Can the Atheist Blogosphere Hold a Candle to the Bestselling Atheist Authors?

Yesterday, I posted a review of Victor Stenger‘s new book The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (Prometheus Books).

As much as I liked it, I had one particular problem with the book:

There is also no mention at all of the atheist blogosphere — even PZ Myers gets short-shrifted. I’m not exactly unbiased about this, but I feel like blogs are one of the main ways people find out about what is going on in the atheist community. To not mention them, even in a section titled “The Future of Atheism,” seems like a tremendous oversight.

Stenger comes off as someone who knows all about what gets released by major publishers but relatively little about what gets written on the Internet.

Stenger replied in the comment thread to that criticism here, here, and here:

I am sorry I did not give bloggers and some organizations more recognition. I guess I am an old-time physicist who takes published works more seriously than informal,unedited, exchanges that are mostly soundbites rather than deep discussions. Read the article in a recent Atlantic about how bloggers are killing the old, respectable journalism where reporters worked hard to dig out the truth and are replacing it with advocacy of little substance and no middle ground…

I’m sorry, but I have looked all over the internet and never found anything on the New Atheism that comes close in intellectual merit or maturity to the six N Y Times bestsellers and other books I mention. I am a very experienced computer user. I wrote my first computer program exactly 50 years ago when a graduate student. I love my grandchildren but don’t refer to their scribblings in my books.

OK, I promise to mention blogs in my upcoming talks on The New Atheism and say more about them in any next addition. I am sure they are influential. Perhaps I can be fed some exemplary cases to use.

However, I still insist I googled every subject discussed in my book and have referred in numerous places to URLs. I still think the medium has not superseded books and journal articles that are carefully reviewed and edited before being published and where you can develop arguments in detail. Point me to a blog that picked up the Hawking quotation abut the universe not beginning in a singularity and turning it meaning completely around. Point me to a blog that recognized the theological significance of this.

I agree with the other commenters on that thread — while the New Atheist authors have tremendous reach and, therefore, the greatest impact, more atheists are affected on a regular basis by what happens within the grassroots atheism movement on the Internet (on the blogs).

We’re challenged on our ideas and we challenge others; we’re spreading the messages that the books lay out; we’re building the communities that are so vital for a movement to succeed.

It’s possible that atheism would be getting a lot of attention without the blogs. But you can’t ignore the impact we have.

Stenger admits we deserve recognition, but he argues that the blogosphere is not as intellectually stimulating as the bestselling books.

So, let’s throw the question out to the crowd:

What atheist blogs do you think provide “exemplary” intellectual stimulation?

(Or is Stenger right that they don’t provide such stimulation?)

And just to keep the discussion moving along, you’re not allowed to say Pharyngula.

(Thanks to Greta Christina for the suggestion!)

  • BZ

    I use atheist blogs as a way to keep up with atheist news and I appreciate them for that. They’re good for getting people motivated to get involved and do things in the atheist community. However, none of the blogs I’ve seen, including Pharyngula, can really be used as a main source of intellectual stimulation, although they have interesting tidbits here and there.

  • AxeGrrl

    The Atheist Experience

    the blog and the the podcast :)

  • http://anthonyrmiller.com/blog Tony

    I’ve read more of Mehta, Plait and Meyers than I have of Dawkins.

    I enjoy the social aspect of blogging more than the isolation of reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. I easily go through 30+ books a year but atheist blogs are more enjoyable to me than any of the books on atheism I’ve come across.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    What atheist blogs do you think provide “exemplary” intellectual stimulation?

    Mine, of course. However, Friendly Atheist comes in at a close second.

    I joke of course. Really, I think that Daylight Atheism and Its sister site are probably one of the best intellectual sites in the blogosphere.

  • ursulamajor

    1) Yes, the books give greater depth and intellectual content, but one of the problems with being an atheist is that it’s hard to find a community. Xians have their churches. We have the blogs. Now if we can figure out how to do a potluck over the intertubes, we’ll be set.

    2) I really like the exchange of ideas that the blogs afford. It’s kind of hard to ask a book a follow-up question. And they provide up to date information and news.

    Okay, I just realized I didn’t really answer the question as asked. Oh well, maybe after another cuppa….

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Read the article in a recent Atlantic about how bloggers are killing the old, respectable journalism where reporters worked hard to dig out the truth and are replacing it with advocacy of little substance and no middle ground…

    I’m sick of hearing this.

    Journalism in America was already far along its way down the tubes long before blogging became popular. And it’s not even a contention. Blogs are all about quick response and discussion, not high-minded investigative journalism. It’s a different medium.

    Also, what’s with the condescension?

    I’m sorry, but I have looked all over the internet and never found anything on the New Atheism that comes close in intellectual merit or maturity to the six N Y Times bestsellers and other books I mention. … I love my grandchildren but don’t refer to their scribblings in my books.

    Really?

    Maybe it’s valuable to point out that not everyone values the intellectual side of the discussion the same way? Some “new atheists” just don’t care.

  • Korinthian

    The Atheist Experience experience definitely deserves some credit. This show arguably goes deeper into atheist- and bible-related subjects than all the top atheist books put together.

    The Atheist Experience

  • Sackbut

    This will be a good list of recommendations for other readers! I hope to pick up a few from here.

    I very much enjoy Greta Christina’s blog. I think she makes some of the most well-written and well-reasoned arguments on various subjects.

    I also enjoy Pharyngula. Sometimes it’s rather polemic, which is often a good thing. However, my favorite aspect of PZ Myers’ writing is that he takes creationist or theist articles or books and painstakingly, masterfully dissects them, one point at a time. His efforts are textbook examples of how to deal with religious apologetic arguments effectively, rather than dismissing them out of hand.

    I like Paul Fidalgo’s and Trina Hoaks’ Examiner columns, and wish they wrote more.

    I do follow Harris’ “The Reason Project”, although not as closely as others.

    I follow the NCSE, AHA, and FFRF on Facebook.

    And of course Friendly Atheist is high on my list! I like the tone here, and I like the volume of news items.

    As has been pointed out in various comments, if Stenger is looking solely for intellectual stimulation, and asking whether blogs provide it, he’s missing a big piece of the picture. Atheist charities, secular associations, the argument over the Collins nomination, the battle over accommodationism, those didn’t happen in books.

