Earlier I extracted the most important aspect of Phil Torres argument – modern day atheism itself is intrinsically overconfident and lacking in nuance and curiosity. In a sense, it is rooted in the thinking level of teens. More to come on that later. Right now I want to focus on his social justice posturing, as the rest of his proposed values for reforming New Atheism seem to converge on support for social justice ideology.
First, speaking like a true activist, he proposes that New Atheists prioritize their “causes”:
I mentioned this in my previous article. Examples include, first of all, spending a larger amount of time on unprecedented global challenges like climate change, the sixth mass extinction, nuclear proliferation, the rise of Christian dominionism, the rise of Islamic extremism and so on. Even the most cursory glance of the social media feeds of many new atheists reveals a fixation on the “regressive left,” a community that poses a far smaller danger to civilization than the alt-right and its political leaders.
Let me simply zero in on one claim – the global challenge of The Rise of Christian Dominionism. Huh? Later in his essay, Torres gives us the typical Gnu talking point about the need for rational, evidence-minded, thoughtful people. Well, as a thoughtful, rational, evidence-minded person, I find this notion of some global challenge of The Rise of Christian Dominionism to be nuts. It’s the same chicken little dance about the Coming Theocracy I have heard my entire life. Light on the evidence; heavy on the conspiracy theory. Torres has exposed himself as a crackpot with this nutty concern of his.
Then again, it could just be shallow-minded, social justice preening. That is, if Torres is going to cite “Islamic extremism,” as a good social justice warrior, he needs to throw in something about Christian Dominionism as a shield against the horrid Islamophobia accusations. If true, it would simply mean social justice convictions push people more than half way to Crazy Town. But we knew that already.
Then there is this:
Beyond this, one should be more worried about the damage that President Trump could do to free speech than the damage small groups of politically powerless college kids might do — yet the new atheist movement, generally speaking, is obsessed with the latter.
Ah yes, the evidence-minded atheist needs his straw men. The concerns about the attacks on free speech at various universities don’t depend on any focus of politically powerless college kids. After all, those politically powerless college kids are the victims of indoctrination from politically powerful faculty and administration. In fact, the anti-free speech attitudes being used to indoctrinate the politically powerless college kids is what emerges in larger society once those kids are transformed into the next generation of lawyers, bureaucrats, teachers, doctors, and politicians. As for Trump? He’ll be gone in a little more than three years.
This gets at one of two criticisms I had of Sam Harris giving Charles Murray and his unfounded, inflammatory claims about race and intelligence a national platform. If we think about what sort of society we want, and if we agree that a good society is one without racism, then voluntarily platforming Murray isn’t a thoughtful or effective way to achieve that end. Does Harris have a right to do it? Yes, of course. But it’s counterproductive to the goal of creating a society marked by social harmony and human flourishing.
Let’s think about this. Harris should not have publicly interviewed Murray because it failed to fit the goal of creating a good society – one without racism. That’s how Torres rationalizes censorship. Authoritarians always do their thing for our own good. But why stop there? As an atheist activist, doesn’t Torres, along with all other atheist activists, think a good society would be one without religion? Isn’t that what they have been preaching for more than a decade now? Thus, the same deplatforming rationale would apply. If atheists could only acquire sufficient power, all forms of public religious expression would be censored. This blog, for example, would be considered something counterproductive to the goal of “creating a society marked by social harmony and human flourishing.”
After all, by allowing me to speak, Torres, with his evidence-minded approach [cough], would think I was doing a small part in paving the way for the………Coming Theocracy!! The horror. Shutting Mike up is a small price to pay for keeping the Handmaiden’s Tale from becoming reality. 😉
Sigh. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to become as enlightened as these wizards of smart.