Letter: Troubles with new, new atheism

Publication YearIssue Date 

Brandon Beasley's column on "The poverty of New Atheism" [Sept. 30] slammed us for not coming up with a "viable, fulfilling worldview." Of course we haven't! Atheism just means you do not believe in a god or gods. Period, end of sentence. Secular Humanists, devout Jains and even some Hindus can all call themselves atheist. If you want a viable worldview from a simple label, you likely expect your toaster to drive you to work.

In the second half of his article, he dishes out stock apologetics. He states religious beliefs are special, because he says they are. He points to them being deeply important in how you live your life, yet ignores that only 14 per cent of all Americans can name the Ten Commandments, despite 82 per cent confessing to be Christian. When the key moral teachings of Judaism and Christianity are so casually tossed aside, it makes you wonder how important they really are in day-to-day life. He complains that atheists don't understand religion, yet that week a [Pew Research Centre] poll was released that showed atheists know more about religion than Christians, on average. That is no surprise, since the vast majority of North American atheists were Christian at some point in their lives. If anything, their understanding of religion and religious believers is what made them atheists in the first place!

He states the god debate is unimportant, which is true, at least until you're forced to confront someone who is acting in the name of god. Suddenly, it becomes a bit of a deal, and sadly, it's an all too common event. Searching for common ground, holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" together won't help you then.





This letter misunderstood Beasley\'s article more than Beasley\'s article misunderstood the New Atheism movement. What Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris etc. represent is a shift towards popular atheism and speaking out against theocratic policies as opposed to atheism being confined to intellectual elites. Beasley criticised them for not contributing anything new to philosophy (this is a correct assessment but that was never the point of Dawkins, Dennet etc.) This letter assumes Beasley was talking about atheism in general, which he was not. Other than that, agreed with Hornbeck.

Nice comment. The name says it all:
a - without
theism - religion and/or \"God\"

You defined nontheist, not atheist. Atheists are those that believe there is no god.

Saying you do not believe does not talk about you. You didn\'t believe in the year 1492 either.

\"You defined nontheist, not atheist. Atheists are those that believe there is no god.\"

Did you read anything I wrote? Here, let me quote back my third sentence to you:

\"Atheism just means you do not believe in a god or gods.\"

If you\'re going to criticize me, try to understand what I\'m saying first. It limits the potential amount of embarrassment...