An interesting view on New Atheism

WRITER David Hart says “I think I am very close to concluding that this whole “New Atheism” movement is only a passing fad—not the cultural watershed its purveyors imagine it to be, but simply one of those occasional and inexplicable marketing vogues that inevitably go the way of pet rocks, disco, prime-time soaps, and The Bridges of Madison County.

This is not because I necessarily think the current “marketplace of ideas” particularly good at sorting out wise arguments from foolish.

But the latest trend in à la mode godlessness, it seems to me, has by now proved itself to be so intellectually and morally trivial that it has to be classified as just a form of light entertainment, and popular culture always tires of its diversions sooner or later and moves on to other, equally ephemeral toys.

Take, for instance, the published 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. Simple probability, surely, would seem to dictate that a collection of essays by fifty fairly intelligent and zealous atheists would contain at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument for not believing in God.

Certainly that was my hope in picking it up. Instead, I came away from the whole drab assemblage of preachments and preenings feeling rather as if I had just left a large banquet at which I had been made to dine entirely on crushed ice and water vapor.”

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/04/believe-it-or-not

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36 thoughts on “An interesting view on New Atheism

  1. Reblogged this on Averse 2 Square and commented:
    David Hart addresses the New Atheist movement much more thoroughly than I am capable of doing. What it boils down to, though, is that the “New Atheists” are not new at all; they have brought no new information or arguments to the table. Indeed, Hart observes that they have actually chosen the weakest of the old arguments to rest their case upon.

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    • What’s with the “new argument” nonsense? ~ apart from being a fake strawman set up by those with no straw in their bales.

      It’s not possible to have ANY sort of argument, least of all a valid one, about ‘Nothing’.

      To quote Lazarus Long:- “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.”

      Try shampooing now and again.

      ps. he also decreed:- “Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.”

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  2. That’s easy-peasy:- “would contain at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument for not believing in God.”

    Because there ain’t one.
    ….next silly comment?

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  3. “A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection.” Mr Hart needs to look up the Courtier’s Reply. Do I really have to have a great understanding of unicorn lore before I reject belief in unicorns?

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    • A knowledge of unicorn fantasy isn’t needed, but facts might come in handy. Like the early reports of the rhinocerus by people who had personally seen one. Couldn’t prove it, of course.

      No more can we prove a spiritual dimension exists, but we can experience it personally.

      If we talk about it, others might imagine something different, just as the rhino was imagined to look like a unicorn.

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      • @ Strewth: “we [cant] prove a spiritual dimension exists, but we can experience it personally”. So how do you know you are experiencing “a spiritual dimension” or misinterpreting reality or even what’s probable?

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      • Or else “if we talk about it, other might imagine something quite the same”
        (especially if it’s been ‘scriptured’, and there are lavish punishments for the heretics who’s imaginations fail them.

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    • Perhaps you’re new here Stu, but it’s long since been established that a-theism (defined as being ‘without god’ or ‘godless’) is not a ‘belief’ nor even a ‘counter-belief’. Neither does it require any ‘intellectual relativity’, so cannot associated with terms like ‘profound’.
      A-theism (‘godlessness’) is, definitively, the default state of any living organism, and may just as accurately be applied to any inanimate matter.
      eg:- Ayres Rock is godless and therefore is, by definition, atheist.

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      • Not that new here Dabs, but the use of the word “profound” (and the whole quote) was directly from Mr Hart’s article in full from Bryan’s link.

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      • Hi Stu.
        Yep.
        I was referring to the article, and making the point you may not have have been aware that the issue has been rebutted here previously.

        Could probably have put it better.

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  4. Atheism is not a passing fad, nor a fad. In ancient Greece, Epicurus said:
    “…Men, believing in myths, will always fear something terrible, everlasting punishment as certain or probable. …Men base all these fears not on mature opinions, but on irrational fancies, so that they are more disturbed by fear of the unknown than by facing facts. Peace of mind lies in being delivered from all these fears.”
    “A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the nature of the universe but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that without natural science it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed.”
    “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. …If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. …If, as they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?”

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    • Then there is this little precious gem from Aristophanes
      “Shrines! Shrines! Surely you don’t believe in the gods. What’s your argument? Where’s your proof?”

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    • “As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist. For many are the obstacles that impede knowledge, both the obscurity of the question and the shortness of human life.”
      (Protagoras as quoted by Diogenes Laertius)

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  5. Pingback: Rabyd Opinion – The Atheism Fad | All Things Rabyd

  6. Atheists, new or old, are clearly thoughtful people, and have rejected various concepts of a god or gods. I think they may still stand in awe of the vast unknown, and I think most follow the precepts of ‘goodness’. Please tell me if I am wrong.

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    • Google Falog Gong and tell me that the communist regime in China is following some “goodness” principle, whilst imprisoning such practitioners and using them for organ harvesting. Whilst you’re at it look up some of the youtube clips that shows chinese skinning animals alive and then we’ll discuss the definition of ‘goodness’ that the atheists follow. Remember that cruelty to animals was banned in Christian countries through the activities of such Christians as William Wilberforce (who also worked for the abolition of slavery).

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      • I guess you mean falun gong. They always seemed innocuous to me, a mixture of Buddhim and Taoism, into breathing exercises and meditation. Thanks to your advice I googled and came across ”Print media coverage of Falun Gong in Australia and NZ, by Heather Kavan”, more well researched than anything else I read.

        Participants know little about the founder’s beliefs and aims, rather different from surface appearance. He lives in USA and has a huge following and media influence. I would be inclined to doubt much of the media reporting, though I do believe some instances are true.

        A young pregnant woman apparently went three times to protest suppression of the group, then twice more taking her baby with her. Neither mother nor child survived that last protest.

        Bad things do happen, not because the perpetrators were atheists. China is not perfect. In saying that, they are nevertheless making huge strides not just economically but in other areas including social justice.

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      • I do believe organ transplants often come from executed prisoners in China. Christian countries execute prisoners too. Even here, I was around when Ronald Ryan was hung.

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