  • Carlie

    Wow. It’s incredibly dismissive of him to say “who takes published works more seriously than informal,unedited, exchanges that are mostly soundbites rather than deep discussions.” I’ve seen some incredibly deep discussions on atheist blogs, and at least at the ones I read, people are very careful to back up anything they say with citations and supporting evidence. In fact, I’d say my blog commenting experience has trained me to back up my assertions in all areas more than my doctoral experience did, because my academic writing is quite specific and blog commenting makes me transfer that scrutiny to detail and context to areas I’m not such an expert in.

  • Todd

    I agree with Stenger on this, but I don’t believe that is the function of blogs and forums. The s/n is way too low. However, the Internet serves as a virtual gathering place for atheists who live in communities where they may feel isolated. Without the Internet, I’d still be a shellshocked former fundamentalist, terrified I was going to hell. You cannot get that kind of support from a book.

    However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t intellectually stimulating blogs out there. One of my favorites is The Secular Outpost, especially Taner Edis’ posts. Also, for an intellectual heavyweight, Austin Cline is one who I believe actually superior to writers like Harris or Dawkins, when it comes to putting together a taut philosophical argument. He’s also merciless on discussion boards, considering he goes back to the good old days of alt.atheism (any veterans of usenet?).

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/ always has good insight.

    As good as the books mentioned are, will any have the staying power or re-readability of “Why I am not a Christian”? Stengers book is arguably one of the better ones of the bunch, but Onfray’s “In Defence of Atheism” is superb, and may be the best of the bunch, but hardly gets mentioned.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    Stenger loses major points for comparing bloggers to pre-literate children. He also loses points for failing to realize the influence of blogs, whatever their intellectual merit. There are far more new ideas on the web than in any published book, and they certainly affect far more people.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I need to include de-conversion.com/and exchristian.net here. One of the valuable resources that the blogosphere provides is the chance for those who are new to non-belief, or even still struggling with whether to dump religion, to connect with people who have been exactly where they are. It’s a safe place to work through their doubts and issues without being told that they are going to hell. Those websites, and others like them, are often the first place a new “infidel” will encounter carefully reasoned responses to Fundie apologetics.

  • Sharon C

    I think Stenger missed the point in his response. The argument was that by neglecting blogs, he’s leaving a big part out of the modern atheist movement. His response was that the blogs aren’t high literature, but usually that’s not their main purpose.

    Atheists use the blogosphere to organize, to keep abreast of relevant news, AND to submit arguments against religion/the religious.

    It seems Stenger thinks that “New Atheism” is only about debates hashed out in competing books, and he does non-bestselling atheists a great disservice by dismissing their contributions.

    Also, I want to second Greta Christina’s blog as an excellent and thought-provoking one.

  • H

    bloggers are killing the old, respectable journalism where reporters worked hard to dig out the truth

    Wow. Talk about being misinformed.

    Corporate media would never distort the truth or outright lie to please advertisers or political interests now would they?

  • Luther

    Read the article in a recent Atlantic about how bloggers are killing the old, respectable journalism where reporters worked hard to dig out the truth and are replacing it with advocacy of little substance and no middle ground…

    Nothing like the objectivity of the printed media calling itself much better than another source and blaming that source for its demise.

    Note how well the media has been covering health care reform -completely ignoring and trivializing single payer – the proven system that works everywhere else.

    Note the digging deep and showing there were no weapons of mass destruction – that’s why we did not attack Iraq in 2003.

    Note the heavy coverage of Media Reform?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Granted there are several blogs that have a scholarly tone and may cite sources and comment feedback functions as a form of peer review…. But I maintain that atheism is really an unsubject. You don’t need a Ph.D. or scholarly discourse to argue against a belief in the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or Santa Clause. Rhetoric will suffice. I think the same applies to God. If you want to argue on theology’s own terms (examining all the ancient writings) then yes you need scholarship. But many atheists dismiss the ancient writings as not being pertinent to them not believing. Books and peer review papers are the appropriate forum for studying the influence of how religion has affected society, but blogs are the appropriate forum to use rhetoric to engage the public on what they believe. Personally I don’t think blogs should even try to compete with books and peer review papers. They each have different purposes. Before blogs came around, most people didn’t read scholarly books and peer review papers. Most don’t now either. Blogs have just drawn more people into the discussion than ever before.

  • Renacier

    As tech-savvy as he may or may not be, let’s face it: Stenger is an old man. Not to denigrate him in any way, but he is accustomed to to print media. He is familiar with the way it operates and presents itself.
    The (I hate the term, but…) Blogosphere does not function the same way; you can’t look at a blog as ‘a newspaper online’, that’s not what it is. A blog is not a place where you go to get information, it’s a place where you go to get opinions. Blogs and forums are like little tiny social clubs, not little tiny newsrooms.

    Print media is a sailboat, online media is a speedboat. They have their own pros and cons, they share similarities, but you can’t treat one like you treat the other. Stenger is clearly a sailboater and he’s trying to judge speedboats by the same standard. No wonder he’s not impressed.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    I think Stenger misses the point while also being largely correct with what he does say.

    True, Blogs cannot match books from deep arguements. True, blogs are no substitute for good investigative journalism.

    However, they aren’t trying to do this either. Blogs have the chief advantage that they are rapid. Bloggers blog about what happens in a way books with their long turnaround can’t. This blog for instance keeps us informed of atheist campaigns, current abuses of church/state seperation, comments by leading theists/atheists and such like. Impossible in a book.

    As others have mentioned, they also form communities that some atheists might find hard if they live in bibleland. Support and likeminded people are freely available to talk with here. Not possible with books.

    This simply isn’t a question of book vs blog, they don’t compete, they compliment.

    For Stenger to leave out blogs from the future of atheism is a bit short sighted. Yes, the next big atheist touchplate will be a book, but there will be thousands of articles, community events (creation museum trip anyone?), deconversions, discussions and suchlike on blogs before the next book gets published. Blogs are one of the driving forces behind new athiesm, but as community and organisational resources.

    As for good atheist blogs with excellent intellectual stimulation, i used to read debunking christianity quite a lot. Mostly very detailed theological arguements against christianity using its own resources. Very interesting.

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com justin

    I think anyone who refers to the blogosphere as “informal, unedited, exchanges that are mostly soundbites rather than deep discussions” has revealed a generational bias (even if young) and has become confused about the nature of “discussion.” A book is not a discussion, it’s a monologue. It’s also frequently outdated by the time the work is actually published.

    A blog, a good one anyway, isn’t devoid of good, serious discussion. I learn from several of the blogs I read, all of which have been mentioned already. They’re all thought provoking and constructive.

