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LINK New Atheism, Worse Than You Think

A secular religion justifying imperialism..

Krish55 7 July 31

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This is a long critique of two new anti-New Atheism books that focuses mostly on socio-economic issues and "social justice" rather than on atheism itself. At least the rambling critique is honest enough to include some criticisms of the books. You could cherry pick what you want out of this lengthy critique, which has a rather unfocused conclusion, but beware of the Ad Hominem attacks of these books that distract from the actual atheist issues.


Another attack in the long line of ongoing attacks against atheism. Almost every day I come across another article or some book denouncing atheism, especially their new bogeyman "new atheism". I'm not even going to bother to comment in detail. I'm bored doing it. All I can say I say is, so-called new Atheism and its activists must be working, otherwise this ongoing assault from the Right and religious apologists, both over and covert, wouldn't continue. What really counts is the growth in non religious people in census data for western countries, and the ongoing secularisation of the west, despite religious attempts to thwart it. That's the real and big issue here -- these trends away from religion that scares the religious greatly -- and the "new atheist" bogeymen (intended to be gender neutral here) are the perfect recipients for their sublimated anger.

Just curious... did you read the article?


Have heard about these dangerous atheist militants. That billboard once a year in places like Omaha is really terrifying. ???


I completely disagree with the article, which is outdated and off the mark, in my opinion. The label ‘Islamophobia’ is a fabrication, designed to conflate racial or ethnic hatred with a legitimate scorn, if not loathing, of the concepts, doctrines, practices and dogmas of the Islamic faith. With every fiber in my being, I despise Islam, almost as much as I do Christianity.

And while the so-called Four Horsemen are the most well-known, if not infamous, atheists, I have read and listened to so many more, including Voltaire, David Hume, Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, Steven Weinberg, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Susan Jacoby, Jerry Coyne, Sean Carroll, Alain de Botton, not to mention the comedic personalities of George Carlin, John Cleese, Steven Fry, Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher (i.e., the Islamobphobe) and Jim Jeffries. Attacking the so-called ‘New Atheists’ is a waste of energy, and the premise of atheism being akin to a religion is preposterous.

Stephen Fry.

@PBuck0145 Stephen Fry adds an unique ingredient to the mix. Kindness, I guess.


Another utter load of crap.
Anything to sell books and make themselves feel important.

@irascible Oh irascible person, you!


I wonder what the tax consequences of this new religion are.


A somewhat lengthy but very informative and interesting article!
Thank you very much for sharing.
I can fully agree with the author on many points.

Matias Level 8 July 31, 2018

Really? Do tell.

@pnfullifidian Do you expect me to copy all the passages of the text with which I agree?
I have never hidden my opinion that the "New atheists" are a bunch of fanatics who have dome more harm than good to the cause of secularism, and that the goal to abolish religions is preposterous because religions will always be with us. We should try to tame, contain and reign in religions, which is basically what "secularization" means, and Harris, Hitchens and Co with all their anti-religion propaganda are doing a disservice to that strategy.

@Matias Abolish religion? No, just sterilize it. Put it in the autoclave and eliminate the harmful bacteria. Once this is done, they will be no different than any other secular social club.

@pnfullifidian Too much metaphor...
You will never sterilize the "religious impulse" away, therefore we will always have some kind of religions that are different from secular social clubs.
Just look at the experience the Soviets made with their attempt to suppress or "sterilize" religion.
By the way: what you propose could only be done in a totalitarian regime, are you aware of that? Do you want to turn your country into a Soviet Union 2.0 only to get rid of religion, or "sterilize" it? Are you prepared to pay that price?

@Matias then you have a very strange definition of the word "fanatic". I profoundly disagree. I'm used to reading that kind of crap, but it profoundly disappoints me to read it here. The more I read of your posts and comments, the less impressed I am with your views, I'm sorry to say.

@Matias I didn't intend to imply that the sterilization of religion would require a centralized, government-controlled plan. But when we examine the way religion is prioritized in Scandinavia, we see that a small minority of the polity attend church, and of them, less than half actually believe there is a god, much less the official doctrines. This irrelevancy is an excellent start toward religious sterility.

In the Atlantic article, Artificial Intelligence Shows Why Atheism Is Unpopular, the author reports how researchers used modeling in drawing the conclusion that “people tend to secularize when four factors are present: existential security (you have enough money and food), personal freedom (you’re free to choose whether to believe or not), pluralism (you have a welcoming attitude to diversity), and education (you’ve got some training in the sciences and humanities). If even one of these factors is absent, the whole secularization process slows down. This, they believe, is why the U.S. is secularizing at a slower rate than Western and Northern Europe.”

