The rifts were widening everywhere


How interesting — Arun reports that the history of atheism in India was pretty much like it was here. A surge of interest sparked by The God Delusion (say what you want about Dawkins, that was an influential book), with an emergent split as one group saw social justice as an essential component of the movement, while another group “expressed abhorrence to the word feminism and propagated the myth that women are inherently irrational”, leading to a current divided movement.

I suspect it’s a reflection of a fault line that was there all along, and not at all unique to atheism. All you have to do is look at the American electorate and see a division that is somewhat independent of religious ideas.

Comments

  1. asoricaho says

    Edgelords who wanted to pump themselves up by being controversial and nasty found in atheism one way to do that, just as they did in libertarianism. People like that aren’t going to be interested in social justice, but just the opposite, they’ll be controversial and nasty about that too.

  2. hemidactylus says

    Dawkins’ book is an interesting choice of guide posts for the history of atheism. Year 0? And is the dichotomization reflective of reality? Maybe somewhat for movement atheism, but the characterization of polar SJW/regressives versus MGTOW/antifeminists seems a bit strained as most self identifying atheists may be unaware of the battle lines as drawn.

    Trying to better decipher Pinker’s reliance on Snow’s two culture polarity in Enlightenment Now I have been reading Gould’s The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox which gets into the problematics of the human tendency to dichotomize. Ancients vs moderns, literati vs scientists, pomo vs. Sokal hoaxers, Boghossian vs. gender studies…eternal recurrence.

    So yes humans do rift based on need for group affiliation and let that dictate their reality and manner of outgrouping. Getting that from a You Are Not So Smart podcast. It’s not confined to atheism. Freud’s narcissism of small differences may lead the way into even deeper conflicts beyond superficial preference bonding. If kashrut is a means of marking off an identity from Canaanites it goes way back.

  3. mnb0 says

    “that was an influential book”
    Sure, I’ve never denied it. It still is quack-philosophy written by a non-philosopher. About half as bad as a book on pseudo-biology (read: creacrap) written by a non-biologist (like a certain lawyer born in June 1940).

  4. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    I suspect it’s a reflection of a fault line that was there all along, and not at all unique to atheism.

    Your suspicions are on the money. If you have cracks in your driveway and you simply topcoat it with another layer of asphalt, it’ll crack in the same place. The problem is in the base substrate the driveway is built on. Any new layer you put down will take up the characteristics of the substrate.

    Having said that. If you have a society that is fundamentally dysfunctional, lets say for instance widespread inequality based on race or gender. Anything built on that base is going to fault along the same lines too.

    Sure Dawkins’ book painted on a layer of sealcoating that made atheism appealing to a lot of people, who doesn’t like looking at a newly sealed driveway? While that’s a helpful step in maintenance lets not overstate it’s importance, it does little to address any underlying issues. The “new atheism” soon cracked and heaved to reflect the societal substrate it was built upon. One might even argue that the “new atheist” movement simply glossed over underlying issues.

  5. DanDare says

    My atheist group, the Kenmore Atheist Community, is going through the process of forging a values position. It arose because we have had over the years a number of racists, mysogenists and conspiracy theorists join. They inevitably get ejected because the community part of atheist community is the meaty bit. So we decided to work out what we actually stood for and let prospective new members know.

  6. Derek Vandivere says

    I saw a GREAT documentary at last year’s IDFA (international documentary festival in Amsterdam) called Reason. It’s four hours long (!), but goes into how nationalistic Hinduism has been dealing with atheists and skeptics, Christians, Muslims, and Dalits. Towards the end, there are some fairly shocking allegations about the Mumbai bombings; I don’t know if they’re true but holy crap if they are. Highly highly recommended – I went in thinking I’d last an hour or so but the whole thing went by super quickly.

    https://www.idfa.nl/en/film/ef45f79f-e1e6-40a6-834d-73a980890ba6/reason

  7. Matt G says

    When I was a young and naive atheist, I assumed the same thinking that brought me to atheism and liberalism brought other atheists to liberal positions. Then I learned about “libertarians” and “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” people. Well, it turns out a lot of those so-called social liberals harbor a fair bit of racism and sexism.

  8. wanderingelf says

    say what you want about Dawkins, that was an influential book

    Yes, but just because it was influential does not mean it was good. As already pointed out (mnb0 at #4), it was basically the work of someone who knows little or nothing of theology, philosophy, or social science blathering on about theology, philosophy, and social science. My impression of it was that Richard Dawkins brings to a discussion of religion all the keen insight that Ken Ham brings to a discussion of evolution. The fact that so many of the atheistic faithful ate it up with a spoon was one more piece of evidence that new atheism was always more atheism qua religion than it was intellectual revolution.

  9. John Morales says

    wanderingelf:

    Yes, but…

    OK, right away you don’t dispute the claim. You actually explicitly agree with it.

    … just because it was influential does not mean it was good.

    Yes. :)

    But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, either.

    As already pointed out (mnb0 at #4), it was basically the work of someone who knows little or nothing of theology, philosophy, or social science blathering on about theology, philosophy, and social science.

    It was so claimed by mnb0, true. Without any justification.

    (Also, perhaps be careful when complaining because an atheist knows little about theology — need I explain why?)

    My impression of it was that Richard Dawkins brings to a discussion of religion all the keen insight that Ken Ham brings to a discussion of evolution.

    Really. Care to specify in what manner Dawkins’ repudiates the existence of religion in the same manner as Ken Ham repudiates the existence of evolution?

    (Easier to make claims than to sustain them, no?)

    The fact that so many of the atheistic faithful ate it up with a spoon was one more piece of evidence that new atheism was always more atheism qua religion than it was intellectual revolution.

    Heh. “the atheistic faithful”, eh? Way to beg the question, and exclude the non-atheistic faithful and the atheistic non-faithful and the non-atheistic non-faithful from the scope of your claim.

    Thing is, when it comes to atheism, Dawkins is no slouch. And neither was Hitchens.

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