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 I still think the medium has not superseded books and journal articles that are carefully reviewed and edited before being published and where you can develop arguments in detail.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