Dogmatic Atheists

In the past, I have stressed that we should not stereotype all atheists as New Atheists. Psychologist Leon Seltzer would likely agree with me. Here is something he wrote:

The main point I’d like to focus on here is one craftily articulated in a book with the intriguingly provocative title, The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality (2007). Its author, the prominent French philosopher André Comte-Sponville, makes the distinction between the “dogmatic atheist” and the “non-dogmatic atheist.” Largely self-explanatory, the first type of non-believer might be seen as lacking a certain humility. For the assuredness of their atheism borders on an arrogance comparable to that of their fundamentalist-believing counterparts. In their outspoken conviction, they’re quite prepared to go on record declaring the non-existence of any supernatural being. Which is to say, their claim is not expressed as an opinion but as undeniable fact. They’re rationalists in the purest sense (i.e., “No God, or gods, exist. Case closed—unless you present me with indisputable scientific evidence to the contrary.”). In their minds virtually all possibility of a cosmic creation undertaken by some celestial deity has been vanquished. (And that’s why some believers experience this adamant stance not simply as overbearing but as downright “militant.”)


Those of us who value reason, evidence, and critical thinking will recognize Seltzer’s description as accurate. For the description of “dogmatic athesist” clearly applies to the New Atheists and their leaders, Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, Peter Boghossian, and PZ Myers. What’s more, Seltzer’s description nicely matches the scientific evidence that showed New Atheists scored highest for Narcissism, Dogmatism, and Anger and scored lowest when it came to agreeableness and positive relations with others. It also nicely matches with the way that most New Atheists score themselves as a 6.9 to 7 on Dawkins scale of belief.

So let’s get something straight.

When I refer to New Atheists as militant, fundamentalist, closed-minded, or dogmatic, I am not being mean, nor am I trying to distort reality with language. I am being accurate.

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