So now come two more insiders railing against the new atheists--Caspar Melville, editor of New Humanist and John Shook, who works at the Center for Inquiry. Last week it was someone else, the week before someone else...it goes on and on. Just in case there's a midterm on this stuff anytime soon, I thought it might be helpful to review. What are all the charges against the new atheists? Here goes--
(1) Bad tone--sometimes being too militant, strident, disrespectful, insulting to religious people as well as to internal critics; name-calling, bullying, etc. etc.
(2) Jaundiced view of religion--focusing only on worst cases, not appreciating the psychology and sociology of religion.
(3) Alienating people--not so much saying religion and science are incompatible (see below) but saying it at the wrong time, in the wrong place, to the wrong people.
(4) Incompatibilism--saying religion and science are incompatible, when they're obviously compatible (or why would Francis Collins be the genome whiz?).
(5) Poor sense of proportion--harping on religion too much; overlooking more important problems like poverty, racism, climate change (the end of the world is nigh, but not because of religion).
(6) Naughty Scientism--thinking science is the only way of knowing, rejecting Shakespeare.
(7) Woeful ignorance of theology--presuming to settle the question of God's existence without understanding theistic arguments well enough. Not spending enough time buried in the books of Swinburne, Plantinga, Van Inwagen, et al.
(8) Undermining humanity--promoting a dehumanizing picture of life, undermining wonder, optimism, etc, not believing in spooky mental stuff, which can be wonderfully uplifting.
(9) Naive progressivism--believing life is forever getting better and better, not having the proper sense of doom and gloom; siding with (gasp) the enlightenment.
(10) Being atheists--it's simply a bad thing, period.
You might be wondering if I deliberately put these charges in a certain order. Indeed I did. From the annotations, you can probably tell which charges have some merit, in my eyes. The drop off starts after (3), and we gradually descend into the depths of nonsense.
10 is a nice number, but if I missed something important, do let me know.