The Rising Anti-Intellectualism of Atheism

If you’ve been following the trends in the Atheist subculture of the West, you’ll probably begin to notice just how far its fallen from the stated goals back during the early 2000s. A once strong movement has petered out after the death of Christopher Hitchens. Richard Dawkins has lost much of his positive public image as a man of science thanks to his patently discriminatory and unsavory comments on twitter. Worst of all, Sam Harris has shown himself to be a dogmatic and paranoid bigot towards both Muslims and anyone who disagrees with Harris on anything that he says. Whether it’s about freewill, his arguments against lying, his dogmatic hatred for Muslims, his advocacy of racial profiling, his arguments in favor of a nuclear first strike on Muslim majority countries, or anything that he strongly advocates; Sam Harris goes on ad hominem tirade after tirade about how everyone else is simply too dumb to understand his arguments and displays just how much of an intellectual charlatan that he truly is.

A movement once touting better social norms for minorities and women, a pro-science stance, and arguments for a world without war has fallen apart in the wake of massive sexual abuse crimes and rapes occurring at Atheist conventions, a pathological fixation on Islam and growing hatred for all Muslims, defense of thoroughgoing right-wing lies, defense of torture, and explicit racism. Atheist violence towards Muslims and Christians have reached more national scrutiny, as gunmen and self-described anti-theist Christopher Stephen Hicks murdered three Muslim college students in execution style. Followed soon after by Christopher Harper-Mercer’s mass murder of Christians in Umpque community college because of his own deluded fantasy about becoming famous by murdering innocent people. He was found to have an overwhelming amount of hatred for all forms of organized religion from his online diatribes. The shootings seemed to coincide with a tonal shift in atheist propaganda campaigns. The movement has gone from touting the social benefits of atheism to arguing that atheism isn’t really about social values and the chief goal is to convert people to atheism. Therefore, atheism has shifted from arguing progressive social values to functioning as a semi-nihilistic religious cult that provides no hope for people who miss their dead loved ones, provides no help for people suffering in poverty, argues for “equality” by insulting the faith of rescue workers and self-sacrificing soldiers who died in service to the US, creates mocking billboard signs meant to insult all religious faiths, and mocks feminist atheists while ignoring the rampant sexual assaults and rapes of feminists happening in their own organized events.

Beyond the pathological hatred for religious people for the crime of independent thought and community values, the most striking shift  is that a strong faith in critical thinking has given way to uncritical acceptance of everything New Atheist and neuroscientist Sam Harris says about virtually anything. Any dissenter, on either political spectrum, who points out any flaw in Sam Harris’s arguments is automatically deemed by Sam Harris’s fans as deceitful, hiding the “truth” from the public, ridiculed as a “liar” because the dissenter doesn’t automatically agree with Sam Harris on everything that Sam Harris says, or the dissenter is seen as out to slander Sam Harris for some vague career bonus. Moreover, this behavior has been duly encouraged by Sam Harris himself, Harris has gone on record to say that if he could wave a magic wand to end either rape or religion then he would end religion. Evidently, anyone who honestly disagrees with Sam Harris must be one or all of those accusations because – in their own words – Sam Harris is “too smart” for the general public to understand and anytime someone points out a flaw or discrimination in Sam Harris’s language then they must not understand the “nuance” of Sam Harris’s arguments. Evidently, overt racism and self-contradictions are what accounts for “nuance” in the male atheist communities. The level of patronization and hate for religious people in these online forums is palpable. One need only browse the numerous atheist forums on reddit to see the increasing levels of malevolence towards honest, hardworking religious people.

However, one of the surprising aspects in all of this is just how much of a pathological liar Sam Harris actually is. For those who are familiar with his arguments, consider these contradictions:

Harris has stated more recently that Islam isn’t a race and that the accusations of racism against him are ignorant. Yet, in his own words, he has argued for racial profiling for people who look Muslim in his own words. Do you see the contradiction? How can he argue for racial profiling against people who look Muslim but then admit that Islam isn’t a race? Incidentally, Islam is actually one of the most racially diverse religious faiths both in the US and outside of it. Therefore, Harris never fact-checked before making his bigoted arguments.

He has argued that the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, an Islamic monarchy, is due to the religious conservatism of the country and used it as proof that Islam preaches misogyny. He has systematically ignored the fact that Saudi women protested this and went driving around the country as a peaceful protest. If you strictly read Harris’s accounts of what Muslims are like as people, you would expect the women to have been viciously beaten and raped. Surprisingly, or not for those who know that the Saudi people have protested for improved human rights for years, men who saw the women driving appeared surprised at first but then continued their usual activities. No harassment, no violence, and none of the nonsense that Harris espouses happened. Where were the uncultured savages bringing violence against women? Where were the irrational Islamic uprisings and misogyny? Where was the so-called “reality” of Islam? Keep in mind, this is from the most conservative and religious Islamic country in the world; also known for its close partnership with the United States.

