I think we have more evidence for the decline of New Atheism, for it appears the larger skeptic community is gently nudging them to the back of the bus. Exhibit A: The upcoming 2016 Reason Rally. In 2012, there were many Gnus who spoke at the rally: Dawkins, Krauss, Barker, Myers, and Maher. But in 2016, the Gnu presence appears to have been scaled back. I see only two Gnu leaders listed as speakers – Dawkins and Krauss. And I would speculate that it is their celebrity status that got them the invite. Myers, Barker, and Maher don’t appear to have been re-invited. And neither Coyne nor Harris has apparently been invited.
What’s more, if you look at the list of speakers, they seem to represent the toned-down message that so annoys the New Atheists. Consider who is on the list: Bill Nye, Eugenie Scott, James Randi, and John de Lancie. The qualifications for several speakers seems to be things like “humanist” or “social activist.” The most famous speaker will be actor Johnny Depp (his wife is also as speaker). To help promote the Reason Rally, Dawkins retweeted the following quote from Depp:
— Reason Rally (@reasonrally) February 23, 2016
My, that’s a long way from Dawkins shouting “Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!”
If Depp’s approach were to characterize the New Atheist movement, this blog would not exist, as I have no problem with his views.
In fact, if you read the comments on Dawkin’s retweet, his fans are outraged. Typical replies are as follows:
- He sounds, like, you know, like, really, like, intellectual, you know. I mean intellectual, you know. You sure?
- Entitled to his view, but isn’t it rather a whimpie declaration..”not my specialty”? How is that view a healthy representation?
- I’m sorry that Johnny Depp faith babble was just fucking incoherent nonsense. He’s an actor, give him a script.
- of all quotes, you chose this incoherent babble? Come on, now.
- That’s great and all, but you picked such a weak quote. He sounds so uninterested and unsure about the subject.
- Well, thats, you know, great, I suppose, is that you have faith, you know, faith.
this reads like a parody. Is it a parody?
- If you need to resort to such “thinkers” as speakers, you must be in really bad shape.
- Give the man more time to lose the Jack Sparrow brain before you start quoting him
- J Depp, now there’s an intellectual giant
- that quote sounds like he might be high on peyote.
Yet the Gnu soldiers have yet to figure out the cause of their bafflement. Why Depp and why that quote? Perhaps it is because the organizers of the Reason Rally are working to marginalize the Gnus.
Of course, it is possible more speakers will be invited and that list could include prominent Gnus. After all, the skeptics are trying to gently nudge the Gnus to the back of the bus, not throw them there. Time will tell.