Thanks to the New Atheist Movement, atheism is becoming more and more religious every day. We already have Atheist symbols, Atheist churches, Atheist ceremonies, and even Atheist schisms. Now, we can add the fact that thousands of atheists participated in an effort to come up with their own alternative version of the Ten Commandments.
What I find most interesting is how the atheist community came up with a set of rules outlining behavior and attitudes the New Atheists so rarely display. Consider their first commandment:
1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
Have you ever met an open-minded New Atheist? I have not and I am very skeptical such a being exists as no one has supplied any evidence for the existence of such beings.
It’s not just the complete lack of evidence for open-minded New Atheists, it’s the list of evidence that clearly points to the closed-minded status of New Atheists.
First, consider the extreme rhetoric of the New Atheists. They view religious people as “evil faith-heads,” delusional, dishonest, and stupid. Dawkins describes religion as “one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus,” Sam Harris declared, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion,” and Coyne himself has insisted, “Our writings and actions are sincere attempts to rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion.” Coyne would like to see it illegal for a parent to give a child a religious upbringing. Boghossian likens religion to a dangerous brain virus that needs to be contained by the State.
When anyone adopts such an extreme, emotional position, it is highly unlikely they do so from an open-minded state. It’s a closed-minded sense of certainty that allows people to engage in such militant extremism and justify demonizing others like this.
Second, consider how atheists rate themselves according to Richard Dawkins’ Seven Point scale.
A seven is: Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.” This refers to a One: “Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.” So, a Seven is someone who claims to know there is no God. Once you’ve reached the point where you think you know there is no God, you have become closed-minded about the existence of God. In your mind, you know better.
Well, consider the fact that New Atheist leaders Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne both scores themselves as a 6.9. Why a 6.9 and not a 6.8 or 6.5? Because a 6.9 is the very number that would be chosen by an atheist who is closed minded, but does not want to admit to being closed minded.
What’s more, if you ask the average internet atheist to score themselves, most will choose either a 6.9 or 7.
Third, often times, atheists have a hard time hiding their closed-mindedness. For example, Louise Antony is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts. In an interview, she asserted: “I claim to know that God doesn’t exist.”
This posture led to outbursts of cheering among the New Atheists over at “The Friendly Atheist” activist blog.
Or just consider the book titles of New Atheists. “There was no Jesus, There is no God” by Raphael Lataster. “Why There Is No God,” by Armin Navabi. “God Virus, The: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture,” by Darrel Ray. “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails,” by John Loftus. “God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist,” by Victor Stenger. I could go on, but you get the picture.
The titles of these books convey absolute certainty and this implies one of two things. Either the authors come to us with a mind-closed-shut or, they are appealing to an audience that thirsts for certainty on these issues. And who is their target audience? New Atheists.
Do the Gnus do any better with their other commandments? Consider Commandments Two and Three:
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
Hmmm. In the last 3 weeks or so, I was able to identify two obvious examples where these commandments were violated:
Using anecdotes, rhetoric, and stereotypes to prop up one’s confirmation bias does not qualify as “striving to understand” or “the scientific method.”
So what’s going on here? Clearly, these “10 Commandments” are not principles that atheists live by. When the first three commandments are routinely violated, and there is no concern they are routinely being violated, these are extremely unlikely to be principles. I think what we have here is a publicity stunt and its objective is to portray atheists as people who live by those principles. That is, the 10 Commandments would be better entitled, “How We Atheists Want Everyone To Perceive Us.” That, in of itself, is interesting, but we’ll save it for another day.