Over at stderr, Marcus Ranum has a great piece explaining why ‘movement atheism’ was inherently limiting and now appeals only to those (like Richard Dawkins) who have either no broader social justice goals and hence have nothing useful to say outside of condemning religion or (like Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, and the late Christopher Hitchens) are actively opposed to many of those goals.
Richard Dawkins has not had any thoughts about politics that are important enough to make him a footnote to a Cliffs’ Notes version of Plato, so he’s doing well sticking to the well-hoed field of atheism, where he can make arguments that would have elicited a yawn from Hume and an eye-roll from Voltaire.
Religion is a huge system of bullshit, and there are many sub-fields within religion, and anyone who wishes to can have a busy and productive life just attacking any one or maybe two of those sub-fields – in fact, I owe my perspective on movement atheism to Sam Harris and his shit-show posting about “Why don’t I criticize Israel?” [stderr] that made me realize that movement atheists simply do not have the chops to go after anything bigger and tougher than refuting religion.
What I’m saying is that folks like Harris, Dawkins, Shermer, Carrier, et. al., have found the place where they are as effective as they want to be, and they’re comfortable there. Oh, you want to argue about whether or not there’s evidence for the biblical jesus? That’s nice. Over in the deep end of the pool, they are arguing about whether there’s evidence that supply-side economics works and they’re trying to model what reparations for slavery might look like over the size of an economy like the United States’ and 400 years. Next up: what about the Indigenous Peoples? As far as I am concerned, the atheist movement hit its peak effort when a bunch of its stars stepped forward and then immediately fell all over themselves when they tried to express thoughtful opinions about politics.
You should read the whole thing.