Talk:New Atheism

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Criticism section?[edit]

The New Atheism article needs a Criticism section in order to be neutral otherwise the article becomes nothing more than a vehicle to promote New Atheism. I propose we summarize the views of Chris Hedges in his Truthdig column I don't believe in atheists and Tom Flynn's Free Inquiry article Why I Don’t Believe in the New Atheism as representatives of the two most common criticisms. --Loremaster (talk) 22:17, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

I see no reason not to. As long as it doesn't become WP:UNDUE, keeping in mind that those are both primary sources, go for it. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:56, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
Done. --Loremaster (talk) 21:53, 26 November 2010 (UTC)

I agree that every article NEEDS a criticism section. Loremaster, you must be reading a different article. The article is far from a promotion for New Atheism. The first section clearly enlightens the reader to the negative view some regard New Atheism. I agree with Flynn in the criticism section. New Atheism is just Old Atheism. There is now a larger audience that knows the rational arguments and scientific facts against theism. I guess you aren't aware that "New Atheism" is a term used by theists, Christians in particular, as an insult.Berringerfan (talk) 21:03, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Berringerfan, I am fully aware that the term "New Atheism" is used negatively by Christian critics. However, although the lead section does in fact briefly inform readers of the negative view some regard New Atheism, the article overall was uncritical until I added the Criticism section. Futhermore, the lead section should be a summary/overview of content in the body of the article including content in the Criticism section. In other words, if there are no criticism in the body of article there shouldn't be any in the lead section. That being said, your deletion of Chris Hedges's criticism is unjustified: Not only is he a notable author who has written an explicit critique of so-called New Atheism but his criticism is far more negative that the sympathetic criticism Flynn expressed who is an atheist himself. Therefore, these two viewpoints are the most reprensentatives of the two most common criticisms of New Atheism. So it is obvious that you are simply trying to whitewash this article. --Loremaster (talk) 22:28, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Why does every article need a criticism section? What would you put in the criticism sections of Kittens, Helium, or Set theory? Face-smile.svg bobrayner (talk) 21:12, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Bobrayner, although Wikipedia encourages us to incorporate criticisms in the body of the article as opposed to creating a Criticism section, the existence of such a section is justified because of how useful it is for users who are searching quickly for relevant information. That being said, there is obviously a difference between an idea which automatically provokes philosophical debate about its validity and a kitten BUT the Criticism section of a chemical element could actually contain arguments from some chemists who debate whether or not it should reclassified as something else. As for Set theory article, it does have a Criticism section of sorts: the Objections to set theory as a foundation for mathematics section. --Loremaster (talk) 22:38, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with the inclusion of the Hedges paragraph as it is now. It appears to give a very large amount of weight to his personal ideas about the topic, and I see no reason that his thoughts or his book are any more notable than anyone else's. Berringerfan removed the paragraph, and it was reverted by Loremaster with no edit summary. I would be inclined to remove it myself, unless there's a compelling reason that Hedges should be mentioned, especially in such detail.   — Jess· Δ 23:45, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Putting aside the fact his POV is representative of the POV of many critics of New Atheism, Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and author who not only has written a book critical of New Atheism but he has actually debated a famous New Atheist (Sam Harris) in a public forum using arguments he expands upon in his book! He is obviously the most notable critic of New Atheism one can find and therefore a reliable source for content in the Criticism section of the New Atheism article. It seems like all these objections to the disputed Hedges paragraph come from people sympathetic towards New Atheism who simply want to whitewash this article of hard criticisms. I will therefore fight any attempt to remove this paragraph. By the way, the fact that no one objects to the “very large” amount of weight given to Tom Flynn's personal views about the topic (which is almost the same size!) reeks of bias. --Loremaster (talk) 00:53, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
This article on New Atheism is meant to be informative. It is! It certainly isn't an apologetic article. Plus it's short. Really short! Flynn's comments in the criticism section is more than enough for this article. Again, this article is to inform people on what New Atheism is believed to be. It's not to be a point counterpoint debate article on the validity of New Atheism.Berringerfan (talk) 01:39, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────#The fact that a critical opinion from a notable and reliable source is interpreted as “nothing more than a personal POV” or “inflammatory” or “overkill” by some readers is not a valid reason to delete it. Criticisms regardless of how insulting they are can still be informative. The irony in all of this is that New Atheist criticism of religion are equally if not more personal POVs that “inflammatory overkill” than anything Hedges wrote.

  1. The fact that this article is the Lead, History and New perspectives sections of this article are not a valid reason to delete content from the Criticism section of the article. It is only one more reason to expand these sections to reach whatever balance you imagine this article is missing.
  2. The inclusion of the Hedges paragraph is not meant to be part of a point counterpoint debate. As I explained before, it is representative of one of the most common criticism against New Atheism expressed by many of its critics.
  3. I have a right to preserve the quality of this article by restoring content from a notable and reliable source since none of your arguments to delete the disputed paragraph hold up.

--Loremaster (talk) 01:50, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Loremaster, your accusations that I am attempting to "whitewash this article of hard criticisms" is wildly inappropriate. Please AGF. Further, that Hedges wrote a book says very little. Lots of people write books - professional journalists and authors being a large number of them. We don't want to include every mention in every book ever, particularly those which are simply the personal opinion of the individual author. His criticisms would be valid to include only if they are notable. We can demonstrate they are notable if we can document in reliable sources that they are shared (or quoted) by others, which we currently have not done. Right now, all we have is a primary source representing the personal musings of one author on the topic. We need more than that. Furthermore, even if the content is to be included, it needs to be rewritten. Currently, it presumes to know the mindset of "many new atheists" in wikipedia's voice, and represents the views of Hedges purely pejoratively, without backing up the claims with appropriate context. As written, it isn't a "criticism", it's a personal attack on the topic written in the encyclopedia's voice. Lastly, Berringerfan, please stop edit warring. One more revert and you'll have violated 3rr, which may result in a block. This needs to be discussed constructively, and edit warring is purely disruptive.   — Jess· Δ 02:12, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Jess, although your “it's only his personal opinion” argument is fallacious, the issue of the notability of a criticism could be used against mentioning Tom Flynn's personal opinion in the article... --Loremaster (talk) 17:30, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't think Hedges' opinion needs to be omitted entirely; he sums up a criticism that seems common enough in Atheist communities online so it bears noting. But I do feel the paragraph that has been going in is too long and could be easily summed up by trimming some of the quotes and commentary. What about something along these lines (just trimming from a copy paste of recent edit, pardon bad punctuation and formatting):

In his 2008 book I Don't Believe in Atheists (retitled When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists for the paperback),[23] journalist and author Chris Hedges argues that there is nothing inherently moral about being either a believer or a nonbeliever. He accuses New Atheists in particular of being as intolerant and self-righteous as their archrivals, religious fundamentalists.

My reasoning on some of the cutting:

  • intolerant already covers most of the rest of the list of adjectives (bigoted, chauvenist, etc.) and to add them is redundant
  • his further commentary on being disgusted with the religious right is 1) not so relavant to this article and 2) a little redundant since the comparison is already noted ("just as blah blah blah as archrivals")
  • progressing morally as a species isn't really relevant at large since it's not something all atheists agree on anyway (i.e. it's not presented in the article as being a specific common belief so why bring it up now)

