Friday, February 9, 2024

Why the 'New Atheism' Failed

Most of us remember the "new atheists," many found online on Twitter (now X), Reddit, Facebook, and the now-defunct Google Plus. They used to storm our @Sacerdotus accounts posting ridiculous banal questions, commentary, and insults. Some of them even made personal threats and made attempts to pin identities on our account to attempt to discredit it.  All of this was just show and deflection.  

They presented themselves as "rationalists" seeking truth while playing armchair philosophers and scientists.  In the end, they were just trolls using the guise of atheists to explore and carthetic outlet.  This was a huge reason why the so-called "New Atheism" movement failed miserably aside from the fact that they lacked evidence to prove the non-existence of God.  In our Atheism Is Stupid posts and book, as well as Atheism Dilemma posts we posited several points on why Atheism simply does not work. We will present 5 reasons why the New Atheism movement failed.

The "New Atheism" Misrepresented Academia

Many so-called "New Atheists" tried very hard to present themselves as intelligent, rational, academic, and educated. This attempt ended up exposing them as exhibiting The Dunning–Kruger effect. Arguments would become a nonsensical exchange of contrarianism and the fallacy of apriorism along with many others.  The exchange would be a total waste of time.  It would be heartbreaking to read the distortions of science and philosophy perpetuated by these individuals. They would take theories such as evolution and attempt to use them to prove God does not exist, the Bible is wrong, or that theists are somehow a collective body of science-illiterate fools. In the end, their claims would betray them. They would expose the lack of science literacy on their part. While some theists out there do not understand evolution and believe in a six-day literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, they are not the majority. Nevertheless, the majority of the so-called "New Atheists" proved themselves as lacking a basic understanding of science and how it works.  Some of these so-called "New Atheists" would subscribe to Scientism or the idea that science is the only way to discover truth and measure everything. Those who subscribe to Scientism often disregard philosophy, theology, and other areas of academia.  In our book Atheism Is Stupid, we dedicate several pages to Scientism and why it simply does not work and hurts the journey of knowledge and truth. The human mind needs several ways to process the natural world. Science is simply not enough because it lacks the tools necessary to vet itself and think outside of the box if you will.  So "New Atheists" who played armchair philosophers and scientists did a huge disservice to Atheism and in the process tarnished science and philosophy with their strawman arguments and misunderstanding. This discredited their claims and turned the movement into a parody.

Puerile AntiSocial Behavior

Another reason why the "New Atheism" movement failed is because of the puerile antisocial behavior perpetuated by many of its members. These people hidden often under the guise of anonymity using cartoonish avatars, silly monikers, and whatnot would target theists. At first, they pretended to seek truth and engage in civil discourse, but in reality, they were just looking to harass and troll. Their comments would get extremely hostile and ugly. They would resort to ad hominem, insults, and even vulgarity in the form of sexual commentaries or lewd photos. Four-letter words would fly about in a discourse, so to speak. The topic of the discussion would get lost in the filth of antisocial behavior.  This hurt the "New Atheism" movement severely.  No one likes a rude and nasty person in any walk of life. Humans are social animals. They need to interact and release chemicals in the brain based on interaction. Negativity and disrespect add nothing to the discussion and is definitely not humane. Humanity would not survive, and build governments or systems if all members of the human race behaved like these people posing as "New Atheists." We all can disagree and often do. Even theists disagree with each other. What makes the difference is how one carries oneself during a disagreement. It may be the sole matter in regards to convincing the other party or not to accept your premise. The fact that these people were contentious and nasty simply showed their true agenda: trolling. They were not interested in Atheism or having an intellectual adult discussion. They simply wanted to get a high or gratification from being toxic, harassing theists and even doxxing them. This may be due to loneliness, mental illness, malice, or simply some sexual fetishism where they get a rush of gratification from the delusion of feeling powerful.  Their behavior led to many suspensions on a variety of platforms. Had their approach been more stoic and civil, perhaps the "New Atheism" movement would have gotten more respect and would still be active now in 2024.

Circus Events

Every group loves having large social gatherings. Catholics have them, Protestants, even Muslims and Jews. They often use their temples or rent a large arena in order to host some event or conference. These events are often costly but bring many participants.  The "New Atheism" movement tried doing the same. They had the "Reason Rally" twice, Atheist Con, and other events around the world. At first, these events brought some crowds. While not as big as theist events, the events did gather a good number of "New Atheists." They were not showcased in the media but promoted scarcely by the "New Atheists" themselves via photography posted on their social media. However, while the events were billed as being "rational" and "scientific" in nature, they were far from it. These events were clownish. They have people dressed up in ridiculous costumes. The events came across as a parody of Comic Con. The same speakers were often present, such as the "Friendly Atheist," "Aron-Ra," and several others. Ironically, scientists promoted on popular science television programs such as Dr. Lawrence Kraus, Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson or Dr. Massimo Pigluicci were no-shows. We can see why.  These events were circus events.  They inspired ridicule more than anything else.  It is no wonder why these events quickly faded out of existence. No one could take them seriously.  The display warped Hippies and speaker lineup of amateur armchair individuals who lacked any academic credentials led to the failure.  These events came across like a large display of the National Lampoon movies with Chevy Chase or Naked Gun with Leslie Nelson.  They were just horrible and exposed the "New Atheism" movement for what it was: a circus of clowns.