    Sure, blogs are far too democratic in that anyone can participate regardless of qualification. Yet, Harris and Dawkins, both brilliant writers, make the mistake of bringing up already rejected dogma (like Harris’ discussions of transubstantiation) as if any mainstream believer still took it seriously. This is an example of the atheist using a straw man. It’s not a good thing, but it got published, so it’s superior to blogging?

    Well, no.

    There are problems in both media. There are successes in both media. The most accurate thing we can say is that they compliment each other. At least, that’s how I see it.

  • SteveC

    I think, in the main, a high percentage of the atheist blogs and discussion board traffic tends to be noise.

    But, I started hanging around the old internet infidels discussion board (iidb) in 2003. I distinctly remember upon reading The God Delusion thinking that Dawkins would have done well to hang around iidb.org for a year or two before writing his book. I don’t recall specific examples now, but there were just little things that bothered me — I found myself frequently thinking, why didn’t he mention this, or that, or “there’s a better argument for that,” or “there’s a better way to say that,” and it was almost always something which I’d learned on iidb.org.

    So I think in the main, the content of the books is going to more densely packed with high quality stuff, the sheer volume of blogs and discussion boards means that the total amount of quality stuff they offer outweighs what’s in the books — it’s just buried in a lot of crap.

    DaylightAtheism.org kicks ass, btw (and was mentioned in The God Delusion.)
    http://exapologist.blogspot.com/ is good.
    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/ is good.

  • bradm

    I have to agree with Victor on the sound-byte nature of most blogs (atheist or not). Blogs are fine for what they are able to do – connect people in ways they weren’t able to connect 15 or more years ago. But blogs have had a huge effect on the new atheism and I don’t think anybody can deny that.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve never been all that impressed by the intellectual merits of the books he talks about, either. I’ll take some Michael Martin, Quentin Smith or Kai Nielsen any day over Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens.

  • ethin

    Writing a mainframe program on punch cards fifty years ago hardly qualifies a person as being tech savvy in today’s age. Technology has changed so much, it’s ridiculous to even suggest that it does (and shows how out of touch Stenger is).

    It’s like saying “I designed a biplane so of course I’m familiar with space shuttles.”

  • http://www.aperfectfool.com Codswallop

    Wow. Stenger just went way down in my esteem. I think this is the attitude that spawns all those “ivory tower” comments. I suppose we’re lucky he wrote the book in English, and not in Latin, as a truly educated person would.

  • http://doubtingeventhomas.blogspot.com/ Doubting Foo

    Without following the blogs like this one or PZ’s closely it might be difficult to use them for research. Would a google search on the subjects of his book lead him to these blogs?

  • benjdm

    What atheist blogs do you think provide “exemplary” intellectual stimulation?

    Intellectual? Debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com, John W. Loftus’ site, does a good job. Also (as already mentioned) daylightatheism. Epiphenom – bhascience.blogspot.com – does some great sociological stuff, but I don’t know if that would count as an atheist blog. sandwalk.blogspot.com – Larry Moran’s blog – definitely does. Also whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com – Jerry Coyne’s blog.

  • jtradke

    I am a very experienced computer user. I wrote my first computer program exactly 50 years ago when a graduate student.

    Um, OK, well, we’re not talking about computation here, we’re talking about the social interaction the Internet has brought. We’re talking about the fact that people spend millions of collective hours each month reading and interacting via sites like this one. We’re talking about the influence and reach of blogs, their ability to spread information.

    Victor – I did not know a damn thing about your books until I read about them here yesterday. Ten years ago, there’s no way you’d rack up the same amount of sales you’re now going to see.

    I still think the medium has not superseded books and journal articles that are carefully reviewed and edited before being published and where you can develop arguments in detail.

    Who’s talking about anything superceding anything, man? All anyone’s saying is that blogs and digital social media are important too.

    And anyway, there’s some shitty books out there, just like there’s shitty blogs. Don’t tell me you’d take Ray Comfort’s straw-fires more seriously than anything posted at DaylightAtheism.org.

  • JJR

    Hey, I also get a kick out of rude-and-crude blogs like “God is for Suckers”, though.

    And I love the podcasts “Chariots of Iron”, “American Freethought”, “Dogma Free America” and “The Non-Prophets”…there’s sometimes some overlap in the news they cover, but I don’t care.

    I also subscribe to Free Inquiry magazine, especially for the excellent book reviews.

    I pay attention to the Blogosphere and the Podcasts to learn what new books are out there and worth reading, including Vic Stenger’s newest work, which I first heard of on Freethought Radio with Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. My favorite part of the FFRF newsletter are the letters to the editor, just hearing from fellow atheists in their own words.

    I’ve found many of the contributors to PZ’s blog to be very well educated and articulate, and sometimes the comment threads are just as entertaining as the posts themselves.

    The Internet (YouTube) has turned The Atheist Experience from just another local, obscure U.S. cable access show to a world-wide phenomenon.

    All of these various media are interdependent on each other and are stronger in their creative combination.

  • Revyloution

    Blogs, and the internet in general, have done something that no amount of careful scholarly writing could ever do. It has united a diffuse minority into a powerful coalition of unbelievers. It has also forced the idea of godlessness upon the consciousness of the world.

    As a life long atheist, I remember in my youth how isolated I was. Being an unbeliever was a mark of shame. It was years before I had friends who shared my lack of faith (if you can share a lacking) Reading books debunking different religions is an isolating experience. You do get a depth of knowledge, but lacking peers, you never get to discuss the subject with others.

    Books have always been important to me for learning. Blogs are the thing that turned me into an activist.

  • http://idahoev.com IdahoEv

    I’m a little amazed that John Loftus’ site Debunking Christianity isn’t mentioned more frequently and higher up in this thread.

    It has far and away the most detailed and in-depth writing on philosophy, theology, and epistemology on the net. Not really for the faint of heart; it’s not as much fun or as snarky as many of the others, but as an intellectual source it can’t be beat.

  • http://anti-mattr.blogspot.com mathyoo

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com has quite a bit of depth and intellectual stimulation.

    I think many of the above commenters are correct-Stenger is missing the point of blogs and social media completely. It’s true that there may not be as many in-depth intellectual discussions, but I’ve seen quite a few in discussion groups and blogs. What Stenger is seemingly ignorant of, though, is the reach of social media and how it’s allowed atheists to share thoughts on those published works, or to even find out about them. How many people would have been exposed to The End of Faith, The God Delusion, etc. twenty years ago? Not many. How many atheists are far more comfortable expressing their atheism now, after being able to find others who share our worldview online? I think a great many.

