Three Oddities of the New Atheism image

Three Oddities of the New Atheism

There are a number of oddities to the new atheism, but I encountered a flurry of them the other day. Richard Dawkins had put out a series of tweets, which some of you may have come across, all of which took the form: "Modern physics is deeply mysterious & hard to understand. Therefore Jesus is my Lord & Saviour & Mohammed rode a winged horse. It follows." Standard fare for Dawkins, of course - taking an argument nobody has ever made, ridiculing it, and sitting back to receive the adulation of his adoring fans, much of it peppered (obviously) with words like "bigotry" and "ignorance" - but I felt impish, so I replied. "Richard Dawkins finds many American evangelicals annoying. Therefore Jesus of Nazareth did not rise from the dead. It follows."

I received a few indignant replies from new atheists (whom I distinguish from atheists more generally, many of whom find Dawkins’s silly straw-manning as annoying as I do), and each of them showcased a different hallmark of the new atheism. The first, as anyone who has read the comments at will know, is a blend of thoroughgoing misunderstanding and illiteracy:

what book do atheist kill for?

The second, which often (as here) overlaps with the first, is the entrenched belief that all believers are idiots, and in fact argue exactly as per Dawkins’s ridiculous invented non sequiturs:

Would have been a cleverer comeback he’d ever made any such link. His tweets were exactly the arguments often used by faithful

Well I use a number of apologetic arguments myself, and I’d be fascinated to see evidence of anyone, in the last two thousand years, presenting such a syllogism. The third, and most ironic given that we are talking about professing atheists, is the apparent belief in the divinity of Richard Dawkins:

Every day, there are theists that kill in the name of their god. No atheist has ever killed in the name of @RichardDawkins.

As I say: strange. But thoroughly in line with the fact that New Atheism is an anagram of “A Teen’s Whim”, and Richard Dawkins of “Rancid Dark Wish.” Maybe, in the spirit of arguing by flippant aphorism rather than careful syllogism, apologists should argue in anagrams from now on.

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