Four horsemen emergency

Bad idea of the moment – a tweet –

Only three horsemen left. Who’s feet are big enough to fill Hitchens’ shoes? #atheism

Dear god what a stupid question (even if it had been “whose”). It’s like asking “what shall we call people who were just too young to fight in WWII that’s not ‘the greatest generation’?” Or “what shall we call the new atheists now that some time has passed?” It’s taking a dopy media cliché and treating it as somehow meaningful.

And then, even if it weren’t ridiculous to take the dopy media cliché seriously, why take it seriously in that way? Who cares whether there are four?

And then, if you want to say Hitchens left a gap, say that, but don’t talk sycophantic (and risible) nonsense about filling his shoes.

But much more, what is this pathetic craven belly-crawling need for Bosses or Leaders or Heads or motherfucking Horsemen? Why are people such suckups? Why are they not just suckups, but not even embarrassed to be suckups?

Atheism doesn’t need any leaders. Leaders are not automatically a good thing. Get over it.

And by the way least of all does atheism need male leaders, or a mindless belief that we need male leaders. Of all people you would think atheists could manage to figure that out, because what is it that we don’t share with most people? Belief in a mysterious supernatural hidden male boss of all the bosses, that’s what.


  1. says

    Oh NOES!!!! I don’t know anything about the person who said that, but it comes up all the time and has a bunch of hidden assumptions wrapped into it that are troubling for the future of organized atheism. It is very “top-down authoritarian”, it assumes that any of these “horsemen” are representative of atheists as a whole, and that it is a good idea to have these sorts of representatives… and let’s not even get started with how horrible some of these “leaders” are on all sorts of issues that matter much more than getting off zingers at theists.

  2. says

    Also, the “four horsemen” were never leaders — and if they had been, they would have been self-appointed and that alone should spark a rebellion.

    These were four people who happened to be prominent atheists with influential books released in roughly the same couple of years; the “four horsemen” was a PR tag, and should never be thought of as anything more than that.

    All respect to the four, but they were not being sanctified into a hierarchy. An awful lot of people don’t get that, especially the fool who was tweeting at us.

  3. says

    Really. And they need to get it. They need to stop anointing pretend “leaders,” especially since some of the guys they anoint actually think it’s for real.

  4. says

    The part I find odd is that there’s such a big overlap between the anti-Social Justice “dictionary atheists” and the “we need to respect our LEADERS!!!” crowd. If we’re not supposed to do anything with atheism besides feeling smug and self-satisfied that we’re not as dumb as theists, why do we need “leaders” for that?

  5. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    I, personally, don’t want leaders. I don’t *need* leaders. I want people whose speaking and writing is inspiring and interesting to me.

  6. Margaret says

    @Improbable Joe,

    The part I find odd is that there’s such a big overlap between the anti-Social Justice “dictionary atheists” and the “we need to respect our LEADERS!!!” crowd.

    I think it’s just two of the aspects of authoritarian followers. You just have to change the phrase “anti-Social Justice” to “pro-Status Quo” to make that more obvious.

  7. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Only three horsemen left. Who’s feet are big enough to fill Hitchens’ shoes? #atheism

    I’m surprised no one has given the obvious answer. Michael Shermer, of course!

  8. Eristae says

    The “Four Horsemen” thing was only fun as a pun. One shouldn’t make arguments from puns; there is no purposing in appointing another fourth Horseman, even if there was someone who could appoint Horsemen.

    Furthermore, I find it odd to assume that there isn’t already a plethora of “Fourth Horsemen”*; there are a ridiculous number of atheists who are doing fantastic things, things that are in no way inferior to anything Hitchens did. It isn’t helpful to start trying to squash people with their own achievement into Hitchens’s mold.

    Let Hitchens keep his shoes; the atheists of today are cobbling their own shoes and have no need to take someone else’s shoes.

    *it feels so weird to be talking this way

  9. says

    Hamilton – hahaha you jest but the genius who did that tweet did in fact suggest Shermer. Yes really. Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer, Peter Singer were the suggestions.

  10. says

    Yeah, the Four Horsemen didn’t even take the Four Horsemen that seriously. But some of their followers do, because apparently they need to be led.

  11. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Good heavens. I suppose I should go read it all for myself, but this situation is not doing anything to make me less Twitter-averse.

  12. fwtbc says

    If I used twitter, I would’ve been very tempted to have tweeted back the names of as many high profile female atheists as possible, with special priority given to those that have frequently been called cunts.

    It’s spiteful, and not particularly productive, but the idea tickles me.

  13. Jean says

    Not that it makes any difference but there there was a talk in Australia (available on Youtube) where Ayaan Hirsi Ali was the fourth one.

  14. Bjarte Foshaug says

    BTW, what happened to the Magnificent Seven of Atoothfairyism, the Five Pillars of Amidgardserpentism, and the Dynamic Duo of Aghostism? Surely those unbeliefs need some leaders too…

  15. says

    @Jean #17 – At the Melbourne conference, the point was also made (by Harris, if I recall correctly) that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was meant to be part of the original “4 Horsemen” conversation & DVD. The idea was always 5 “horsepersons”, if you will, where if she had joined, that horsemen name would never have gotten off the ground. Her plans changed late in the day, and she couldn’t make it to that first gathering in the end. The Melbourne conversation thus became an occasion to put this right, though of course back to 4 participants due to Hitchens’ absence.

    Having said all that, I agree with the various sentiments that it was a PR gimmick in any case, and that “we” certainly don’t need to elect a Pope (or what have you).

  16. Erik says

    Wait I thought Peezus was our new lord and savior. That’s what some douchecanoe on the internet told me so it must be true!

  17. deepak shetty says

    Atheism doesn’t need any leaders. Leaders are not automatically a good thing. Get over it.

  18. says

    Maybe when we learn the Doctor’s name on the Fields of Trenzalore this will all become clear. Unless Steven Moffat does the unthinkable and makes him a god…

  19. Bob says

    Rather funny that a website and an author that is trying so hard to become a leader of the atheist movement decries the need for leaders when they are not asked to be one.

  20. says

    Hm. A guy I don’t know asked me (and/or Kim Rippere) on Twitter, “Is it me, or does this start well, then turn into a rant against men?”

    A rant against men? If someone can see “a rant against men” in that then it’s no wonder we can’t have nice things. Honestly.

  21. says

    I’m not trying to become a leader of the atheist movement and neither is the “website” (it’s a blog). That’s an imbecilic thing to say. I have absolutely no desire to be a leader of anything, any more than I want to become a real estate agent or a golf pro.

  22. satanaugustine says

    “pro-Status Quo”

    Who isn’t pro-Status Quo? Are there really people who dislike pictures of matchstick men?

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