  • Pingback: Apparently Victor Stenger doesn’t get it « skeptigirl

  • Tyro

    I think that Stenger misses the point if he looks solely for detailed theological arguments in blogs. Take Pharyngula’s “Courtier’s Reply” for instance – this has been cited hundreds or thousands of times and has, I think, shifted the way we think about apologetic responses far more than most books. As well, the debate around “framing” and Mooneybaum’s newest book has gone a long way towards persuading much of the soft, mushy centre that atheism isn’t something to run away from and that fatheism is an intellectual cop-out.

    Blogs aren’t about building a theological argument but about building communities and having conversations, a vital feature of any movement especially the atheist one where we’re not visibly distinct. After reading a book, what then? How do atheists stay engaged and informed? It may not be as glamorous but blogs and web forums are key tools. And let’s not forget that the work in these social groups can have real-world impact such as the atheist bus campaign.

    I must grant that the book tours of Hitchens and Dawkins have probably achieved far more popular press, tv coverage and media attention than blog posts (even Crackergate).

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    Ok, going through my Google Reader list: Bad Astronomer, erv, Right Wing Watch, Skepchick, The Invisible Pink Unicorn, The Panda’s Thumb, Allied Atheist Alliance, Debunking Christianity, and Orcinus. Many of those are specifically about politics, biology, or skepticism instead of atheism but they all approach stories from a secular perspective.

  • Kris

    Since it hasn’t come up more than once in the thread, I’ll throw in what I thought was an obligatory mention: Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, which may not be a fair candidate given its namesake book.

  • Claudia

    I’m going to partially sidestep the question and assert that the impact of the atheist blogosphere is not chiefly through its intellectual debate and that dismissing it on those grounds is absurd.

    It takes more than books, no matter how thought-provoking and well written, to rally a community. The online atheist community has allowed us to rally, to exchange thoughts but also jokes, life-stories and to simply be around people like us, many for the first time in our lives.

    I think it’s a surprising error to overlook the influence this has on the rise of the so-called “New Atheism”. Does Mr. Stenger honestly believe that the success of the new atheist literature would have been just as good without a strong online community? How many atheists came online FIRST and found out there was atheist literature SECOND? How many read a book but didn’t really feel like they were part of a community until they came online?

    Most churches add nothing to theological debates. Does that make churches irrelevant in supporting the religion, or rather are they an absolutely essential pillar in the maintinence their faith? I would think the answer is obvious, no?

  • tdd

    When I was deconverting, I read through the entire archive of daylightatheism.org. It was much more meaningful to me than the books by Dawkins, et. al.

  • jemand

    I’ll mention Greta Christina’s blog again….

    pure awesome!

    true… the sex discussions don’t hurt either ;)

  • Siamang

    As far as high-minded stuff, I’d recommend “Atheism: Proving the Negative” by Matt McCormick, a professor of philosophy at CSU Sacramento.

    You can’t say a professor of philosophy isn’t scholarly, Vic!

    http://www.atheismblog.blogspot.com/

    Also, he’s building a remote-controlled R2D2, which means he’s beyond awesome!

    http://buildr2d2.blogspot.com/

    I think Greta Christina nailed it when she said attempting to document the history of the last 5 years of ‘new’ atheism without mentioning blogs would be like trying to chronicle the gay rights movement without mentioning gay bars.

    A truly scholarly approach would document non-scholarly history and interaction.

    It’s as if you decided that in history class, everyone should only read books by writers of history textbooks.

    But of course, I haven’t read your latest book, so this isn’t a review.

    And also:

    I love my grandchildren but don’t refer to their scribblings in my books.

    Dude, you don’t have to be such a dick.

  • http://www.samharris.org Sam Harris

    Hermant:

    As you know, I’m a big fan of Vic’s books and of books in general. Speaking personally, however, I can say that my blog debate with Andrew Sullivan was among the most useful things I have done for the cause. There is definitely a role for blogs in the reconquest of civilization.
    Keep it up!

    Best,
    Sam

  • WayBeyondSoccerMom

    What jtradke said.

    And, hey, I’m in mid 40′s, computer programmer, and when it comes to atheism, my reading material, 95% of the time, comes from blogs.

    Plus, I use the blogs to have discussions with my family. Almost every day, my 16 year old son asks me about the latest conversations on the atheist blogs. Lots of meal times are spent discussing our opinions based on whatever the scuttle was that day.

    I have only read Dawkins’ God Delusion and Sam Harris’s two books one time, but I read Friendly Atheist and others every single day.

    Hands down, PZ and Hemant, et al, have more influence on me and my family than any book I’ve read in the past few years.

  • Siamang

    Sam Harris is a big fan, but can’t spell “Hemant”!

    LOL!

    Oh, Sam, that online debate was awesome. Do more like that, please!

  • Siamang

    By the way, with Vic Stenger AND Sam Harris posting on this blog, I’ve also got to share with you this:

    Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is in my office building right now! Doing an interview!

    Squeeee!!!!! Science GEEEKAGE!

  • Tyro

    Books can pique interest and bring people in but blogs keep us active and informed. Can’t have a movement without both.

  • cicely

    Books are wonderful. Books are, in fact, necessary to Life As I Know It. But the problem with a book is…you can’t have an on-going interaction with it. It is a snap-shot in time of the author’s views. The information it contains today is the same information it will contain tomorrow. You can’t ask it to re-state something for purposes of clarification, and it doesn’t update its content to deal with the implications of more recent data. Yes, the author can publish another book to clarify and update, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. And it costs more to buy the subsequent book/s than to interact in the Blogoverse. Yes, there are libraries (for now….), and there is Interlibrary Loan (but…years…lives….), but again, no real-time element. Nothing close to a real-time element.

    Also, books don’t bullshit over a beer or coffee worth a damn.

  • http://www.samharris.org Sam Harris

    Hermant = Hemant
    That’s the other thing about blogs… the chance to embarrass yourself with typos.

  • Stephen P

    Seneca summed up religion extremely well when he said that is was regarded by the masses as true, by the wise as false and by rulers as useful.

    It appears from his comment that Stenger is mainly interested in engaging the wise. Bloggers want to engage all of them, but especially the masses and the rulers.

  • Stephen P

    Oh, and although it isn’t an atheist blog, if you want some heavy-duty intellectual dismemberment of creationists you’ll find it on The Panda’s Thumb and other blogs referred to from there.

  • Ben H.