In the U.S. we are free, but we have a problem with income inequality, we have a broken educational system as schools range widely in their ability to provide children with critical thinking skills, and we are experiencing a level of hostility toward plurality and diversity not seen in years, thanks in large part to the present leadership. When, and only when, these issues are fully addressed will the U.S. have the chance of approximating Scandinavia’s societal attitude toward religious faith.

@David1955 In this case I recommend to use the "block" function, and you'll no longer see my posts. This function is meant to keep the different echo chambers well closed, so that you only meet people who share your own opinion.

@Matias I don't block. When I see comments like yours, that Dawkins are fanatics, I call it out. You degrade the real meaning of fanatic, you reduce the real meaning as applied to real fanatics. Blocking reflects fear, in my view, fear of being challenged. I have no fear of anyone here, including you.

@pnfullifidian -

  1. If you do not "intend to imply that the sterilization of religion would require a centralized, government-controlled plan" you should think twice before using metaphors that would have delighted any Nazi or Stalinist....

  2. Scandinavian societies have a quite different historical path which you cannot quite compare with the American society and history

  3. All four factors (existential security, personal freedom, pluralism, and education) are present in the USA (unlike, say, in Russia or Brasil or India...). I do not see why these four should give us any valid explanation why the US are such an outlier as far as secularization is concerned.

If the US really had a "broken educational system" it would be a miracle that the US has been for about a century the leading nation in R&D and technology.
By the way: the Scandinavian countries are much more equal economically, but the society is MUCH more homogeneous and the culture is much more conformistic and less individualistic than it is the case in the US. In the category "diversity" and plurality the US has a much higher score than Sweden or Denmark. Just look at the motley market of religions and churches and denominations in the US - that is maximum pluralism and diversity!

@David1955 I am not the only one to call Dawkins or Hitchens "fanatics". Serious scholars of religion have done so and have lamented the highly emotional language of the books and other texts of these fervent atheists, and have pointed out the flimsy theoretical basis of their attacks on religion, how little they actually know about real religion apart from the straw men they like to attack.
And I am not talking about religious scholars, but atheists like Scott Atran Pascal Boyer or Tim Crane. Even the leading atheist activist in Germany, Michael Schmidt-Salomon has distanced himself from the "Four Horsemen" and refers to himself now as "humanist" and no longer as "atheist" because the New Atheists are doing a disservice to the cause of all serious secularists.

@Matias I don't care if you or others have criticisms of Dawkins and others. I am extremely aware of commentary on that. That can be debated. But these individuals are distinguished in their fields, prolific in their publishing, and deserve more respect than being labelled "fanatic" which is used for dangerous extreme people for whom logic and reason mean nothing. You have the right to say it, and I have the right to respond that the term is inappropriate and wrong, and by the way, I have generally heard such terms used about Dawkins and co by religious apologists, not serious scholars of religion. More serious individuals use less intemperate speech.

@David1955 "The scientific ignorance and tomfoolery of many of the new atheists with regard to religion, and history, makes me almost embarrassed to be an atheist" - -
"I certainly don’t criticize the Four Horsemen and other scientifically minded new atheists for wanting to rid the world of dogmatically held beliefs that are vapid, barbarous, anachronistic, and wrong. I object to their manner of combat, which is often shrill, scientifically baseless, psychologically uninformed, politically naive, and counterproductive for goals we share."

Scott Atran in "Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What it Means to Be Human"

@Matias I don't see the word fanatic, so thank you for illustrating my point. You seem obsessed in proving that there is debate about the contribution of Dawkins and co, which everyone knows, and there are both admirers and detractors. You're a detractor, fine, you are hardly the only one even on this site. For those of us who are part of the huge number of admirers we know the dismal failure of 20th century atheism to challenge religion, the failure of the 'let's show respect to religion' brigade while religion weaponised, politicised, and corrupted everywhere it could, all the while the appalling practices of religion continuing, thrawting progress. Dawkins and co are change agents, and lead the charge against religion their way. Movements need change agents. You don't like it, tough. Many of us do. What have you done to help bring about a secular world compared to Dawkins? Little or nothing, I'll bet. Most of us don't have the profile to have great impact. I admire those who do.


