Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Apologies To Michael Ruse

I thought I had savagely attacked a piece by Ruse entitled Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster in this blog. Apparently not. I attacked it years ago, but not in this blog, but in readers' comments elsewhere on the Internet.

I don't apologize every time I savagely attack a piece of writing. But in this case I was attacking a piece of writing I had barely skimmed, and which was much different than I thought it was. Ruse published "Why I Think The New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster" 6 years ago, and during those 6 years I myself have come to think that the New Atheists are a bloody disaster, and I've also learned that Ruse is an atheist, like me. An atheist who, like me, hates the New Atheists, among other reasons, for the damage they do to the once-good name of atheism.

I've been meaning to really read Ruse's piece, not just skim it, and now that I've finally gotten around to it I see that I attacked something with which I now emphatically agree -- now that I've gotten to know the New Atheists a bit, and so know what n the Heck Ruse was talking about. I don't agree with every single thing Ruse writes -- for example, as is the case with some other contemporary non-New-Atheist atheists, he exasperates me by not clearly stating that he is an atheist, which has the effect of helping the New Atheists in their attempt to monopolize the public image of atheism -- but he and I share some points of opposition with the New Atheists. Here are 3 quotes from Ruse's piece with which I entirely, wholeheartedly agree:

"I do not think that all believers are evil or stupid."

"If we criticized gene theory with as little knowledge as Dawkins has of religion and philosophy, he would be rightly indignant."

"I have written elsewhere that The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Let me say that again. Let me say also that I am proud to be the focus of the invective of the new atheists. They are a bloody disaster and I want to be on the front line of those who say so."

I too want to be on that front line. For the sake of atheism. for the sake of the legacy of Hume and Nietzsche and Russell and Sartre.

The fact that I've complained in this blog about people commenting on posts of mine which they've barely read makes my earlier abuse of Ruse doubly embarrassing, and makes this post doubly necessary. I reacted in amazement (until it happened often enough that I got used to it) when people reacted to my abuse of Michael Paulkovich by assuming not only that I was an historicist but also that I was a Christian. And here I had done pretty much exactly the same thing to Ruse.


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