THoughts? Millahnna (talk) 02:22, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Millahnna, I agree with your reasoning and I would support your proposed compromise. --Loremaster (talk) 17:23, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
@Loremaster, Simply calling my argument fallacious doesn't do much to advance the conversation. Could you at least try and respond to the content of my reply? Thanks.
@Millahnna, That is a drastic improvement, but I'm still not sure why Hedges' opinion that "New Atheists are intolerant" is worth noting at all. I could cite a whole host of books which call New Atheists all sorts of things, but it would be inappropriate to list them all here. Again, do we have any sources (other than this primary one) which indicate Hedges opinion is notable? If it isn't notable, then creating a whole criticism section to house it violates WP:Undue.   — Jess· Δ 18:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't know if Hedges book has been covered in secondary sources all that extensively, so you may be right that it would be undue in this case. I have seen his book talked about a fair amount on atheist blogs so I know it has some coverage within the community at large, but that is, of course, nothing we can use. Put another way, I don't have an answer for that half of the question. I just read the edit and saw a way to cut it down to a better summary of the intended content.
A quick google search on the man's name shows that the book has been covered in Salon (a personal interview about the book) and that he has done some debating against at least one notable atheist (which actually led to the book apparently). But in general it looks like he is regarded as a war correspondent in his regular journalistic work. Other than a philosophical connection (i.e. religion and war) that probably brought him to the topic (just based on looking at his last few books as a progression of subject), it seems this is outside his usual purview. Am I making any sense?Millahnna (talk) 20:30, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Millahnna, although Hedges has won an award for his work as a war correspondent, he has written many books dealing with a broad randge of subjects (including history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theology) which reveal an impressive erudition and eloquence. For example, his book Empire of Illusion deals with the emergence of the postliterate society. So it would highly reductive to argue that atheism is outside perview. --Loremaster (talk) 21:28, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Jess, I was at work so I didn't have time to fully respond to the content of your reply until now. The reason why your argument is fallacious is because 1) you haven't even read Hedges' book and you fail to realize that the summary of Hedges's book mentioned in this article doesn't do justice to the depth of the argument he develops in his book; 2) you assume that he is only expressing his personal opinion when in his book he discusses the views of famous philosophers and theologians who are critical of atheism; and 3) many so-called New Atheists can equally be criticized for solely expressing their personal opinion when they make imflammatory/overkill statements that “religion is evil” or “religion poisons everything”. However, it would be perfecly appropriate for a notable New Atheist's personal opinion to be included in Wikipedia's article on religion even if it insults religionists.
Regardless, no one is arguing that we should document every mention of New Atheism in every article or book ever written on the subject. Chris Hedges was chosen because 1) he is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and author therefore a notable commentator; 2) his point of view is representative of the point of view of many critics of New Atheism so it's not being given undue weight; 3) his book is completely dedicated to a critique of atheism in general and New Atheism in particular; 4) he has actually debated a notable New Atheist (Sam Harris) in a public forum using arguments he expands upon in his book; 5) his book has been covered by the press; and 6) primary sources that have been reliably published may be used in Wikipedia.
I have no problem deleting the Criticism section and incorporating the criticisms it housed in the body of the article. However, the Criticism section wasn't created solely to house Hedges's criticism. It was created to house the most common “positive” criticism of New Atheism and the most most common “negative” criticism of New Atheism regarless of who expressed them as long as they are notable critics. That being said, not only do you ignore the weight the Criticism section also gives to Flynn's personal opinion but you fail to realize how hyprocritical it looks that you have never seemed troubled by the lack of notability of Flynn's personal opinion. --Loremaster (talk) 21:28, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
@Loremaster, I'd appreciate it if you didn't make assumptions about my position and then call me hypocritical based on those assumptions. This article needs a lot of work. Right now we're talking about Hedges' section, and as such, I'm not drifting around and attacking random content in the article unrelated to it. As as I asked before, please assume good faith and keep things civil and on article improvement. Regarding your reply, I don't need to have read Hedges book (though, I never said I hadn't) in order to read and judge the content presented in this article. If, indeed, there's a wider breadth of content on the topic, then we should cover that, but what we're presenting now is that Hedges' is of the opinion that New Atheists are intolerant. That sort of thing isn't encyclopedic unless Hedges himself is so notable as to warrant that sort of weight. AFAIK, he's not. As I stated above, if his position is indicative of a common attitude toward New Atheism, then we need to document it in reliable secondary sources, and reword it to be clear that it's a common attitude. I agree that the criticism section should be deleted and incorporated into the article, but if it is, that's the only way Hedges' section should be incorporated.
@Millahnna, That does make sense. Thanks for the information!   — Jess· Δ 22:29, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
  1. I never said you are an hypocrite. I said your inconsistency looks hypocritical. There is a difference. Furthermore, I can't assume your good faith when you keep avoiding a question that you would allow you to show your good faith. In other words, until you explain to us why the inclusion of Tom Flynn' personal opinion is acceptable to you despite the fact that there are no reliable secondary sources that indicate he is a notable commentator and that his position is indicative of a common attitude toward New Atheism, your objection to the disputed Hedges paragraph doesn't hold up.
  2. In light of the fact that one of the many arguments of New Atheists is that religionists are intolerant it is quite pertinent for a critic to point out that notable New Atheists are guilty being intolerant (which Hedges makes a good case for in greater detail in his book). That being said, despite my stated rationale for creating the Criticism section, being indicative of a common attitude toward the subject is not a Wikipedia requirement for the inclusion of a viewpoint. Wikipedia guidelines demand that we fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources. I have already argued why Hedges's viewpoint is significant.
  3. You seem to conveniently ignore the fact the disputed Hedges paragraph makes two other valid points: 1) there is nothing inherently moral about being either a theist or an atheist (despite opposing claims to the contrary from both parties); and 2) atheists and liberal Christians share the same myth that as a species humanity can progress morally despite all the evidence to the contrary. Hegdes expands these points in his book, which we are summarizing for the sake of conciseness. However, I would be more than happy if the article covered these two points in greater detail.
  4. Ultimately, you need to get it through your head that there is nothing un-encyclopedic about reporting a notable person's personal opinion on a given subject as long as the opinion is relevant. There are tons of good and even featured Wikipedia articles that contain such opinions. Furthermore, a primary source that have been reliably published may be used in Wikipedia without the support of secondary reliable sources being used to establish its notability.
--Loremaster (talk) 23:29, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Please let me suggest including both Flynn and Hedges, but shortening the discussions of both of them. Both could be about the length of what Millahnna suggested, or even shorter, and the whole thing could be a single paragraph. This page has been too essay-like anyway. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:40, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Although I support removing the words “chauvinistic, bigoted, anti-intellectual” from the disputed Hedges paragraph as well as removing their introductions, I'm actually opposed to further shortening the mention of viewpoints expressed by Hedges and Flynn since we would be losing note-worthy points that readers should have the benefit of being able to read here. So here is the compromise I propose:
Tom Flynn argues that "there's nothing new about the New Atheism". Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, articulate writers had declared religion untrue, faith a social evil, and the archetypal stories told by the world's great creeds nothing but clumsy legends. Flynn points out that the difference is that when atheist material came from specialist publishers, such as the Rationalist Press Association, it tended to stay within the atheist movement. The triumph of the so-called New Atheists was to take arguments against religion that were long familiar to insiders, brilliantly repackage them, release them through major publishers, and expose them to millions who would never otherwise pick up an atheist book.
Chris Hedges argues that there is nothing inherently moral about being either a believer or a nonbeliever. He goes a step further by accusing many New Atheists of being as intolerant and self-righteous as their archrivals, religious fundamentalists—in other words, as being secular versions of the religious right. Like the New Atheists, Hedges is disgusted with the Christian right, going so far as to call it the most frightening mass movement in American history. Even more disturbing for Hedges, however, is the notion which many atheists and liberal Christians share, that as a species humanity can progress morally. There is nothing in human nature or human history to support the idea, Hedges maintains, nor that the flaws of human nature will ever be overcome.
If this compromise is acceptable to everyone, the real issue is how to best incorporate these viewpoints in the article without creating a Criticism section. --Loremaster (talk) 00:18, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict)@Loremaster, WP:AGF is a policy, not an option, and I'm under no obligation to discuss unrelated parts of the article in order to validate this discussion. Lots of this article needs to be reworked. The Hedges section is one of them. WP:Weight clearly states that a view must be presented in proportion to its significance. If Hedges' views are not common, and his work is not notable, then the proper weight is zero. By presenting a single primary source, we have not demonstrated his views are common, and I see no compelling argument that his work is notable other than "I like it". As I've indicated above, I actually agree with Trypto that both authors could be included per Millahnna's suggestion. However, I strongly oppose the inclusion of either's personal opinion on the subject without establishing notability. Criticism of the topic is necessary given its prominence, but we need to choose good criticism, not simply fling out insults.   — Jess· Δ 00:25, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
If you truly believe that I want to include Hedges's viewpoint simply because I like it after every point I made, you have proven your bad faith despite the fact that I keep assuming your good faith. Therefore, debating you any longer is a waste of time. I'll limit myself to responding to comments from others joining this debate and abide by the consensus. --Loremaster (talk) 01:36, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Arbitrary break[edit]

I would still further trim those (assuming the notability concerns Jess raises can be met). this is the Salon interview I mentioned in an earlier reply. I don't know if that helps take steps towards notability or not but there it is (timeing wise looks like it was part of his press tour after publishing the book). Here's a pass at a trim.

