Are The New Atheists The New Prophets?

PZ Myers, a prominent “New Atheist” reports on his being designated a prophet:

Michael Dowd, the peculiar author of Thank God for Evolution, has a strange podcast up that promotes the New Atheists because they are the new prophets — we’re telling it like it is, and religious folks need more of that. He also urges people to read Pharyngula, or, if they want something a little gentler, to readRichard Dawkins’ site…ah, flattery.

Anyway, the gist of his argument is that “The religion that the New Atheists are attacking is otherworldly, superstitious religion when it’s interpreted as objectively real. And that’s not where the power of our religious language lies…”, which is, in part, the point I was making when I criticized those faith-heads who make up pseudo-scientific explanations for the miraculous. Of course, I disagree that there is power in religious language, except as potent mind-games to tap into kinks and biases in human psychology.

The Christians always try and co-opt all their greatest critics in the long run.  It’s a “if you can’t beat ‘em, claim they’re really on your side” sort of strategy that I often run across from Christians wanting to feel good about finding so much truth in Nietzsche’s criticisms.  Unfortunately it is invariably tied to an attempt to claim what real Christianity is and how it’s not really what Nietzsche criticized—when it really actually in fact is what he attacked (insofar as there really is anything we can call “True Christianity” at all, that is).

On the upside, a friend received a complimentary copy of Dowd’s book and he read me a passage (with his tongue in his cheek) and it sounded rather corny but didn’t seem quite like it would be any kind of reactionary, literalist Christian fare.  So, maybe there is some hope.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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