New Atheists, Old Ideas

In the above video, Andrew Brown, an atheist sympathetic to religion, tangles with Daniel Dennett over his caustic dismissals of faith, pushing him on whether the New Atheists actually have any new arguments. Hemant Mehta, siding with Dennett, comments:

The New Atheists don’t bring anything new to the table because religion hasn’t brought anything new to the table. Theologians and religious mouthpieces are still using the same fallacy-laden arguments for the existence of God they’ve always used, so our rebuttals have never had to change; they’ve only had to adapt to new mediums, and we’ve done a pretty amazing job with that.

What the New Atheists (and I would lump many other atheist activists under this umbrella, too) offer is a no-holds-barred critique of religion that comes at you all at once from many different angles. Instead of the periodic trickles of atheism we saw a few decades ago, “New Atheism” hits you like a firehose. You can’t escape the books and podcasts and websites and non-religious celebrities. Nor can you ignore the media mentions of atheists that happen with increasing frequency… or the way we’ve dominated Internet discourse. The New Atheism has made it safer for people to declare their godlessness. (That’s not to say it’s easy everywhere, but it is certainly easier than it used to be.)