Tom Flynn points out that when atheist material came from specialist publishers, such as the Rationalist Press Association, it tended to stay within the atheist movement. He argues that New Atheism isn't presenting new ideas so much as repackaging existing ones, releasing them through major publishers, and exposing them to people who might never pick up an atheist book.

In his 2008 book I Don't Believe in Atheists (retitled When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists for the paperback),[23] journalist and author Chris Hedges argues that there is nothing inherently moral about being either a believer or a nonbeliever. He accuses New Atheists in particular of being as intolerant and self-righteous as their archrivals, religious fundamentalists.

Reasoning on Tom Flynn changes: cuts to the crux of his commentary. Millahnna (talk) 00:42, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

  • I see no discussion about atheism being "more moral" in the article - so how could a comment about that be 1>balanced 2>relevant?--JimWae (talk) 00:51, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Good point. I kept it because my interpretation was that he was saying neither believers or non-believers are better than each other. But we couldn't really rephrase that way sicne it would amount to synth or original research. So cutting that would bring it down to something like this:

In his 2008 book I Don't Believe in Atheists (retitled When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists for the paperback),[23] journalist and author Chris Hedges argues accuses New Atheists of being as intolerant and self-righteous as their archrivals, religious fundamentalists.

If commentary on the article about morality were ever developed it would b easy enough to add back in. This still doesn't address Jess's concerns. From my own involvement in atheist circles I feel like the comments both Flynn and Hedges are making are fairly common criticisms. But I'm not finding too much in the way of secondary coverage in my (admittedly only idle) searching while this conversation is going on. My main interest is in text flow and being concise IF the text is included. Millahnna (talk) 01:05, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Actually, just because the article doesn't fully present all the arguments New Atheists make it against religion doesn't mean that the criticisms against these missing arguments should not be included. That being said and keeping in mind that the overall lenght of these criticisms was never an issue until Millahnna made her suggestion, I am still opposed to it for reasons already explained. --Loremaster (talk) 01:30, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Admittedly, I'm a bit of a stickler for unneeded length; I mostly edit film and tv articles so I trim entirely too many plot summaries (I poke my nose in on atheism related articles because of a general topical interest but you guys probably don't see me often). But the main point of my suggestions was not so much a length issue as a cutting to the main point of each man's thoughts.
A lot of the verbage in the original paragraphs struck me as being excessive and potentially unbalanced. For example from the original Flynn statements "The triumph of the so-called New Atheists" seemed like WE were using the term "so called". In the Hedges portion "He goes a step further " again feels like a judgment call on our part. This can lead to confusion for readers in my experience. Also, in watching the debate before I jumped in, it seemed like some of the issues others had with the commentary could be addressed by eliminating the bits I was concerned about.
In any case I've offered up my suggestions for how to use the text if it is used. and now I'm sort of researching both mens' thoughts in some of the skeptic sites I follow (Hedges I was already familiar with, Flynn I was not) for my own edification. If I find anything usable in terms of establishing notability or at least pointing in a direction. I'll drop it in here. Millahnna (talk) 02:12, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
@Millahnna, I think your proposal is a dramatic improvement. I still think stating that "Journalist X thinks New Atheists are intolerant" doesn't add much to the article unless we back it up with reasoning or secondary sources demonstrating it's a common criticism, but it definitely sidesteps a lot of the issues I had with the prior wording. I'm going to see if I can boldly find a place to put the Flynn statement (at least), since it seems to be in accord with most of the other editors.   — Jess· Δ 03:34, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
I moved the Flynn quote to the section above, per Millahnna's suggestion. I changed its introduction to match the previous wording for flow, and changed "points out" to "contends" per WP:Claim. Having read over the article again, I don't see a section where we've talked about the religious as being intolerant or self-righteous either, so making the statement "Hedges says New Atheists are as intolerant and self righteous as their archrivals" would be out of place. If we are to put that piece in, I think it really needs to be contextualized appropriately, such as: "New Atheists commonly claim that religious fundamentalists are intolerant of other faiths[citation needed]. In his 2008 book I Don't Believe in Atheists,[23] author Chris Hedges argues accuses New Atheists of being as intolerant as their archrivals, stating that "whatever Hedges says about New Atheists being intolerant, in some useful format that isn't just name-calling". In that case, we could place that in the "New Perspectives" section. I'm still not sure I like the idea totally, but if we can find a useful quote to place in there, and especially if we can source it as a common criticism, then I would support its addition.   — Jess· Δ 03:47, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The warning statement at the top of the article stating that it is in dispute should be removed. With the new changes, there is nothing more to dispute. Perhaps the only thing this article lacks is the fact that "New Atheists" did not start calling themselves "New Atheists". It's a term meant to be derogatory coined by Christians.Berringerfan (talk) 17:51, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Done.   — Jess· Δ 21:50, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Christian articles are filled with criticism by Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens etc. So criticism by Christians such as John Lennox and Alister McGrath should be added. Portillo (talk) 10:41, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Tom Flynn[edit]

“Tom Flynn […] argues that New Atheism isn't presenting new ideas so much as repackaging existing ones, […] and exposing them to people who might never pick up an atheist book.”

Is he really arguing that the books are being exposed to the people? I would have expected the reverse. Paul Magnussen (talk) 17:35, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Fixed, OK? --Tryptofish (talk) 20:48, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Tom Flynn's criticism has been deleted because he is not a notable enough figure to deserve his own section in this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:02, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

And it's been added back because you need to bring such matters to the discussion page before doing such deleting. You might be right about Flynn's notability but you need to have reasons, not just an assertion. Afterwriting (talk) 07:42, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree that the material should be included, but I also think that using Flynn's name as a section heading has become WP:UNDUE. Per the extensive discussion at Talk:Militant atheism, leading to that page being changed to a disambiguation page, we need to expand the criticism section of this page. Doing so would also be responsive to the now-removed tag about too few viewpoints. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:28, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree that his contribution doesn't seem significant enough to have a section to himself. I would support removing the heading and including information on him in a more appropriate way. Afterwriting (talk) 15:54, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

The New Laughter Movement[edit]

The premise of this article is that there is reason to concatenate a catch-phrase, coined by an author without establishing evidence for its concrete existence, as a real movement with aims that are somehow new for atheists.

Nothing the supposed handful of conspirators in this shadowy new movement have or are saying is new in atheism. Scientific disputes about religious articles of faith have existed as long as science itself.

There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the contention that there is a movement, which implies an organised and programmatic approach to something. For example, how do I sign up to become a member of this new movement? What are some of the benefits of being a member? Is there a New Atheist wine club, or cheap theatre tickets for members and spouses? Membership meetings? New Atheist family outings? Member book burnings? How do I get in touch with other members? Do we get special silly hats, handshakes or membership rings? How can I form a new chapter in my local neighbourhood? How do I get elected leader of my local chapter and then the entire movement? Can I move that the movement adopts a policy of world domination?

The reality is that New Atheism is a catch-all or catchphrase that has been given credibility as something tangibly real only by the treatment it has received here, not by the credible, verifiable citations that would prove its existence as anything other than an obscure label. The references cited for its existence at all are rhetorical commentary, not disciplined scientific or other studies designed to describe salient features, numbers, demographics, characteristics, etc.

The best that can be said for the term New Atheism is that it is a marketing tool for selling the books of the listed authors. The worst that can be said of it is that it represents a paranoid conspiracy theory about an organised attempt by a shadowy group (a very small group) to propagate atheist points of view.

I couldn’t find a template to put at the top of the article page that says: ‘This page has been identified as ridiculous and should not be altered until laughter has stopped’, but I am inclined to find the appropriate one for NPOV violation by undue weight given to two sources, and the complete disconnect between the main body of the article from describing a movement called New Atheism as opposed to just summarising recent atheist writings and simply asserting they are New Atheist rather than just more of the same old atheism.

How about we just rewrite the opening to reflect the fact that New Atheism is a label used by a small number of commentators to describe what has been categorised more prominently as militant atheism (see the examples in the militant atheism article).

Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 22:26, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

No. It's the other way around. "New Atheism" is a term that is accepted by the persons to whom it is applied, and it has gained currency in secondary sources. Militant atheism is an article that appears to have become an editorial battleground. (Does it still include state atheism?) --Tryptofish (talk) 22:43, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Maybe I'm just tired. but I don't see that in the citations. I'd be indebted if you could point me to who exactly has described himself as a New Atheist and/or member of the New Atheist movement? And yes, militant atheism is a battleground and does feature Marxist-Leninist state atheism as the principal example of militant atheism. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 22:52, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
One quick example: number 2 on the reference list. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:55, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
I stared and stared at it. All Stenger really does is assert that the authors of a handful of books, including his own, 'have been recognized as the leaders of a movement called New Atheism'. But not who's been doing the recognising. He goes on to say that 'I review and expand upon the principles of New Atheism and answer many of its critics', but again without an explicit statement that he is a New Atheist, or part of a New Atheism movement. In fact, he appears to have cast himself as a reviewer. I'll grant you that you could justifiably infer those meanings from his words, but we're forbidden at Wikipedia from drawing these kinds of conclusions ourselves, rather than quoting someone else who explicitly said so in a credible secondary or tertiary source. That raises the question, too, whether Stenger isn't the author of a primary source in the context of this article, and whether that doesn't prevent us from citing him at all.
I will admit that my primary interest in the new atheism article is that it is cited as the only reference to justify an eponymous section in the militant atheism article whose existence I have just questioned for lack of credible sources. I would continue to question the justification for including a new atheist category of militant atheism if the only evidence for it were the same as that cited here. I guess that means I have no option but to question the validity of sources I don't regard as credible underpinnings for the assertion that there is such a thing as a New Atheist movement just because a small number of writers about atheism have asserted, without any descriptive proof, that it exists.
Some time ago I wrote a paper dealing with 'Neoliberalism' in which I encountered a similar taxonomic problem. There were writers who linked what they described as contemporary conservatism to classical liberalism (in the English sense, not the American usage as left politics) and free market economics. It appeared very much that the term Neoliberalism in the available literature was actually applied to a diverse, broad range of political and economic thought that defied easy classification, but that it was used predominantly as a pejorative to corral all non-left political writers and practitioners into an oppositional space by left political practitioners and writers. The practical upshot for this discussion is that generalisations are a fine thing if you like them, but they shouldn't be made or given undue prominence by us Wikipedians. We exist to report discussion of them in credible sources.
Ergo, my focus is really on Wikipedia guidelines on sources and pushing points of view. In that context I see the cited sources confusing the assertion by one or two people, writing as commentators, reviewers or polemicists, that there is such a thing, and the uncritical repetition of that assertion by a number of other sources that are small within the context of debate about atheism in general, as proof that the thing exists as a concrete and cohesive phenomenon. But the article describes that thing only by referring to conventional atheist positions popularised in polemics whose main characteristic is that they sell well. I think that reading too much else into a pop culture churn would require citations of examinations that aren't just mass media products. Hence I have stated that I think there's a disconnect between the assertion about the thing's existence, and the body of the article which describes another thing we already know as atheism, or militant atheism.
In the scheme of the entire exposition of atheism in Wikipedia, I see the term 'New Atheism' as almost parenthetical in the discussion of contemporary atheism, and, grudgingly, in the discussion of militant atheism (but that's another story).
As a footnote to this post, it was intended primarily as discussion with Tryptofish, and before anyone gets too excited about my ideas, please note that I have not yet made any firm suggestion for concrete changes, let alone any actual edits. I gather that testing the waters about potential controversy is Wikipedia policy favoured by trigger-happy admins looking to ban someone. Nothing I see in the article is particularly harmful or of great consequence to the overall Wikipedia representation of atheism. I am, of course, always grateful for comments about the error of my ways or the possible validity of a line of reasoning. Toodle pip for now (talk) 00:23, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
Ooops. Lost my session on saving. I am of course Peter S Strempel | Talk 00:26, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

I haven't waded through all the argument above, but a discussion of New Atheism criticism should definitely include Marilynne Robinson's book "Absence of Mind." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Other "new" and "New" atheism(s)[edit]

see User:JimWae/new_atheism--JimWae (talk) 07:37, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

It's an impressive collection of references, but doesn't it just prove that 'new' in this context is a repetitive attempt to find something new in an old topic? Perhaps I missed something here. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 07:46, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Additional sources[edit]

I feel this article might be useful, but I'm not really sure how to include it. Maybe the fact that the author says that „new atheism” is new not in an intelectual sense (something atheists have also said, given that atheism has been around for a long time) but new "as a political and social movement" - ArnoldPlaton (talk) 12:15, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

  • Note, building on suggestions at Talk:Atheism I am offering these sources for discussion:

Sources re New Atheism[edit]

Regarding the article, I find that there is no reference to the source of New Atheism in its concern over the rise of fundamentalist religious beliefs claiming literal historic and scientific truth of the scriptures, particularly of Christianity, some forms of Judaism and fundamentalist Islam. New Atheism attacks these forms of religious belief and makes a case that these ideologies encapsulate the essential nature of monotheistic religions. Surely something along these lines needs to be inserted in the article? John D. Croft (talk) 11:32, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Yes, pretty much all the major New Atheist writers have said such things. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:28, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Contemporary Unbelief[edit]

Neo-Atheism, a term coined by journalist Gary Wolf in 2006, burst on the scene in the middle of the first decade of the new century as a new aggressive form of atheist thought, characterized most notably by the willingness of their proponents to attack religion as a harmful delusion and their anger that conservative advocates of what they saw as anti-scientific opinions were gaining power. Adding to their motivation were public surveys showing the persistence of anti-evolutionary perspective among conservative Christians, opinions shared by many conservative Muslims.


Neo-Atheism has been built upon the successful books of its major exponents, beginning with British biologist Richard Dawkins. In the United States, author Christopher Hitchens, has been joined by Sam Harris (with a Ph.D. in neuroscience), philosopher Daniel Dennett, and physicist Victor J. Stenger in leading the charge for a more public role for atheists. They have become frequent guests on television talk shows and made themselves available to the press. While energizing the core of atheist unbelievers, it is yet to be seen whether their efforts will substantively enlarge the support for non-theism in the larger population.


Humanist and atheist critics of Neo-Atheism have argued that the content of Neo-Atheism is not new, only restated in a new aggressive manner. They are also seen as destroying coalitions which atheists need to accomplish many of their goals, since, especially in the United States, they remain a minority in an overwhelming religious environment. The internal debates within the atheist community have already led to battles for control of various atheist organizations, most notably the Council for Secular Humanism and its associated Centers for Inquiry scattered across North America.
This source also lists a wealth of sociological and other scholarly work. offers reams of general reading, but tends to prefer "unbelief" as an umbrella term. unmi 05:15, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Atheism and Secularity: Issues, concepts, and definitions 2010[edit]


Atheism has been very much in the public eye in recent years, partly due to the anti-religion backlash in response to the faith-based violence and terrorism that has swept the world (not least in the September 11, 2001, attacks by fanatical Muslims) and partly due to the series of sur- prisingly blunt and commercially successful books published since 2004. Actually, the current “push” of atheism can perhaps be dated to two earlier books: George Smith's 1989 Atheism: The Case against Godg and Dan Barker's 1992 Losing Faith in Faith: Prom Preacher to Atheist.”

But atheism entered an unprecedented period of confidence and enthusiasm with the publication of Sam Harris’ best-selling 2004 offer- ing, The End of Faith." It was quickly followed by Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon and Richard Daw- kins' The God Delusion, and Harris’ follow-up Letter to a Christian Nation, all published in 2006, not to mention Christopher I-Iitchens’ 2007 contribution, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” More quietly, a small industry of atheist publishing has produced a wave of activity, including two of my own books, Natural Atheism in 2004 and Atheism Advanced in zoos.”

It is especially noteworthy that the ”big four" of Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens have not only enjoyed significant market and media success but that they obtained major publishers for their work; one can imagine a time not so long ago when a prominent popular press would not have touched such titles. Collectively, these writers are regarded as the founders of the so—called "new atheism," which is, if nothing else, profitable and vociferous. However, precisely how new is it, what does it add to the discussion of atheisml theisml religion, and where does atheism go from here?

There is no doubt that the new atheism is unabashed, even aggres- sive, and more than a little in-your-face. There is some debate within the atheist community as to whether this is a good thing. Some go so far as to disown the very moniker "atheist" in favor of other identities like “humanist,” “freethinker,” “secularist,” "agnostic," or such origi- nal names as "bright" or ”universist.” Others, on the contrary, con- sider these concessions a kind of appeasement, a way of “passing” in a society that is controlled by theists and in which "our kind" are as unwelcome as blacks or gays used to be (and sometimes still are).

