A few years ago I wrote on this blog that I had become so annoyed by New Atheists that I was considering converting to a religion, converting insincerely, just to spite them. And I meant it, I was considering it. But some time after that I found a very effective way to deal with the annoyance New Atheists caused me: I stopped hanging out with them. It is much easier than I had imagined to almost completely avoid them. Nowadays, every now and then a New Atheist will cross my path, but I don't engage with him -- almost always a him -- and pretty soon he's gone again.
Turns out they're not everywhere. Not even close. What a relief!
I have a lot less admiration for Bill Maher and Ricky Gervaise and Stephen Fry than I used to, because of their New Atheist tendencies. The last time I saw Fry on screen was in an Internet video of him debating with some churchman or theologian, who asked him to imagine that Heaven was real and that he had died and found himself at the Pearly Gates: what was the first thing he'd do? Fry immediately said that he'd ask God why He allowed suffering, launching into a very bitter and detailed description of some of the more horrible examples of suffering. And I thought to myself: Really! You find out, against your belief of what is possible, that Paradise is real and exists forever and ever, and the first thing you will do is complain. At that instant, I was completely done. The last ember of my patience for this kind of thing was ground out. I saw no reason at all to prefer Fry over the British churchman or theologian glowering angrily at him as he went on angrily about suffering and Why didn't God stop it. I just saw two angry, unreasonable old men, bitterly arguing about non-existent things, wasting their time and the viewer's time. It was as if I come all the way down to the bottom of the slide which started at the top when I first heard there was this group called New Atheists, and was so excited, assuming that they were like me.
I have better things to do.
At least Fry and Gervaise still act, and Bill still often talks about things other than religion on his show.
And I still know of no atheist movement to which I can belong. But maybe that's not so bad. I'm not so annoyed at religion any more. I'm still an atheist, but now I have had extensive, exhaustive, thorough proof that atheism does not prove, at all, that a person is Bright. If you believe in God, that means that you and I disagree about one thing. We might agree about thousands of other things. Experiencing New Atheists up close day-in and day-out for years has left me much less bothered by religion, and much less inclined to make moderate believers responsible for the atrocities of the extremists. The moderates and I are both against the atrocities. I don't have to be a dick about less substantial things. Any more.
Before I met the New Atheists, I thought that there was a lot to say against, religion. I'm not completely sure about that anymore. Seems like they say five minutes' worth of stuff over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
There might be much more to say against religion. It's just that none of the New Atheists seems at all likely ever to stumble over any of it.
There is definitely quite a lot to say about religion, simply because it encompasses great portions of the lives of billions of people over thousands of years all over the world. I can have all sorts of rewarding discussions with people about religion. I can discuss religion for a long time with someone without having a clue whether they believe in anything supernatural or not. But if it's been a long and rewarding discussion, I know that the person I've been talking to is neither a fanatical fundamentalist nor a New Atheist.