Atheism is not a religion, and definitionally cannot be. It is far too narrow to define an ideology, a worldview, a religion, or an organization. If something has "become" a religion then it has become something other than atheism -- assuming it was ever atheism to begin with.

The strenuous efforts to redefine what atheism means without any effort to consult the dictionary or to ask actual atheists what it means to them, just highlights the intellectual bankruptcy of people who try to turn it into something they are willing to "understand" rather than actually understanding what it actually is.


The link is essentially the most boring book review I’ve ever started to read. Zzzzz

Marz Level 7 July 31, 2018

I rarely refer to myself as Atheist. Some Atheists are as obnoxious and zealous as a born again. New Atheists...what the hell does all that mean...we simply don't buy the god bullshit..we think rationally....why not just leave it at that

Xena Level 6 July 31, 2018

What Xena said!


There are some people that take things to far, even Atheists. I read an article once of a group was trying to make an Atheist church.And others wanted to make an Atheist bible.
My only guess is that most of them were once believers and just miss that kind of community.

@archer5691 It's far worse than just a "poor choice of words". It's done intentionally and disingenuously.

The real Bible is our understanding of the universe and the phenomena by which we are surrounded. The real Bible has almost nothing to do with organized religion.

I think you're right. I thought of my religious congregation as just another type of social club. And it must be nice to have a sense of belonging even if it has a cost attached to it in terms of independent thought. It's very likely many people will make the same sacrifice to belong to the new club.


Could it be a new church for belief in science - whites only, please! With a copy of The Selfish Gene in one hand and a firearm in the other, we'll track down out and extirpate the unprivileged, ignorant believers!

...he said with wink and a nudge...


Here's my brain. How does one get a new no god. There is no god. Let's do it gain. There is no god. Well, that's new. It came after the other one!! I know. silly. Been smoking the wrong dandelions.


He called us "wayward" as if that was a bad thing.?

We are wayward..which is fine and dandy.

@Hitchens Exactly. He should not have tried to insult us with compliments 😉


Yes indeedy..lest we become a sight more wayward..?

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost n shit.

Might you agree that there are some who would not welcome a wayward spouse?

@pnfullifidian I didn't


Thank you VERY much for sharing this. I have had some issues with what I call "angry atheists" and hope that if any of them are here, that they read at least this article and see that they're not solving any problems with this approach.

Someone deliberately misunderstanding and misconstruing atheism has something to do with whether some atheists are allegedly angry??

Sorry. Not sorry.
There isn't anything wrong with being angry about believers forcing their influence onto our lives.
I'm an anti-theist for that very reason .
There is no more "live and let live".
There is no more peaceful coexistence.

There is also plenty to call bullshit on.
Especially making up new definitions to suit your own agenda.

I'm sorry if I seem angry at times. It's just that when I look at the Constitution and the philosophy espoused by so many of the Framers, including my avatar, Thomas Paine, as well as Franklin, Jefferson and Madison—who strongly believed in a secular government—I get a tad upset with regard to the relationship between church and state, in this the 21st century. I wouldn’t be angry at religion if it didn’t have its hands in our pockets with favorable tax policies, and its finger on the scales of justice. After all, there’s no reason for us nonbelievers to be pissed off when looking at our currency, or reciting the pledge, or witnessing the recent actions of the judiciary, justice department and laws passed in some statehouses. I mean, why be angry when you have this institution that seeks to take away women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and in their place impose their own definition of morality. Nothing to be angry about at all, right?


Atheism is the absence of religious belief, the absence of dogma. Ne-atheist is a bastard stepchild -- an attempt to create a new dogma around atheist. It is to be denounced.

Ne-atheist? You mean new atheism?

New atheism is just a different emphasis in how atheism is communicated and debated about. It's not a dogma. It is basically just taking off the padded gloves and not bothering to be kindly and gentle to extremist religion, notions of blasphemy and other gaslighting techniques.

Religion has enjoyed un-earned deference and respect in the marketplace of ideas since forever, but is now being required to justify its own existence. Boo-hoo and too bad.

Also -- pointing this out and not being sufficiently impressed with religion doesn't constituted being either rude or angry. It's simple disagreement, nothing more nor less. It's just very straightforward and forthright instead of skulking in the shadows.

Some atheists have been so cowed by religion that they are freaking out now that some other atheists are calling a spade a spade.

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