Noam Chomsky on the "New Atheism" 64

Noam takes on the atheist fundamentalists.

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.

Third, like the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, they come across as narrow-minded and ill-informed bigots whose only purpose is to antagonize religious people.


I haven’t been thrilled by the atheist movement.  First, who is the audience?  Is it religious extremists?  Say right-wing evangelical Christians like George Bush (as you rightly point out)?  Or is it very prominent Rabbis in Israel who call for visiting the judgment of Amalek on all Palestinians (total destruction, down to their animals)?  Or is it the radical Islamic fundamentalists who have been Washington’s most valued allies in the Middle East for 75 years (note that Bush’s current trip to the Middle East celebrates two events: the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, and the 75th anniversary of establishment of US-Saudi relations, each of which merits more comment)?  If those are the intended audiences, the effort is plainly a waste of time.  Is the audience atheists?  Again a waste of time.  Is it the grieving mother who consoles herself by thinking that she will see her dying child again in heaven?  If so, only the most morally depraved will deliver solemn lectures to her about the falsity of her beliefs.  Is it those who have religious affiliations and beliefs, but don’t have to be reminded of what they knew as teenagers about the genocidal character of the Bible, the fact that biblical accounts are not literal truths, or that religion has often been the banner under which hideous crimes were carried out (the Crusades, for example)?  Plainly not.  The message is old hat, and irrelevant, at least for those whose religious affiliations are a way of finding some sort of community and mutual support in an atomized society lacking social bonds.  Who, in fact, is the audience?
Furthermore, if it is to be even minimally serious, the “new atheism” should focus its concerns on the virulent secular religions of state worship, so well exemplified by those who laud huge atrocities like the invasion of Iraq, or cannot comprehend why they might have some concern when their own state, with their support, carries out some of its minor peccadilloes, like killing probably tens of thousands of poor Africans by destroying their main source of pharmaceutical supplies on a whim — arguably more morally depraved than intentional killing, for reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere.  In brief, to be minimally serious the “new atheism” should begin by looking in the mirror.

Without going on, I haven’t found it thrilling, though condemnation of dangerous beliefs and great crimes is always in order.



  1. I’ve had a taste of this ‘new atheism’ already from that troll David Houser. If anyone drank the ‘new atheist’ cool-aid it was him. And now he wonders why his political life is over now that his pathetic statist past caught up with him.

      • It was intended as part satire. Suggesting atheism can become a dogma as much as any religion. It also suggests Chomsky is laying down rules for atheists in the same way as popes etc lay down rules for their religions or sects. It was also suggesting that much of the “new” atheist dogma is joyfully held by old atheists like me. A recognisationof the evils done in name of religion, past, present and future and without returning to read the Chomsky comment the idea I think he was pushing that many of these ideas about religion do not need to be repeated as everybody knows of them. I challenge this belief of widely held knowledge and certainly it being they case when it’s your religion. “I recognise the evil acts of other religions but mine is the saviour of the world” iIt was also intended to say that because I may use simple, one dimensioned ideas does not mean I do not know, as I think Chomsky was saying, I do not know the complexed role and history of religion. But then I may have misread Chomsky or he was taken out of context.
        Sorry for length of this, my intention was just to write one word -satire.

  2. Chomsky sometimes gets it wrong…this is one of those times. I also find it most bizarre that the author, Preston, uses accusatorily, the term “fundamentalists” to apparently decry as somehow bad the arguments of so-called “new atheists”. Fundamentalism as it applies to general beliefs is the strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs. The only consistent set of beliefs shared by all atheists, new or otherwise, is a disbelief in the existence of deities due to the lack of any good evidence for those alleged deities. So, if a new atheist adheres to the fundamental principle that they disbelieve in deities due to no good evidence, how exactly is that a bad thing? Chomsky, most ironically, is politicizing the issue in many ways and clearly in these words, ” the “new atheism” should focus its concerns on the virulent secular religions of state worship, so well exemplified by those who laud huge atrocities like the invasion of Iraq.” So weird that he accuses new atheists of the thing he himself does.

    • Perhaps one thing you could take from Chomsky’s piece is to be weary of assuming that all there is to religion is “alleged deities” because that precise argument is the one which does not need repeating. Those who believe it do not claim there is proof. You are therefore limiting all of religion by doing so and creating further division and miscomprehension between people when the genuine evils of the world will not be solved by pointing out paradoxes and inconsistencies; the world is full of mystery. Why should we not focus on our own societal problems such as those our corporations and governments carry out daily WITHOUT religion as a premise, instead of wasting time reminding those who practice faith that there is no scientific basis to faith? Peace.

      • You have assumed incorrectly SSR. I certainly don’t believe that religion is only about the belief by adherents in their particular brand of deity/deities. But that’s where it starts for most people following a religion which relies on an alleged deity/deities for authority and their own moral compass. It is your shortsightedness in fact which assumes that the belief and spreading of a belief system based on very bad evidence is not a societal problem. I challenge you to give me one example how such a belief system is not societally dangerous in the world we live in today.

    • I think “fundamentalist” is an accurate but incomplete description. What bothers me is not rigid atheism but the need to evangelize, proselytize, pick fights, and otherwise shove atheism down others’ throats in the most obnoxious manner possible. For those of us who have seen fundamentalist Christian appeals, for instance, the similarity in tone is eerily clear.

      • Your point is not at all accurate, Jeremy. What is fundamentalist about forthright challenging the destructive adherence to beliefs (and more importantly, behavior based on those beliefs) based on bad evidence? I have seen countless speeches given by new atheists and not a single one that I have seen is an act of shoving down people’s throats, reason and the positive consequences of belief based on good evidence as opposed to bad. What I have consistently seen done by new atheists is assertively present the argument as to why religion is harmful, as just one example of many. It’s no different than activists who oppose child slavery making strong and forceful arguments as to why the thinking and behavior of the people running child slavery rings is destructive.

        On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have people of religious faith who are forcing their form of sky spook worship down the throats of people, and most disturbingly, very young children…through intimidation and terror. It’s cruel child abuse to force a child to believe in something they can’t recognize in any way by assuring the child that non-believers suffer in a horrible place called hell for eternity.

        • What is fundamentalist about forthright challenging the destructive adherence to beliefs (and more importantly, behavior based on those beliefs) based on bad evidence?

          The inability to abide dissent. A fundamentalist doesn’t just believe his side is the right side, but that every other side must be wrong. This is not only arrogant and myopic, but moreover it expressly rejects what makes science so great: that all “truths” in science are contingent theories and models based on available evidence.

          Science isn’t “true”; science is a method of testing hypotheses. But the atheists Chomsky cites appear to need to make an authority out of science, and it ends up looking as intolerant as all the old theist authorities.

          It’s no different than activists who oppose child slavery making strong and forceful arguments as to why the thinking and behavior of the people running child slavery rings is destructive.

