Monday, October 19, 2009

A Rift Among Atheists

Over at the Thomas Society a link to an online article from npr was posted that I think very accurately describes a current transition within the atheist movement. The article is titled A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists. It describes a current rift among New and Old Atheists. The New Atheists being the ones who actively rely on ridicule to get their points across. This is something I have been witnessing both on my local campus and online. It is a movement that I believe will only do more harm than good, as the article points out. You can read the full article from the link above as it does a much better job of explaining the current situation. Here are a few excerpts I found interesting.

During the previous Blasphemy Day an art exhibit was held, in D.C., displaying art works that many Christians would find highly insulting. It was hosted by The Center for Inquiry.
Another, Jesus Paints His Nails, shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross.
"I wouldn't want this on my wall," says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues.
Naturally, this kind of stuff created a fairly big controversy. The article explains that it is a controversy that is not simply limited to Blasphemy Day, but has a much larger scope.
"It's really a national debate among people with a secular orientation about how far do we want to go in promoting a secular society through emphasizing the 'new atheism,' " Jordan says.
"What we wanted were thoughtful, incisive and concise critiques of religion," he says. "We were not trying to insult believers."
They may not have been trying to insult believers, but many others are perfectly happy doing so.
For example, Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book God Is Not Great, told a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, "I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right." His words were greeted with hoots of approval.
The article ends with a quote from the founder of the Center for Inquiry that I very much agree with.
"I consider them atheist fundamentalists," he says. "They're anti-religious, and they're mean-spirited, unfortunately. Now, they're very good atheists and very dedicated people who do not believe in God. But you have this aggressive and militant phase of atheism, and that does more damage than good."

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