Paul Kurtz is an intelligent and interesting fellow who has done commendable work in advancing the cause of skepticism and freethought. He can be rightly considered one of the heroes of the atheist movement, and he’s one of the reasons that the sobriquet “New Atheist” grates — Kurtz has been writing this stuff for decades.
Now, suddenly, he’s being trumpeted as an advocate of “silencing the New Atheist Noise Machine.” This is weird on so many levels.
For one, if he were to announce something like that, I’d be disappointed — Kurtz deserves to be listened to carefully — but ultimately, it wouldn’t matter. There is no atheist pope, not Kurtz, not Dawkins, not Harris, and there never will be. If Kurtz were to take that position, it would mean a ponderously strong voice had been wheeled out into the argument, not that the matter was settled.
Kurtz has never said, and probably never will say, that the work of these religion critics is ?a major self-inflicted wound.? The truth is that Kurtz has dismissed the notion that they are ?too outspoken?.
…If you?re going to say the things you?ve said about Dawkins, have the courage to be consistent and take the next logical step of denouncing Paul Kurtz and everything he works for. Indeed, you should be denouncing Kurtz even more strongly than you denounce Dawkins. Dawkins may have put out one book dedicated to attacking religion, but most of his public work has been about explaining science to the general public, but Kurtz?s number one goal has always been the promotion of a philosophy that explicitly rejects God, and he founded a publishing house for this purpose which has published more anti-religious books than Dawkins will ever write. This should be more than enough for you, since you aren?t just picking a bone with Dawkins use of the word ?delusion? (which Kurtz agrees with in any case) but have also insisted enthralled with this
line of argument, either. I think we’d all welcome an actual, explicit opinion from Paul Kurtz one way or the other, but I’m afraid the question of how we should engage is not going to be settled by the voice of authority, nor should it be.