The political/ identity issues inherent in the new atheism are one thing. A greater concern, from my perspective, is the content. For the most part, there is nothing particularly new offered at all; what is new is mostly that their atheism is, as we might say, "loud and proud." But much of the new atheism is aimed in two well-worn and not entirely wise directions. The first is the never-ending effort to "disprove god(s)" or worse, "disprove God." Many of these works, and their less famous counterparts, tirelessly rehearse arguments against god(s), a project to which no new ideas have been added in decades, if not gen- erations or millennia. Quite frankly, everyone (including an honest the- ist) recognizes that arguments in favor of god(s) fail, and if they did succeed, they would not establish the existence of any particular god(s) over all the others; that is to say, the tired old cosmological or ontologi- cal or teleological arguments would defend Zeus or Odin or Vishnu as

effectively as Yahweh or Allah.
 — Zuckerman, edited by Phil (2010). Atheism and secularity. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.]: Praeger. ISBN 9780313351839. 

The New New Atheism - WSJ - Peter Berkowitz[edit]


But one stunning new development under the sun is that promulgating atheism has become a lucrative business. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, in less than 12 months atheism's newest champions have sold close to a million books. Some 500,000 hardcover copies are in print of Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" (2006); 296,000 copies of Christopher Hitchens's "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (2007); 185,000 copies of Sam Harris's "Letter to a Christian Nation" (2006); 64,100 copies of Daniel C. Dennett's "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon"; and 60,000 copies of Victor J. Stenger's "God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does not Exist" (2007).

Profitability is not the only feature distinguishing today's fashionable disbelief from the varieties of atheism that have arisen over the millennia. Unlike the classical atheism of Epicurus and Lucretius, which rejected belief in the gods in the name of pleasure and tranquility, the new new atheism rejects God in the name of natural science, individual freedom and human equality. Unlike the Enlightenment atheism of the 18th century, which arose in a still predominantly religious society and which frequently went to some effort to disguise or mute its disbelief, the new new atheism proclaims its hatred of God and organized religion loudly and proudly from the rooftops. And unlike the anti- modern atheism of Nietzsche and Heidegger, which regarded the death of God as a catastrophe for the human spirit, the new new atheism sees the loss of religious faith in the modern world as an unqualified good, lamenting only the perverse and widespread resistance to shedding once

and for all the hopelessly backward belief in a divine presence in history.
 — Berkowitz, Peter (2007). "The New New Atheism" (PDF). Wall Street Journal.  More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)

Criticism Section[edit]

Criticism sections are undesirable in articles, the criticisms have relevant sections, I have integrated them into these. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:24, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

How can there not be a criticism section?[edit]

  • The Case for God by Karen Armstrong
  • The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion by Tina Beattie
  • The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski
  • The Myth of Religious Violence by William Cavanaugh
  • Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion by John Cornwell
  • God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister
  • God is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins by Thomas Crean
  • What's So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza
  • Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate by Terry Eagleton
  • Faith and Its Critics: A Conversation by David Fergusson
  • Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker
  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart
  • God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens by John F. Haught
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
  • God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John C. Lennox
  • The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine by Alister McGrath
  • Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things by Alister McGrath
  • Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong by Ian S. Markham
  • Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists by R. Albert Mohler
  • A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God Is Good and Faith Isn't Evil by David G. Myers
  • No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers by Michael Novak
  • The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths by David Robertson
  • Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N. T. Wright
  • The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacharias

Portillo (talk) 09:46, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

An article is not the place to list every comment on an issue. If a secondary source has provided an analysis of some issues surrounding the topic, they may be worth recording in the article, but the fact that many people disagree with atheists is not news, nor encyclopedic information. In general, articles should not have a criticism section as it is not encyclopedic, and inevitably becomes a place where editors insert or remove items according to their personal outlook. There are four blue-link articles mentioned in the list above: none have a criticism section. Johnuniq (talk) 10:14, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I would suggest a section on "controversy" instead of "criticism" per se, and Johnuiq this entry isn't simply about "atheism" but about New Atheism, which is controversial even within atheist/nonbeliever circles, at least here in the United States. As to using primary vs. secondary sources how many quality secondary sources are in use at all in this entry I wonder? Probably mostly news type sources, within which I'm positive you can find reference to controversies and differences between New Atheists and the religious and between New Atheists and humanists, and various other nonbelievers. I have not looked at this book, but you might also try Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal for actual scholarship about New Atheism. Hope that helps.Griswaldo (talk) 19:12, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I notice only four of the books are linked, is this because only four of the books are notable? IRWolfie- (talk) 18:58, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Maybe, but the majority of the authors are linked. Portillo (talk) 08:58, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

"Social Impact of New Ideas" section[edit]

I have reverted this recently added section twice because it misrepresents the source and amounts to original research. I won't remove it again because of the 3 revert rule, but I still think the section is problematic, and was wondering if anyone else agreed.

The section currently reads: "There is no doubt that atheism is spreading in western democracies. The latest survey for Britain showed that 51% of the population are now atheist" with this source.[1] First of all, even if the second part (Brits now 51% atheist) were true, it is a huge, unsourced leap to conclude there is "no doubt" that atheism is spreading in western democracies from that alone. The article is only about Britain. Secondly, the source doesn't even say that 51% of British people are atheists now, it says that in a recent poll, 51% of of British people have no religion. And the overarching problem with the whole thing is that the source doesn't mention New Atheism as defined here, so tying any of this to New Atheism is original research.

The second paragraph of the section is also sourced to an article that doesn't mention atheism, let alone New Atheism.[2] The first sentence of this paragraph reads "The trend is likely to increase in the future as there appears to be a tipping point at which the population prefers either religion or atheism," which is pure conjecture, as the article doesn't make any predictions about future trends or a tipping point. The rest of the paragraph is a quote directly lifted from the article that does nothing to bolster the claim made in the previous sentence.

Does anyone else think the section should be removed or seriously reworked? Dawn Bard (talk) 03:48, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

It looks like original research to me. We should stick to what sources actually say. bobrayner (talk) 04:05, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

I like the page but I wonder if the content is too narrowly defined[edit]

Since "new atheism" is supposed to be active against religion, should there not be more on social impact? Without any social impact it does not appear active in society at all. So far it is just an intellectual discussion. The plain atheism page has more social discussion than this one. Also the page only includes the people who write the books. What about the acts and entertainers who stick their necks out to transmit these ideas to the public. They risk more than just being unpopular and I think they deserve some recognition for making a stand. I am preparing a page about pop group Foxy Freedom when I can find all the information. Have you heard of Penn and Teller the magicians? What about Derren Brown the magician and hypnotist? There is a filmed interview with Dawkins. Brown also did a tv show exposing psychics and another one when he visited the US to expose the tricks that faith healers use to fool people. He showed how to fool a crowd into thinking that a blind person had been cured. I know people who became atheists after seeing that on TV. So I feel that people who are risking so much should be recognised. Nevertheless, keep up the good work.Spread knowledge not ignorance (talk) 23:24, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

Suggestions should be based on reliable secondary sources to help establish due weight (see WP:DUE for more info). IRWolfie- (talk) 13:01, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the content of this article is too narrowly defined, but for an additional reason, because it seems to me that the New Atheism movement encompasses more than just certain well-known books. As an example, in my opinion the internet has also played a big role in the spread of the movement. In fact there are hundreds of atheist websites, forums, blogs, and other resources on the web, many of which preceded any of the best-selling books, and must surely have reached just as many people, if not far more. As proof, here are links to several long lists of atheist websites and other online resources: (talk) 14:09, 22 August 2014 (UTC)


Hello, I merged the content from the militant atheism article here, per the administrative closure of RfC. Feel free to edit it as necessary. Thanks, AnupamTalk 17:21, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

