Battle of the New Atheism

My friends, I must ask you an important question today: Where do you stand on God?

It’s a question you may prefer not to be asked. But I’m afraid I have no choice. We find ourselves, this very autumn, three-and-a-half centuries after the intellectual martyrdom of Galileo, caught up in a struggle of ultimate importance, when each one of us must make a commitment. It is time to declare our position.

This is the challenge posed by the New Atheists. We are called upon, we lax agnostics, we noncommittal nonbelievers, we vague deists who would be embarrassed to defend antique absurdities like the Virgin Birth or the notion that Mary rose into heaven without dying, or any other blatant myth; we are called out, we fence-sitters, and told to help exorcise this debilitating curse: the curse of faith.

The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it’s evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there’s no excuse for shirking.

Three writers have sounded this call to arms. They are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. A few months ago, I set out to talk with them. I wanted to find out what it would mean to enlist in the war against faith.

Full Story: Wired.

The two writers that have really made me come down on the side of atheism are Trevor Blake, who posts frequently about religious issues at American Samizdat and Douglas Rushkoff who recently wrote that faith is a disease.

6 Comments

  1. I’m an atheist and i really liked that Douglas Rushkoff essay. He’s also a practicing magician/occultist (i think), which is really where i think things should be heading.
    Dawkins new book is also pretty amazing, if you’ve ever argued with a theist you know that you get a never ending barrage of illogical points, in the book it seems he’s just sat down and batted as many out of the park as he could before he could hand cramp. From writing that is. Not guilt free atheist masturbating.

  2. I am a zen-discordian. Which, basically lands me somewhere between being an atheist and a theist.
    I read the wired story, and felt it was pretty good.
    Personally, I find it damn cocky of race who hasn’t left it’s own unfashionable corner, of it’s own galaxy to go making any loud proclamations about the origin of the universe, or anything of that import. We just don’t freakin’ know. And the kind of fanatical belief that we do, seems to be where most of our problems come from. There is wisdom in admitting what you don’t know. Wisdom, patience, and tolerance. Eris, knows we as species could all use a lot more of all three.

    A crusade between theists and atheists? Let me know when it’s over. I’ll be in my bunk consulting my pineal gland, and masturbating to images of Eris giving Buddha a handjob.

  3. What makes Dawkins current “crusade” as he’s calling it any different than the Christian Crusades to wipe out all older beliefs from the face of the planet? Absolutely nothing. Dawkins is now as fundamentalist as the most fundamentalists of any other belief system. And that is the problem, fundamentalism of any kind, whether it be fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist atheism, or fundamentalist materilaism. Dawkins, what an ass. He’s doing more disservice to his cause than any religious fanatic could have ever hoped for. It’s a shame, because now the necessary voice of reason is falling into the same trappings as all previous belief systems before it.

  4. I find it difficult to really say much on this sometimes. I agree with a lot what both punkelf and Paul said, though.

    I see myself as neither an atheist nor a theist but what I’d say as at least a 3rd option, a model agnostic.

    I see agnosticism as a true choice for those who think there’s nothing necessarily useful about being an atheist nor a theist. I prefer to comment on the probability of various ideas, rather than having to make an either / or choice.

    It’s not about being wishy-way. I truly believe that both the theistic and the atheist positions on God tend to have serious literalistic flaws.

  5. “What makes Dawkins current ?crusade? as he?s calling it any different than the Christian Crusades to wipe out all older beliefs from the face of the planet?”

    Uh, for starters he isn’t out killing non-atheists and/or invading their countries – nor does he propose or encourage such behavior.

    How is Dawkins different from a fundamentalist Christian? He offers evidence beyond a a gut feeling and a collection of texts written by persons unknown for his position. Second, he admits that there is a possibility that there is a god, even if it is a slim one.

    Some atheists might not consider me atheist – but I think the majority of religious people probably would. Semantics have kept me from self-identifying as an atheist, and from condemning religion, for quite some time, but I think the time has come to get off the fence and take a stand.

    The real issue here is whether religion is inherently socially harmful. I say yes, but I don’t really have time to expound upon that here.

  6. I can understand why a lot of self-identified athiests describe religion as inherantly socially harmful. However, I tend to see the kind of authoritarian and static mindset that goes along with much religion as the problem — not something inherant to religion. This gets rather coplicated depending on how one descibes religion and the axe an atheist might grind, religion perhaps might represent the antithesis of their own beliefs.

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