Who's there?

Hypothesis

Hypothesis who?

Hypothesis your son, let me in.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:08:34 UTC | #875094

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 20 by Sjoerd Westenborg

Dear God-Emperor Sith Master Sean, as long as tributes to you aren't tax-deductable, I'll pass.

@Zeuglodon & AtheistEgbert: Have you followed Sam Harris lately? He has done some great work on ethics deduced from science (especially neurology). I'm too sleepy to look up the relevant blogs, discussions and articles right now but I'm sure there are more fanatic members online?

I bid you all a very good night!

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:08:38 UTC | #875095

Ornicar's Avatar Comment 21 by Ornicar

What happens if you get your "meaning and transcendence, hope and morality, emotional comfort and social support" from the belief the Australia doesn't exist, and you are about to go from Colombo to Wellington by boat ?

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:10:28 UTC | #875096

Ornicar's Avatar Comment 22 by Ornicar

Just so we know (and it's not the first time I see this kind of thing on atheist websites), on Greta's site I get an ad reading "discover the roots of your christian faith. Do a pilgrimage the holy land. Come discover Israel and you'll never be the same again. www.holyland-pilgrimage.com"

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:17:29 UTC | #875097

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert

Do I follow Sam Harris? No.

I get the impression a lot of atheists also tend to gravitate towards certain positions, such as political liberalism, secular humanism, religious skepticism, and skepticism and secularism in general. I make no comment on the causal links between them, and I don't deny that you can get a mixed bag among an atheist crowd, but my hypothesis is that if you were to survey a large sample of the world's atheists, you'd get a conspicuous statistical leaning towards positions like the ones I've mentioned.

That's pretty damn perceptive. Atheists do gravitate to all those, and I quickly came to the conclusion that new atheism was in fact promoting liberalism. However, then I realized that the reason why atheists were promoting those values was that they were promoting the culture they lived within, not a rational form of liberalism. They were cultural liberals, or worse, cultural protestants.

And you only have to begin examining the nature and history of liberalism to see that it isn't so rational, how could it be? Politics is within the realm of the human and not nature. It rests on 'values' and that is the blind spot so far of the enlightenment project.

Now, to get somewhere, please provide one of these thoughtful critiques we should embrace but sadly do not.

If you are genuinely interested, I recommend the works of John Gray.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:21:56 UTC | #875100

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

What an odd article. Gutting was wrong to attack New Atheism for not providing secular alternatives to religion, and Christina is mistaken to suggest that New Atheism is about providing secular alternatives to religion.

"New Atheism" isn't a term chosen by those who are typically called New Atheists. What it is applied to are atheists who have published significant anti-faith books following 9/11. But those books have been primarily about the problems and falsehood of faith. And so they should be. They tend to be about how being an atheist should have intellectual and political credibility. There hasn't been that much written about secular alternatives to religion, perhaps because those called New Atheist generally haven't needed those alternatives - they have just got on with living. Perhaps there could be some general movement promoting ways to find meaning in live after faith, in which case Gutting may want to review what that gets up to.

Christina is mistaken to suggest that New Atheism provides what Gutting is looking for, and mistaken to suggest that anyone is going to get any general message by reading what New Atheists have written. Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens and others have in some cases seem to have widely differing views about secular matters. Read Harris on free will and then Dennett on free will, and you will get very different views indeed. Read Harris on morality and Russell Blackford on morality and the same applies.

So I don't know where Christina thinks she can find any kind of New Atheist consensus on faith-replacement, and I would be disappointed if she could. It's a bad mistake to try and associate any such views with atheism, which is nothing but an absence of belief.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:53:26 UTC | #875111

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 25 by nancynancy

          [Comment 10]  by  [rod-the-farmer]          :

How recent does your self-description as an atheist have to be, for you to be "new" ???? I have been one for over 50 years. Maybe that means I don't count as one.....

I've been an atheist for almost as long, 48 years. If my atheism were an object it would be considered at least vintage if not antique.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 22:02:18 UTC | #875115

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 26 by Alan4discussion

Comment 22 by Ornicar

I get an ad reading "discover the roots of your christian faith. Do a pilgrimage the holy land. Come discover Israel and you'll never be the same again. www.holyland-pilgrimage.com"

As the beetle larva said to the frog!

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 22:11:31 UTC | #875117

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 27 by QuestioningKat

Comment 12 by Sofa King Cool :

"He thinks that the so-called “new atheists” ignore how religion gives people meaning and transcendence, hope and morality, emotional comfort and social support."

We don't ignore this, some of them just can't believe we can be happy, moral, and comforted without belief in a god. Just keep it to yourself and don't try to push it into government and schools and make laws with it or say it is the only way to be truly moral. If the only way you can get hope and comfort from a god is by having a large number of people believing the same way then it must not be that comforting. Your so called "personal" god must suck if you need to be told how good it is for you.

Greta lists off all these ways that atheists are trying to help give people meaning, etc. Look closely === books, camp quest, daycare, etc. These are all wonderful but impersonal. Someone could send off money and be just as effective. The atheist community fails miserably to help people with deep personal meaning issues in life. The best sources, I found, are the podcast Living without Faith and the writings of Eric Maisel. I have also heard of several atheist volunteering in hospitals and hospices which is terrific. Support is needed in many areas. The interpersonal needs - death, job loss, personal relationships, etc. are often ignore.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 22:39:51 UTC | #875125

AnthropicConstance's Avatar Comment 28 by AnthropicConstance

Taking a critical look at Greta C's blog, I think she's too critical of Gary Gutting who just wishes to make the point that Philip Kitcher's essay continues where TGD leaves off in working to find secular meaning in life. (She seems to think Gutting was Dawkins-bashing unjustifyably.)

To add to the growing body of sources of such meaning, Bruce Weinberg makes the point that to behave ethically has a profound, positive impression on the human psyche, religious or secular.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 23:27:24 UTC | #875138

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 29 by QuestioningKat

comment 28 your link doesn't work. I'll google him.

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 00:07:30 UTC | #875147

sonnygll's Avatar Comment 30 by sonnygll

I think we have a definition problem here. "new atheist" started as a bullshit term for someone like Dawkins that wrote atheism books in the last decade, as well as anyone with similar views.

What AtheistEgbert seems to be talking about are the recent additions to the atheist community, who are technically "new atheists", but not THE "new atheists". These are the people of average or lower intelligence who have come to be atheists the last couple years. They tend to have a poor grasp of the arguments and they are extremely bellicose, have a tendency to generalize, and frequently seem to have it out for religious people, rather than just being against religion. It's just a symptom of our numbers rapidly growing. We aren't primarily geeky intellectuals anymore; there are all types in the atheist community.

Now his last post about liberalism....My reaction "WTF?!". First take Bertrand Russell for example, he's an older atheist, yet he was extremely liberal. The behavior of the recent arrival type of "new atheists" seem to be conservative. In fact they frequently bash liberalism. One need look no further than fans of Pat Condell and Thunderf00t on youtube.

the Gutting article is demonstrably false because even an older atheist like Bertrand Russell said something along the lines of "If something is true you should believe it, if it isn't you shouldn't. It doesn't matter if you think something would be good if it was believed. Ask yourself only what the facts are". That's not word for word, but that's the main idea. So that is not new at all.

I would always tell people to read the "Why I am not a Christian" essay, and THEN try to tell me there is anything new about it.

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 01:06:06 UTC | #875163