There is no mention of forced merging or in fact, any merger in the closure. IRWolfie- (talk) 17:49, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)The result of the RfC was not merge. Please read it again. The topic of the discussion was whether to turn the article into a disambig, and the result was "yes". Some content may be merged here, but not before the issues which led to its deletion are solved first.   — Jess· Δ 17:51, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose merge I cannot fathom how anupam could misread "this article should not exist as it's conflating multiple subjects into one synthesized space" as meaning "Go ahead and merge it all again!". It's problematic that such behaviour has continued for so long; whether that's a competence problem or intentionally problematic editing, I leave for others to decide. bobrayner (talk) 23:20, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose merge. Anupam asked me at my talk to comment here, and I would be commenting anyway. Inclusion of the deleted material from the Militant page here was a very bad idea. It gives WP:UNDUE weight to critics of New Atheism, and perpetuates a term that the critics try to promulgate (cf: the Santorum neologism controversy, about promulgating another term). --Tryptofish (talk) 00:24, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Anupam's POV and SYNTH attack on New Atheism has been deflected and deleted over at militant atheism, but Anupam continues to work toward a glimmer of that attack. This should not be permitted on Wikipedia, though the same POV and SYNTH composition was warmly greeted and highly rewarded on Conservapedia. Binksternet (talk) 18:41, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

"Impact" section[edit]

The "Impact" section says, "New atheists and the irreligious can experience prejudice against them. A University of British Columbia study found that believers distrust atheists as much as rapists. The study also showed that atheists have lower employment prospects." Surely this is misplaced? The study was about atheists, not the New Atheists. Granted, the New Atheists are atheists, but the source does not specifically address them. Aren't we supposed to include only those sources that explicitly connect themselves with the topic of the article? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 15:25, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

I agree with you entirely. In fact, the material isn't even really about the "impact" of New Atheism. I removed it. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:51, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

Is that not really up to the location <= USA I presume? I never been asked in a job interview what my religion nor have I even been inclined to start that topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:58, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Nonmilitant atheism[edit]

Is there another phrase to describe nonmilitant atheism? I.e., the kind that adheres to a "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" theory, rather than telling theists they're delusional, etc.? Leucosticte (talk) 03:41, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Note that militant is a pejorative description. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:19, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Depends on the militant; some militants embrace the term. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:19, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Additions to Criticism Section[edit]

There has been a major response to New Atheism by its critics, with the number of books against the movement far outweighing the number of books supporting the movement. Other editors have listed many of these books. Due to the significant attention which has been given to the movement at the popular level, it is important to at least acknowledge some of the major criticisms of the movement. And simply citing one article and one book when there are hundreds of others that have been published, many written by more prominent thinkers than those listed before (James P. Carse and Tom Flynn), is inadequate, misleading, and I believe compromises the article's neutrality. There could have been any number of other criticisms listed and discussed, but I only added a few that seemed most noteworthy. I'm not sure which references are being classified as unreliable, but I strongly believe that the added criticisms should not be taken out, as they given a good overview of some of the major criticisms against the movement. Perhaps some of the references should be removed and other supporting references added, but there is no reason to take out the added content in its entirety. Eb7473 (talk) 17:21, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Also, I do not intend to edit war, but I initially reverted edit because I thought it was inappropriate to take out the previous additions to criticism section wholesale without discussing on the talk page, which is why I originally added content back into article. Eb7473 (talk) 17:34, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for discussing this here. I wasn't involved in that series of edits, but I've looked at them, and here is what I think. A lot of the sources you cited were things like YouTube and other online sources that are kind of weak with respect to WP:RS. It's important not to give WP:UNDUE emphasis to a short quote that is not representative of the entirety of what someone said. I think those were some of the concerns of the other editors. Let me suggest that you propose the additional criticism works that you want to add, here in this talk, and we can discuss it here. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:28, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
A key point here is that this article is about "new atheism"—it is not List of arguments that oppose new atheism. If such criticisms are notable, make an article about them, but they should not be coatracked into other articles unless WP:DUE as established by independent secondary sources. An article on a religious topic is going to have lots of supporters and lots of opposers, and the article needs to focus on the topic while presenting only a due outline of the opposition (except for fringe stuff like cults). Alister McGrath has an article where his views and books should be explained—this is not the place to repeat that. Johnuniq (talk) 00:08, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but I hope that we don't end up with a new page on Criticism of New Atheism. We do, however, already have Criticism of atheism. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:12, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

"21st-century atheist writers"[edit]

"21st-century" of what? Isn't it a little more than mildly ironic that this article, which is based on challenging and negating false religious beliefs, starts with a reference to a time frame which was initiated by a Catholic pope based on one of their religious tenets? If I don't see any viable opposition in next next while, I will change this term to "modern".

Baden (talk) 09:57, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

The fact that humanity's most widely used calendar happened to have religious roots doesn't invalidate it, nor would invoking that calendar imply any irony with respect to the epoch from which to begin counting. That said, I have no problem with changing "21st-century" to "modern" on the basis that the former just sounds clunky. ~Amatulić (talk) 16:35, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

Religion and The New Atheism[edit]

Beside the Journal of Religious History, here is a secular source that talks about the book. I do not think the other two sources mentioned already in the article are more notable than this one. However, if you have suggestion on how to word the inclusion of this book, please do not hesitate in changing my sentence.-- (talk) 16:53, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, but I have two objections to the inclusion of this in the article. Firstly I don't think your summary of the book is encyclopedic. That it "...aims to critically examine New Atheism in order that the scholarly community and educated general reader can become more informed", is simply not an acceptable description here, as it sounds more like an advertising blurb for the book (buy this and become more informed on the subject), and it provides no information about any conclusions or special points about the subject that the author may have had in his work. Secondly I am unsure whether Amarnath Amarasingam is notable enough for him to have a full paragraph on this book. There are numerous books out there on the subject, so to include such general sounding reference work in a full paragraph instead of just in the reference list seems very much undue weight. --Saddhiyama (talk) 17:30, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree with you on your second comment that Amarasingam is not notable enough. As a matter of fact Amarnath Amarasingam is not the author of the book; he actually gathered and edited the essays written by famous people such as Mark Vernon, Reza Aslan, William Sims Bainbridge, and Steve Fuller which I am sure you agree are very notable. I will work on the wording to make it encyclopedic (your first comment).-- (talk) 17:40, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

My proposal is as follows:

"The 2010 book Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Approach, finds little scholarly and balanced criticism on New Atheism and therefore believes the topic needs to be studied critically. According to the book while many New Atheists accept [religious] fundamentalists’ self-understanding and assume that it can adequately describe all religion, many Christian responses to the New Atheism perpetuate this caricature, and address an equally unrepresentative atheistic straw man." -- (talk) 17:57, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

The book should not be presented as believing anything, people believe and makes claims. If the authors of the essays makes any notable points, then mention the authors and their points. If this is an anthology, I really don't see why it should be presented with its own paragraph in the article text, instead of just giving it a listing in the reference list, and cite it when any of the points of the notable scholars are mentioned in the article in reference to relevant topic matter which is New Atheism. --Saddhiyama (talk) 18:24, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

If you could be so nice to show what you actually mean in words, I will very much appreciate it. For example, how would you write the sentence?-- (talk) 14:10, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Trivial correction[edit]

Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and Dennett are 'The Four Horsemen of the Counter Apocalypse' as opposed to 'The Four Horsemen of New Atheism'. Hitchens mentions that he coined it in a Reddit interview he did in 2009, the video is on YouTube with the appropriate section at 10mins 21secs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:49, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

I would say they're simply "The Four Horsemen", since the DVD featuring the quartet is called simply that. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 06:08, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Those of us who care to check what was actually said in the reference given in the article, will find that Hitchens is actually referred to as one of the "four horsemen of atheism" (at 7.23). Thus, the text should either be changed to reflect this fact, or else some other reference provided that verifies what is being said in the article. 13:15, 2 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mick3 (talkcontribs)

A criticism is not an insult. So added a quote from someone as an insult is not a good way to write a "criticism" section.[edit]

I removed a quote from the page that had a quote from someone talking about how new-atheism is not "intellectually muscular" and this is not informative criticism or constructive. It is simply an insult by someone who disagrees with that view. If you have an actual quote by that author that actually criticizes new-atheism with an argument---post that. But I don't think anyone should allow just about any random author who hates "new atheism" to add his own personal insult into the criticism-section. talk § _Arsenic99_ 03:07, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