          You’re right, except for one thing: the premise of those arguing against slavery in this case is that we all share values that their arguments draw upon. If we didn’t share values, there would be no way to demonstrate why the destructiveness you’re calling out is “bad”. These shared values are a common ground relative to which we can stake out polemical positions.

          I think religion, spirituality, etc. operate in a much murkier environment where the values to which atheists appeal are clouded in the irrational and prerational. But atheists’ need to assert the non-existence of God is also irrational. A priori truths are by definition irrational.

          It’s cruel child abuse to force a child to believe in something they can’t recognize in any way by assuring the child that non-believers suffer in a horrible place called hell for eternity.

          I don’t consider it is child abuse. We have a fundamental difference of values. There’s nowhere to go except to taunt one another, and this is what happens on both the obnoxious atheist and obnoxious theist sides.

          You may find Keith’s essay on Nietzsche and the religionization of enlightenment rationalism interesting in this regard.

          • We most definitely disagree about these issues. The world you paint is completely not rooted in actuality. New atheist’s argument isn’t that science is truth but that we can come to truth through scientific methods.

            As for your definition of fundamentalist, it doesn’t apply to new atheists because you misrepresent their positions. None of the new atheists whose work I have read or whose debates I have seen have, as a matter of principle, consistently rejected every argument from the other side. You are completely misrepresenting these people.

            I don’t think there’s reason for us to discuss this further so long as you misrepresent others’ views or positions.

            • I have not read this entire debate but Louis you are obviously only familiar with the, I guess you would call reasonable, atheists like Hitchens, Dawkins, Price, and even the Atheist experience show on YT in which Matt knows the Bible inside and out. However, there are other aspects to this movements which Chomsky mentioned which are indeed true that you have obviously not encountered. I have found with any popular movement, it always gets infiltrated and steered away, at least partly, by often well-financed individuals (the well-financed part is important if you care to dig deeper). The PC left has become one of the most crazy, intolerant group of individuals who vehemently oppose anyone who disagrees with their lunacy. Ironically, it is in the name of tolerance that they defend their intolerance and censorship. Anyway, I started to get away from the new atheist movement when the PC left crowd started to emerge in the atheism movement. Yes, to someone like biblical scholar, Robert Price, atheism means exactly what the word means without god. Groups like atheist + emerged claiming to be part of the new atheist movement, but espouse atheism plus women’s rights, plus egalitarianism, plus LGBT rights, plus hating anyone privileged, which all seems reasonable except these people are generally racist towards Caucasians, dislike men and European culture, and they operate like a religion in which you must believe exactly what these “tolerant” zealots believe or you will be ostracized and censored. The odd thing is that many of these zealots are actually what they claim to hate i.e. privileged and Caucasian. Anyway, unfortunately the Atheism movement has become sort of a political and social tool and for many it has gone beyond simply persuading creationists to look for evidence. Also, I think Chomsky is pointing out that there are more important issue to focus on like the US committing genocide oversea in the name of democracy. If I were you I would read or listen to the atheist biblical scholars Chomsky mentioned, like Robert Price, who have a deep understanding of the historical context of the Bible and are more sympathetic with believers rather than many atheists who treat believers as subhuman.

              • Chomsky is actually very vague in defining what he means by “new atheist” in the paragraphs in the OP above. In fact, I have seen no one who uses that term to condemn atheists, provide a particularly cogent definition of the term “new atheist”. There must be a reason for this intended vagueness. Intentional vagueness is usually a cover for a lack of a good argument.

                And who exactly, John, are these alleged “other aspects to this movements”??? Please be very specific including providing formal names whenever possible. After all, it is you who makes this claim, John.

                To be clear, atheism is defined very simply, but sadly, most people conflate all sorts of other personal views and belief systems that some atheists happen to hold, as being part of the definition of atheism. Atheism is NOT a belief system. Simply and specifically, it is the LACK OF belief in deities. Atheists can and do hold a vast array of other beliefs, many of them in direct contradiction to the views of other atheists. Who precisely are “new atheists”? No one seems to really know. Do all “new atheists” have the same belief system and hold the same beliefs? If someone asserts yes, then where’s the evidence?

                As an atheist myself, I have challenged and called out certain beliefs held or espoused by the likes of Hitchens and Harris. Is Peter Singer and A.C. Greyling “new atheists”?

                Finally, the fact that Robert Price may be more sympathetic to believers…so what? Who cares? Is he the arbiter of all that is good and bad, right and wrong, sensible and not sensible? I personally don’t care that Price doesn’t care if someone is a bible literalist or the most radical and extreme fundamentalist and doesn’t “care what anyone else believes”.

                What I do care about is moral rights and wrongs; I care that sentient individuals are not exploited, discriminated against unfairly, treated like property, and subjugated. If standing against the exploitation and harming of innocent individuals means that i must strongly condemn (certain) religious belief systems that bolsters any of those wrongs, then it’s the morally responsible thing to be strongly and openly critical of faith-based belief systems that do and those who facilitate it or make that belief system stronger or more popular. By the same measure, it is morally irresponsible that someone would not condemn the advancement of a faith-based belief or belief system that strengthens moral wrongs. I am very disappointed that there are too many atheists who are not (more) critical of religious faith-based beliefs that are harmful to innocent individuals.

                  • @ John, I’m not entirely sure why, but for your last post in this thread, there has been no “Reply” link. Therefore I replied to you by replying to my previous to last post.

                    • Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism (Part 1)

                      Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism (Part 2)

                      Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism (Part 3)

                  • Yes, some people on the Left can be as vicious and disgusting as some people on the Right. I have been attacked by both sides for challenging harmful things that each of them espouses.

                    • @ John Sander, I asked you for your definition of “new atheist” and you still refuse to provide your definition. I already mentioned at least 2 or 3 times that there is no consistent definition (no consensus) of “new atheist” or that those who use “new atheist” are particularly vague in their definition of that term. If you are unwilling to answer even the simplest of questions, how do you expect me to take you as someone serious or someone worth me taking my very precious time to engage and dialogue with you?

                      Further, you insist that I must read a whole bunch of articles in order for me to understand how your position / perspective is sound or right yet you provide no links to the articles that you insinuate support your claims. Where’s the logic in doing that??? If you expect me to read specific articles that support your positions / perspectives, then provide specific links to those articles. Because if I were to do as you are doing, I could make all sorts of claims that may or may not be sound or even true and then I would tell you to read a bunch of articles and only then you will you understand why my positions are sound or right. Don’t you see how problematic this approach is, John?

                      Surely you are not afraid to expose me to the material you claim is what informs your positions on this specific topic?

                  • Some additional thoughts:

                    1) I am very concerned about many issues and just because I may focus my attention on only a few issues, doesn’t in any way mean that I am not caring about other issues equally or even more than the current issue I focus on.

