Behold! Atheism is buckling under a deep rift of infighting caused by rude, crude New Atheists! Or maybe not?
This is something I first came across while enjoying Pharyngula and The Intersection (at Discover Blogs). Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum wrote a book called "Unscientific America". To make a long story short, it was panned by many people, including PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne. This seems to be the start of a blog war that had Mooney and Kirshenbaum accusing outspoken atheists like Dawkins, Myers, and Coyne of ruining everything. M&K believe that atheists should accommodate religious belief and stop being so darn strident (and no cussing!). Coyne began calling people like M&K faitheists
as Myers, Coyne, Fish, and others tore their arguments apart. Personally, they were dropped from my reading list for reasons that are not important to this discussion. Anyone that is a regular reader
of Pharyngula would remember
tearing into M&K. This blog war faded and I thought all would return to normal despite my initial fear that people like this would emerge and put atheism back into a meek and silent state of being.
Listening to Matt Dillhunty on the Non Prophets, he mentioned something about a rift and he was asking if it was just him or was there something happening? He never elaborated and I am a week or two behind the ACA podcasts. I then found, by ways I don't recall, Michael Shermer espousing some disturbing views. One being that religion was exempt from the type of critique that fairies were. He doesn't really explain why, though.
The we get this NPR article that headlines thusly : A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists
. Well, Paul Kurtz lends some weight to this claim, but even DJ Grothe will dissent from Kurtz's accommodating stances
and NPR's reporter raises the ire of Greg Fish
Now, Jerry Coyne alerts me to further rifts between science, atheism, and skepticism
, which touches on the theme of most of these running arguments. It's basically that science/humanism/skepticism should not be marrying atheism. But, I think Jerry has it right
There is evidence of this supposed "rift" all over the virtual landscape. I don't think that it is as big of a deal as being reported and just because it is the topic du jour doesn't make it that prominant in reality, either. However, there has always been a minority of atheists that are not happy with the new vocal and confrontaltional style of "New Atheism". I feared that Mooney and Kirshenbaum were trying to pioneer this charge and that it would eventually lead to an all out war on how best to "steer the movement".
What does Think Atheist think?
* On a side note, I am trying to dig up old links to cite sources on stuff in the early part of my post, but since I have been reading about it over months, they are hard to find. If you have them, feel free to post them to help me out. Otherwise, I will add them to the original post as I find them. Thanks!