    What about Podcasts?
    In the case of Steven Novella’s (who also runs a great blog that deserves to be included in this discussion, NeuroLogica) The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, it fits with Stenger’s requirements for respectable media. The SGU podcast is carefully planned and edited by Dr. Novella and his cast every week. Therefore, in it’s own way, it is a reviewed publication, like the New Atheist books that spurred this discussion. Do not atheist/skeptical podcasts deserve consideration (at least SGU, if not others)?

    - Ben H.
    Seabrook, TX

  • Siamang

    Seneca summed up religion extremely well when he said that is was regarded by the masses as true, by the wise as false and by rulers as useful.

    And he makes an awesome apple juice.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Lukeprog at Common Sense Atheism has some decent philosophical depth.

  • David D.G.

    I agree that Greta Christina is a force to be reckoned with in discussions of atheism and religion, as is Ebonmuse. I read their pontifications religiously (so to speak).

    One blogger I don’t see mentioned above, however, is a brilliant fellow who goes by the name of Deacon Duncan, and his blog is called Evangelical Realism (http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/). He deserves a larger readership than he has, and I highly recommend his blog to everyone here. If he had a larger audience, I could see him being easily as influential as Greta Christina and Ebonmuse.

    ~David D.G.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Siamang: “As far as high-minded stuff, I’d recommend “Atheism: Proving the Negative” by Matt McCormick, a professor of philosophy at CSU Sacramento.

    Maybe Stenger will be more impressed when Matt McCormick finishes his actual book:

    The Case Against Christ–draft of a book proposal

    I read one of Stenger’s books, God – The Failed Hypothesis. It had one rather annoying characteristic in that he continually referred to arguments he had made in his previous books. Dude, hyperlinks work so much better on Teh Intertubes than they do on paper. That’s one practice that would go down much better on a blog.

  • Lukas

    Phil Plait’s blog, The Bad Astronomer. More of a skeptic blog than an atheist blog, though. I guess.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Stenger: “Point me to a blog that picked up the Hawking quotation abut the universe not beginning in a singularity and turning it meaning completely around. Point me to a blog that recognized the theological significance of this.

    Well dude, if you were blogging this, rather than writing a dead-tree version, you could have actually included a link to the quote in question. I would suspect that Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance, who is an 1) atheist, 2) a cosmologist, and 3) a blogger, would have noticed such a quote and blogged about it; but searching a physics-heavy blog for something like “Hawking” is rather futile.

  • http://struckbyenlightning.wordpress.com LinzeeBinzee

    Thanks for all of the links to interesting blogs that I hadn’t heard of before!

    And how cool is it that Sam Harris comments here!

    I find that blogs and podcasts have contributed more to my atheism and skepticism than any of the books I’ve read. I find that some of the in depth arguments found in certain books go over my head as my exposure to the religious debate, science and philosophy is very fresh.

    Reading blogs and listening to podcasts that look at current issues through the eyes of an atheist or skeptic make the debate more relevant and puts it in a context that’s easier for uneducated people like me to follow.

    I think that the internet presence of the new atheists is what new atheism is all about. It makes us more visible as the internet is where everyone is looking these days.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4275-Secularism-Examiner Paul Fidalgo

    I agree that the point was missed by Stenger, but I also think that there is a redundancy in the atheist blogosphere that is a little wearying. I know that 99% of *all* blogs will likely not be worth one’s time, but even in the upper echelon of heathen bloggery, I find entry after entry of “hey look where the Bible is crazy THIS time!” a bit “done.” I suppose I am assuming an atheist audience, as well, but if that’s so, then we all start from the same place, we all already agree that religion and adherence to bronze age scripture is nonsense, so let’s go *from there*.

    That’s not to say that absurd expressions or impositions of those same bronze age ideas should not be taken apart, but I don’t need a tidal wave of blogs all telling me that Jesus was not in fact a superhero. I got it. What I want to know is: What now?

    For example: you don’t need me writing about why I think the virgin birth or the resurrection is silly. That’s obvious. You might, however, want to know what the Pope’s pronouncements mean in real life policy, or what he’s saying about nonbelievers, etc.

    But at this point, I’ve weeded out most of the blogs that are redundant. My problem now is that I still have an embarrassment of riches – there’s no way I can keep up with all the good writing out there on a regular basis, and my RSS reader is about to explode!

  • Eskomo

    I became an atheist when I was 12 in the sixties. I had no one to talk to about this when everyone else claimed atheists were evil. I just kept quiet. The first time I met someone else that was atheist, I was 18 and out of high school. Over the next 35 years, I have met 3 (THREE) other people in person that claimed they were atheist. I felt totally alone until I found atheist blogs. They give me some confidence about myself. Reading a book showing that there is no god does me no good. I already don’t believe in god.

  • Spencer

    Well I for one will definitely NOT be buying his book. He displays the classic arrogance of an older generation who thinks that the Internet is for LOLCats and not much else. Just because something is printed on dead trees does not make it somehow intellectually superior to something on the Internet. If the content of his comments is any way similar to the content of his books then I’m sure it is no high minded treatise.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Want to second (or by now, tenth or twelfth) Daylight Atheism. Some of the best-written and well- thought- out writing about atheism and religion that I’ve seen. I also want to mention An Apostate’s Chapel by the chaplain, and blackfemlens by Sikivu Hutchinson (a new blog, or at least new in blog form, but assuming she keeps it up she’ll be force to be reckoned with).

    I’m also noticing an interesting trend in this discussion. Some people are saying, “There is so serious intellectual discourse in the atheist blogosphere!”… while others are saying, “That’s not what the atheist blogosphere is for!”

    What I think this points to is the tremendous variety in the atheosphere. Some blogs get into deep, rigorous philosophical and theological discussion about religion and atheism. Others are more about news bites. Still others focus on political organization and rallying the troops. Some focus on arguments against religion; others focus on positive humanist philosophy, and how to live as an atheist. And many others do all of this.

    Of course, what this means is that if you’re looking for any particular one of these things, you have to look harder. You have to look harder for a blog that suits your purposes, and you probably also have to look harder even within one blog. On Daylight Atheism right now, for instance, there’s: a post about the fight for same-sex marriage in Maine; a discussion of the recent kerfuffle about the atheist ad in the Unitarian magazine; a plug for the Humanist Symposium blog carnival; a reprint/ discussion of atheist poetry; a discussion of racial and gender imbalance and bias in the atheist movement and what can be done about it; a link roundup; a critique (backed up by recent data) of the idea that people have God-shaped holes in our hearts; an evisceration of William Lane Craig’s use of quantum fluctuations as evidence of God’s existence; a “no comment” piece about the idea that religion is necessary for morality, connecting defenses of this idea with examples of horrible evil done in the name of religion; and a smackdown of Christian apologists who defend genocide in the Bible. That’s just on Page 1. Books tend to be more focused on a single topic; blogs tend to wander in their range. I personally think that’s a strength… but I also realize that the kind of thorough exploration of a single topic that books provide is also important.

