Culture The Downfall of New Atheism

Husky_Khan

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In 2006, some random journalist coined the term "New Atheism" to describe the positions, platforms and popularization of numerous Atheist advocates and movements that were arising in the late 90's and 2000's. Their platform, beyond just advocating atheism, was also that religion was irrational, superstitious and should be exposed, criticized, caricatured, and countered, especially if they influence the government, education or much of the public or political sphere. New Atheists advanced their platform by purporting to advance arguments based on science, rationality, logic and so forth. This 'New Atheism' was sometimes termed as 'antitheism', secular humanism, or 'fundamentalist atheism, especially by their adversaries.

This movement membership included the so-called 'Four Horseman of the Non-Apocalypse' which were critic and journalist Christoper Hitchens, philosopher Daniel Dennett, biologist Richard Dawkins and neurologist Sam Harris. Also there was an entire movement with other prominent figures that populated the movement including organizations such as the 'Freedom From Religion Foundation, and notable individuals such as magicians James Randi & Penn Jillette, whiny failed father Michael Newdow writer Michael Shermer, commentator Ayaan Hirsi Ali and biologist PZ Myers as well as folks on the internet such as 'The Amazing Atheist.'

What seems apparent now is that the New Atheism movement doesn't seem to have nearly as much impact on the cultural landscape anymore. There was a cultural shift that seemed to leave the public tired out with New Atheism as the culture shifted. A main foil of New Atheism was both radical Islam and Western Evangelical Christianity. New Atheists were often unapologetic about criticizing Islam alongside Christianity as well as the various authoritarian cults of personality such as those of the Clintons, or more exceptionally the Kim Dynasty of North Korea. Some New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens even advocated for things such as the Iraq War (though other New Atheists disagreed with those military adventures abroad) and schisms developed between the New Atheists and their fellows on the Left/Liberal side of the political spectrum.

At present Christopher Hitchens passed away from cancer in 2011. Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have been excoriated both as right wingers as well as Islamophobes by the Southern Poverty Law Center among others. PZ Myers accused many of the New Atheist community, Michael Shermer in particular, of being sexual predators and later in 2017 accused the entire New Atheist movement as being alt right, anti-feminist and libertarian cults of personality. Many present day individuals who might be considered 'New Atheists' are often considered members of the 'Skeptic' community at best such as Carl Benjamin/Sargon of Akkad. Even Penn Jillette seems downright friendly now.

So I obviously have my ideas on why New Atheism dramatically declined in the past decade, but what do you all think of that movement and why it faded so rapidly. Was it just a good PR move with prominent voices who could sell books or was a shift in the cultural and religious landscape of America? Did it effect any change in America or the West? Was it a movement for better or worse? Was it a net positive or negative? How much of an asshole is PZ Myers? And what led to New Atheisms demise? Was is preventable?


Unmistakably a Right Wing Group
 

Lord Invictus

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New Atheism is very much a product of the 2000s internet. Young, anti George Bush, and all too self aggrandizing

It came from a belief that through reason you could convince the dumb backwoods bible thumpers they were wrong.


While there were no doubt many people who raised in religious environments and then left the faith due to internet exposure of say a site talking about why the Bible wasn’t true, it didn’t destroy religion. At most teenagers or young adults who likely were already discontented or had never been exposed to anything outside of a religious bubble-leaving the church may have had exposure to new atheism as a partial cause. Probably less than a cause and more an aspect in their choice honestly.

In some ways, I think it overestimated the importance of religion in the public square. And how much at least in the west it actually affected policy or people’s lives outside their private sphere.

Which is why in the 2010s, it mostly faded away. “Right wing” atheists did not hold back on criticizing Islam, which was to the newly outspoken cultural left-a no go due to Muslims being oppressed brown people.

Criticizing them was racist and reinforced support for imperialism, and what not was the argument. Their religion was more or less seen as just as a cultural artifact that did not possibly influence their thinking or behavior.

