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

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to 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