Attack of the Jack

Old Jack Hudson is back after a bit of a blogging absence, and man did he ever make up for it. I was starting to type up a response at his blog, but then I thought I'd reply here because I think his post is a good insight into just how severe the nutbaggery can be in the mind of a religious conservative.

Jack's new piece is about the catastrophe that is the Atheism+ movement. Atheists divided against each other! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! As a conservative Christian who thinks we atheists are mostly just a bunch of ignorant, angry, unsaved youths, this little incident has provided ample ammunition for him to point out not only the character flaws of atheists, but the flaws of atheism itself. Or, so he thinks. The truth is that Jack's perception of atheism, and the atheist community, is a cartoonish caricature of the real thing. He begins innocuously enough, but there's a bit of hyperbole that doesn't ring quite true:
New Atheism, the movement that holds that religious belief should be strongly criticized and countered because it is dumb, delusional and dangerous
The much ballyhooed "new atheism" is not really that new. All that happened is that atheism found a foothold in popular culture. Atheists have always believed that religion should be freely criticized. That's kind of a big deal, because even while we heretics aren't burned at the stake anymore, we're still often ostracized for our lack of faith, and we think that stigma ought to be removed – that religious belief does not deserve a sacred place in the marketplace of ideas.

Jack continues,
New Atheism has also dividing [sic] over what it means to be an atheist; whether the movement is merely skeptical of religion or obligated to advance certain social and political concerns like feminism, gay rights and social and economic justice. In short, some want to offer a progressive agenda, or what has been dubbed ‘Atheism+’
Atheism is, by definition, a lack of belief in gods. However, we tend to be united on lots of issues – particularly issues in which conservatives tend to base their beliefs solely on the Bible. That includes things like equal rights for women and homosexuals, freedom of choice, and the separation of church and state. Even conservative atheists, at least in my experience, tend to be social libertarians (that includes folks like Penn Jillette, Christopher Hitchens, the late Ken Pulliam). So some people attempted to create a movement based off this unity. Why shouldn't freethinking people discuss such things?

But, I'm digressing. Back to the post (emphasis mine):
The first thing to understand is that ‘New Atheism’ is primarily the domain of young white males. And not ordinary young white males, but the sort whose lives consist largely of the consumption of video games, pornography and internet trolling.
It's statements like this that prove just how delusional Jack really is. He doesn't actually have any data to back this up – it's just his perception. He thinks gnu atheists are just a bunch of young, antisocial punks who don't have anything better to do than look at porn,"consume" video games, and troll people on the internet. I have a feeling there's probably a fair bit of projecting going on here, at least with regard to the porn and trolling. I have no idea if Jack plays video games. Demographics on atheism in general is hard enough to come by, much less people who specifically identify with 'new atheism', whatever that's supposed to be.* Jack's pulling this entirely out of his butt.

But wait! He's not done:
Whereas it was once expected that a man in his twenties would do something productive and profitable like advancing a career or starting a family, now we have millions of young men who feel completely content to squander their lives engaging in artificial combat to conquer digital worlds while satisfying themselves with virtual relationships.
Jack mentions a book called The Demise of Guys, by Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo, which claims that young men are withering away because they spend too much time playing video games and watching porn. Even if I unequivocally endorsed the dubious conclusions and poorly-researched theses of that book (see here and here), the book has absolutely nothing to do with atheism. Hell, since the vast majority of American young men are still Christians of one stripe or another, Jack might as well take it as an indictment against his own religion and how it has utterly failed to raise strong young men. Instead, Jack makes a completely empirically baseless assumption that atheism is somehow tied up with porn, laziness, social awkwardness and video games, and the old white guys are just exploiting young people's ignorance:
They are ripe for the picking by folks like PZ Myers who created a legion of trolls by whipping fan boys into a frenzy against imagined evil religious hordes. There is little wonder then that the fun was spoiled when real women started showing up at the party, with all their expectations of social maturity and common decency.
Jen and Greta (the two women who kick-started Atheism+) were part of the Freethought Blogs community from the start, and they were already very well-known. And there's nothing imaginary about the struggles that young non-believers face against those "religious hordes".
New Atheism is closely allied with progressivism because they share a common enemy. Progressives see atheism as useful to diminish the power of conservative faiths that are the primary bulwark against leftist agendas.  
Atheists tend to be more progressive or libertarian because many of the issues that conservatives hawk are based solely on their interpretation of the Bible. Opposition to gay rights, the view that women should be 'submissive', dogmatic opposition to abortion, the subversion of science education, attempts to blur the line between church and state – all are overwhelmingly religiously motivated. So of course those who are non-religious will tend to disagree with those views.
Of course the fan boys in the atheist movement aren’t nearly so high-minded – they see religion as bulwark against their chosen lifestyles.
Again, Jack's referencing what he believes is the porn soaked, video game addicted, lazy lifestyle of young atheists. And again, it's empirically unsupported nonsense.