So you had a split between those willing to tell their progressive former friends to sod off and keep on criticizing Islam, or those that changed their stripes and became current day SJWs.

The culture was also different, it was before twitter and tumblr. Richard Dawkins would have a long page or a video lecture not a few hundred character tweet.

Which is why that in the 2010s it declined.

Also being atheist no longer became a brave thing to sayIn America or Britain you faced little more than a “oh fine”, in Britain even less of a response. There was no bravery in “coming out” as atheist. And anti religious diatribes were trite and over used.
 

CarlManvers2019

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Which is why in the 2010s, it mostly faded away. “Right wing” atheists did not hold back on criticizing Islam, which was to the newly outspoken cultural left-a no go due to Muslims being oppressed brown people.
Why do I have the feeling that these "Right Wing" Atheists would be sort of liked by Ayn Rand
 

CarlManvers2019

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They'd be Polish. That generally means that they won't be the soft, effeminate type. Eastern Europe was never targeted for the kind of subversion the West was.
I think the USSR never was into the weird stuff and was even very Homophobic

TvTropes even notes there being works in which BOTH the Communists and the Nazi's are VERY Homophobic and VERY Anti-Semetic
 

almostinsane

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I think the USSR never was into the weird stuff and was even very Homophobic

TvTropes even notes there being works in which BOTH the Communists and the Nazi's are VERY Homophobic and VERY Anti-Semetic
The Soviet Union briefly legalized homosexuality in the 20s before criminalizing it again as bourgeoisie degeneracy.

Leftists would find that the socialist states they praise would have them against the wall in a heartbeat.
 

CarlManvers2019

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The Soviet Union briefly legalized homosexuality in the 20s before criminalizing it again as bourgeoisie degeneracy.

Leftists would find that the socialist states they praise would have them against the wall in a heartbeat.
I think you'll be seeing "POC"(minus East Asians & Jews due to being too "privileged")mass persecuting the LGBT Community soon
 

Navarro

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The Soviet Union briefly legalized homosexuality in the 20s before criminalizing it again as bourgeoisie degeneracy.

Leftists would find that the socialist states they praise would have them against the wall in a heartbeat.
The decriminalisation of homosexuality wasn't even intentional, but a side-effect of scrapping the entire Tsarist criminal code.
 

S'task

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New Atheism was a tool used by the Left and Progressive movement to attack one of the core constituents of the American Right. Once they were no longer useful for that, which they rapidly became since, they have been discarded.

To be frank, the "new atheist" critique of Christianity was nothing new and was mainly just popularizing and rehashing old arguments. I'll be honest, I never saw a "New Atheist" critique of religion or Christianity that was new or that had not been answered by Christian apologetics numerous times over in the past. It's success mainly came in that much of the American Christian Church had systemically failed to educate it's membership in apologetics, and so most of it's success came when arguing against those who were not educated on those answers. Plus they were propped up by the media who saw them as useful pawns against those on the right.

Once the New Atheists became a risk of driving away Muslim voters, whom were seen as a more rapidly growing demographic than atheists, plus with the rise of Intersectionality as the driving ideology of the Left (whom the main proponents of New Atheism failed to have high standing in), you saw the movement splinter.

What's been very interesting to me is the number of people who were formally New Atheists whom did not buy into Intersectionality and how they've slowly come to understand the value of Christianity in western civilization over time. There's been quite a number who have turned around and said that while they still are atheists, they regret going so hard against Christianity as it has become clear that a lot of the foundational values of the west were founded in it, and without that foundation, things get ugly.

Thus, in some ways, the New Atheist movement was splintered by the rise of Intersectionality. Intersectionality likely absorbed the majority of the New Atheists, and those New Atheists who were not left wing have for the most part realized that Christianity is actually the much lesser of two evils and so have become focused on Intersectionality.
 