                    2) I do not, as some other atheists appear to, disregard the fact that some civilian or military leader in the U.S. who is ordering the haphazard bombing of Muslim people in the Middle East (as just an example) holds religious views and that those religious views are in small or in large part what s/he uses to inform her/his decision to order wholesale bombing raids.

                    3) when I am engaged in discussions with religious persons, I don’t treat them as if they are all one and the same. I have many more friends who ascribe to a religious belief system (in varying degrees) as friends I have who are atheist. I have no qualms about defending religious people whom are treated unfairly or worse but I also have no qualms about condemning the harmful notions and behavior of religionists when it’s appropriate to do so.

                    4) I may not be familiar with all the atheists that someone else like Chomsky is, but I believe that there could be conflating that Chomsky is doing. For example, when Sam Harris prescribes the use of nuclear weapons on populations of people in a pre-emptive strike, I don’t see any good evidence that he is asserting that this is an atheistic view. The same goes for people on the Left who happen to be atheists who espouse Leftest values (like some that you pointed out). There’s no good evidence that I have seen that these atheists are asserting that those are atheistic views. People are entitled to their views, even if they are Leftists and happen to be atheists and even if we don’t like their views. We have the right to challenge those views. But when someone conflates a Leftist view to an atheistic view, then therein lies the problem.

                  • Your writing style is sloppy and confusing. You’d not written “Atheist +” but rather “atheist +” which to someone who has never heard of such a group means that what you’d written came off as a broad and general smear of all atheists. And besides, that’s just one group. You seem to be equating one group with all “new atheists”. From my reading of people bashing this vaguely defined “new atheists”, anyone who is atheist and speaks / writes about religion without kid gloves on appears to be condemned as a “new atheist”.

                    So please, give me your precise definition of “new atheist”.

                    Oh, and if anyone is not reading what is being written by Chomsky, it would be you, not I. You are reading into what Chomsky had written, not what Chomsky actually had written.

                    Incidentally, I am neither Left nor Right, neither Conservative nor Liberal. I have and will always continue to challenge both and any & all people if they are making poor arguments which I perceive as an obstacle to a better world.

                    • I apologize, my mind does work in an ADHD type of fw fashion some times. However, being familiar with the PC left and the atheism movement, I believe that I interpreted more or less correctly. If there’ r any regular readers of ATS that would like to chime in and let me know if I am interpretting Chomsky correctly, please do so. In the meantime I would encourage you to read articles on attack the system and the other sources I listed. If we are going to talk about the issues I mentioned you have to familiarize yourself with them. I told you to google “New Atheism” and you didn’t, so I did and several definitions came up. I guess the main point is that the PC Left are a huge threat to our country and that they have co-opted atheism, and terms associated with the movement like skepticism, free thought, rationality, and have tried to inextricably link them to bizarre and hypocritical PC ideas. To understand why this is so dangerous you have to research it more yourself, and understand that some of most nutty PCers receive funding from the DOD in order to create disorder and control thought.

            • Yes, I don’t know why but the reply button has disappeared which unfortunately will make it hard for people trying to follow our conversation. Like a lot of concepts, many people have different interpretations of them. Read the quick wikipedia article on “New Atheists,” I agree with that. Rationalwiki gives a little bit of controversy around the term. I thought I did give a quick overview of the movement. It started with the four horsemen, and then expanded to broadly include any vocal athiest who followed. It includes honest atheists including Richard Dawkins and Matt Dillahuntay from the great YT show “Athiest Experience” and athiests like you, but unfortunately it also included atheists who are trying to mix in their PC agenda like PZ Myers and Atheism+. I think you’re skimming through my replies, maybe because they are long, but I have given you a number of sources. For instance, what website are we on?????? Read the articles on this website, you are already on it, if you care to learn about the Left. I also said this website links to many great websites who criticize the Left. I named some people on Youtube whose videos you could simply watch and listen to: Sargon of Akkad is great, Thunderfoot (one of the pioneers of the New Atheism movement, who gradually shifted from making science videos and battling creationist, to battling the feminist zealots who have co-opted the movement.) Any of Sargon of Akkad’s videos are good. Now it’s up to you. You’re part of this movement whether you like it or not. So if you want to learn about the movement you are a part of look into it yourself. If you’re not satisfied with this, than I will go and search for some specific articles for you. You should be concerned about the Left if you are concerned about religion, because the left operates very much like a religion. They have unofficial tenets that you must obey, they want power and they r getting it. They want control of society and the way it thinks just like religion, and as religion in the west is dying out as a dogmatic, powerful and controlling force the state is replacing it with PC as another dogmatic, powerful, and controlling force. Any ideology can become dogmatic just like any religion. Of course the state loves the left because it is controlling. For years the state used religion as a tool for control, power& censorship and now they are shifting to PC as a tool for control, power & censorship.
              To be specific, go to the upper right hand corner of this website and under podcast listen to “Keith Preston on the left and the State.”
              and honestly as an articulate, intelligent atheist I am curious how you don’t know about the fanatical left. A lot of the honest, famous Atheists like Dawkins and Thunderfoot frequently have run-ins with them. Mild mannered Dawkins (who is a reasonable liberal himself) has been accused of being a sexist, racist, patriarch. Thunderfoot has been essentially ostracized from the movement he help start.

              • @ John S,

                Thanks for your reply but again, you intentionally provided no links in your response above. That’s not good for anyone. Providing sources is not useful…providing links to specific articles or videos which are alleged to corroborate your premises or positions is what is helpful.

                I do read the entirety of your posts and so if I am misinterpreting some of what you are writing it’s either because 1) I am misunderstanding or perhaps intentionally misconstruing your words or 2) your thoughts are expressed in a confusing or unclear way. One, or I suppose even both of those things simultaneously, is occurring. I can tell you without hesitation that I am not intentionally misconstruing your words or thoughts….maybe I am not understanding some of your thoughts in the way you would like me to understand them and that simply means that we both have to work on trying to be as clear as possible when we communicate. I believe that you conflate certain things like a name of a group to a specific resource (link) as just one of several examples. And so, in that vein when I ask for specific links to articles which would corroborate your positions you somehow instead believe that telling me the name of a group or tell me to scour is equivalent to providing specific links of articles or videos. Doing that doesn’t help your case at all. In fact, you are doing nothing but again wasting my precious time when you do this.

                As for the description of new atheism that wiki offers and “new atheist” as Chomsky offers criticism against, these have little at all to do with your criticisms in this comments section. Again, you are conflating one thing (new atheism) to something very different (an alleged agenda of some atheists to redefine oir co-opt the secular-atheist movement…if I understand your criticism correctly).

