I’m not very impressed with this listicle about 5 Ways Atheists Argue Their Cause (That Aren’t Helping). It makes a few correct points, some bad ones, and the ones that it gets right are poorly argued.
#5. The Closest Atheism Has To Leaders Are Terrible People
True. But I think this is because it’s a movement where leaders were recognized for only one criterion: how forcefully they rejected religion. How forcefully they accepted other bad ideas wasn’t a factor. So this is a consequence of the one-dimensional nature of the atheist movement in the first decade of this century.
#4. It’s Become Tied To Awful Ideas
Yeah, but because #5. We’re still suffering because a lot of the early surge in atheism was thanks to the reaction against Republicans, Islamist terrorism, and general anger with non-secular twits. It turns out that jingo and othering brings a lot of baggage with it: hey, as long as we’re hatin’ on Muslims, let’s also be contemptuous of women.
#3. There’s An Arrogance To It
Wrong. Dead wrong. When believers declare that atheists can’t be moral, when they announce that they’re all going to hell, when they refuse to vote them into office because atheists are evil, you don’t get to declare that the atheists are the arrogant ones.
I’m also going to point out that part of that atheist arrogance comes from being right. Religions is on the wrong side of history on far too many issues, and it’s entirely reasonable to point out when someone else is completely wrong, even if they’re going to interpret that as you being arrogant.
#2. It’s Become Too Defensive
This is incoherent. We’re simultaneously arrogant and defensive? The heart of his argument is that annoying atheists intrude on internet discussions, which is bullshit. Even his own link to make his case is to a someone whining and generalizing about atheists, and complaining that an atheist might show up in one of his diatribes against atheists.
#1. It’s Focused On The Wrong Goals
I’ll agree with this one, sort of. The problem is that movement atheism functionally lacks any goals. I have experience in this; if you only knew how often atheists write to me and fucking insist that atheism means one thing and one thing only, the rejection of god-belief, you’d realize that the current heart of atheism is dead, shriveled, and stupid.
So I’d give it 3 out of 5. That’s a C.
If I had to specify a way that Cracked writers make their arguments (that isn’t helping), one is that the listicle format induces them to too often reach for filler and sloppy thinking to get another number on the list, and there isn’t much incentive to build a reasonable argument that actually hangs together.