A couple more articles about the death of the New Atheist movement have been recently published. Atheist Adam Lee mentions them:
Is the New Atheist movement dead?
If it’s not, a lot of people seem prepared to write its obituary. Two new articles are suggesting that its time is past. And in the name of honesty, I should say that I have an article coming out soon that throws another shovelful of dirt on the casket.
I’m in agreement with PZ that I used to proudly call myself a New Atheist. I don’t do that very much anymore, not because my beliefs have changed so much, but because that label doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s collected a set of unsavory allegiances that I don’t wish to claim for myself.
How did we come to this? Let’s take a look back.
Now, I would like to draw your attention to a consensus that has emerged over the years – New Atheism was born as a reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It’s fair to say that New Atheism was born after 9/11, when a gang of Islamic terrorists committed a dreadful act of mass murder
But he is not alone. PZ Myers, who was once a huge and vocal proponent of New Atheism, himself notes
I swallowed some of my early reservations — is this just a reaction against Bush fueled by xenophobia inspired by the September 11th bombings? — but figured that would pass, that people would step in the door and then find enduring meaning in science and evidence-based reasoning.
As for the articles Lee mentioned, they too acknowledge the role of 9/11. Jacob Hamburger wrote:
With the Christian right in the White House, and jihadist terrorism perceived to be a constant danger in the wake of 9/11, a vocal rationalist atheism appeared to many a natural and necessary counterweight……The genesis of New Atheism can be traced back to a series of foreign-policy debates in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
And The Guardian noted:
Whatever happened to “New Atheism”? It was born in the febrile aftermath of 9/11, when belief in a deity – or, let’s be honest, specifically in Allah – seemed to some people a newly urgent danger to western civilisation.
It’s good to see that with the passing of the New Atheist movement, many have finally come to recognize this aspect of New Atheism. In fact, I brought this point up 12 years ago. So here’s the blast from the past:
I’m pretty sure I was the first to make the link back in 2007 because a) I don’t recall anyone else making the link at the time, otherwise I would have just linked to their argument and joined in and b) many at the time reacted to my proposal with skepticism and even some scorn. So there is a certain sense of satisfaction in watching people come to see what I saw twelve years ago.
That New Atheism was a reaction to 9/11 explains the emotional aspect of the movement. That is, while New Atheism always tried to pass itself off as a movement that championed reason, evidence, and science, the actual evidence did not support this packaging. The evidence pointed to a movement rooted in the emotions that flowed from anti-religious bigotry.