More atheist-bashing, this time from Bryan Appleyard at the New Statesman.
Two atheists – John Gray and Alain de Botton – and two agnostics – Nassim Nicholas Taleb and I – meet for dinner at a Greek restaurant in Bayswater, London. The talk is genial, friendly and then, suddenly, intense when neo-atheism comes up. Three of us, including both atheists, have suffered abuse at the hands of this cult. Only Taleb seems to have escaped unscathed and this, we conclude, must be because he can do maths and people are afraid of maths.
Abuse? What kind of “abuse”? How are we defining “abuse”? How are we defining “cult”? What, exactly, are we talking about? Who is abusing whom?
De Botton is the most recent and, consequently, the most shocked victim. He has just produced a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, mildly suggesting that atheists like himself have much to learn from religion and that, in fact, religion is too important to be left to believers. He has also proposed an atheists’ temple, a place where non-believers can partake of the consolations of silence and meditation.
This has been enough to bring the full force of a neo-atheist fatwa crashing down on his head.
Really? How are we defining “full force”? How are we defining “fatwa”? Not, I trust, as the order given by the clerical ruler of a large state offering a reward for the murder of a foreign novelist.
It turns out we’re defining it as PZ Myers talking about de Botton’s book as an object of nausea. That’s the full force of a neo-atheist fatwa crashing down on his head.
So, as I said, who is abusing whom? You could say that it’s abusive to characterize the words of a member of the despised group “atheists” as a fatwa crashing on someone’s head. You could say that’s just whipping up more of the same old hatred of atheists that already inspires a good deal of real “abuse.”
At the end he says something inadvertently funny.
Happily, the backlash against neo-atheism has begun, inspired by the cult’s own intolerance.
Begun? It’s been in high gear since almost the moment Sam Harris’s book hit the shelves. And as for what inspired it – does Appleyard really think it has nothing at all to do with believers’ sense of outraged privilege? Not to mention the non-religious or only semi-religious defenders of religion who think it’s their duty to defend the less articulate believers from the scary monster atheists?
Honestly; you go away for five days and come home to a pile of fresh atheist-bashing. Never a moment to catch your breath.