Over at his blog, Eric MacDonald, who used to be a New Atheist, explains why he is leaving New Atheism. He has come to recognize some of the things many of us have long been warning about.
First, he recognizes that New Atheists often erect, and then proceed to slay, strawman versions of religion:
However, as time went on I found myself at loggerheads with much that sailed under the banner of the New Atheism, finding its conception of religion so contrary to anything that I would have said about my faith in earlier years that I find myself no longer able to associate myself with this movement. Much that new atheists say about religion is simply so much straw.
Second, it looks like he could no longer tolerate the level of invective that spews from New Atheists (and it looks like Peter Boghossian’s book helped open his eyes to this):
There seems to be a belief that theology must simply be delusional, because there is no objective supernatural existent corresponding to the word ‘god’ — or at least that no “slam-dunk” arguments can be produced for such an existent. Consequently, it has become fairly normative to believe that religion has to do with “confected” entities, and religious thought itself not only delusional but even pathological. (Boghossian — in his book on making atheists — repeats the accusation that faith is pathological in his book so often that one is reminded of the George Orwell’s 1984, or the common practice in the Soviet Union of placing dissidents in psychiatric hospitals. There is a deeply threatening aspect to the belief that those whose ideas you oppose are somehow mentally ill, or victims of pathological ways of thinking in need of a cure.)
Third, he came to recognize the dogmatic, ideological dimension of New Atheism:
Empirical science is not the only source of truth or understanding. Indeed, I believe that the new atheism is quickly attaching itself to beliefs that are as dogmatic and irrational as many religious dogmas, and to a kind of ideological certitude that may be as dangerous as the ideologies of the past that caused so much harm in the course of what Robert Conquest has called The Ravaged Century.
I’ve long warned that the New Atheists were radical extremists and not all atheists are New Atheists. We can tell because many atheists refuse to join their movement and the movement itself, after almost 10 years, has made very little inroads into academia.
And now we can see that some people associated with New Atheism are beginning to break away from it.