                As for the “PC Left” that you seem to so happily condemn but so glibly give a pass to the PC Right who are in the very least just as dangerous as the Left, you leave me convinced that you are running an ideological Right Wing agenda of control which seeks to squelch or altogether extinguish positions of concern that you just happen not to agree with but are, nonetheless, legitimate concerns. After all, I did watch two of the thunderf00t videos your shared in your later post here, and what I am seeing is anything but a reasonable position put forth by thunderf00t. Just one of countless examples where thunderf00t posits a ludicrous notion is where he condemns the young woman who is making the point that there is a difference between moderating one’s own Facebook or YouTube channel (which i do on a non-regular basis) and silencing someone…..condemns her position by erecting strawmen…..choosing to misconstrue her point by narrowly and subjectively defining what “personal property” should mean and thereby allowing himself to dismiss the actual point the young woman makes. If that idiot thunderf00t is the best example of what you believe John, then I’m not sure we will get very far in our discussions.

                What the secular-atheist movement needs is transparency and an open space for secular-atheists to express their views as well as their criticisms, even if we don’t like those criticisms. If those views or criticisms are irrational and baseless, then challenging them, not trying to bully them, is the best way to extinguish irrational views or criticisms. Extinguishing crackpots by exposing their positions to rational challenges is the way to go, whether those crackpots are Conservatives, Liberals, Right wingers or Left wingers. It’s like allowing an alleged vampire to be exposed to direct sunlight….if it’s a real vampire then it is done for by exposure but if it’s not, then your ass got it wrong and you must apologize for unfounded or needlessly inflammatory or contentious accusations.

                PC crackpots exist in the Right and Left domains. If we are only condemning one side’s crackpots, then it is clear that we have a half-baked political or ideological agenda running.

                • I meant when i’d written, “Providing sources is not useful…” is that providing “sources” as you call them which are merely the names of a couple of groups and websites like attacklthesystem which is not a good source at all because it’s way too general.

    • Holy Christ, do you always write long winded comments with no reference to reality? Do you understand what he means when he references the New Atheism as opposed to “new atheists”? Do you even know who Noam Chomsky is? Did you even read this article that you commented on?

      Looking at your picture, you’re not even sexy. I doubt you’re even a vegan at this point, you overconfident douche bag.

      • If you’d have anything at all intelligent to add to this discussion ***ass, it would be welcome. What isn’t is the hostile, inflammatory, dishonest, ad hominem attacks which sums up in total your last absurd and vile comment. Please take your medications and come back when you are prepared to discuss this as a sane person.

  3. The “New Atheist’s” are not even atheists they are so thoroughly laden with clericalism they might as well be Papal legates.

    In The Ego and Its Own, by Max Stirner, St. Max defines clericalism thus:

    “He who lives for a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling, may not let any worldly lusts, any self-seeking interest, spring up in him. Here we have the concept of clericalism, or, as it may also be called in its pedagogic activity, school-masterliness; for the idealists play the schoolmaster over us. The clergyman is especially called to live to the idea and to work for the idea, the truly good cause. Therefore the people feel how little it befits him to show worldly haughtiness, to desire good living, to join in such pleasures as dancing and gaming,—in short, to have any other than a “sacred interest.” Hence too, doubtless, is derived the scanty salary of teachers, who are to feel themselves repaid by the sacredness of their calling alone, and to “renounce” other enjoyments.

    Even a directory of the sacred ideas, one or more of which man is to look upon as his calling, is not lacking. Family, fatherland, science, etc., may find in man a servant faithful to his calling.

    Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world which has not yet learned to do without clericalism,—that to live and work for an idea is man’s calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfilment his human worth is measured.”

    Sacred ideas, if holding to sacred ideas (i.e., ideas not subject to questioning) then the “New Atheist’s” are clerical. They support 1) current neo-Darwinian theory dogmatically (even atheists can think a better option exists reads Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos for an example), 2) political liberalism, 3) statism, 4) evangelical science etc. The list goes on and on. These people lack the courage to be atheist’s, but are merely cowardly people trying to cloak their insecurity and rebellion in the guise of atheism, with a heavy does of clericalism to give meaning to their otherwise meaningless lives. In short the “New Atheists” still live and work for an idea as man’s calling.

    • Actually I did name a group: Athiesm+. It’s like you gave a very intelligent rebuttal but didn’t read what Chomsky or I actually wrote. This is from Atheism Plus’s website: “Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime. For more information, see our FAQ.” This group, like other leftist groups, censor and ostrosize any one who disagrees with them, similar to creationists. So if you want to argue with someone about what atheism means, argue with them and not me.
      Like I said, the movement started out well-intentioned and then got hijacked and distorted by some (not all). I am sorry if I did appear to stereotype all atheists as the same, I’ll have to reread what i said, but I think I was pretty specific on what has happened. I know because I was a part of the “new atheist” movement, you can google that term, which I believe started with the four horsemen (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennit, and Harris.) and the popularity for atheism they spawned. You do not need to lecture me about what atheism is and isn’t as I have several of their books, have seen nearly every single Hitchens debate and love Hitchens to death. He’s one of the most exilarating people to listen to and I would never want to have to debate him. I am an atheist. (also Watch Thunderfoot’s videos on how intolerant, PC feminsts are ruining the freethought conventions Dawkins and others attend.) Obviously, this does not apply to you. I am well aware that athiesm, means a- without -theism. If that is all you defend then Chomsky’s attack is not as much directed at you. You have to understand Chomsky. He’s extremely empathetic, and all he is saying is to have a little bit of empathy. I hate religion. I was somewhat emotionally scarred by it, being the son of a former nun. But I get what Chomsky is saying. Yes, we should get rid of religion and especially religious zealots. But that doesn’t mean you have to go and berate some 80 year old southern Christian whose only consolation is the belief they’ll be reunited with their loved ones in heaven. I am not saying you would do that, but many internet atheists have that kind of mentality. I used to have no sympathy for the tea party losers until I heard a soundbite from Chomsky. He said that you shouldn’t hate the right wing tea party, you’ve got to understand that they’re mainly elderly, blue-collar workers, who are seeing their jobs go overseas, their pensions disappearing and they want answers. Unfortunately they’re getting answers from right wing pundits who are lying to them but they do not realize that they’re being duped. He obvously phrased it more elegantly than me. These people are mainly harmless, and have grown up having 60 years of religious indoctrination and there whole social life revolves around their church. Have some sympathy.
      Plus Christianity or even creationism is not a huge threat anymore in the US. Atheism is on the rise. There are bigger fish to fry. You’re on Attack the System, have you even read the articles on here or did you only click on this one because it attacks atheism. In a way your rebuttal proves part of Chomsky’s point:
      Our government, on a whim, bombed a pharmaceutical plant that supplied medications in some dirt-poor African country. Our government didn’t apologize, didn’t rush in to rebuild it and help the people dependent on those medications so probably an estimated 10-20 thousand people died as a result. Our governemnt didn’t give a shit. That’s money that could be used to build more bombs! We have a bunch of genocidal, sociopaths bankrupting our country, shipping our jobs overseas, and killing millions of people with our fucking tax dollars. Oh, but oh my, the ten commandments are posted on a court house in some bumfuck town in the middle of nowhere. Yes that does matter, but not as much as sociopaths running our country. I think what he is saying is that, yes focus on atheism, but for god sakes pay attention to what else is going on in the world.

