Plain or movement, plain or movement. I keep asking myself where I fit into Ophelia's classification of atheists.
If I were a "plain atheist," I guess I'd have be quietly skeptical, and not especially interested in the subject of religion. That can't describe my attitude, considering that I have written a book about the good life that delves into the role of religion in our lives (among many other topics).
To be a "movement atheist," I'd have to be "overt unbashful explict," she says. Check. But I think I'd have to be more than that. I'd have to share the goals of people like Benson, Dawkins, Harris, etc. One of their goals is "the end of faith" (to use the phrase that titles Harris's book). But I don't have that goal. My book takes a position about religion that can be summed up in two words: not necessary. But don't rearrange the words. I reject the view that says: necessary not. While not necessary, I argue that there are some ways in which religion can help people live better lives.
If I were doing the classifying, I think I'd have three categories. Atheism 1.0 (Ophelia's "plain" atheists): these people put no energy into denying the existence of God, like I put no energy into rejecting astrology. Atheism 2.0: open unbelievers who (for various reasons) aren't working toward (or even hoping for) the end of faith. Atheism 3.0 (Ophelia's "movement" atheists): working toward or at least eager to see the end of faith.
Atheism 2.0 represents the view of a variety of people, including psychologists like Jonathan Haidt and Martin Seligman. They are openly atheists and write about religion, but they write about the benefits of religion, and I very much doubt they're hoping for, let alone working toward, the end of faith. I think it's also the view of people like E. O. Wilson and Chris Mooney who are primarily focused on goals like preventing global warming and protecting endangered species. They are too busy working with religious people as allies to be aiming for "the end of faith."
As to the supposed "schism" between atheists... There are substantive differences between atheism 2.0 and 3.0. It's inevitable that atheists should debate each other as well as debating "outsiders." This is no different from different kinds of Catholics, or Jews, or Democrats, or animal rights activists, or Africa specialists, or health care experts, debating each other. Ho hum.