Thursday

CJ WERLEMAN - "THE NEW ATHEIST THREAT"



FROM CJ Werleman "The New Atheist Threat (The Dangerous Rise Of Secular Extremists)" (Dangerous Little Books: 2015) Chapter 3 - The Echoe Chamber p 36 ff

Generally speaking, New Atheists attend the same events; listen to the same podcasts and speakers; read the same books and blogs; download the same YouTube videos; and follow the same public personalities (atheists) on social media. All of which makes for a high-pitched echo chamber; thus providing those within its orbital spin a perpetual positive feedback loop. ...

The echo chamber also makes fertile soil for ignorance, bad ideas, false assumptions, and groupthink. ...

Many New Atheists are victims of this kind of echo chamber speak. In 2014, I shared a bus ride with popular New Atheist Matt Dillahunty. We had a great chat and he’s a terrific fella, but he told me, “As atheists we have to be experts in theology, anthropology, cosmology, geology, and biology.” Two thoughts came to mind: why? and you’re not. That’s not a slight on Dillahunty. It’s merely an observation that one would have to be smarter than Stephen Hawking to be considered a bona fide expert in each of these respective fields. And the only reason I could think as to why he would believe an atheist has to be an expert in all those fields is if he believes atheists need to evangelize their atheism to religious believers. Worryingly, many New Atheists I have debated or spoken to actually boast that they are experts in many or all of those respective fields even when it’s obvious they have no more than a Wikipedia level understanding of theology, for instance. ...

Fundamentalism, whether it’s religious or secular, is a mindset. It means the ‘Other’ doesn’t need to be investigated or enquired upon. It means believing your worldview has the answers to all of life’s questions. It serves to diminish voices and opinions that do not share the adherent’s worldview, while alternative views are dismissed as unworthy of consideration. “It [fundamentalism] provides a binary world of absolutes, of good and evil,” writes Hedges. “Those who oppose the fundamentalist are dismissed as savages, condemned as lesser breeds of human beings, miscreants led astray by Satan or on the wrong side of Western civilization.” All fundamentalists are hostile to new information and intellectual investigations. All fundamentalists seek out information that only confirms their assumptions and worldview. All fundamentalists otherize in a way that reduces the other to a one-dimensional cartoon caricature. Fundamentalism is the antithesis of intellectualism. ...

an interesting exercise is to visit some of the more popular atheist blogs. What you will find is an intellectual black hole, for there really are only three kinds of New Atheist blog articles:
- Attack critics of New Atheism
- Defend leaders of New Atheism
- Ridicule the religious.
And there’s a reason for this. No celebrity or broadly popular New Atheist is qualified to comment with any authority on politics, geo-politics, history, the Middle East, religious scholarship etc. Thus New Atheists are left with only three avenues to make sense of today’s headlines: attack, defend, ridicule. They call this “intellectualism.”