This week, New Humanist themselves published a counterpoint by Ophelia Benson which I heartily endorse. It’s titled “Friends like these” – a reference to the fact that modern atheism’s enemies are already numerous, and so some of the criticism coming from within the community is distinctly unhelpful.
It’s obviously not the case that internal criticism and debate should be stifled, but it’s disheartening to see so much venom, and so many of the same old straw men being burnt, from the people who are nominally on our side of the discussion that actually matters. Remember, the one about the invisible sky-man who some people think talks to them and cares how we behave.
She also makes the point well that people’s idea of this “new” atheism being militant, strident, and aggressive often seems to be based on things like the discussions in blog comment threads – something which doesn’t exemplify “atheists” so much as “people with an internet connection and an opinion”. Everyone is a dick on the internet. It’s science. SCIENCE.
Case in point: I just read the comments on that very article and now my head hurts. Why do I find this all so frustrating?
Update: Russell Blackford is also busily being right about this.