So, for example, a criticism of William Lane "Two-Citations" Craig's low h-index might be informative, but the same critic calling him an "academic midget" would not be. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 05:03, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
First, please let me apologize, in that I reverted the edit before I saw the discussion here. Although I tend to agree with your point that it largely is just an insult, I also think an argument is being made that the New Atheism "lacks intellectual weight". Perhaps that argument is not made persuasively, but that's a subjective editorial call. If the author qualifies as a scholarly source (something we can discuss; I'm not taking that for granted), and given that they clearly are critical of NA, I think there's a case for leaving it in, without opening the door to "any random author". --Tryptofish (talk) 00:31, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

New Atheism and Islamophobia[edit]

Those familiar with this movement's figureheads should be aware of the recent spat in the news regarding some statements of Dawkins and Harris regarding Islam and Muslims - the Independent provides a concise summary here. There are obviously some other articles and commentaries which could be found as well. So what I want to ask from other concerned editors is whether or not the issue is notable enough to warrant mention in this article. I haven't though about where such a paragraph would go, though I don't think that's important until we establish if it does belong here in the first place. I feel it does simply because of media attention to the somewhat public spat, but I'm interested in seeing what others think. MezzoMezzo (talk) 06:46, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

We should definitely mention this issue. Numerous commentators have made similar criticisms of the New Atheists:
As I see it, the Islamophobia debate forms part of a broader conflict between two diverging branches of contemporary Western liberalism. In this conflict, "Enlightenment fundamentalists" (such as the New Atheists) face off against "postmodernists" and "multiculturalists":
My remarks about the "broader conflict" are, of course, original research. As such, they don't belong in the article. However, I think they do add weight to the idea that the "recent spat" to which MezzoMezzo refers is culturally and intellectually notable. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 16:12, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
Youtube videos aren't reliable. Blogs and opinion pieces hardly establish something as being encyclopedic. Wikipedia isn't a newspaper, show secondary sources showing that this has some sort of due weight. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:16, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Okay, fair enough. If we're looking for secondary sources (i.e. sources that survey the primary sources), then there's the article MezzoMezzo linked to. I also found the following:

  • "This article argues that the ‘new’ in the new atheists’ writings is not their aggressiveness, nor their extraordinary popularity, nor even their scientific approach to religion, rather it is their attack not only on militant Islamism but also on Islam itself under the cloak of its general critique of religion" (William W. Emilsen, "The New Atheism and Islam", The Expository Times 123.11 (2012), p. 521).
  • "Especially after September 11, 2001, a group of writers invoked Samuel Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' theory to explain the current political contestation. Europe's religious conservatives but also a group of 'new atheists' such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens participated in the process of securitizing Muslim demands of recognition of identity and fairness. Islamophobia has become a dominant trend in the study of Muslim societies" (Wade Jacoby & Hakan Yavuz, "Modernization, Identity and Integration: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Islam in Europe", Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 28.1 (2008), p. 1).

There is also this news article, which, like Mezzo's, surveys the Islamophobia accusations. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 16:54, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Senor Wolfie made a good point about the first round of sources, but what you provided above, Mr. McBluff, does seem to pass WP:RS. There is already a section for criticism in the article here. Would either of you be opposed for perhaps a paragraph within that section dedicated to New Atheism and Islam? It is interesting to note that the criticism of New Atheists from this aspect is regarding Islam though primarily from Western sources. I'm not exactly sure how it would be framed, in that case. MezzoMezzo (talk) 06:52, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

I think a brief paragraph would be appropriate. How about the following?

Some commentators have accused the New Atheist movement of Islamophobia.[1][2][3][4] Wade Jacoby and Hakan Yavuz assert that "a group of 'new atheists' such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens" have "invoked Samuel Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' theory to explain the current political contestation" and that this forms part of a trend toward "Islamophobia [...] in the study of Muslim societies".[5] William W. Emilson argues that "the 'new' in the new atheists' writings is not their aggressiveness, nor their extraordinary popularity, nor even their scientific approach to religion, rather it is their attack not only on militant Islamism but also on Islam itself under the cloak of its general critique of religion".[6]

  1. ^ Jerome Taylor. "Atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris face Islamophobia backlash". The Independent. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  2. ^ FP Staff. "Unholy war: Atheists and the politics of Muslim-baiting". First Post. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  3. ^ Jacoby, Wade; Yavuz, Hakan (April 2008). "Modernization, Identity and Integration: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Islam in Europe". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 28 (1): 1.  External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ Emilsen, William (August 2012). "The New Atheism and Islam". The Expository Times. 123 (11): 521.  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ Jacoby, Wade; Yavuz, Hakan (April 2008). "Modernization, Identity and Integration: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Islam in Europe". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 28 (1): 1.  External link in |title= (help)
  6. ^ Emilsen, William (August 2012). "The New Atheism and Islam". The Expository Times. 123 (11): 521.  External link in |title= (help)

I tried to be as concise as possible. I don't think this paragraph would give undue weight to the topic. What do others think? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 23:49, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

I've been quietly watching this discussion, and that paragraph looks fine to me. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:58, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
My suggested paragraph seems not to have aroused opposition, so I have added it to the article. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 17:43, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

I would disagree with the inclusion of this this paragraph on the basis that it is firstly just unsubstantiated opinion (new atheism is no more critical of Islam than it is of protestant creationism or the Catholic Church) Secondly, it is nothing more than a thinly veiled ad hominem attack equating new atheist criticism of Islam with Islamaphobia dressed up in academic language Thirdly, this is supposed to be an article about an emerging group of atheists who are more willing than other atheists to voice criticism of what they see as harmful religious practices. Just because two members of this group (SH & RD) have recently become involved in a heated debate about Islam doesn't to me seem relevant to this page.

Finally, I would also add that the further entry on Owen Jone's ad hominem attack on Richard Dawkins again appears completely irrelevant to a page discussing new atheism and it would be better off being moved to the logical fallacies section where it would be more at home. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alanbellis (talkcontribs) 14:06, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Would it be useful to use religion-specific subsections in the criticism section (or perhaps to change the name of that section slightly)? This group has had just as much venom for Christianity, to be sure, and people of all religions--and other atheists--have voiced opinions of this group loudly. I'm unfortunately not bringing a lot to the table here by way of sources, but going at it this way could paint a more balanced picture, even if the section on Islam is longer because of more recent events. --Rhododendrites (talk) 14:42, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not too bothered by the material, where it is. I realize that the subject matter is a heated one, but I think that it is within WP:DUE as reflecting criticism of the critics. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:44, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm a bit concerned with the paragraph of Dawkins' tweet. Clearly the man has written books and articles. Tweets are notoriously terse and consequently inaccurate to convey the nuance of the writers thought. Surely an encyclopedia shouldn't rehash the debate about a tweet when we have books, articles and speeches worthy of commentary. This seems WP:UNDUE. Jason from nyc (talk) 17:58, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

That's an interesting point, because maybe what he said in his tweet is not representative of the bulk of his writings. The paragraph is sourced to an article in the Independent, so we have one reliable secondary source that regarded the tweet and the response to it as notable. I guess the question then becomes whether we need more secondary sources about it, to establish due weight. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:44, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

The very fact that there is only a mention of "accusations of Islamophobia", while New Atheists criticize all religious excesses, regardless of which (of the monotheisms, usually) it concerns, is telling. No one calls them bigots when they criticize Christianity for its various negative influences today, or calls them "Jew-haters" or something when they criticize misogony found in Judaism. Islam is the last of the monotheisms that is apparently still entitled to the special privilege of being off-limits for criticism. And if they criticize Islam relatively often as opposed to the other religions, could it be there is simply more to criticize in principle, and additionally that there _are_ more excesses in practice as a result? --P, Jan 2014 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

List of Books by New Atheist authors and Books in Response[edit]

Should their be a section that simply lists the books by the new atheist authors regarding specifically defenses of unbelief and criticisms of religion (Dawkins' The God Delusion, Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation), and the books in critical response specifically to the new atheism (McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion, P. Hitchens' The Rage Against God, etc.)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thebadger33 (talkcontribs) 10:01, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Mis-use of the word "eviscerating"?[edit]

The second sentence of the current revision states that "...non-belief is eviscerating both developed countries and those more religious." Is that an appropriate use of the word "eviscerating"? The only definitions I can find have to do with removal of an animal's internal organs. What might the writer's intended meaning have been? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wbforbes (talkcontribs) 05:51, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Nomination of Matt Dillahunty for deletion[edit]

A discussion is taking place as to whether the article Matt Dillahunty is suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia according to Wikipedia's policies and guidelines or whether it should be deleted.

