As an atheist myself, I’ve found these “new atheist” writers to be an embarrassment. First, none of the prominent ones are genuine religious scholars, historians of religion, or cultural anthropologists who can, for instance, examine the cultural, historical, literary, or linguistic contexts in which the varying parts of the Bible were written to provide an explanation of why fundamentalist biblical literalists are, well, mistaken and ignorant. There are plenty of genuine scholars of religion whose work examines religious beliefs and sacred texts within their proper framework, such as Robert Price, John Loftus, Daniel Barker, Hector Avalos, Bart Ehrman, and D.M. Murdoch. These are the skeptics who are worth paying attention to.
Second, they typically conflate atheism with stereotypical liberal or radical left-wing politics when there’s no inherent relationship whatsoever. See Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hume, Nietzsche, and Mencken.
Connect the dots however you like. Can you connect them all?
The Serenity Prayer does not depend on belief in God, but rather expresses basic principles of life:
God, grant me
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
This pertains to where one directs one’s attention, how one chooses to feel, and where one focuses one’s desires. These are acts not of the mind, but of the will.
Jeffrey Tayler says, “Given the possibility that terrorists may acquire weapons of mass destruction and nuclear states with faith-based conflicts may let fly their missiles, religion may be said to endanger humanity as a whole. No one who cares about our future can quietly abide the continuing propagation and influence of apocalyptic fables that large numbers of people take seriously and not raise a loud, persistent, even strident cry of alarm.”
Fact: those who direct Iran’s nuclear program aren’t likely to listen to an atheist American Islamophobe.
A timely quote from Bertrand Russell: “Zeal is a bad mark for a cause. It suggests one is not quite certain. It is not the vaccinationists, but the anti-vaccinationists, who are zealous. No one is zealous about arithmetic.”
The homeless shelter where I stay makes us sit through chapel for an hour every night. A few days ago, this new preacher addressed us for the first time. Shortly into his presentation, he became hysterical, and stayed that way for fifty minutes. He wept. He screamed. He did not persuade anyone of anything.
Jeffrey Tayler sets forth that atheism is just as settled as arithmetic; but he is just as zealous as that preacher — and just as unpersuasive. In effect, he preaches only to the choir.