Too many meetingsAfter running across a blog, in which the (atheist) writer complains of there being so many atheist meetings, with comparatively little new content – and a wonders why this should be, I found myself wishing I could step into the room with an obvious answer:

Greater depth of content would contradict the entire spirit of the movement.

PseudointellectualWhile atheists can be (and many atheists have been) very thoughtful individuals, the New Atheist movement seems to have intellectual laziness built into its DNA. The idea that most or all of the problems in the world can be solved by ridding ourselves of religion is simply to quit doing serious thought and acquiesce to prejudice.

It is much simpler to believe that there is some group (the Blacks, the Jews, the religious…) that are the reason why the world is in such a mess than to study all the complicated interactions of human relationships. Beyond that, it is easier to believe that this is the case, than to really take that horrific step of considering the thought that one may not be better a person than one’s worst enemy.

And, skipping over the seemingly endless list of examples, is the trouble with the movement. The hubristic assumption that all of the worlds problems are due to some external group, that humanity would be getting along quite fancifully were it not for “them” is not a new idea. It is older than history itself.

Balanced ResponseAs is expected of a group which seems so little informed of history, however, they seem to be repeating it. They seem blithely unaware that unchecked hubris in a new movement is not a healthy sign, or that the moral values they vaguely and inaccurately denote “humanism” did not arise directly out of rational reflection on human nature, but have been deeply conditioned by the religious roots of the society they seek to change (and, therefore are much more fragile than they suppose).

New Atheism, that particular movement of passionate non-believers who seem to behave like a fundamentalist church, simply cannot survive in the light of reflective thought. One can remain an atheist, no doubt, after a careful study of history, philosophy of science, ethics, and theology, but one can have no more than the crudest and most distorted understanding of these topics without abandoning New Atheism.


2 responses to “(Anti)Intellectualism

  • mtemples

    I (who must be, according to what I’ve read here, an old atheist) am enjoying your blog, and probably will read more of it. Atheism, to me, is anti-supernaturalism. Thats’ it. It’s not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  • debilis

    The New Atheists have definitely reminded me to be grateful for the more traditional atheists I’ve run across. I’m very pleased for those who are able to distinguish both between religious persons – and between atheists.

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