Monday, June 20, 2011

Atheism vs. New Atheism

I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time now and finally I have decided to write a post about it. Ever since I declared myself an atheist 17 years ago, I have always been a voracious reader of classical books on the subject. One of my first "idols" was Robert G. Ingersoll. I have a great admiration for those that stood up against religious beliefs during a time when their rebelliousness could lead to a long prison sentence and in some instances even death.

One of the things I admire most of the classical works on atheism or biblical criticism was that they were straight forward and did not beat around the bush. I was pretty astounded to read in these books that many of the same sentiments I held towards religious beliefs, Christianity specifically were held by some of the greatest minds of the past. There were times where I would share with my family members a paragraph from one of these books and would say with pride and enthusiasm: "I could have written this book!"

The very first written works from an atheist prospective that came out were not cluttered with theology, and philosophy. They were no nonsense interpretations of what the bible said and were scrutinized by what was read in the scriptures as they were written. I personally favor this approach because I honestly don't think that everyone back then and even today that have subscribed to Christian doctrines bothered to study theology before they accepted the bible as the word of God or the doctrines contained within its pages as absolute, inerrant, "truth."

Today's atheism or as some like to call it the new atheism is nothing more than a lot of fluff. Atheists are letting the Christians dictate how these debates should go by giving them way to much space. Apologists for instance have brought philosophy onto the playing field, or should I say their idea of what philosophy is. It's actually nothing more than Christian doctrine with a twist. They get atheists to argue about the characteristics of God: omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. when in reality even their ideas of this are based on what is written in the bible.

For any of these so called attributes to be valid they have to be agreed upon by both parties involved in the dispute. As an atheist I personally don't accept the attributes of God as described in the bible as valid. In order to do so would require an enormous amount of faith on my behalf. I would have to accept that the bible was somehow inspired by God himself, then accept that what is written in the bibles pages are divine and absolute truths. I don't accept any of these principles and there is not sufficient or even satisfactory evidence to make me think otherwise.

I find theology and apologetics to be nothing more than a complete waste of time and energy. When I challenge Christians on their beliefs I do so based on what the bible actually says and nothing more. I could get caught up in the never ending circular arguments that theists tend to favor to bolster their ego and their position that I can't prove the non-existence of God. But just because it is impossible to do so convincingly does not make it true either. Just because we can't prove the non-existence of God does not automatically make the default position belief in God. The other alternative is we just don't know for sure (agnosticism), but I even have a problem with this as well.

I think that taking a neutral position on a subject of such magnitude that affects so many peoples lives for better or for worse is in fact cowardly. All religious beliefs are based on ancient myths and oral traditions, using this reasoning then the next thing you have to ask yourself is why should the Christian myth be the exception to the rule? Because I can't prove that Zeus does not exist does not automatically make me take the alternative position that he does.

When it comes to discussions about religious beliefs I prefer to argue from what is written in scripture as is as opposed to inventing silly circular arguments that seem learned on the surface but are nothing more than window dressing. Atheists of the past did not have to worry so much about theology and apologists arguments. I personally think that these older arguments were far more superior to the arguments being presented these days using philosophy, so called logic and reason which from a Christian perspective is nothing more than tainted by their bias to believe their falsehoods regardless of the evidence against it.


  1. As I look around and see all these churches on every street corner, I think to myself, every church that has ever been built was built by a cowardly man scared of death and dying, basically a coward afraid to face his own death. I do not know of any woman ever to build or start a church, isn't that ironic?

  2. David,

    Like yourself, my journey away from superstition began with Ingersol. In my opinion, he did such a thorough job of snapping the filthy neck of religion that I find deeper critisizm not only unnecessary, but distracting from what is already the "best mouse trap" built to date.

    I enjoy parts of the writings of Hitchens, and Harris....but sometimes it seems like they are using a sledge hammer to swat a fly. It annoys the shit out of me that we allow apologists to lead us around in their silly circles.

    Awesome article!