Posted by: buckleyr | May 12, 2009

New Atheists vs. “Regular” Atheists

Earlier today, I was having lunch with a friend who claims to be “Atheist/ Agnostic.” We were talking about our classes this semester, and of course, my senior seminar came up. We then proceeded to have a deep discussion of the New Atheists and their claims. He was actually familiar with Dawkins, which helped in our discussion. This was the first time I had discussed the New Atheist movement with a real life atheist. I really enjoyed this conversation. First, because as I was talking about the subject with him, it really hit me how much I had learned and explored this semester. And second, because I finally got to hear what a regular person had to say about the writings and scholarship of Dawkins and his colleagues.

We discussed the fancy and biased rhetoric that Dawkins uses, and my friend admitted to some of the exaggerated claims that Dawkins makes. While I said that the New Atheists use “strawman arguments” to criticize religion, my friend thinks that they use their rhetoric simply to get attention. Even my friend, an atheist, believed that half of Dawkins’ book was to market himself and his ideas. If half of the New Atheism is just marketing, then what is real about their ideas?

This conversation really made me think about the New Atheists and how they are influencing (or failing to influence) other atheists. How many everyday atheists are subscribing to what the New Atheists say, and how many agree with my friend? I think this would be a topic for further exploration, especially to see what direction the New Atheism might go in the future.

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Responses

  1. I think it will be pretty fascinating to see where the New Atheism does go. If this movement is anything like Christian Atheism like Allyson explained in her presentation it will have been a fun, very public and media charged ride but it will falter off pretty soon. Hopefully I’ll keep tabs on this movement, at least a little bit in the next year. Personally, I think this movement has seen its peak already and will try to ride it out as long as they can before falling off the wagon just like Christian Atheism. The movement, specifically their arguments, are to weak to be sustainable for much longer.


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