I ran across two articles in the last couple of days that demonstrate different aspects of what is wrong with the new atheism. The first was an article entitled, “The Bizarre – and Costly – Cult of Richard Dawkins.” It highlighted “The Dawkins Circle,” a kind of fan-club for the famed atheist – albeit a relatively expensive one (you can check out the rates of various membership levels here) Bargain basement membership in the “Reason Circle” starts out at a paltry $85 a month, with rates going as high as $100,000-$500,000 for the “Magic of Reality Circle.” Yes, you read that correctly. The highest level starts at a price of about two and a half times what the average family in America makes a year – all for benefits such as tickets to events where Dawkins will speak and a private meal with the man. This makes me think of a passage at the beginning of Dawkins’ The God Delusion where he condemns televangelists fleecing people of their money.
The other article I ran across was one that pointed to a study on non-belief by researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It identified six different types of atheists. This itself is helpful, especially when we read in the militant atheist literature that they define their positions as simply “no belief in a god.” Let’s be honest – that’s disingenuous. You cannot tell people that you subscribe to a passive disbelief in the divine but go out and actively lambaste, ridicule, and mock religious folk as Dawkins encouraged attendees at the Reason Rally to do.
The type of atheist we’re interested in are the anti-theists, the group into which the new atheists would fall. In the study, this group scored the highest in the categories for narcissism, dogmatism, and anger. The researchers argued that one possible explanation is that some in this group had recently left religion—perhaps because they had been hurt—so they would naturally be severely opposed to faith in general. The new atheists, as judged by their own statements in their published works, do not fall into the category of the recently deconverted. They are very angry, dogmatic, and remarkably closed-minded, demonstrating the very qualities they condemn most in their religious opponents. Could we call this the secular equivalent of hypocrisy?
It would be unfair to lump all unbelievers into the same category as Dawkins. I’ve know a number of atheists, and a few of them have been very close friends of mine. But Dawkins embodies a unique blend of inconsistency, intolerance, anger, and bigotry. There are many reasonable unbelievers out there. I just wish that Dawkins and his devotees would imitate the charity and diplomacy prized by their more respectful peers.
Image courtesy of patrisyu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net