The new atheists: Santa's sleigh came and went, and never gave them what they needed
In The Ottawa Citizen, Robert Sibley advises
From New Age cults to murderous fundamentalism, these are dark times for religion, and the 'new atheists' are in the ascendant. The problem with their movement is that they don't understand the source of their hostility ... (December 26, 2008)Oh? In the ascendant? In the legacy mainstream media, maybe, but not in the world at large.
In fact, this year - for the first time in a long while - I noticed a decisive pushback against their efforts to stop people from saying "Merry Christmas!"
Be a Christian, don't be a Christian, ... it's your choice. But December 25 is Christmas Day. In Canada, both December 25 and December 26 are statutory holidays - and pretty popular ones, too, so you need to keep that fact in mind if you intend to try litigation. No one is going to thank you for forcing them to work on one of those days, if they are not in an essential service field.
Anyway, I don't think the new atheists' movement is really going anywhere because what they don't have is any important new ideas.
I mean, once you get past Richard Dawkins explaining to Ben Stein in Expelled that space aliens might have created life - but not God - or Lee Smolin's zillions of flopped universes, theirs are not new ideas that we can compare with, say, the discovery of neuroplasticity in the brain.
Now THAT was a discovery - oh my heavens, what a discovery! Just think of all the old people who realize that they are not consigned to involuntary senility after all! But that discovery did not help materialist atheism one bit. Neuroplasticity makes way more sense if your immaterial mind is real and directs your brain.
Which reminds me: What discoveries would have helped materialist atheism? Here are some:
1995: It is conclusively proven that there is a single gene switch that causes people to be gay or straight. Soon after, the single switches that cause people to be fat or thin, faithful or unfaithful to their partners, and liberal or conservative in their voting patterns are quickly found.
1996: It becomes impossible to determine whether one is communicating by keyboard with a human or a chimpanzee.
1998: Major science geek gets Nobel Prize for discovering the God gene, which causes people to be religious.
1999: It becomes impossible to determine whether one is communicating by keyboard with a human or a computer.
2000: A rogue module is found in the brain that controls the sense that one is an "I" rather than an "it." Everyone is really an "it" after all, and the "I" factor is a delusion caused by a glitch.
2001: Evolutionary psychologists lead the way in developing effective treatments for mental disorders, using their theories, including the Big Bazooms theory of human evolution, which wins a Nobel Prize for its sheer cogency.
2004: A computer program is developed that can predict within 99.99999% certainty who will commit a crime - or do a variety of other things - in the next twelve months, all based on hormones and similar factors.
2007: Most people worldwide agree that belief in God is harmful because it leads to bad ideas like right and wrong, and the harmful practice of accepting responsibility for one's own actions. Billions of people urge their governments to take over intimate details of their lives to prevent further harm.
Okay, obviously, none of this happened. And Bill Maher's Religulous came and went.
The real reason for the spate of New Atheist books, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is that they want you to become an atheist now - before you figure out that atheism is a crock. There is no way out of the desperations of human existence through atheism.
Look, I am NOT one of those feel-good Christians who try to tell you that God has a wonderful plan for your life. Maybe he does, and I am glad for you. But the figure at the front of my own church is of a crucified man (depicted above), and it is in that knowledge that I am instructed to live the rest of my life.
There is no escape from the glory and tragedy of being human, not an animal, and the "new atheist" movement is a paltry cheat and a waste of your time.
If you want to be an atheist, be an old atheist, not one of these new atheists, looking for the latest buzz from the popular science press to bolster lame ideas. Believe in God or don't believe - you are still accountable for what you do. You really are.