Bad Arguments and Content

As stated above, the "New Atheism" movement was full of people pretending to have a grasp of knowledge of science and philosophy. This pretentious behavior led to many disastrous displays on the part of the "New Atheist."  The arguments were just horrible. They were devoid of logic, reason, facts, and coherence.  These "New Atheists" would often resort to the banal Infinite Regression argument which has been refuted several times for centuries.  They were quick to say that we do not know how the Universe came to be, but that they knew God had nothing to do with it.  The argument is just disastrous and shows their hatred and bias against God. How can one say that they do not know how the Universe truly came to be but know it was not God who did it? It is just ridiculous. Many of them relied on memes for argumentation. These memes are a story in themselves in regards to lack of facts and education. One funny meme shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying. Above Him are the words, "Dear God, it is me/you..." The meme is obviously an attempt to mock the Trinity by misrepresenting it.  It is a strawman argument showing the creator of the meme and the persons posting it believe there is a contradiction with Jesus praying to God while being God.  It shows a lack of knowledge of the Hypostatic Union.  There are many others that we do not have time to cover here, but we are sure you have seen them floating around on the internet.  These along with other arguments presented served more as comic relief than a rebuttal of Theism. At one point, these "New Atheists" started a Roku channel entitled Atheist TV.  There was a lot of excitement over this Roku channel. However, it lasted a few months due to a lack of viewership.  It was just a disaster with ridiculous programming. Many Atheists in academia, including Massimo Pigluicci mocked the attempt.  The content from "New Atheists" pretty much destroyed their credibility. It helped bring more people to God and religion. The irony!

Cannot Prove God Does Not Exist

Finally, the biggest reason why the "New Atheism" movement failed is the same one the traditional Atheism failed: it could not prove its claims on God.  Like with the original Atheism, the "New Atheism" simply could not offer strong arguments ot evidence against the existence of God.  The claims were unsubstantiated special pleading and arguments from ignorance masquerading as intelligentsia.  The late Dr. Carl Sagan stated this:

He was absolutely right!  There is NO COMPELLING EVIDENCE FOR THE NON-EXISTENCE OF GOD.  This is because God is beyond us. God is huge as a being and concept. Even if we knew everything about this universe, we still could not prove God does not exist. This is because there can be other universes and other dimensions. There can be other realms of existence that we simply cannot probe due to our ontology and technological capabilities. The cartoon movie Spider-Man Miles Morales shows what may happen if we happen to appear in a multiverse in a universe that is not our own. The laws of physics in that universe may not be compatible with our atomic structures. We may simply disappear in that universe, appear disfigured to those who dwell in that alien universe, or may simply phase in and out like the characters in the movie. Moreover, we know so far thanks to Catholic priest Monsignore Georg Lemaitre that the universe began at the "Big Bang."  This Cosmic Inflation theory posits that the universe had a beginning and began to expand.  To date, we do not know if we are expanding inside something else or if the expansion is "everything." We simply do not know and most likely will never know because of the limits of the laws of physics, our physicality, and technology.  Think about it, if everything came into being at the "Big Bang," how can we travel before this point? This would mean our substance would cease to exist because there was nothing before the "Big Bang." How can our "something" exist in a realm of "nothing?"  Then there is the issue of time which makes things even more complicated.  This is why Sagan said there is no evidence and God can be relegated about to different times, places, and so on.  So for an Atheist (traditional or new) to claim God does not exist is simply hogwash. It is a special pleading fallacy based on an appeal to ignorance.  Then their attempt to apply science and philosophy to their claims makes a mess of logic. Moreover, the "New Atheists" love to claim that the theist has the burden of proof when they are the ones claiming God is not real.  It simply does not work that way. If you state God is real, it is your burden to prove that. If you state God IS NOT real, it is your burden to prove that as well. If you are not sure, then simply say this!  The "New Atheist" claim that God is not real has no value without evidence.  It is simply his or her word.  It is a bare assertion that no one is obligated to accept on fact.  The reality is that there are better arguments and evidence for God than for Atheism, new or old.  No one can present God in His entirety to anyone else. It is simply not possible. All we can do is offer reasons, arguments, finite evidence, and proofs that are limited to our senses and capabilities. 

In conclusion, the "New Atheism" movement was a fad that dissipated quickly. It was like a strong smelly flatulence that made a scene shocking people but then diluted into nothingness as we all laughed from the embarrassment of it.  It misrepresented academia, was not amicable in its presentation, was a circus of bad arguments and optics, and simply could not prove God does not exist. Because of this, it faded into oblivion; into the ocean of forgottenness.  

The "New Atheism" set out to win converts to Atheism but instead brought many to Theism. Leah Lebresco-Sargeant is an example. She was once like the "Friendly Atheist" with her online content and even spoke at the "Reason Rally." Shortly after, she became a Catholic and is active in the Catholic Church and even in the Pro-life movement.  Many others crossed over to the right side of reason and history and are Catholic, some joined Protestant or Eastern Rite non-Catholic denominations.  In any event, the "New Atheism" was an epic fail thanks to its followers and its lack of substance.  A house built on sand simply disintegrates.  

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