    • Oh yea, one more thing. I give you credit because you are fighting religion and stand by the original meaning of the word atheism. The ones you should be mad at are the groups like atheism+, who are stealing terms like critical thinking, atheism, freethought and are conflating them with nonsensicle ideas (and pretending that they’re inextricably linked) like how we need to be tolerant of all races and cultures (except white males and European culture) and how awful Christianity is, but we dare not offend Muslims (meanwhile, Muslim extremism is a bigger problem). It’s really a clusterfuck of ideas, and if you go on one of these forums and even politely challenge them they will call you a fascist and ban you. They really operate like a religion. Look up Sargon of Akkod on YT or thunderfoot, or PC, and you’ll find their names. These social justice warriors (as they’re called) are really the opposite of tolerant free-thinkers. That’s what Chomsky meant when he said
      “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.”
      It’s the social justice warriors who are trying to change the definition of atheism, not me. similar to religion, it takes a lot of indoctrination for Leftists to believe this nonsense, and if you dig deeper you’ll see it’s well funded from above, that’s the only way this nonsense could continue to influence so many and continually gain momentum all of these years.

    • Sorry to keep replying but I keep thinking of additional commments. I think Chomsky is talking about the crazy leftists I described, but he’s so mild- mannered, and is actually a hero to many on the left, that he didn’t want to offend them (so he was purposely vague), or have some awful backlash from the PC crowd, which really isn’t pleasant if you’re a famous, left-wing academic. Those people are vicious.

  4. Albert Camus (an atheist, by the way) would probably feel nauseous if he ever had to read a billboard that says: “I’m not a believer and life is still awesome.”, because it proves how unsophisticated these New Atheists are & what an embarrassment they are to true, intellectual atheism.

  5. Funny and pointless article as the ‘New Atheism” Isn’t new. Same as it ever was. The only difference they have a more public appearance.

  6. I’m glad to see a good conversation started on Attack the System. I wish more people would comment on ATS’s articles.

  7. The defining characteristics of the “New Atheist” are a rabid evangelical zeal to blame almost every evil in human life on religion, and an astounding ignorance of the subject matter.

    As such, someone like Robert Price doesn’t qualify as he is a skeptical Atheist rather than an Evangelical one, and his book, “The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts”, is one of the best modern reference works available on the subject.

    • I would have to say I agree with you, but in defence of the average “New Atheist” I wouldn’t say they don’t necessarily have an astounding ignorance of the subject. I admit it, I was a “New Atheist” I was regularly debating and attacking religion and fundamentalism in the Youtube comment sections. But I think it’s fair to say the average New Atheist knows enough about the Bible to be justified to criticise anyone who claims it is a factual text to be taken literally. I may not have had Robert Price’s breadth and depth of understanding but, probably like most New Athesits, I was forced to go to church for 16 years and also attended a weekly Bible study. Besides a majority of the people defending the Bible don’t have Robert Price’s understanding either. I’m bisexual also, so yes the constant homophobia in my vicinity bothered me immensely. The problem is that the elite are using the secular left, which I (kind of) was, for their own sinister purposes. When I learned about the Francfort School, the funding of the radical 3rd-wave feminism by the CIA, the fact the dominant PC lefters are more concerned over what a transgendered individual is called than about genocide with our tax dollars and other serious issues, I began to realize I was being used as a tool.
      The elites want the complete atomization of society. Because when we have no social bonds we are easier to control and it is harder for us to organize against tyranny. One of the strongest bonds some people have in America is their involvement in their local church. So if you take that away than what’s bringing them together? Nothing really brings people together like a church (at least in my hometown). A book club does not create the kind of communal bonding like a church. I am jealous of what my mom has. She is a very nice, moderately religious person. She is also an introvert, but she has a huge network of friends and people she can truly count on through her church. They all appear to be moderate too, in fact I never even hear them discussing religion. They meet together at restaurants, they drive each other to appointments etc. I don’t have that. I refuse to go to church because I’m an atheist, but I wish I had the social bonds my mom does because of her church.
      The mainstream media is owned and run by the sociopathic elite, and the fact that they have nearly unanimously embraced the assault on Christianity is a sign to me that there are ulterior motives at work here rather than promoting critical thinking (that is the last thing they want to promote).
      I agree with Keith Preston. He said if the radical PC left were just sticking to themselves he’d have no problem with them. He said there’s the Star Trek geeks and then there’s these people, oh well. But, the social justice warriors aspire for power and are getting it and the more power they get the crazier and more viscious they’ll get. And he’s right. Sargon of Akkod talked about an article (written by a fucking professor whose actually in charge of educating teenagers) about how parents shouldn’t read their children bedtime stories because it creates an unfair playing field against those whose parents don’t read to them. He even entertained the notion of (the state) somehow banning bedtime stories and raising kids in state-run institutions. This is straight out of the Khmer Rough. This is very dangerous (not to mention idiotic) ideology to be advocing. Remember in Cambodia the Khmer Rough would execute anyone who showed even the slightest hint of being an intellectual.
      To tie this all together, I think the state now realizes it can’t control the population through religion anymore and is moving towards PC, that is one of the reasons I fell out with the New Atheists (plus I felt like I was having the exact same argument over and over again.) And yes, you are correct, I did have a evangelical zeal and cotempt for the religious, that was increased and reinforced by the popular New Atheist intellectuals.
      Oh and for the fellow I was debating who thinks I have right-wing agenda, for what it’s worth I consider myself to be more on the left. In reality I say we scrap the entire left right spectrum, because all of the popular well funded parties on it have been corrupt. On the far left we have leninists and Stalinists who were just corrupt dictators, in the middle we have the corporate left and corporate right who commit genocide all over the world, and on the far right we have the fascists who were also corrupt dictators. I say we start a new political spectrum that goes from corrupt and genocidal (which would include communism, fascism, democracy(US style) on one side and free and peaceful on the other. So far there have been very few if any governments that would fall on the free and peaceful side.