    (Also want to say thanks to folks who mentioned my blog. Shucks. Of course, my blog would get pinged as an example of exemplary atheist intellectualism the day I post my weird dream about ice skating…)

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Oh, I forgot: I want to second what many others here have said: which is that one of the most important functions of the atheosphere is that it provides community: a place for atheists to connect with other atheists and no that they’re not alone, and a place for atheists to organize — not just socially, but politically. That is huge.

    And as others have asked: How well would those wonderful atheist books have sold if there hadn’t been an online atheist community spreading the word about them?

  • http://yrif.org Joel

    I’ll take “exemplary mockery” over “exemplary intellectual stimulation” any day.

  • Alien

    I am going to have to stick up for Dr. Stenger here. I first came across his writing as an excerpt in Hitchen’s “The Portable Atheist”. I found Stenger’s article to be very thought provoking and deep in the scientific sense (as opposed to philosophical reasoning), which is a less common approach I see argued.

    I think the intellectual stimulation one receives from an article or book to a great extent depends upon the knowledge that person already has. While there are good articles regarding atheism on the internet, if you have traveled to enough sites, you will notice that the essence of many articles is the same, even if specific details are different. In the beginning I found almost anything fascinating, having spent so many years in Christianity. A year later, I primarily use the internet and blogs to follow cultural aspects of atheism (legal and political issues).

  • Richard

    I’d recommend the podcast “Reasonable Doubts”. They do some amazing stuff about theology.

    And, I take issue with the idea that blog implies not credible or intellectual. A blog is just a medium and credibility depends on the author, editors, and publisher.

    For instance, http://blogs.nature.com/ seems to be from a generally-credible group.

  • SteveC

    Revyloution Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Blogs, and the internet in general, have done something that no amount of careful scholarly writing could ever do. It has united a diffuse minority into a powerful coalition of unbelievers. It has also forced the idea of godlessness upon the consciousness of the world.

    Excellent points.

  • Ibis3

    I guess it’s safe to assume that if the blogosphere is characterised as the product of semi-literate children, Stenger probably has even less regard for the YouTube crowd. So perhaps I should point out that no discussion of the future of scepticism or “new atheism” would be complete without reference to those debunkers, educators, and comedians who have made a community over there. I would guess that thunderf00t alone has more video views than Stenger has book sales. I don’t feel a need to repeat the “comparing apples to oranges” argument, just saying that as a scholar you can’t dismiss the significance of something (in this case a medium) just because it doesn’t appeal to you. So, here’s a mention of some YouTube exemplars: thunderf00t, AronRa, potholer54, AndromedasWake, DeistPaladin, NonStampCollector, DonExodus2, EdwardCurrent, and discussislam.

  • RPJ

    Snail mail is still around despite IM and email.

    Telephones nd school yearbooks are still around despite Facebook.

    Libraries are still around despite, yknow, the Internet.

    Books are still around despite blogs. But especially in America, there is a cult of personality; knowing jack about what your topic is means nothing compared to your charisma. (see Limbaugh, Coulter, Bush, Fox News etc). Books cannot convey personality nearly as well as blogs can (and I would hazard to guess, many of the best-selling books were written by people who were already well-known personalities).

    Aside from that, it’s a totally different medium. Books are primarily for thorough education on a subject. Blogs primarily provide real-time commentary on a situation, and clarify the already-known facts of an issue. A book will tell you what’s going on; a blog will tell you why it’s going on and how it matters.

  • ???????

    this is turning into a great list of resources.

    I see the Atheist Experience was mentioned. did anyone mention their audio-only podcast, “the non-prophets?”

    in some ways it’s better than the atheist experience. the television show is aimed at a non-atheist audience, but the radio show is aimed at an atheist audience.

  • showtime

    daylightatheism and ebonmusings, obviously
    stenger needs to check himself before he wickedy-wickedy-wrecks himself

  • turkey
  • Staceyjw

    The best thing about blogs vs books is the opportunity to argue, and learn from others responses/perspectives. I’ve gained more intellectually through the act of adding my “2 cents”, than passive reading. You just don’t get the interaction that is necessary for this type of (my)intellectual growth in a book. I read a lot, and gain other things from
    Books- but they are not superior, onlt different.

    So- Here are my favs, as far as in depth content:
    - Daylight athiesm (of course)
    - Conversational atheism (interesting idea behind this one)
    - Common sense atheism (very philosophy heavy)

    There are so many more that are important, and offer: shorter, daily commentary (Hemant),are based on very personal experience(nolongerquivering.com) which is amazing and scary, or are mostly snarky “sound bites”(Dispatches from the Culture Wars).I read these just as often.

    I want to add that I never thought to buy atheist books until I had been reading blogs for awhile, and I would never have heard of Stenger without this one.I buy quite a few, so I can participate in discussions of their ideas.

    I agree that books and blogs are different but I see them as different complementary media. I am unclear why Stenger dismissed blogs as scribblings. This was just rude- I bet a good chunk of atheist writers book sales are attributable to these blogs (directly or indirectly)!

    Staceyjw

  • AxeGrrl

    Richard wrote:

    I’d recommend the podcast “Reasonable Doubts”. They do some amazing stuff about theology.

    I just wanted to second that recommendation :) Reasonable Doubts is simply one of the most articulate and intelligent podcasts in the genre.

    For those who’ve never listened, iTunes has a good 50+ episodes archived :)

  • Stephen P

    No-one seems to have yet mentioned Russell Blackford’s blog Metamagician and the Hellfire Club. I have to confess I’m not a regular reader myself, but I’ve been impressed by some of his writing, and it would certainly be in my RSS feed (along with some of the others that have been mentioned here) if there were 25 hours in every day.

  • http://drunkenachura.wordpress.com/ Rooker

    Boy, he really has a highly-developed, self-important opinion of himself, doesn’t he? I won’t be buying anything with his name on it.

    I still haven’t read any of the books, although I plan to read Dawkins and Harris at some point. I have read a lot of atheist and skeptic blogs and they’ve had far more influence than the zero atheist books I’ve read.

    I think Greta’s and VJack’s are among the best I’ve seen. Greta is smart enough to be scary and VJack makes you think, whether you want to or not.

