It’s just sad. He has a long article in Salon making the same tired complaints every religious dingbat throws around.
Prominent non-believers have become as dogmatic as those they deride — and become rich on the lecture circuit
I know, the title and subtitle were probably written by an editor, but they do actually reflect the content. It’s really nothing but de Waal complaining that atheists are just as dogmatic as religious fundamentalists, and throwing about half-baked theories about why this is so.
Why are the “neo-atheists” of today so obsessed with God’s nonexistence that they go on media rampages, wear T-shirts proclaiming their absence of belief, or call for a militant atheism?
What exactly is a “media rampage”? He doesn’t give any examples, nor can I think of any. Is putting up a billboard a “rampage” now? Perhaps appearing on a talk show and disagreeing with the more numerous and more vocal theists is now rampaging. And what about T-shirts is so shocking? I have T-shirts proclaiming m
affection for squid, Pink Floyd, hot sauce, and various universities. Are they religions now, too?
What does atheism have to offer that’s worth fighting for?
When high-ranking politicians declare that global climate change because the Bible says it can’t happen; when lobbyists are constantly attacking the educational system to eradicate any mention of that faith-defying evolution stuff; when screaming true believers insist that every fertilized egg has a soul and therefore women’s reproductive choices must be blocked…de Waal has to ask?
And then there’s his inane hypothesis.
It [reducing the difference between vocal athiests and quiet ones is an issue of privacy] may one day help to test my thesis that activist atheism reflects trauma. The stricter one’s religious background, the greater the need to go against it and to replace old securities with new ones.
Uh, Dawkins and Hitchens: brought up Anglican. Weak tea right there. Harris: brought up in a secular home with a Jewish mother and Quaker father. I don’t know Dennett’s religious background; there’s no hint of a strict faith upbringing, though. I know I’m not one of the luminaries de Waal is thinking of, but I come from a very liberal Lutheran background…tea not much stronger than good ol’ etiolated Anglicanism.
de Waal: brought up Catholic.
Well, gosh, it sure didn’t take much effort to blow up that dumbass idea.
I will say one thing, though: he doesn’t actual make the claim that atheists are getting rich on the lecture circuit. Maybe the editor who slapped that on there should get fact-checked?
As one of those nasty atheists who does a fair bit of lecture touring, I have to mention that I must be doing it all wrong — all rumors to the contrary, I don’t really make any money doing it, and individual places that give me a bit of an honorarium are actually just subsidizing those places where my expenses put me at a small loss. Some of the big names do better because lecture tours are opportunities to leverage book sales, and having a popular book is a way to justify larger lecture fees…but no, claiming that one gets rich on the lecture circuit is really putting the cart before the horse.
And even those who do well on lecture fees aren’t really getting rich. Frans de Waal should know this, as a popular scientist and author: is he making a fortune on his reputation? Is he doing even a tenth as well as, say, an investment banker? I suspect lecture fees are a comfortable bonus, but not a recipe for great wealth. And shall we accuse him of getting rich off of his apes?