If Harris’s arguments are truly as nuanced as he and his supporters claim, then why does he constantly need to argue that everyone who denounces his arguments – Chris Hedges, Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uylger, Ben Affleck, and Ben Norton – are all taking him out of context? Furthermore, why does he obsessively claim that they’re liars , charlatans, or always frame the argument to imply that these people are somehow hiding the “reality” of Islam because they disagree with his premise that Islam is the central cause of the violence in the Middle East? Why doesn’t he make any effort to address their criticisms instead of going on spurious ad hominem rants about their character traits? Why assume the worst of his critics instead of simply accepting the very reasonable fact that his critics simply disagree with him?

There is also his flagrant deceitfulness in using the audio clip of the shooting in the Netherlands to continue spreading fear and paranoia during his podcast addressing the Chapel Hill shootings. While declaring Islam the prime culprit, police in the Netherlands found evidence that the shooter did it for the same reasons that Mercer committed his atrocities. Chiefly, the desire for world fame from committing atrocities. It had nothing to do with religious background. Harris used the clip to try to downplay the growing racism towards people of Arab lineage and the overall contempt for Muslim people in the atheist community. He went so far as to blame Glenn Greenwald and Reza Aslan by insisting they have “mad men” as viewers; this is on a podcast meant to address the fact that the shooter of 3 innocent Muslims was an atheist who was found to be a fan of the New Atheist movement from the material discovered on his facebook profile. The fact this podcast was praised by his viewers ultimately shows their level of abject racism, cognitive dissonance, and hatred for all Muslims.

Finally, Harris’s “debate” with Noam Chomsky shows the depth of his commitment to being a pathological liar. He admits in their email exchange that he never read anything Chomsky wrote before having criticized Chomsky in his books. Previously Harris argued for “honest debate” against people and shows rudeness towards religious people who agree to debate him, yet if someone is rude to him? Then they’re denigrated for being rude. Never mind the fact that Chomsky was simply complying with Harris’s wishes for honesty. After the debate, Harris changed tune on what he was wrong about regarding Chomsky’s focus on moral dilemmas in international relations. Harris stunningly decided that he wasn’t wrong about Chomsky after all; in fact, he was correct all along despite still never having read any of Chomsky’s writings and having been proven thoroughly wrong about Chomsky taking basic moral questions about international politics into account. In fact, despite Harris’s claims, it was clear that he never intended to have any sort of honest discourse with Noam Chomsky about any topic. He went into nonsensical thought experiment after nonsensical thought experiment when Chomsky proved him wrong using facts about the bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical building. The whole purpose of the exchange was so Harris could argue that Chomsky was being mean to him so he could self-aggrandize himself further, as he has done so with everyone else who criticized his arguments.

Sam Harris has thoroughly proved himself to be a pathological liar, narcissist, racist, and entirely devoted to the task of worshipping himself as infallible. Instead of simply accepting the fact that making views public subjects oneself to thorough criticism (because that’s simply how democracy works), he’s gone on rant after rant about the “regressive left” for the crime of disagreeing with his pathological obsession with Islam. It’s apparently “regressive” to argue for social justice, cultural inclusiveness, and to denounce discrimination based on religious faith and skin pigmentation.

If you’re interested, I have written a book available on amazon in more detail about the problems of the New Atheist movement.

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3 thoughts on “The Rising Anti-Intellectualism of Atheism

  1. Absolute nonsense. Atheism is not a movement but an expression of a negative position. There are no leaders, rules on orthodoxy, nor convictions other than the obvious: without theism. Sam Harris is simply a loud individual with an opinion. He no more dictates the course of atheism than gravity. This article crudely overstates his influence and diminishes individual free thinking minds. Shitty writing.

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    • And yet there is now violence by atheists upon Muslims as has been influenced by the Atheist movement, which helped garner strength for Atheism and has virtually all the same interactions as an online movement. The vitriol against Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan, and others who criticize Harris goes without saying. If it really isn’t a movement, it sure is acting like one; never mind the rape and sexual assaults in atheist conventions like TAM. Even if not the majority, a subset of atheists have certainly turned into a cultic fear mongering hate group that insists Islam to be the root of all evil.

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