Basically this post could be a big “What PZ said“: The notion that there is anything “new” about “New Atheism” other than having the boldness to speak out is ridiculous; but the notion that there is a newer, better atheism that doesn’t like to make waves against religion is far more ridiculous.
I am occasionally baffled by emails such as this one that we received two days ago (as per an earlier post, this is just an excerpt):
I was going to call in to ask what you guys think about the following. Some of my friends have suggested that the “militant atheism” strategy pursued by scientists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc., may turn out to achieve precisely the opposite of its goal. The strident, aggressive stance taken by these “atheist preachers” can easily be seen by many theists as offensive, and consequently strengthen their faith and encourage the formation of a stereotype which sees the atheist as “the enemy”.
How can anyone wonder what we think of those guys? We are those guys. Oh sure, we’re not bestselling authors or anything, the crowds we draw are much smaller, comparatively speaking (although fairly high if we’re allowed to count “every single person who eventually watches each show” as part of a crowd).
But really, the entire draw of the Atheist Experience is that we are out there every single week being a walking, televised billboard saying “Hey look, here are some guys who think that it’s irrational to believe in God. Call us and argue. PLEASE.” I mean, sure, we try to do so in a manner that is polite and respectful — most of the time. (Then again, Jeff’s rants are legendary.) But in generally I try to follow a guideline something like “People deserve respect and dignity. Their flawed claims do not.”
Are we abrasive? Are we offensive? Sometimes I don’t know how to answer that question. But I will certainly say this: it is offensive to me to claim that there are ideas out there that are beyond the scope of public dispute.