Recently, there have been a number of publications that criticise “New Atheism”. Take for instance the article by dr. Patrick O’Connor who complains that atheism isn’t about more than just not believing in god. A silly position, as I have explained here. Or the book “The Leprechaun Delusion“, equating “New Atheism” with a dangerous cult, which I have also written about earlier. Now, there’s a new book by CJ Werleman, entitled “The New Atheist Threat”, which has been reviewed on “Godless Spellchecker’s Blog”.
Of course, “New Atheism” isn’t an actual thing. Or rather, it isn’t something new or radically different from “traditional atheism”. It’s just that with the fear for oppression and persecution lifted, society in most modern countries becoming more secular and the Internet giving a voice to many people, the voice of atheism is heard more often. And that is a good thing, in my opinion.
Apart from being not new and not real, “New Atheism”, isn’t a cult either. I’ve personally been told that if I don’t believe in God, I must worship Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. While I admire both men for various reasons, I certainly do not worship them. Let me be clear about this:
- If Richard Dawkins decided to go teach seminary school, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Sam Harris opened an ashram with Deepak Chopra, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Daniel Dennett decided to make calvados for the rest of his life, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Christopher Hitchens had devoted his life to stand up comedy, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Hemant Mehta would give up his blog and start giving the tour at the Creation Museum, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Ayaan Hirsi Ali became a nun, I’d still be an atheist.
- If Stephen Fry became a Catholic priest, I’d still be an atheist.
I think I’ve made my point. I admire the people above for various reasons, I agree with them on a great many topics but it’s not worship. Atheism is just a position that people of reason are likely to adopt.
Like most atheists I know, I’ve thought about my reasons for not believing in a god very carefully. Like most atheists I know, I would be happy to discuss those reasons with anyone. However, is it too much to ask that we have this discussion without applying criticism where it isn’t justified or inventing a new kind of atheism and imbuing it with cult-like qualities, please?