Atheists, agnostics and religious believers alike have been immensely irritated in recent years by the media phenomenon known as ‘new atheism’. This is in certain respects an extremely dogmatic and fundamentalist movement; regarded by some commentators as another round of scientific atheism or what was commonly known as logical positivism in the 19th century. Its appearance has been prompted by the writings of Richard Dawkins, ‘The God Delusion’, Sam Harris ‘The End of Faith’, Christopher Hitchens, ‘God is not Great’ and Dan Dennett, ‘Breaking the Spell’. These were in turn provoked by the collapse of the vast secular mass movements of the 20th century, the accompanying de-secularisation this brought about; the rise of Islam in Europe, and the continuing influence of religion on American politics and society.
Among the key concepts promoted by the new atheists are that atheism or metaphysical naturalism is, beyond reasonable doubt, the only valid belief system, that all religions are damaging and highly infectious ‘viruses of the mind’, and the that religion has always been a destructive force in human affairs, promoting superstition, persecution and backwardness in a manichean struggle against reason, philosophy and science. Accordingly, New Atheists tend to suppress the fact that modern ideas of toleration together with a profound tradition of scepticism, the underlying methodologies of modern science and the conception of the individual human being as an object of fundamental value, all arose within western theism and were profoundly shaped by it. The movement holds that religion must be purged from society and be replaced by a free thinking utopia of ‘rational thinking’; a rerun of the 19th century positivist myth that all human history is moving towards a global civilisation based on science which will eventually drive out faith. Anyone who doesn’t adhere to these quaint but ill-judged principles is denounced as a ‘faith-head’ or ‘faitheist’.
Although the arrival of ‘The New Atheism’ has provoked some interesting and stimulating debates, it has also chosen the internet as one of its key battlegrounds and spawned a great multitude of less eloquent acolytes. These pepper the comment boxes and discussion threads of the web with their anti-religious bile in a kind of modern day ‘Kulturekampf and are known as the ‘Dawkinsia’ (as in intelligentsia) for their slavish adherence to the critically-panned ideals of Richard Dawkins. By way of illustration, and because I believe in democracy, I thought it would be fun to start a ‘Dawkinsia commentator of the Month’ slot which can be voted for in an online poll. If it proves popular we can have a sort of Oscars at the end of the year. The following categories should be taken into account when voting.
1) Dangerous Stupidity
If the Dawkinsia commentator's ideas expressed in the comment or post were actually implemented they would most likely lead to genocide, persecution and mass sterilisation. Think Francis Galton.
2) The Order of the Brown Nose
The Dawkinsia commentator expresses particularly sickening and unquestioning adoration of Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris or Dennett. Extra points if the subject does this while extolling the virtues of ‘free thinking’.
3) Russells Chamberpot
The Dawkinsia commentator thinks the ‘Russell's Teapot’ analogy is the greatest argument ever proposed and continues to express it in as many ways as possible (e.g the flying spaghetti monster, fairies, the loch ness monster etc..), all the while revelling in his/her own intellectual brilliance.
4) 19th Century Revival
The Dawkinsia commentator revives some aspect of White and Draper’s discredited 19th century ‘conflict thesis’, e.g the flat earth myth, the ‘Christian’ Dark Ages, the hounding to death of Vesalius by the inquisition, etc...
Here are the nominations for this months poll which is located here.
Number One – ‘Thickheads’
This Dawkinsia commentator, discovered by James, deserves nomination for being a courageous ‘social visionary’; although given the billions of religious believers worldwide, its going to take quite a network of insane asylums to implement his masterplan.
The only Shared Strategy worth anything is the elimination - or at least the reduction - of the influence of religion. By far the biggest threat to all the world and everything that is valuable and good comes from religion. Until religion is relegated to a position more relevant to its worth - that is inside the minds of certified mad people locked-up safely away from the rest of us, there can be no long-term peace, no safety, no more progress.
The present troubles in the Middle East caused by the evil inherent in all religion, will be as nothing as compared to what is likely, unless we neutralise the power and the influence of religion. If we do nothing never mind if we continue to encourage religion with our mad scheme to promote faith schools - disaster is inevitable. Unfortunately, we can no longer separate ourselves from the very mad people and their religions.
The very mad people are no longer over there they are over here working to bring to us, their own brand of mindless fantasy, cruelty and generalised vileness that is religion... Until the thickheads who rule over us understand that - everything will be lost.
Those damn liberals!.
Number Two – ‘Lazy!’
Flagged up by Al, this member of the Dawkinsia deserves praise for his unyielding faith, both in his own staggering intelligence and the memetic ideas of Dawkins. Also worthy of mention are the use of short punchy sentences such as ‘Thats Sad’ to frame and emphasise the points being made. This goes together to create a devastating writing style which is reminiscent of the late A.J.P Taylor.
Charles Darwin gave us a truly brilliant theory of evolution. It explains beautifully how all the breathtaking life on Earth was developed from nothing. Before you criticise the theory of evolution be sure you really understand it! According to Richard Dawkins many don't understand. That's sad. The explanation of the whole universe and it's existence is perhaps not darwinistic. God is a very bad explanation, lazy.
Religion tend to say it's ok not to try to understand things. That's why I hate religion so much. I am far too intelligent for that. I have NEVER believed in God, not even in my childhood. I have always understood how silly the idea of God is (in our age). We know too much to think God's existence makes sense.
Yeah, I can't prove God doesn't exist. In my mind the probability of God's existence is a very small number, perhaps 0.00000000001 %. That is a damn good justification for being an atheist! Believing in God is silly. Intelligent people do it because 1) they were indoctrinated in childhood (outracious brainwashing!) and 2) Religion sadly has an insanely strong status in society.
Religion is dangerous. Religion is a virus exploiting the malfunctions of brain. All people free of that virus should promote reason and hope for secular tomorrow.
Number Three – ‘Fetch the bulldozer’
This member of the Dawkinsia from Richard Dawkins's 'Clear thinking oasis' gained nomination for accumulating points in the ‘dangerous stupidity’ category. Although to be fair he does say later in the thread that his comments were ‘perhaps a bit over the top’. You think!?!?!.
Maybe it"s time for Western Countries to declare Islam a dangerous cult, and arrest the damned Imams, and bulldoze the mosques. Stuff any idea of religious tolerance, they want to kill us all. So-called moderate muslims are merely camouflage.
Number Four – ‘A.C Grayling’
This article from A.C deserves its nomination for the bizarre but entertaining outburst at the end, with references to smells and sticky fingers. Which particular apologists he is referring to isn’t clear. Perhaps Andrew Brown?.
Secularists in the west say to the apologists of the religions: your beliefs are your choice, so take your place in the queue. They also say: you've had it your own way for a very long time - and committed a lot of crimes in the process - and you still fancy yourself entitled, but you aren't. You don't smell too good at times, so don't try to tell me what I can read, see on TV, do in my private time, think or say. In fact, keep your sticky fingers off my life. Believe what you like but don't expect me to admire or excuse you because of it: rather the contrary, given the fairy-stories in question. And when you are a danger to the lives and liberties of others, which alas is too frequently the wont of your ilk, we will speak out against you as loudly, persistently, and uncompromisingly as we can.
The observant will note that in the picture at the head of this post, the book cover of the copy of 'The God Delusion' the Gumby is holding is the wrong way round. This is not a silly mistake on my part; the book is in Hebrew.
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