The article will be discussed at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/ Matt Dillahunty (3nd nomination) until a consensus is reached, and anyone is welcome to contribute to the discussion. The nomination will explain the policies and guidelines which are of concern. The discussion focuses on high-quality evidence and our policies and guidelines.

Users may edit the article during the discussion, including to improve the article to address concerns raised in the discussion. However, do not remove the article-for-deletion notice from the top of the article. Brianhe (talk) 14:53, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Militant atheism[edit]

The page Militant atheism redirects to the League of Militant Atheists and not to New Atheism. For your information, it is currently in discussion on Talk:Militant atheism.
Sleet A. Bbeam (talk) 07:27, 22 January 2015 (UTC).

Chomsky, etc[edit]

Link to youtube video including quoted statement[10]. --Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 14:42, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Origin of the term "New Atheism"?[edit]

I don't see anything in the article about who coined the term "New Atheism," or where it was first used publically in speech or writing. Considering that many "old atheists" don't find anything to distinguish new atheists from the old, the origin of the term would seem to be of central importance to this article.

Merely being vocal and getting published isn't really a particular mark of distinction; atheists have been doing that in every generation at least since Baron D'Holbach, and probably before. Remember Robert Ingersoll? Bertrand Russell? Madalyn Murray O'Hair?

Where was the term "New Atheism" first employed?

The term New Atheism was first appeared in the November 2006 edition of Wired magazine Converse02 (talk) 16:24, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

Four horsemen[edit]

I've checked the source for the claim that the expression "the four horsemen of the non-apocalypse" is used in "The God Debate" The expression actually used there is "the four horsemen of atheism". What to do? --Mick3 (talk) 08:32, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

"The Horsemen" was used in 2007 to describe a meeting of atheists, while various forms of "The Four Horsemen of ______" have been used on occasion since. "anti-apocalypse", "Anti-Apocalypse of Atheism", etc. Xenophrenic (talk) 21:45, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Old Atheism[edit]

The term New Atheism presupposes there was an Old Atheism. If there is a New, what is or was Old Atheism? The article doesn't explain where the term New Atheism comes from. This term is mostly used by religious people pejoratively. By not mentioning this, this article can't be serious. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:22, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

I wondered those same things, myself, If anyone of the writers has an answer, please share it. Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 16:03, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
Old atheism is the same, with less publicity. --Hob Gadling (talk) 06:59, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Michael Ruse's projected atheism[edit]

Both in New Atheism's criticism section and on Michael Ruse's own page, someone has found it necessary to call him an atheist. Almost all sources cited are opinion piece of Ruse's own writing, and none of them claim atheism. They sometimes claim atheism for specific gods, and other times claim a generic "nonbelief", but never outright atheism.

It seems Wikipedia is the main source of this man's atheism. He once claimed atheism while making a case against New Atheism and Dawkins, but that appears to be the only time, and he could just as easily have claimed it disingenuously to put himself into a position of authority on the topic.

Here are some verbatim lines from the sources Wikipedia cites for his purported atheism, all emphasis mine: "I am not a devout Christian..."

"I think of myself as an agnostic on deities and ultimate meanings and that sort of thing. With respect to the main claims of Christianity – loving god, fallen nature, Jesus and atonement and salvation – I am pretty atheistic"

"God knows - perhaps He does! - there are enough tensions in America between science and religion."

And from other areas of sites Wikipedia has cited for his atheism, all in Ruse's own words: "Saint Augustine in 400AD told us that we should not take the early chapters of Genesis too literally."

"I found that some of the things that I thought would be major stumbling blocks, specifically the problems of miracles and of evil, were not as great as feared."

"You could of course adopt some kind of God-directed evolution ... My suspicion is that if the problem is to be solved, then it has to be done with a theological solution rather than a scientific one. You need to argue from the side of Christianity rather than from the side of Darwinism"

"For the religious it is even more a moral quest, as we make use of our God-given talents to explore and marvel at the world He created for our abode. If being made in the image of God means anything, it means looking fearlessly at our own nature and our past, understanding why we are as we are and how we might move forward."

"But what was brought home to me vividly this last week is that the greatest crime is blocking our children from seeing what a wonderful world in which we humans live and how (for those of us who are religious) God's greatest gift was giving us the abilities to discover this world, however strange and terrifying it may seem at times. Remember the parable of the talents. Don't hide them in the ground. Use them that they may multiply and that their fruits may be enjoyed."

I could go on and on and on and on. Does this sound like the voice of an atheist to you? A metal shard (talk) 15:53, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

While you can and you should ask for better sources to confirm if he is/was an atheist or not, deciding for yourself that he does not sound like an atheist seems to be Original research. Atheists tend to come from a variety of backgrounds and their perspectives tend to vary wildly. In a religious view with no scripture or official organization, there is no expectation of uniformity. Dimadick (talk) 18:18, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Okay. Thanks for the response, and I understand that my opinions are my own. However, invoking specific gods and referring to himself as Christian and not as atheist in the sources cited by Wikipedians as evidence of his atheism is... nonsensical at best. Certainly worse than any "original" research anyone could have done, because they apparently didn't do any research at all.A metal shard (talk) 09:22, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
In a religious view with no scripture or official organization...
Good one! Thanks for the chuckle. Face-smile.svg Xenophrenic (talk) 21:45, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, if I were to decide the Pope were atheist, could I call him atheist throughout Wikipedia?A metal shard (talk) 09:22, 21 April 2016 (UTC)

Scientific atheism is now a disambiguation link, one branch points here – propose a hatnote?[edit]

The Scientific atheism (disambiguation) page points to Marxist-Leninist atheism and to here, since the stub page that was replaced talked about these two different senses. In the discussion that led up to it, we acknowledged that the term scientific atheism intends to point at something like New atheism but they are not exactly the same. It seems that one way to address this concern is to add a hatnote, or to do a better job of distinguishing on the DAB page. I'm feeling the inaptness of this particular semi-Hobson's choice as I try to go back through the considerable number of pages that pointed to "Scientific atheism" – for most, it's clear they don't mean Soviet era state-mandated atheism, but it's not clear they mean what has been called "New atheism" or some other strain of modern atheism.

Also, does one of us need to create a redirect from [[Scientific atheism (disambiguation)]] to [[Scientific atheism]]? I haven't been here long enough to know if that's a syntheticic thing the Wiki-engine does or if it's all done manually.  —jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 21:28, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

First sentence[edit]

"New Atheism is the journalistic term used to describe the positions promoted by atheists of the twenty-first century."

This sentence is in direct contradiction with the later description of "a group of modern atheist thinkers and writers who advocate the view that superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized". There is nothing in the term 'atheism' that forces atheists to want to counter religion or to be intolerant of it, no matter what century we're in. If the description of New Atheists is correct, then New Atheism isn't simply describing the positions of 21st century atheists, it's a lot more specific. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:10, 2 September 2016 (UTC)


The others section is getting a bit out of hand. I think it short be shortened or no further entries should be made Apollo The Logician (talk) 19:47, 3 December 2016 (UTC) Apollo The Logician (talk) 19:47, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

A.C Grayling as a logiciam[edit]

To avoid an edit war I decided to put this here. Grayling wrote a book called a An Introduction to Philosophical Logic (1982) but that by no means makes him a logician. Apollo The Logician (talk) 20:53, 3 December 2016 (UTC) Apollo The Logician (talk) 20:53, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Porco and Grayling[edit]

In this edit an anonymous editor attempted to remove Porco from the Others list and add a source that might have supported calling Grayling "a fifth horseman". Cluebot reverted this edit.

I'm wondering, though. As Apollo the Logician mentions above, this "Others" section is perhaps getting overly long. If we look at Porco's article and the references mentioning her advocacy of atheism, it's pretty clear that she is notable for being a famous scientist and that her atheism is a smaller part of her public persona. So maybe removing her from the list would be justified?

As for the Joseph Adams cite about Graying that was offered, it complains about one of Grayling's books as not offering anything new and seems more dismissive of the "fifth horseman" designation than supportive. So it's not a good reference to support this part of the statement about Grayling. We know that Grayling is a very outspoken atheist, prominent for advocacy of atheism even before the emergence of New Atheism, but a better source than the Adams one is needed.

What do others think? — jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 06:34, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Executed as proposed above. Note that the "fifth horseman" characterization does not appear on Graylings page. — jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 07:58, 7 August 2017 (UTC)