The New Oxonian

Atheism is badly served by the likes of a stammering David Silverman, recently made mincemeat by an intellectual third-rater on Fox News.

Richard Dawkins & Co. invented the term “Brights” to describe non-believers in general. A price on their head for those of us who have been disgraced by this episode.

Now we are confronted with a new phenomenon: Atheist Dims. –Spokesmen [sic] who think an adequate description of religion entails the axiom that all people who take the idea of God seriously actually believe in a great Watchman in the sky who takes an interest in my personal hygiene. They don’t speak for atheists, and they don’t speak for me.

No wonder the billboards are so wasteful, not only conforming to a ‘fifties Impeach Earl Warren aesthetic, but simply dumb, as they degenerate from “You Know its a Myth,” American Humanist Association message to “You Know its a Scam,”…

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5 thoughts on “

  1. What’s different about the “new atheism”? There’s what I would call a “nativist” side. Which explicitly eschews intellectual justification, and the need for extensive argumentation. In favor of the simple assertion that the new atheist has instinctually chosen not to believe in God.

    Probably because of the most obvious evidence: 1) Christian promises of miracles are false; and 2) therefore the “higher” Christianity of “spirituality” and “morality” is also bankrupt; Christianity having issued false promises over and over.

    When problems with religion are that obvious, what is the need for more extensive argumentation?

    That, I would say, is part of the New Atheist position. It feels itself, finally, in no need of extensive argumentation. Why even enter the endlessly sophistical web of apologetics and counter-apologetics? The endless presentation of endless sophistical apologetics argumentation is itself, a deliberate trap; the attempt to snare the unwary in an endless bog.

    Reminds me of a poem (by T.S. Eliot? Pound?). Where the simple native response of one honest man, is that “I will not eat this s**t!”

    How much argumentation is needed, when they put THAT on your plate?

    • There’s no necessary connection between the existence or non-existence of God and the truth or falsity of Christian theology. It’s funny how most atheists always couch their arguments in reference to the claims of Christian apologetics. It only reveals their lack of knowledge and familiarity with any other way of looking at the issue.

      • How are you defining “the truth of Christian theology?” What is essentially “true” about it, and what is uniquely “Christian” about this truth?

    • brettongarcia:

      “That, I would say, is part of the New Atheist position. It feels itself, finally, in no need of extensive argumentation. Why even enter the endlessly sophistical web of apologetics and counter-apologetics?”

      A couple of points: one, that position is at least as old as Nietzsche. See for example Morgenroethe, aphorism 95, where Nietzsche points not to instinct, but to historical investigation which even in his time had done much to explain how religions had arisen in the first place. And think of how far those investigations have progressed since Nietzsche wrote Morgenroethe over 130 years ago.

      Two, some of the representatives of the New Atheism movement — some of the authors of Freethought Blogs, for example — frequently engage in formal debates against believers on topics such as the existence of God. I’m not talking about debates in the readers’ comments of blogs, but affairs where auditoriums are rented and each side is given a certain amount of time to present its case and to rebut and so forth. In debates in readers’ comments sections of their one of these New Atheists has scolded me for taking Nietzsche’s position and thinking that I can decide that I am simply above arguing about certain questions, for thinking that I’m done with it and can move on to something else.

      I don’t see a lot of cohesiveness in the definition of New Atheism. Often it has not even been a label which someone has chosen for him- or herself, but one applied by an opponent. I’ve never applied the term to myself. For a while I was indifferent when others applied it to me. Now I reject it. My opinion of the New Atheists is not yet as low as that of Michael Ruse, but they are definitely not growing on me.

  2. I’m not claiming there is anything true about Christian theology or that “truth” has anything to do with any organized religious tradition. The point is that arguments about the existence or nature of God do not have to be placed only within a Christian framework.
    I remember speaking to an atheist and asking him what would persuade him to give credence to the existence of God, and he responded by saying he would take the claim seriously if prayers were answered. But having your prayers answered tells us nothing about the “objective” existence of God. It could just be coincidence. The interesting thing is that the skeptic was still defining God in terms of Christian imagery, since that was the background that initially formed him and to which he rebelled. To play devil’s advocate….there could be a God who ignores prayer requests. It’s all image making. The Christian and the atheist are both still caught in the image, but in different ways. Same thing with Jesus. We like to think that Jesus, assuming he existed, looked like Jeffrey Hunter. For all we know he may have looked like Danny Devito and had the temperament of Joe Pesci.

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