What was the New Atheism?

Past tense “was”! A history, not an analysis of its philosophy.

Hat tip to 3 Quarks aggregator of interesting articles:


Interesting article.

I do, however, take offense how, at the beginning of the article, he’s equating liberal politics with atheism. I thought only conservative Christians did that.

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FWIW, I read it as saying the re-emergence of NA was in part a reaction to the conservativism of the time, not as equating it to NA.

It seems some its practitioners (eg Harris) have now joined the Intellectual Dark Web because of similar reaction to their perception of the current liberal political climate, eg their view of its aversion to free speech.


So, Farrell is comparing ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ crazies to ‘Gamergate’ crazies?

I don’t know much about IDW but I do know about ‘Gamergate’, so I’m gonna ask. Do you think the comparison is fair?

Sorry, I was not clear on that. That very rough comparison of how some some of the NA thinkers reacted to their view of the Left’s part in the current political climate by joining the IDW is only mine; it is not in the article.

From what I know about gamergate, I’d agree with your crazies characterization. I don’t think the same applies to those associated with the IDW (emphasis should be on the Intellectual, not the Dark, IMHO). I think they are wrong or at least go too far on many of their views, but they are by no means crazy…

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The Vox article is the type of silliness I would fully expect from them and many other media sources and people on the left. To say as a key example:

A group united mainly by its disdain for “multiculturalism”

suggests to me that they haven’t listened much to any of these people and probably don’t even really care what they’re saying. These people have a lot of things to say and a lot of points of dissatisfaction with the left and other aspects of our societies today. To a lot of the left today it seems that failure to square entirely with them is a crime in itself. It’s little different than demonizing a bunch of kids for wearing the wrong hat. The words are just bigger.


Yes, I’m a leftist myself but I do agree that quite a lot of them take it way too far. Mind you, those who take it too far tend to be, as I’ve seen quite a bit of socialists call them, faux progressives.


Yes, I’m a leftist myself

I guess I’m a centrist, quite on the left socially. People like Clinton and Obama were solid centrist Democrats in my book. But I am very troubled by the kinds of things that people like Peterson, Haidt, Harris and others talk about.


The first paragraph reads like fiction, at least to me.

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I’m admit that the Vox article just came up in search; I have not read closely.

I agree with your characterization of those three IDW participants, although I do mainly respect Haidt.

I also respect Harris’s intellect, but in podcasts of his I have tried I found him too smug and overbearing to listen to. As well, his philosophy is often disparaged by experts.

Pedersen’s basic morals often seem fine to me (eg self-respect, aim for highest good) but I find little to agree with in his recommendations and detailed viewpoints

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I enjoy listening to him, but maybe I would :slight_smile: I don’t agree with everything he says. I’m not troubled about the philosophers in general, though I will certainly listen to any specific objection. I must note that recently here my call for a response on one point of objection to him (regarding the concept of 'well-being") went unanswered.

Again, I certainly don’t agree with him about everything. But I do with a lot, for example some of his frequently made points about the state of the left and academia. He talks a lot and about a lot of things! No one can accuse him of hiding his light under a bushel.

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In my opinion . . .

New Atheism was more of a Rorscach ink blot test for American culture. Certain thinkers became famous because they epitomized what Christian culture feared most, as well as giving voice to a section of atheists who had anti-religious sentiments. New Atheism was as much a product of atheism as it was theism. It is a lot easier to address a group of people when you have a handful of people to represent them, and that is what the New Atheist leaders represented.

Atheists as a group are extremely diverse. They span the complete political spectrum, and their attitudes towards religion vary wildly. Atheists come from every nook and cranny of Western society. So how can a few white dudes represent this motley crew? Obviously, they can’t.


PZ Myers has an illuminating article about the birth and death of New Atheism. If you want an insiders view on what went down it is worth a read.


And me. I was never on a par with those big names, but I was a madly typing proponent of the New Atheism. Now, though…that period is the deepest regret of my life (not that that means much, I’ve been lucky to live a life with few regrets). I’m still a strong atheist, and will be on my deathbed, and I do not regret promoting godlessness and a reason-based life, but I was unfortunate to be part of that traveling shit-show before I realized it’s destination was where it is now: a shambles of alt-right memes and dishonest hucksters mangling science to promote racism, sexism, and bloody regressive politics.




Just as many liberal Christians say “how can you be a Christian and a conservative or libertarian” as politically conservative/free market Christians say this about liberals. It’s just a non-starter.

I think a quasi-pacifist free market approach is the best approach but I hope I will never say something as dumb as “how can you be a Christian and a political progressive.”

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Thank you, I appreciate that.

Heard it too many times to count.