  • Neon Genesis

    It was the atheist web community that helped me to break free from religion in the first place. The New Atheists books helped me to become more comfortable with using the label atheist, but if it wasn’t for the Internet, I might not be here today. Well, I think I would have deconverted eventually because it was inevitable in my case, but it might have taken longer and I wouldn’t have had the support I did have as I didn’t meet my first non-believer in person until this year. As for intellectual atheist sites, ex-christian.net isn’t strictly atheist, but the majority of the members at the site are atheists and agnostics and there’s a science versus religion forum there where we debate various science topics. Infidels.org is another great site for intellectual discussion on atheism.

    I also recommend the Reasonable Doubts podcast, the Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe podcast, and the official podcast of Skeptic magazine, http://www.skepticality.com/ Just this past week, the Reasonable Doubts podcast had a fascinating interview with the biblical scholar Robert M Price. But if we’re determining intellectual discussion by how much science is mentioned, then neither Hitchens’ or Harris’ books should have been included in Stinger’s books. Dawkins and maybe Dennet are the only New Atheist authors who write about science the most and Dawkins and Hitchens are more focused on religion’s role in politics. Not only that, but Hitchens has blatant historical errors in his book, like how he claimed in God Is Not Great that Jews had sex through a hole in a sheet which was already debunked as an anti-Semetic rumor by snopes.com.

  • DGKnipfer

    Because I respect no authoritarian demand, Pharyngula.

    I’m also fond of Bad Astronomy and Dispatches from the Culture War. All three point out things that we should know and be aware of now as they are happening. Waiting 6 to 10 years for a book to be vetted means we are being left behind.

  • http://www.sacredriver.org Ash

    I agree with many of the points already made, especially regarding Stenger’s deep misunderstanding of the function and import of blogs. I actually just started reading his new book; it is well-written and well-argued, as expected, but nevertheless maintains the abrasive tone that I believe undermines the New Atheist movement.

    I hate to self promote, but I would like to suggest Swimming the Sacred River, a blog dedicated to the fully atheistic tradition of religious naturalism. The site does not claim intellectual heft (although the movement itself does), but it does try to offer a sincere exploration of a naturalistic spirituality. We can argue as to whether or not that is a contradiction in terms, but it is unambiguously non-supernatural and so might represent one path in the future of atheism.

  • Jim

    I think the author shows his disconnect from the social world.

    I see the atheist blogosphere as similar to a crowded coffee shop full of people that want to gossip about one topic or another. Whether the people doing the talking actually know what they’re talking about is sometimes important and sometimes it’s not, sometimes it’s just idle gossip and entirely social. Maybe Stenger doesn’t respect such social environments like getting together with friends for dinner, or meeting for a drink and a chat. Perhaps he doesn’t really understand the idle gossip that goes on in the workplace. That’s at least how I see the blog environment.

    As for the boohoo about journalists, I don’t know what to say. Their jobs were destroyed when the internet was born and their integrity has been further eroded by the acts of MSM corps to supply only subjective information. They have nobody to blame but themselves. If they want to get paid well for journalism they’ll need to sell out.

  • http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger Vic Stenger

    Can someone provide me with a link to a page that that contains links to all the popular atheist blogs, where “popular” is defined by more than 10,000 hits a month? I will put these in the next edition of The New Atheism and try to work something in the next printing of the current edition.

    Vic Stenger

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Can someone provide me with a link to a page that that contains links to all the popular atheist blogs, where “popular” is defined by more than 10,000 hits a month? I will put these in the next edition of The New Atheism and try to work something in the next printing of the current edition.

    Vic Stenger

    Dr. Stenger —

    I think that list would be fairly huge. This site gets over 10,000 hits per day, and I’d say there are quite a few sites that pass the 10,000/month bar.

    Would you prefer setting the bar higher? Or would you like the list you specified?

    Either way, I’d be more than happy to compile such a list.

    Thank you for considering us and I appreciate your responses in this discussion.

  • Tyro

    Vic,

    Any list is going to be out of date before it reaches the bookstores. Instead you might want to point to a site which specializes in maintaining these lists such as Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/category/Top/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Atheism

    There are some issues with how they compile their stats, for instance they only count the root domain so that some sites get hidden (e.g.: scienceblogs.com appears only once despite the number of great blogs) and other “minor” sites get boosted by incidental traffic (e.g.: Vic Stenger’s page almost certainly reflects the traffic to all of http://www.colorado.edu and not just him). Still, it’s a starting point.

  • McBloggenstein

    Unreasonable Faith has had some of the most stimulating and in-depth conversations on the subjects of faith and skepticism I have come across.

  • Aj

    The only two atheist blogs I read regularly are Pharyngula and this blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if these were the two most popular blogs because I think they fill niches with quality commentary that should attract many atheists. I occasionally visit Austin Cline’s blog and Jerry Coyne’s blog, they’re pretty good too. Thanks to Todd, I may start reading the Secular Outpost, I like the recent posts.

    With the debate with Sam Harris, which had some brilliantly constructed arguments, Andrew Sullivan’s blog was host to some great content promoting scepticism of religious claims. I think this illustrates an important point, while there are quality blogs with many readers, the way the internet works, blogs and social networking sites pull individual blog posts. Individual blogs may not be great, but as a collective, they can be something special. Quality posts are brought to attention by communities of like-minded people, a lot of the time from sources that aren’t specifically concerned with the subject of interest.

  • Jim
  • muggle

    Other than here, I get a kick out of TheAmericanHeathen’s blog at theamericanheathen.com. He’s also got a great radio show Friday evenings. (Okay, so I admit I have no life. Well, yes, I do and quite a full one actually but not the way it’s usually defined in America as in out on a Friday night.) It’s moving kind of slow just now but I’m hoping it picks up because I like his in your face style.

    Not Atheist per se though it tends to run that way but American’s United for Separation of Church and State has a good blog at au.org

    Do I count since I talk about my grandson a lot?

  • gwen

    The bloggosphere has been especially invaluable to me as an African American female atheist. It allows me to feel less isolated in a world where it seems no other atheists exist. It allows and exchange of ideas and an ability to form friendships on the internet with people with similar beliefs. Even more than the books, it allows me to connect with others in my area. Without the blogs, we would not have otherwise known of the existence of these other atheists.

  • JL

    Another vote here for Greta Christina.

    Seriously, though, I love reading books as a general rule, but I get a lot more out of atheist blogs than I do out of reading atheist books. Give me a medium where I can participate, where I can contribute.

