I was watching this video of Robert Wright and Lawrence Krauss. Early on, Krauss makes it clear he doesn’t like being called a New Atheist (a common trait of New Atheists) and thinks it is a derogatory, nonsense term. Yet if you listen carefully at 11:53, Krauss almost admits he is a New Atheist by saying “I’m a New…” and then catches himself.
Wright distinguishes between old atheists and New Atheists. He mentions the scientism of the New Atheism (and Krauss agrees effectively concedes as he insists science is the only source of knowledge). Wright notes that the New Atheists are focused on proselytism. Krauss tries to deny this. Perhaps he has never heard of the book by New Atheist Peter Boghossian entitled “Manual for Creating Atheists” that was promoted by New Atheist Jerry Coyne. Wright then goes on to make a good point – the reason the New Atheists are into proselytism is because they think religion is evil and cites the subtitle of Hitchen’s book, “How Religion Poisons Everything.” At this point, Krauss agrees, but adds the qualifier “on balance” multiple times. After repeatedly insisting that religion is bad “on balance,” Wright finally asks Krauss, ” Have you done the inventory?” Has Krauss made the effort to score religion in terms of its good and bad effects? Krauss’ reply is classic:
No, it’s not important enough to do that. I have more important things to do.
See it for yourself from 14:55 to 16:20.
When the man was asked to back up one of his core talking points with a scientific approach, it was “not important enough to do that.” After thumping his chest about science, he flippantly dismisses the need to back up his central claim with science.
Krauss then begins to stutter and stammer after realizing his “on balance” claims had been exposed as mere opinion. He regains his composure around 16:40 and then begins to deliver a sermon to justify his “on balance, religion is evil” assertion. He complains about being labeled for merely asking a question. He actually cites letters he gets as evidence from people who thank him for his book and complains. He insists that anything that suppresses questions is evil, and anything that claims to be the owner of morality is evil, and that religion makes people feel guilty for thinking for themselves.
In other words, after expressing disdain for the need to back up his opinion with the scientific approach, in its place, Krauss offers, with an attitude of certainty, nothing more than armchair philosophy propped up by stereotypes and anecdotes.
This is a short clip that should be shown at many churches, for it clearly exposes the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the New Atheist Movement. For here is the movement in a nutshell:
New Atheist: Science has shown that God does not exist and you MUST listen to science.
Religious person: Really?
New Atheist: Yes, and you must stop being religious because religion is evil.
Religious person: But what about the good things religion has done?
New Atheist: Look, on balance, religion is evil. The net sum of religion is evil.
Religious person: Really? If we must listen only to science, have you done the inventory to scientifically demonstrate that?
New Atheist: No, it’s not important enough to do that. I have more important things to do.
One more thing. Krauss’s story about becoming a New Atheist as a reaction to being labeled as such simply because he “asked a question” in his book is disingenuous. Krauss was known as a New Atheist before he wrote his book. For example, here’s a description of Krauss for an atheist convention he spoke at before his book was published:
His newest book, A Universe from Nothing, to appear in January 2012, with a foreword by Christopher Hitchens and afterword by Richard Dawkins follows on his wildly popular YouTube lecture of the same name and represents a major new contribution to scientific atheism.
A major new contribution to scientific atheism. A foreword by Christopher Hitchens and afterword by Richard Dawkins. Also, a book blurb by Sam Harris. That’s evidence Krauss was a New Atheist. Add to that the fact he has on the advisory board of Sam Harris’s failed New Atheist organization, Project Reason.
So Krauss’s New Atheism not only entails a rejection of the scientific approach when it suits him, but some serious historical revisionism. Surprised?