  8. One more thing in defense of the New Atheists. Many of them don’t know how much more of a threat the social justice warriors are (currently) than Christianity in the West now. The creationists really aren’t taken seriously anymore (by the vast majority of people.) They are more of a joke now. (To use Keith Preston’s line of thinking) So there’s the Star Trek geeks and there’s the creationists, oh well. (I know there is that often quoted statistic that half the population believe in creationism (which if true is a huge problem)) but that just has not been my experience. My aunt’s a nun and my mom is a former nun and they both accept evolution. Going back in history with Reagan and even not that long ago with Bush, the fundamentalists did have more power, but I agree with Keith, they are being eclisped by radical social marxists.
    Plus, a very important issue, is that I don’t think the crazies are being put in positions of influence over the more sane leftists by chance, the elites definitely want either corruptable leftists (like Al Sharpton) or crazy leftists (like the professor who thinks bedtime stories should be banned in the name of equallity). Similarly, the right wants either corruptible republicans (like Hannity and O’reilly) or the crazies (like Glenn Beck) in positions of influence to push their agenda. But when you’re increasingly getting people in power who want censorship and who think like fucking Pol Pot, that is scary. Maybe, I’m unknowingly creating a strawman by using the Pol Potesque professor, but Preston seems to think these types will become more prevalent and I seem to be hearing more and more about crazy cultural marxists.
    One policy comes to mind. So we are bombing the heck out of the middle east. I don’t think we should be there, I think we are creating immense misery there and radicalizing muslims who would have other-wise not been radical (which I think is being done purposely). Who in their right mind could possibly think, now would be a great idea to bring in tons of muslim immigrants into western Europe, right now as the west is bombing, terrorizing, and radicalizing muslims, now is the perfect time to bring them into our country. It’s really the divide and conquer stategy by the elites, but it’s justified by the cultural marxists as creating diversity. It’s going to create a fucking civil war which exactly the aim of divide and conquer.
    Sorry guys, I’m long winded and I really enjoy writing.

    • First you were a New Atheist, and you had a Saturday morning cartoon ideology that blamed religion for every problem in the world. Then you started reading other websites and you traded up for a Saturday morning cartoon about the Frankfurt school CIA JEWS and now you think retarded cultural left liberals are the “Khmer Rough”. Third wave feminism is atomizing the transgendered white penis with CIA genocide, and (of course) the Jews are involved. The connecting point between these two positions is that you are completely ignorant of both religion and the left. You are a disposable internet identity looking for a scapegoat to blame for some crime you can’t even remember. Were you raised on television and psychiatric medication by any chance?

      Now what I want to know is: what about the Loch Ness monster? Why is he always left out?



      • With morons like you I always wonder why you leave out that vast theocracy Falwell conspiracy? WHERE IS FALWELL? WHERE IS MANDATED PRAYER? WHERE IS STONING OF WOMEN? WHERE?!?!?!?!?!?

  9. It is symptomatic of the ignorance of New Atheists that “I even read the whole bible” is offered as some kind of an impressive qualification. Christianity is two thousand years old, and it existed for over a century before there was any “bible”. It is quite a bit more complicated than the texts, and Christianity itself is a mere upstart in the history of human religion. The demented textual literalism and fanatical young earth creationism of some American Protestant Fundamentalists are extreme minority views within Christianity as a whole, and would have been labeled as heresies (and put to the torch) in less tolerant times.

    To be fair to the New Atheists, most American Christians are equally ignorant of their religion, and have much less of an excuse. The angry fundamentalist crowd has spent decades harassing women’s clinics and screaming “baby killer” at rape victims, and they have received exactly the kind of dumb haters they deserve. When the religious right had power back in the eighties it pushed the drug war, insane “Satanism” and “molestation” panics, as well as music censorship. All their crybabying now about SJWs should be ignored. The SJWs are far less politically dangerous than the religious right was, and what goes around comes around. When a pig falls victim to some other pig, it is not our business to have sympathy for one or the other pig, but to hope they both die, and to be satisfied if the more dangerous one does today. Let them eat Gay Wedding cake.

    The problem is that we have a ruling class and a media class that is almost autistic in its ignorance of religion while we are a decade into losing a religious war with Islam, on the verge of a war with a revived Orthodox Russian Empire, deeply involved in fomenting a viscous religious civil war in Syria and Iraq, and not to mention instigating a civil war in Ukraine that is largely being fought across confessional lines. Al Jazeera is openly instigating an Islamist genocide in Syria of the last major faction of the Islamic Gnostics in the west. Our new king in Saudi Arabia is on the verge of sparking a full scale regional war with Iran as he blunders into Yemen on a religious crusade to exterminate the Shiites.

    This is not going to turn out well.

    Oh America! God is back, the motherfucker has a Kalashnikov and a Koran, and he doesn’t give one shit about your New Atheism. While you are busy drawing obscene cartoons about Mohammed, the new caliphate is preparing to march on Mecca and capsize your entire currency and economic system in the process. The most spectacular alliance in the entire history of the Shi’a (including the Kurds and now mobilizing even the Zaydis in Yemen) is all that stands against the genocidal salafist takfiri monster your policies and allies have created, and you still can’t tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

    • Speaking of Saturday mourning cartoon ideologies you must be the poster child. You little to nothing about anything relevant and then troll people for no reason. You as little about Christianity as the New Atheists and as little about the left as the New Right crowd and as little about reality as Rachel Maddow.

      ” Let them eat Gay Wedding cake.”

      In that cake take the fascist-commie jack boot in the face since clearly you are part of the problem. Ever heard of Kinsey moron? Yes the man paid by the Rockefeller to sexualize amurica. Free love has given us so much freedom. Loss of our first amendment, restrictions on our right to bear arms, an ever more excessive executive power. But hey we get to butt fuck, or BF for short, each other so its ok! No BFing and we had the frest nation in the world. BFing and we seem to have lost all that freedom. Any connection almost certainly not.

      “The angry fundamentalist crowd has spent decades harassing women’s clinics”

      You mean trying to stop genocide right? Seriouly what kind of sack of shit are you? Do you eat babies for breakfast? That’s like calling Auschwitz or Kolyma retirement parks.

      ” The SJWs are far less politically dangerous than the religious right was”

      Really? You are a moron. You did not the Music censorship policy was funded by Tippor Gore right? Was she a right wing fundamentalist? Get you head out of your as and breath.

      The totalitarian world you living is precisely what the likes of your deserve.

      PS the Empire does not give a shit about you because you are irrelevant. So stop pretending to be anything other than what your are a worthless shack of shit how stands for nothing and will gladly let the Empire crush all descent if women can commit mass murder at their boyfriend’s behest and faggots can butt fuck each other. Enjoy the gulag bro!

    • “Oh America! God is back, the motherfucker has a Kalashnikov and a Koran, and he doesn’t give one shit about your New Atheism. While you are busy drawing obscene cartoons about Mohammed, the new caliphate is preparing to march on Mecca and capsize your entire currency and economic system in the process. The most spectacular alliance in the entire history of the Shi’a (including the Kurds and now mobilizing even the Zaydis in Yemen) is all that stands against the genocidal salafist takfiri monster your policies and allies have created, and you still can’t tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.”

