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New atheism is over, says Darwinian PZ Myers


He says it’s a train wreck:

Mainly what happened is that the credibility of science was stolen to bolster rationalizing prior bigotries. People were drawn into the Church of the New Atheism by Islamophobia, but rather than being enlightened about the unity of humanity, they instead learned that bastardized evolutionary theories could be weaponized to justify all kinds of abuses, because that’s what the self-appointed “leaders” were doing.

And that’s another thing — who put Dennett, Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens in charge? They got profiled in Wired with ominously shadowy portraits (omens of the “Intellectual Dark Web” to come), and they made a video in which they appointed themselves “The Four Horsemen”. Whatever the New Atheism was, it was structureless, so it was easy for a couple of early popularizers to fill the vacuum. Watching a PR move rapidly turn into a de facto powerbase that would quickly dominate conferences and writings left me uneasy — but as long as we weren’t building idols and golden thrones for the Tetrarchs I figured this, too, would pass. Unfortunately, while it didn’t get to the golden thrones stage, for too many people the four turned into oracles whose dicta should not be questioned, and dissent would lead to being ostracized. It only took a year to build a cult of personality.P. Z. Myers, “The train wreck that was the New Atheism” at Pharyngula

To judge from PZ’s post, it looks as though the new atheists are turning on each other instead of on the rest of us. Doesn’t a proverb somewhere cover that?

See also: And Now For Something Completely Different… Darwinian PZ Myers Laments The Sad State Of Atheism Today That was mid-last year. Seems to have gotten worse.

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I can understand the appeal that atheism can have for some people. And I wish well for anyone who makes that choice. It certainly does not make them any less “good”. However, the new atheists, as with many “born again” evangelicals, come across as obsessive individuals, fueled more by anger and hate (possibly self-hate) than by their belief system. Maybe that is the nature of fundamentalists, regardless of their stripes. In general, I find it advisable to steer clear of anyone who finds it necessary to continuously profess their beliefs to others. That behavior reeks of someone trying to convince themselves, rather than trying to convince others. But please take my arm-chair psychiatry with a grain of salt. I’m not a psychiatrist, even though I play one on TV. :) Ed George
One problem is, they don't seem to have had a compelling idea. What really distinguished the new atheism's Four Horsemen (Dennett, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris) from the standard run of naturalist pundits afflicting our times? How would I distinguish them from the others? PZ Myers, following his natural bent, simply turns on everyone else at this point and swears he will die an atheist (whatever that means in the context). Well, we will continue to report what we think may help our readers understand our times in these places. News
Completely unable to find the science to justify their materialism, they stare at their feet and fight among themselves. ...and the beat goes on. Upright BiPed
Interesting comments, and an interesting linked article. Thanks for posting it. hazel
The night is long, and the way is far, For the man without a star. Belfast
>New atheism is over, says Darwinian PZ Myers. Good. I was pretty tired of it. EDTA

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