I am often depressed to even read communications from new atheists and this list of the ten commandments of ‘fatheism’ is a good example.
I was an ‘atheist’ and student of Nietzsche as a sophmore in college, before most new atheists were born,and I look back on that phase as sophmoric, a stage the new atheists are stuck in for an entire lifetime, apparently. I was lucky: an atheist stance did not have the social conformity pressure, or the demand to belief that is present now in the strong affirmation that ‘god does not exist’. To make that the basis of a new form of conversion is a tactical mistake to me, one that will always haunt the ‘movement’, and a movement is the last thing we need here.
The question of god, to me, is not possible to solve. After Bertrand Russell, and then Nietzsche, you have Kant, who may or may not have been a proponent of classic faith in his statements about ‘faith’ in relation to certain questions of metaphysics. Frankly I think Kant was closer to the atheist than the theist, but his statements on ‘faith’, which were never applied to the ‘faith’ of the Christian, but to the antinomial character of certain basic issues, like soul, free will, and, yes, god, which he warned might have a reality beyond skepticism, but one that due to its metaphysical character could never have sound foundational status: the dilemma was to find the truth in a thicket of metaphysics: secularist skepticism was thus a very weak instrument. You end up having to have ‘faith’ there is no god, precisely Kant’s warning. It is sometimes clearer to consider the ‘free will’ question and drop the term faith for ‘provisional belief based on metaphysical caution: we can’t solve the free will question, but our general disposition is to take its reality ‘on faith’. Mathematicians often use such languare, btw. And we have cases like Godel’s proof, where the proof is one thing, and certain other things we can’t prove have at least a discussion using ‘metamathematical’ derivations, whatever their status.
Now the question of free will is being subject to the kind of Newtonian certainty as to its non-existence that Kant challenged. Whatever the case, the issue, pace Schopenhauer suggests that free will is an illusion–until you distinguish representation and thing in itself. Current science cadres, and that includes smart people like Sam Harris, are so conditioned by narrow education they have never heard of ‘transcendental idealism’. Beyond belief.
Meanwhile the question of god is never clear, let alone existing in the realm of proof. The danger of new atheism lies in the way god beliefs are not false, but gibberish. They can’t be reckoned until they are stated in coherent logical form. Then, who knows. The complexity of the universe makes me less than certain that some form of the god-concept nexus is totally beyond demonstration. How could one ever be certain? Safer to do what the ‘atheists’ really mean to do which is to call ‘god beliefs’ as commonly proposed gibberish. Here again Kant pointed to the first of the great ‘antinomies’, here the twin statements, there is a beginning in time, and there is no beginning in time. Physics has yet to resolve this antinomy, btw, and the whole dilemma creates a hiding place for all sorts of crypto-theistic and/or atheistic novelties. We can’t declare in advance this pandora’s box of philosophic gremlins in potential to be false, for their opposite numbers are false, as per the temporal antinomy.
I don’t know: there could any number of possible forms of god, including non-forms of god like space aliens in super advanced situations that can create whole universes. But these beings would hardly be ‘god’, but, like the demiurgic powers of Plato. That points to the final joker in the deck that makes all parties into babblers of gibberish, Sam Harris included. That is the idea that ‘existence’ could never be a property of ‘god’ who must stand beyond ‘existence’ to be god. Thus the whole concept of ‘god not existing’ is a variant of the theistic challenge to paganism. The first monotheists seem to have been unable to resolve this issue, this vestigial paganism in the ‘god’ idea. The whole thing comes crashing down on both sides, and a swift adjournment to a Zen monastery may be the only answer left. Meanwhile, a concept of ‘god’ that does not pair that with the property of existence is terra incognita, a genuine ‘who knows’ zone that leaves me less than confident in the true believer declarations of god’s nonexistence. Of course he doesn’t exist. Dumbkopf. Say something important.