      And your obviously a neo-con dips-hit whose read to many David Horowitz pieces and watches Fox News. The hillorious thing is the secular bullshit you believe like a nice brainwashed piss-pot is exactly why Islam is winning. It takes Christianity to fight back, which is exactly what Putin is doing. Did it ever occur to your pea brain that as we are legitimizing faggotry and pornography Putin is jailing fags and banning porn? Whmm! Porn is weakness and chastity is strength almost certainly not. Again you suck and Putin shows us that secular bullshit is no match for a man that rides grizzlies while wearing a byzantine cross.

  10. PS talking like a hard speaking shit-head does not improve your intellectual presence. You know I’d rip you to shreds any day of the week if you had the balls to bro down. Which I know your lack of balls will prevent you from doing.

    • Did I hit a nerve, there Todd? You are so mad you can’t even spell… Try and come up with a coherent reply and I’ll respond to it.

      • Not really. I just like trolling morons who are trolls. Try to think rationally if it won’t kill you and you might get a better response. I’ll make you a deal learn to think and I’ll work on my spelling? A deal?

      • Cute. Did it take you two days and all ten of your iq points to come up with that response? I know old people who could do better. Hope you did not sprain your brain in the process?

      • You finally came out of toilet you live in. It’s about time. PS is that all you got? I was expecting more from a borderline mentally restarted person as yourself.

  11. Some of the biggest problems I see in the atheist movement today are:

    1) There are too many people who are willing to lodge criticisms of other atheists (whether those criticisms are unfounded or have merit) but are unwilling to accept legit challenges to those criticisms. What comes to mind are the people who readily criticize other atheists who suggest that the community may need to consider codes of conduct but the former people take immediate offense to that criticism being challenged.

    2) This somewhat ties into the first point but is indeed a different point. Many atheists in the movement oppose the introduction of discussions of moral values or ethical behavior which they don’t share but are more than willing to espouse or promote without question, the moral values or behavior they already hold, be that very limited or harmful to others. It’s as if atheists must have rigid, narrow uniformity of values beliefs….how dare another atheist attempts to suggest that there may be a conduct problem at some atheist gatherings, suggest that there may be an ideological problem with the assertions that in general, Islamists in the occupied Palestinian territorials are fanatics motivated only by the worst of their religious texts while Christians in the U.S. who happen to be elected officials / representatives are level-headed benevolent men and women motivated generally by the best of their religious texts, and suggest that there may be a problem in humanity’s relationship with other sentient animals on this planet.

    3) There are too many people who are into brown-nosing and treating many of the highly visible personalities like deities. Sam Harris groupies are the first to come to mind. These people appear to treat Harris as if he has perfect wisdom and they never question anything Harris asserts. Herd mentality is so dangerous for any group of people to embrace.

    What isn’t a problem in my view, is stating emphatically and without punches being held back, the real dangers that arise out of aligning one’s behavior to the faith-based beliefs in a “celestial dictator”, an alleged character that adherents of this alleged deity are supposed to get moral direction from and are expected to follow the prescriptive behaviors of.

    • After reading you various discussions on this page, until know I have not joined in, but I found this last post of yours to be, despite my serious disagreements with your position, to be very broadminded and reasonable for the most part. I liked you concern that people not get into the habit of believing they are exempt from criticism, your contrast of Islam with Christianity and you assessment of Sam Harris groupies. I would also add that the main problem with modern atheism is that it fails to take the implications of atheism seriously as did 19th century atheists such as Nietzsche and Max Stirner.

        • The very obvious and sound claim made by Nietzsche that if the Christian God is rejected than Christian morality must be rejected as well.

          For example: “When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is absolutely not self-evident: one must make this point clear again and again, in spite of English shallow-pates.” See The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (Penguin Classics) pg 80-81

          One cannot be philosophically consistent atheist and not be a moral nihilist. One cannot transvalue ethics and then leave oneself with the three remaining taboos don’t rape, steal or murder. Well why? Since everything else that was once forbidden is licit why stop arbitrary there?

          Atheists fight for various political, social and economic goals, which really amount to pseudo-religions. As Max Stirner pointed out:

          “Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world, which has not yet learned to do without clericalism — that to live and work for an idea is man’s calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfillment his human worth is measured.”

          “This is the dominion of the idea; in other words, it is clericalism. Thus Robespierre and St. Just were priests through and through, inspired by the idea, enthusiasts, consistent instruments of this idea, idealistic men.”

          “Now, things as different as possible can belong to Man and be so regarded. If one finds Man’s chief requirement in piety, there arises religious clericalism; if one sees it in morality, then moral clericalism raises its head. On this account the priestly spirits of our day want to make a “religion” of everything, a “religion of liberty,” “religion of equality,” etc., and for them every idea becomes a “sacred cause,” e.g. even citizenship, politics, publicity, freedom of the press, trial by jury, etc.”

          “The fear of God in the proper sense was shaken long ago, and a more or less conscious “atheism,” externally recognizable by a wide-spread “unchurchliness,” has involuntarily become the mode. But what was taken from God has been superadded to Man, and the power of humanity grew greater in just the degree that of piety lost weight: “Man” is the God of today, and fear of Man has taken the place of the old fear of God.

          But, because Man represents only another Supreme Being, nothing in fact has taken place but a metamorphosis in the Supreme Being, and the fear of Man is merely an altered form of the fear of God.

          Our atheists are pious people.”

          All taken from the Ego and His Own.

          Atheists never truly become atheist. They always irrationally hold on to some remnant of the faith they no longer believe in.

          Lastly the sloppy sophomoric reasoning of most atheist apologetics. The statement “atheism is not a belief but absence of belief in God” is sophomoric and an offense to reason. Of course atheism is a belief it is a belief that claims (1) all that exists is matter and energy (materialism), (2) god/gods/angles/jinn etc do not exist, (3) my mind is identical to my brain and (4) I am identical to my body. To name few tenants of the belief of atheism. Furthermore if atheism were not a belief it would be irrelevant to public discourse. It would amount to nothing more than preferences for ice-cream flavors or movies. Yet atheist want to have their cake and eat it to they want (1) to avoid having their clerical beliefs criticized and (2) at the same time want to engage in discourse as if they represented a system of belief and thought, which they claim they don’t. Well you cannot have your cake and eat it to.

          So in short there are three points contained in my point:

          1) atheism fail to transvalue morality to its final conclusion holding on to relgious taboos against rape, murder and theft.
          2) Most Atheists are form pseudo-religions to replace the one they left and or fail to abandon certain beliefs that they derived from their previous faith.
          3) Atheists fail to seriously understand the philosophical implication of their position.

          • Hi Todd,

            Thanks for the reply.