The Original Sixth

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In 2006, some random journalist coined the term "New Atheism" to describe the positions, platforms and popularization of numerous Atheist advocates and movements that were arising in the late 90's and 2000's. Their platform, beyond just advocating atheism, was also that religion was irrational, superstitious and should be exposed, criticized, caricatured, and countered, especially if they influence the government, education or much of the public or political sphere. New Atheists advanced their platform by purporting to advance arguments based on science, rationality, logic and so forth. This 'New Atheism' was sometimes termed as 'antitheism', secular humanism, or 'fundamentalist atheism, especially by their adversaries.

This movement membership included the so-called 'Four Horseman of the Non-Apocalypse' which were critic and journalist Christoper Hitchens, philosopher Daniel Dennett, biologist Richard Dawkins and neurologist Sam Harris. Also there was an entire movement with other prominent figures that populated the movement including organizations such as the 'Freedom From Religion Foundation, and notable individuals such as magicians James Randi & Penn Jillette, whiny failed father Michael Newdow writer Michael Shermer, commentator Ayaan Hirsi Ali and biologist PZ Myers as well as folks on the internet such as 'The Amazing Atheist.'

What seems apparent now is that the New Atheism movement doesn't seem to have nearly as much impact on the cultural landscape anymore. There was a cultural shift that seemed to leave the public tired out with New Atheism as the culture shifted. A main foil of New Atheism was both radical Islam and Western Evangelical Christianity. New Atheists were often unapologetic about criticizing Islam alongside Christianity as well as the various authoritarian cults of personality such as those of the Clintons, or more exceptionally the Kim Dynasty of North Korea. Some New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens even advocated for things such as the Iraq War (though other New Atheists disagreed with those military adventures abroad) and schisms developed between the New Atheists and their fellows on the Left/Liberal side of the political spectrum.

At present Christopher Hitchens passed away from cancer in 2011. Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have been excoriated both as right wingers as well as Islamophobes by the Southern Poverty Law Center among others. PZ Myers accused many of the New Atheist community, Michael Shermer in particular, of being sexual predators and later in 2017 accused the entire New Atheist movement as being alt right, anti-feminist and libertarian cults of personality. Many present day individuals who might be considered 'New Atheists' are often considered members of the 'Skeptic' community at best such as Carl Benjamin/Sargon of Akkad. Even Penn Jillette seems downright friendly now.

So I obviously have my ideas on why New Atheism dramatically declined in the past decade, but what do you all think of that movement and why it faded so rapidly. Was it just a good PR move with prominent voices who could sell books or was a shift in the cultural and religious landscape of America? Did it effect any change in America or the West? Was it a movement for better or worse? Was it a net positive or negative? How much of an asshole is PZ Myers? And what led to New Atheisms demise? Was is preventable?


Unmistakably a Right Wing Group
The New Atheist movement was mostly created through a natural evolution of technology and a sort of pervasive presence of atheists online. You have to remember that although everyone used the internet before the expansion of social media, very few people actually engaged with the God debate. Partly because it made them uncomfortable and partly because it was a difficult subject to talk about. And partly because the internet and the media focused to create a sort of elite fighting force that would go around and humiliate some low IQ randos in an attempt to make people feel stupid for holding their beliefs.

And when you actually get into the blood and guts of debating people, you will quickly realize that for most people, debating the nature of Christianity is not about their dispassionate and objective view of reality, but rather born of deep seated hatred for Christians and their faith. The sort of abuse I got from cool minded atheists was honestly shocking. That's not even including the downright absurd bullshit their members would sometimes push--such as blatant accusations of theft from other faiths, which were not even close to being accurate. I remember the "I just worship one god less than you argument". Wow, it's like arguing for castration because "You'll just have one less dick than before".

My personal experience was that about half of the New Atheists I encountered just really fucking hated Christians. And their means of combating Christians was by using New Atheist arguments to break down the faith. And given how quickly that "movement" fractured along political lines and disintegrated, it seems rather obvious that it was mostly about attacking Christians.

And what remained of the New Atheists, which later came to be known as Skeptics, basically disintegrated after 2016.
 
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