A Fourth Wave?

In her essay that describes the Gnu atheist movement as a “Boys Club,” Gnu activist and feminist Jen McCreight calls for a new wave of atheism.  There is something wrong in the following excerpt.  See if you can spot it:

I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.*

It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

Did you catch it?

McCreight identifies three waves

1. The traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics.

2. The “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion.

3. The FreeThoughtblogs bloggers.

It looks to me like this outspoken gnu feminist just engaged in patriarchal revisionism.

In characterizing waves of atheism, McCreight has completely written Madalyn Murray O’Hair out of the picture.  The feminist has totally ignored the contributions of American’s most famous atheistic woman!  Not one mention.  This is completely inexcusable, as O’Hair’s unabashed public criticism of religion long predates Dawkins and Harris.  O’Hair, along with her atheist organization, would constitute the second wave, not Dawkins and Hitchens.  Either Dawkins and Hitchens belong to this second wave, or they represent a third wave.  Which would mean McCreight, if she is sincere about wanting to apply “skepticism to everything,” needs to relabel her movement as the fourth wave or go back and give O’Hair the respect she deserves.

Here’s a short clip of the woman atheist leader that McCreight completely ignores:

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12 Responses to A Fourth Wave?

  1. apollyon911 says:

    Maybe the fourth wave of atheism will turn that skepticism towards everything…including atheism. Or is that not part of everything and everyone?

  2. Crude says:

    Yeah, O’Hair tends to go completely unmentioned. Funny, that.

    Also, it sounds an awful lot like gnu+ atheism is turning into something that has almost nothing to do with atheism or even science, but rather carping about whoever’s special interests. It’s not going to take long at all for the whole ‘religion’ aspect to get dropped at this rate, or at least only be a small issue alongside various others.

  3. Michael says:

    The Gnu+ crowd should be challenged on their shunning of O’Hair, as it comes across as patriarchal revisionism.

    I do agree with you about this way things are developing. I can see the Gnu+ crowd warming to softer versions of neo-paganism and mysticism. The only thing that unites all Gnus is their hatred of Christianity.

  4. G. Rodrigues says:

    @apollyon911:

    “Maybe the fourth wave of atheism will turn that skepticism towards everything…including atheism.”

    Replacing atheism with skepticism makes for a neater formula (and also shows the incorrigible irrationality of the whole thing).

  5. Michael says:

    Maybe the fourth wave of atheism will turn that skepticism towards everything…including atheism. Or is that not part of everything and everyone?

    I don’t think the Gnus are capable of intellectual consistency. They often play by a double standard, as the end always justifies the means in their minds.

  6. Crude says:

    I can see the Gnu+ crowd warming to softer versions of neo-paganism and mysticism.

    Now that would be epic. I want to see PZ Myers flat out taking part in a pagan goddess-worship ceremony (Gaia, of course), sacrificing fruits and nuts to some fetish statue, and taking on a name like Brother Oakbeard.

  7. The Deuce says:

    Somewhat off-topic, but too good not to mention. Looks like Dawkins is coming out as a real-life Jesus myther, just in case there is still a single reasonable individual out there that hasn’t written him off as a complete joke yet: http://www.uncommondescent.com/religion/why-is-dawkins-making-this-so-easy-for-us/

  8. stcordova says:

    Jen demonstrates some A+ scholarship doesn’t she?

  9. Crude says:

    By the way.

    I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement

    Uh. If you remove the misogynists, racists, homohobes, transphobes, and trolls from the Cult of Gnu, I’m not sure that what remains can rightly be called a movement.

    Hell, if you just remove the trolls, I’m not sure there’s anything left. “What is Gnu Atheism when the trolls are removed?” is like a buddhist koan.

  10. Bilbo says:

    …applies skepticism to everything.

    Like the existence of other minds or the existence of an objective, independent physical reality?

  11. Cale B.T. says:

    Crude: “I want to see PZ Myers flat out taking part in a pagan goddess-worship ceremony, sacrificing fruits and nuts to some fetish statue, and taking on a name like Brother Oakbeard.”

    (With apologies to C.S. Lewis)

    And Dawkins with Paul Myers wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes,
    Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses
    To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.

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