            So, according to your response, the conclusions of atheism are:
            “1) atheism fail to transvalue morality to its final conclusion holding on to relgious taboos against rape, murder and theft.
            2) Most Atheists are form pseudo-religions to replace the one they left and or fail to abandon certain beliefs that they derived from their previous faith.
            3) Atheists fail to seriously understand the philosophical implication of their position.”

            Is that your argument?

            According to you, what precisely is morality’s final conclusion?

            What pseudo-religions exactly are you referring to when you claim that most atheists form these?

            What is the philosophical implication specifically that atheists are failing to seriously understand.

            Please don’t quote dead people. Let’s have a conversation between you and I. Put everything in your own words please. Thanks.

  12. After reflection I apologize for certain intemperate behavior that is not the properly to to express the disagreement I have with individuals such as Akira and others.

  13. I felt compelled to reply, simply because I know exactly what Chomsky is talking about. This is all alluding to an series of e-mails between Chomsky and Sam Harris. And Chomsky hits the nail on the head. I had always been brought up in Church in West Virginia and had never been exposed to ideas to the contrary, yet it came up naturally in me when I was 7 and asked my dad how God exists pretty rationally. He conceded that it was a difficult question, and to not tell anyone else, lol. I still went to church, faked belief for a while, and finally left it completely as teen. I was pretty outspoken about the lack of faith at first, almost spiteful. Then I found Buddhism, I liked the overall tenants, and only spoke against religion at all when it is involved in government. I explain all this to point out my ignorance of the “atheist” community, yet I have held the ideas. Now I feel very lucky that it came naturally and I never felt compelled to “research it. I have been content with my less than outspoken ideas about it, and half the reason I want to keep religion out of politics is based on knowing that politics corrupts the church just as much as the church corrupts it. An ex-girlfriend was quite in to Deepak Chopra, and I’ve read a couple of his books to just humor her, but always thought it was garbage, mixing eastern ideas to fit capitalism. The “law of attraction” new age crap is blatant capitalistic catering as well. I happened upon a debate where Sam Harris destroys Deepak just a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. Then in another debate he articulated basically some of the exact ideas I have personally had about essentially mixing spirituality with science. I have always seen Buddhism and science as very compatible, and even complimentary. The spiritual keeps you humble of mystery, and the logic keeps you from…well, basically being an idiot. I’ve also served in the Marines, and have gotten to know Islam pretty well, so when Sam had the balls to name Islam on the worst side of the religion scale…in a week it’s safe to say I was “hooked on Sam”. Then, thank God a YouTube poster shook me straight. Of course the poster was instantly and vehemently attacked when he did so. I kind of did a little too even, because he said outright that Sam was a “cult-leader” and all sorts of other things while being very arrogant and matter of fact about it. I called out for clarification, as it seemed like just pure hate or some strange bias, he said something to the effect of damn right he is biased, because he read every one of his books and was all about him as well…until he read other types of books. It seems some on this forum have as well, ones that assert the “lack of faith” becomes “faith” to people who seem to have zealotry in their nature. This is where this guy directed me to the Chomsky e-mails. After reading it, I had to concede, Sam, at least in this circumstance, has shown to have lost too much humility to have not become deluded. I still wanted to read Harris’s books, as I like to take everything with a grain of salt anyway, but the guy recommended other authors and ended it with, a sort of “suit yourself but it’s a waste of time”. It is a little crazy, cause Sam himself posted this correspondence and still had no idea it makes him look like a lunatic. What really strikes me as interesting is that it he does still seem to have good intentions and doesn’t understand his errors. It’s easy to do I guess when people become…too smart? Or is it “too much” knowledge? Or is it being TOO well meaning? Or do we all mainly need to remember to always be humble? I don’t know…there I thought for a second I saw a guy with some answers…but I’m walking away with only more questions. I am OK with that fact now that I considered the other side of the coin. Knowing it all already. It might have been best I haven’t been surfing forums for years and just got a Facebook last year at 27. I suggest everyone read this to judge what Chomsky is talking about better.

  14. Wow…Chomsky is truly an intellectual and I am truly mistaken. I didn’t look at the datestamp on this original post…it was written years before his e-mails with Harris. So that said, I was foolish and it’s eerie how Chomsky knew exactly what would happen in a “debate” with the likes of a “New Atheist” (which is a title Harris gladly accepts, and the e-mails show). Please read the e-mail to avoid this sort of behavior, it is EXACTLY like talking to a religious zealot and having them throw Bible verses at you all day, if not worse, since the “state worshiper” will weave whatever tale necessary in order to make the views “rational”.

  15. What scares the new atheists

    John N Gray

    Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

    The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

    Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

  16. NC wants to know who the audience is. I think I can help there. You see, Noam, how those numbers of atheists are now growing since new atheism came to be? Those people are the audience for this new outspokenness. The purpose is to reduce the harm that religion does by reducing the number of followers it gains. The new atheism criticizes religion as it is unable to criticize itself and offers an alternative in the form of non-belief.

    Is it [the audience] religious extremists? No, they are unlikely to be convinced, and already show they are too immoral to realize their religion is horrible.
    Is the audience atheists? No
    Is it the grieving mother who consoles herself by thinking that she will see her dying child again in heaven? Not specifically, no. But, if she happens across an essay about the reasons for non-belief and the silliness of believing in heaven, the atheist is not at fault for having written it. It would be absurd for you to hold reality to be abusive in some way, and your stated position seems awfully close to postulating that.
    Is it those who have religious affiliations and beliefs, but don’t have to be reminded of what they knew as teenagers about the genocidal character of the Bible, the fact that biblical accounts are not literal truths, or that religion has often been the banner under which hideous crimes were carried out (the Crusades, for example)? Sometimes. But, for someone who fancies himself an intellectual after so many years of practice, why didn’t you audit your own answer for clearly and deliberately excluding a whole swath of people who should be in this set.
    Who, in fact, is the audience? It is not an intellectual movement meant for people like you. It really doesn’t matter if it suits your tastes or not. It does benefit from intellectualism and could benefit more, of course. It makes many mistakes in argument and fact, but not so many that it is egregiously flawed.

    I can agree with you that atheism cannot postulate liberalism as a necessary part of non-belief in gods. Too many new-atheists assume that it does, and I would say that is unfortunate. Semantically, it only makes sense for atheist to mean a very simple thing and to not attach anything else to it; whether it be rationalism, naturalism, libertarianism or liberalism (etc). After all, if atheism only includes rationalists, what do we call people who come to lack belief in gods by some other route and who never embrace rationalism?

    I think it is unfortunate that new-atheist was ever a coined phrase. It may have been better to have avoided using the word atheist at all. But, in a way it does make sense. The movement that is known as ‘new-atheism’ does include atheism as a component. Perhaps it would have been better to call it “liberal atheism” or “progressive atheism”. Perhaps if they had come to a certain linguist to name it, that linguist wouldn’t be so cranky about the movement.

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