Do we really need these “new agnostics”?

The rise of the new agnostics. – By Ron Rosenbaum – Slate Magazine. is a childish rant against the so-called “New Atheists” based on the canard that

Atheists display a credulous and childlike faith, worship a certainty as yet unsupported by evidence—the certainty that they can or will be able to explain how and why the universe came into existence. (And some of them can behave as intolerantly to heretics who deviate from their unproven orthodoxy as the most unbending religious Inquisitor.)

Faced with the fundamental question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” atheists have faith that science will tell us eventually.

I suspect that some people do believe this, but if such a faith has been expressed by even one of those targetted by Rosenbaum then I will be surprised.  So if anyone is still at the level of  “grade-school stuff” it is Rosenbaum rather than those he calls out – but what more can one expect of a “Templeton scholar”?

Commenter ‘Robert Barnes’ expresses this nicely:

Like many religious and philosophical arguments, Rosenbaum creates a straw-man argument by incorrectly claiming that athiests believe something self-evidently silly and then arguing that because they believe this, they are no better than religious fundamentalists.

Christians (and theists) believe that there is a God who is both the creator of the universe and who also takes a personal interest in us: listening to prayers, caring what we do, etc. I describe myself as an Athiest because I am certain that this is wrong. Agnostics are not sure about this.

This does NOT mean that I have blind faith that science will eventually uncover the answer to fundamental questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I doubt that we’ll ever know the answer to these questions. It DOES mean that I don’t seek the answer to these questions in mysticism and supersitition.

Commenter ‘Decorum’ writes:

One final complaint: in a very short article, the author shamelessly claims for himself the characteristics of respectfulness, humility, troublesomeness (in the Thomas Becket sense), intellect and courage. The humility claim is comically false and I take issue with the fourth of these claims too. A little more agnosticism about your own talents would not be remiss, Mr R.

Much more intelligent than what Rosenbaum puts forward himself is what he quotes from Paul Kurtz, (former editor of  The Skeptical Inquirer) who criticized the  “true believer atheists,” whom he called “true unbelievers” for behaving just like religious zealots in Free Inquiry as follows :

Nonetheless, there still lingers among some true unbelievers an unflinching conviction toward atheism—God does not exist, period; they are convinced of that! This kind of dogmatic attitude holds that this and only this is true and that anyone who deviates from it is a fool. This insults a great number of reflective believers.

Commenter ‘Northcroft’ dismisses Rosnebaum’s nonsense as “hot air” and adds:

For what it is worth, I am a Christian atheist – an Anglican one. Anglican Christianity is my tradition, my mythology, but not my belief system.

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