Maybe its just me but I am worried about what seems to be a distinction between being an atheist and a "new atheist" with the new atheists being those amongst us who are more aggressive and anti-theistic. Is the increasing popularity in atheism creating sub-groups? Maybe I'm wrong but if I am right is this dangerous? I would think yes because one of our main issues with religion is how much it divides people. Are we risking this with adding new labels? Are we headed down the same dangerous road? I hope not.
Nope. Like any cross-section of society there are outspoken or activist members, non-participating members and traditionalist members. Some things to keep in mind. First, it is primarily theists who are criticizing the new atheists, not other atheists. Second, of those atheists who do criticize the new atheists, they vary in position from traditional, philosophical atheism to principled agnosticism to pro-theistic atheism (those who don't believe in God but see religion primarily as a source of good--somehow, they exist). There is no unified front.
Right now, the so-called "new atheists" are the visible face of atheism. This means two things: 1) they're more likely to be attacked from any angle. 2) their method is making waves and accomplishing things.
No schism. Just different personalities.
Traditionally I tend to be non-confrontational but I am finding in my middle-aged years that I am much more opinionated than I used to be so I speak out more than I used to.
Some things that other, more outspoken, atheists do sometimes makes me uncomfortable because of the appearance of boldness. But that is just me. For those things I will just stand back or opt out of financially supporting it if it seems likes something a little too aggressive for my taste.
With that being said, it takes all kinds of people to make a world. If it weren't for some of those aggressives clearing the path...
I also don't have a problem with questioning a group of atheist that I am involved in, in-person or online, if the tone of the conversation stays on the negative side. Perhaps some people have no family or friends in religion or they were ok with leaving those acquaintance behind, but many of us still live with people in various religions. I don't think it's helpful to constantly bash or make fun of religion in general because those religions are made up of individuals. It's easy to get into the habit of criticizing religion but it isn't always helpful.
I think there is many more distinctions that just atheist and new-atheist. I would be more worried if there weren't.
I think that some people get into a lot of negative talk because they are still trying to adjust. Many of us go through a kind of grieving process, leaving behind one life and trying to figure out how to best manage our new life. Grieving can seem negative but it's an essential part of de-conversion if you have been in religion.
My problem with one unified front is which one? Not everyone that participates in this website carry the same label though our goals may be very similar.
I do think that maybe there should be a few core organizations that should be supported like the Secular Coalitions and maybe freethought organizations such as FFRF.
I personally support Unitarian Universalism because they are a group of freethinking humanists with no dogma or doctrine and I think that they are working just as hard as the above organizations towards the same goal. Their main motivation as an organization is to promote social justice and to provide education about various religions so that you can make educated choices. That education empowers young families whose children meet other children, teachers, etc. that try to convert them. UU also offers the community that many families with young children seek out in church life.
But that's just me. Another atheist might not want to support these organizations and have other organizations that they think deserve more support.
Anti-theism (including anti-religion) used to be an integral part of atheism, that seems to be on the outs, as atheists are trying real hard to "look good too" in the eyes of the religious masses. I have never not been an anti-theist.
In faitheist, I see only faith-atheist, nothing more.
Jerry Coyne is definitely my least favourite author on these matters.
On A|N they're having a big debate on the definition of atheist. Some insist that it means ONLY no god, in their view excluding all other aspects such as anti-theist, anti-religious, anti-supernatural. To atheists such as myself atheism is nothing without these. But I'm an old-style atheist.
I have no doubt that new atheists will certainly achieve a much higher conversion-from-religion success than old style atheists, through increased boisterousness and defensive appeals like "we're nice too" but at the cost of dilution of the ideas. What I dislike about this is we may wipe god out people's psyches, but what's the point if we're to keep all the same social structures?
Yes, I believe so too.
Sam Harris's book 'The end of faith' starts off saying that 'if we are to destroy ourselves, it will be because of religion.'
This statement, although absurd (was WW1, WW2, Vietnam war, Iraq etc religious wars?) shows how much new atheists 'hate' religion.
They allow their emotions to overtake them instead of logic and rational...