The Homogenization of the Atheist Movement

Anybody following the “New Atheism” movement has had the experience: meeting the concerned atheist who wants to move beyond atheism. George Dvorsky is the latest to lament the movement’s lack of progress, calling for a post-atheism which will simultaneously take religion seriously and return to the progressive roots of humanism.

With the post-atheists, you never know what will be attacked next,. Dvorsky’s croaking plea concerns the “mindless slacktivism” of atheist Facebook users and their “anti-religious propaganda.” Atheism is normalized, the intellectual battle won. So, get off the computer and help people move away from religion!

I can’t immediately decide whether or not this is an improvement on Alain de Botton’s call for Atheism 2.0 or one of the many varieties of anti-atheism. Dvorsky is an atheist, but his post-atheism denies the relevance of the atheist movement, or to put it in more concrete terms, the lived-experiences of his fellow atheists.

Atheism has not been normalized, at least not according to any definition of normalization that I am familiar with. It will also no doubt come as a surprise to both atheists and theists alike that the intellectual battle against religion has already been won.

Given that Dvorsky wants to see “more focused efforts on understanding how and why religion continues to spread” he should take some care in making pronouncements about the status of contemporary debates.

While atheists may be satisfied with their ontological and epistemological conclusions, there is a socio-political component to the spread of ideas or the so-called meme theory of religious propagation, and dominant ideologies are not so easily subversed by the settled debates of the few.

The homogenization of the atheist movement is not necessary for a relevant and vital humanist movement for the 21st century, and make no mistake, that’s what Dvorsky is implying. Let’s ignore the fact that his argument is almost entirely based on his dissatisfaction with his Facebook timeline and try to remember that the focus he desires is already present among those with the related interests and talents.