You sometimes hear people say that it's good to make a splash when embarking on a new media project. David Sloan Wilson has apparently taken this to heart, and tucks himself into a tight ball as he leaps off the high board into the ScienceBlogs pool:
Thinking of science as a religion that worships truth as it god enables me to praise its virtues and criticize its shortcomings at the same time. In my previous blogs, I have played the role of scientific reformer for two major issues. The first is the "new atheism" movement spearheaded by the so-called four horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Samuel Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Isn't it wonderful how scientists and rationalists reflexively adopt religious imagery? I am an atheist in the sense that I regard religion as 100% a human construction, but I'm here to testify that the "new atheists" depart from factual reality in their own way. So did Ayn Rand, the "new atheist" of her day, as we are learning to our sorrow from the collapse of the free market belief system that she helped to create. If we worry about religions for their departures from factual reality, then we should really worry about "stealth religions" that do the same thing without invoking the gods, because they do a better job of masquerading as reality. As someone who is seriously committed to studying religion from a scientific and evolutionary perspective, I'm here to say that the new atheists can't bring themselves to accept the facts about religion as a human construction. Read my six-part series on "Atheism as a Stealth Religion", now archived on my ScienceBlog site, for more. Even better, start acquainting yourself with the emerging field of evolutionary religious studies, whose members are more serious about holding each other accountable for what they say about religion.
I'm sure this will work out well, and I look forward to reading his blog when it moves to Discover a year from now.
I don't get it - what's wrong with being an atheist and not being ashamed of it? Would he consider atheism a 'stealth religion' if new atheists paid fealty to christianity the way apologetics do? And it doesn't say much for his argument if it can only be summed up by saying "Read my 6-part series.."
In his 6-part series, Wilson states that he's an atheist, and he's not ashamed of it. It'a available for free, so it's not as if he's trying to sell you something when he asks you to read it, unlike certain other bloggers who answer every challenge with the mantra 'buy our book, it's all in there.'
And having read that, I might buy Wilson's book.
"New Atheism, as I define it, is a Stealth Religion, as I define it." There. I saved you an hour of your life. OR - fun game. Count the strawmen in Part I.
the new atheists can't bring themselves to accept the facts about religion as a human construction
Maybe I'm really misunderstanding what he's saying, but this has got to be the most unrealistic thing I've seen anyone say about the 'new atheists' yet. I thought it was precisely their treatment of religion as a human construct - and nothing more - that gets everybody all up-in-arms.