    The atheist movement is not just about a few prominent writers (and I’m not much of a fan of any of the Four Horsemen anyway, though Dawkins is all right most of the time). It’s about a mass of people.

    Also, the atheist movement isn’t just about convincing people that atheism is right (which, as an atheist, has honestly never been my personal priority). It’s about increasing the sociopolitical status of atheists, about separation of church and state. I might be reading the wrong people, but it seems to me like atheist bloggers cover that better than atheist book authors (and are in a better position to do so, since they can cover current events as they happen).

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com efrique

    To my mind, gretachristina is one of the best current writers on atheism in any medium.

    I can think of easily a dozen of her posts over the last few years that I wish I could carry with me in book form, because they have informed (and continue to affect) the way I think.

    As much as I like, say, Dawkins as a speaker and writer, I find Greta Christina’s articles on atheism both more challenging and influential on me than his writing (though when we come to biology, Dawkins is rightly seen as one of the great popularisers).

    Even when I disagree with her (which certainly happens), I still enjoy reading her perspective.

    Daylight Atheism and a number of other blogs, some of which have been mentioned already are also quite good, but I find gretachristina more engaging and easier to read. I’ll put in a mention of Austin Cline, too. He has written a number of insightful articles.

  • muggle

    One final comment on this thread. Well, maybe:

    Too much internet, too little time!

    I’m an avid reader. Have always been a bookworm.

    You may have noticed that I also really love to talk and have an opinion on damn near anything and am not shy about expressing it and I am always curious and interested in what other people are thinking.

    I have noticed that in recent years, as RR grows more and more repressive, people are afraid and not without reason, especially since 9/11. I have had problems on the job with harrassment for being openly Atheist and (the job before my current and the harrassment was my motivation to leave instead of coasting to my not too far away retirement) and, after the VA Tech shooting, one of these lovely Christian coworkers who would spout about Atheists ruining the schools by removing prayer from them and other such nonsense claimed I threatened to shoot my supervisor. There was absolutely no basis to this claim.

    There was a history of amniosity between us and it was obvious to anyone thinking that the VA Tech news stories gave her ideas but I had been all the way up to Human Rights on the harrassment issues and, well, they put me on emergency leave and I had to go get examined by the State psychiatrist (this was a State job) and pass a psychiatric exam. It was real creepy and big brotherish and I was damned glad my daughter came with to witness any funny business going on. (She noted a tape recorder hidden in the shrink’s desk drawer and NY is a state where you can’t tape without the other party’s consent.) The only reason I bothered was because I was high on the list for promotion and already getting interviews. Needless to say, I, of course, passed that test and now, not only have bragging rights that I’ve been certified sane but have that promotion.

    Still makes you think. This was a State job and union protected. If this was some private sector job, especially one that was not unionized, where would I be? SOL and trying to job hunt with that stigma. I’m sure it happens to Atheists all the time. Hell, I’m in NY, not even the Bible Belt. We need the support that’s out there in the safety of the internet.

    I love give and take conversation and conversing with people who aren’t afraid to disagree with me and who can accept that I disagree with them even if we sometimes get heated. That happens when people feel passionately about their points of view. This is so vital to broadening our minds and being open to new and differing ideas. Because people are so afraid to talk openly these days and so defensive when they do, it is sorely missing in day to day life. I have missed it but I find it on the internet. Thank you, science!

    The internet is also invaluable as many have stated above to get news you wouldn’t get anywhere else. I too think newspapers are obsolete and TV and radio news is only good for headlines and so damned slanted. You can get a variety of opinions and up to date news on the internet. I find too that a lot of the places I get news are blogs, especially bloggers who make it a point to thoroughly research and link their sources.

    Sometimes I click on the link and sometimes I don’t. Depends on how interested I am in the story and how much I trust the blogger. Mostly I stick with blogs I do somewhat trust but still, it’s good to have that link when you think c’mon now or want more details. Or let’s be honest, when they may be entertaining.

    I also get news from the newsletters of organizations I belong to because I believe in their cause but that too has a bias. It’s good to have the conversation on-line.

    Also, you can go to your computer and instantly research anything that you’re curious about. Anything. Yes, you have to consider the source but you can get a feel for the sources in how much they jibe with one another, whether it’s Joe Blow blogger or something like the Mayo Clinic, etc.

    I am absolutely addicted to blogs. Some above look interesting but this one and AU’s take up too much of my time as it is.

    But they will never replace books entirely. Newspapers yes — that’s a matter of time, I think. But books no. I cannot imagine a day without curling up with a book for at least a half hour and feel somewhat cheated if I don’t get in an hour.

    Not all new books either. Following some fellow commenters talking about Frederick Douglass on AU’s blog, I thought you know, I know only the basics about him, minimal knowledge, and was intrigued and checked out his autobiography “My Bondage and My Freedom” and am about half way through. It’s fascinating to read. I’ve got to buy it to keep. And books I’ve treasured in the past are always a pleasant reread. And, of course, always have an eye out for interesting new books.

    Speaking solely for myself, I want both — books and blogs.

    And a Kindle. God, I would love to have a Kindle. Not only is the idea of having a huge library in the space of one book fascinating (I live in a small apartment) but since I’m getting older, the options for print sizes and, should the eyes ever go all together, the function where they’ll read it to you. If the eyes every get so bad, I can’t play my video games, it’ll be invaluable. And you can subscribe to blogs fairly cheaply.

    God, I can’t wait to retire. Maybe then, there’ll actually be enough hours in the day.

  • http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger Vic Stenger

    I’ve looked through a number of these blogs now and I feel a lot better about the fact that I have mostly ignored them. I found virtually nothing new in any of them. And I insist that if any of these bloggers read my books, including the keeper of this blog, they would find a lot that was new. Even where I found deep discussions such as on the Kalam cosmological argument it was clear the writers were talking off the tops of their heads rather than doing any serious scholarship. (No references, for example),
    However, I will cede that the blogosphere is a useful, even powerful, social network to get young people, especially, aware of the the many people out there who are free thinkers and willing to look at the world with an open mind. So, keep it up, but put a little more discipline into your work. Think about what you are going to say and search out the topic before saying it.

    Vic

  • Grimalkin

    I heard all of the arguments from The God Delusion on blogs – and was convinced by them – long before I ever actually read the book. It’s the blogs that deconverted me, even if it was the “intellectualism” of the book that they were discussing.

  • pete

    Think one of the best things about the bloggosphere is its able to help more people get intouch more quickly and easily to discuss and compare opinions.

    As can even be seen by Vic Stengers reply on this very blog.


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