In his latest piece, a blogger named David Hart is expressing an idea I’ve heard before. He argues that “New Atheism” is a passing fad. Here’s a taste of the kind of intellectually black hole found within:
Take, for instance, the recently published 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. Simple probability, surely, would seem to dictate that a collection of essays by fifty fairly intelligent and zealous atheists would contain at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument for not believing in God. Certainly that was my hope in picking it up. Instead, I came away from the whole drab assemblage of preachments and preenings feeling rather as if I had just left a large banquet at which I had been made to dine entirely on crushed ice and water vapor.
Um, have you ever considered that their goal wasn’t to provide you with “at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument for not believing in God”? That would be shifting the burden of proof, which is on the theist to prove their particular tribal god exists.
Yeah, I could spend all day on this article but since PZ Myers already did that, I’d rather just focus on this idea that the popularity of atheism is just a fad. Let’s look at some statistics, shall we? Current polls show that the self-identificed religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. are at 16%, which is pretty much double what it was in the early 90’s. Now let’s look at another recent poll. Christianity has declined by 10% in the U.S. over the past two decades. How about a poll from this month that shows 26% of Millennials (those born after 1980) are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 20% of Gen Xers and 13% of Baby Boomers?
If the rate of religiously unaffiliated continues to rise at a similar rate as it has for at least 70 years, we can expect to see a third of the next generation following the Millennials to be religiously unaffiliated. A fad, Mr. Hart? No, there seems to be a very consistent pattern here that rather perfectly correlates with progressing media technology.