New Atheist Leaders Run Away From Criticism

Atheist John Gray wrote a lengthy essay that raises several powerful criticisms of the New Atheists and their anti-religious movement. The New Atheist’s push a narrative that is ahistorical, trying to create the illusion that atheism is nothing more than some relatively recent discovery of science. Gray undermines that narrative by outlining some of atheism’s historical context that is ignored or downplayed by the New Atheists. You can tell the piece is threatening to the Gnus by the responses from their leaders.

For example, Sam Harris responds with mockery:

LOL! Yes, Sam Harris, of all people, mocks someone else for having “too much time on his hands.”

Then there is activist Jerry Coyne. He writes:

Gray’s piece is not worth reading, is not important, and therefore is not worth analyzing.

Translation – Angry Coyne is seething because he doesn’t know how to respond. Further evidence of this comes from his follow-up criticism:

It’s not only too long and makes no new arguments, but is also terribly written. Gray has yet to master the art of writing lively (or even readable) prose, and thus he begins his piece like this—a lesson on how not to draw the reader into your article:

How catty. Unable to deal with the substance of Gray’s article, Coyne, lashes out at…..style. And how did Gray begin his article? Coyne posts it:

In 1929, the Thinker’s Library, a series established by the Rationalist Press Association to advance secular thinking and counter the influence of religion in Britain, published an English translation of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1899 book The Riddle of the Universe. Celebrated as “the German Darwin”, Haeckel was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; The Riddle of the Universe sold half a million copies in Germany alone, and was translated into dozens of other languages.

Does anyone other than Coyne have trouble reading that? That Coyne struggled with it suggests he has watched too many cat videos over the last few years. Oh, and he didn’t include the entire first paragraph. Have a look at the last half that he surgically excised:

Hostile to Jewish and Christian traditions, Haeckel devised his own “religion of science” called Monism, which incorporated an anthropology that divided the human species into a hierarchy of racial groups. Though he died in 1919, before the Nazi Party had been founded, his ideas, and widespread influence in Germany, unquestionably helped to create an intellectual climate in which policies of racial slavery and genocide were able to claim a basis in science.

I think we can now begin to see why Coyne wants people to believe “Gray’s piece is not worth reading.”
😉

Finally, Coyne ends his post with this little dig:

Of course Gray has a new book to sell, which is why he wrote this over-long screed in the first place.

LOL! Me thinks Coyne is projecting.

Anyway, hats off to John Gray for writing an essay that caused the New Atheist leaders to run away.

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6 Responses to New Atheist Leaders Run Away From Criticism

  1. Crude says:

    Of course Gray has a new book to sell

    Should I be more amazed at the hypocrisy or the lack of self-awareness in these guys? I’m having trouble deciding.

  2. Bilbo says:

    I found Gray’s essay worth reading. Thanks for the link.

  3. GRA says:

    A tactic used by those who do not want to address criticism or objections.

  4. desha says:

    These guys are man-children who care infinitely more about atheism than about science. I recently watched a debate between Krauss and WLC in which Krauss did something similar, namely surgically excising an email from a notable physicist to his advantage.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/honesty-transparency-full-disclosure-and-bgv-theorem

  5. TFBW says:

    I would dearly like to offer some insightful criticism of either Sam Harris or Jerry Coyne contra John Gray, but their opposition to him is so completely and utterly without substance that there’s nothing to do — other than point out the lack of substance.

    I’ve noted for a long time now that New Atheists attack their opponents but do not actually engage their arguments. Instead, they offer their own report of what their opponents believe (i.e. a straw man), and attack that — usually with a torrent of abuse and an appeal to obvious wrongness, rather than a counter-argument as such. If one does not pay close attention to the content, however, the size of the response can give the impression of substance.

    When it comes to attacking a fellow atheist, however, it seems that Coyne and Harris don’t want to produce the kind of tirade they offer in response to theists. Their tones are dismissive, as they are with all opposition, but uncommonly terse. Without the padding offered by the usual verbal effigy-burning, the naked emptiness of the response is very stark indeed. We’ve seen Harris’ first substance-free tweet on the subject; here is his second (and final) one.

    J.Gray: "there are no reliable connections… between atheism, science and liberal values." In 3 words: openness to evidence.— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) March 3, 2015

    To call this response “facile” would be to lie by massive understatement. I need something much stronger than “facile”. Is there a word (in any language, if English lacks one) which befits a response which is so utterly devoid of substance that it is little more than a grunt, but it is the right kind of grunt that one’s tribe recognises it as being “our grunt”, and thus grunts along approvingly? Come to think of it, anthropology might not be the appropriate place to look: this is more like animal communication.

  6. The Deuce says:

    John Gray: [Intellectually demolishes New Atheists]
    New Atheists: “Oh yeah? well your prose is not lively!”

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