Jack is convinced that the reason everyone was at each others' throats over Atheism+ is because we don't have Jesus in our lives:
The reason conflicts have arisen in the atheist movement is the is the reason conflict inevitably arises in all human movements – the corruption human nature.
No, it's because issues like gender equality, sexual harassment, feminism, what it means to be an atheist, and what have you are all nuanced and complicated issues in which some people have very strong emotional investments.

It's worth noting that atheist unity is doing just fine. The Secular Student Alliance is experiencing rapid growth; conferences across the nation are seeing record attendance; communities are growing, social stigmas are fading. There are, unfortunately, dicks. They happen. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are. Some people will disagree civilly, and others will just be dicks. Being a Christian most certainly doesn't stop anyone from being dicks, and neither does being a non-Christian or an atheist.   
This comports with first and foremost truth advanced by Christians that all men are sinners – that is by nature we are selfish, proud and corruptible creatures. This is why the very atheist hordes PZ Myers used to command against the religious now clog his inbox with messages of contempt. It is the reason the very folks Richard Dawkins inspired to be rationalists now label him a misogynist. And it is why Sam Harris, whose books partly inspired the New Atheist movement, is now labeled among the ‘5 Most Awful Atheists‘ by some of his peers. 
Correction: Sam Harris was labeled as such by one guy, who was not his 'peer'. Richard Dawkins made some off-the-cuff remarks that some people have taken quite badly. PZ got a bit full of himself and alienated some people. People disagree. Some immature people have a hard time disagreeing and remaining civil. It happens. PZ and Sam are still hugely popular, and Dawkins is still the most prominent and sought-after face in the movement.
Atheists imagined that religious belief itself exacerbates conflict and once it was done away with reason would reign
What? Nobody thinks that getting rid of religion will get rid of conflict. It's gobsmacking the way Jack just casually rattles off these ludicrous straw men as if they're well-established facts. There are still plenty of scientific, philosophical and humanist issues that will spark controversy and cause rifts in various subcultures. Getting rid of religion would simply get rid of a lot of bad reasons for justifying various beliefs – many of which are affronts to science, human rights, and civil discourse.
Atheists often cast aspersions on the Church because there are multiple Christian denominations. ‘How can there be one truth with so many different variations?’ goes the reasoning – all the while ignoring the basic creeds that Christians overwhelmingly adhere to and the fact that the Church experienced no significant splits for over a thousand years of its existence.
I suppose that last point depends on whether you consider the Oriental Orthodox and Assyran churches to be "significant" splits. Or the schisms over Pauline Christianity and early Gnostic Christians. But aside from that, it's not just that Christians disagree on a litany of important issues, including the very means by which we are supposed to attain salvation (given that it's central to the faith, you'd think an omnipotent God would have made that point unambiguous enough to prevent such division) – it's that they have absolutely no rational, independently verifiable methodology on which to justify their disagreement. Unlike science, religion has no way to objectively eliminate errors and build a consensus. It's an epistemological problem, not an ontological one.
They tout their movement as one motivated by reason and thus immune to the vagaries that plague many religions;
Yes, an evidence-based world view tends to be amenable to evidence – which dogmatic world views, by definition, are not. But I don't think that's what Jack means, given his above thoughts on conflict.
yet they can’t deal with basic matters amongst themselves with common civility.
Apparently, the fact that some dicks exist in the atheist community (and they do) is an indictment against all atheists. There's not a lick of evidence that the more vitriolic individuals in the Atheism+ controversy are representative of the community at large.
If we can test the truth of a proposition by the consistent agreement about its basic tenants [sic] among its proponents, then New Atheism, a small movement that is splintering almost as soon as it has begun, is almost certainly false.
Well, you can't. That'd just be an argumentum ad populum. But Since atheism doesn't actually have any tenets, that'll probably be kind of hard anyway.



*For the record: I'm 33, in a committed monogamous relationship with a wonderful woman, have worked at the same small business (which happens to be one of the most successful of its kind in the country) for the last 5½ years of my 8+ years as a personal trainer, and I am a devoted musician (I practice guitar 2-5 hours daily). I have season tickets to the opera, attend ballets and symphonies, go to museums, subscribe to Scientific American, have an appreciation for Scotch and red wine, and I love death metal and video games too. I wonder how I fit the profile of Jack's hasty, baseless generalization?

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