Brights or the “New” Atheism

Atheism is big publishing business these days. The rash of recent bestsellers has been dubbed the “New” Atheism – and the loose coalition of those who subsribe to the naturalism promoted across these books – as Brights. I want to make four points:

1. I resent the haughtiness of the term “bright”. The term fails to capture many who are not out of sympathy with the naturalistic project: I, for one, would prefer to be called an Epicurean, skeptic or humanist, terms that have immeasurably richer connotations. Dante had long since had a place reserved for us Epicureans in his sixth circle of hell.

2. The so-called “New” Atheism has a ring of inauthenticity to it when viewed against a prevailing socio-cultural climate of feigned indignation and cultivated notoriety.

3. There is already an abundance of hardheaded discussion on the nature of religious belief – John Mackie and Keith Yandell,  Michael Martin and Kai Nielsen – all atheists that have for the most part been completely overlooked by the both authors and commentators. Better yet, try reading Hume and Lichtenberg.

4. Last but by no means least, a deep point is lost within the discussion. Whatever the failings of “Intelligent Design” theory, it marks a broader philosophical question: that is, whether science is explanatorily closed, whether the ultimate explanations provided by science are in need of supplementation. There are those in consciousness studies who take the view that science is in need of supplementation to solve the mind-body problem.