Friday, November 3, 2017

Is the Atheist Movement Dying?

Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist podcast just made an episode on whether the 'Atheist Movement' is dying. I gave it a listen because I too have been hearing such claims touted around.

I think Seth's assessment of the claim is for the most part accurate. 'The Atheist Movement' is a loose term that specifies no one particular group or thing. It's composed of thousands of local groups, YouTubers and bloggers, dozens of national organizations, as well as high profile actors and comedians who are simply open about their atheism and critique religion.

They don't all have a common goal either. Some want to promote atheism. Some want to criticize religion. Others want to promote critical thinking and secular values. And still others just want to be openly atheist as to normalize atheism.

As far as atheist conference attendance, it's possible it could be dying. I've only gone to two, and both were this year. It seems that we might be past that heyday we hit roughly 5-10 years ago when 'New Atheism' exploded and became an international thing. The original four horsemen have largely moved on to other things, and one of them died. Two of the remaining three have since become controversial in atheist circles from certain views they hold, and have alienated many in the movement.

Movements are usually spearheaded by charismatic figures, and we don't have the major figures we once had. But maybe it's best we don't follow a leader. Maybe it's best we atheists have our various factions with our own agendas.

The thing is, if we become too splintered any atheist movement ceases to be. The quest for ever more ideological purity undoes us and we begin infighting. It's kind of like what's happened in Protestant Christianity, with its 45,000+ denominations.

I do want an atheist community of sorts, and I support an atheist movement. Heck, in a sense I'm in one. I'm co-organizing The Atheist Conference in part to revive the atheist movement and grow atheist communities, so I care deeply that such a thing as an 'atheist movement' exist.

So listen to Seth lament on the claims being made. If you're interested in the topic, it's worth a listen.

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