Clearly, the religious-minded fear any sort of organization of any rival group, and since atheists joke even amongst themselves
that organizing a group of them is like herding cats, religious groups had little to fear, and largely ignored Atheism in favor of normal operations regarding so-called "missions" work, harassing other religions, unwittingly promoting coups, etc. With the advent of the "New Atheists," religious groups have found the most terrifying of foes yet: apparently organized rationality.
Their fear is based on two things, then:
- The advertisement of a very different option, and
- The necessary change in their own tactics to something far less comfortable
Item (1) was silenced for so long that religious groups became complacent, and when the obnoxiously loud "New Atheists" started rocking the boat, they found it easy to capsize, and there was no defense prepared pursuant to (2). I expect the second item, then, is the more troubling one.
This change in tactics requires religionists to scramble to find naturalistic explanations for their precious miracle-stories, which had until recently been largely accepted as 'matters of faith' for the masses. The dredging up of evidence against these myths, and evidence for
quite anti-theistic explanations of things, has caused hacks like Ham, the Hovinds, Comfort, et al
, to invent new and utterly bullshit ways of explaining that which had never required any explanation. They were forced, kicking and screaming, into learning about the science they denied, just to keep up the appearance that their own fables were on roughly equal footing.
They are failing.
The angst felt by religionists regarding the uprising of "New Atheism" is understandable and appropriate, even if pointless. As in times past, religion cannot withstand scientific assault, but unlike those times past, the scientific community is nearing organization
, which may well topple all the religions in one fell swoop.
Before we start popping champagne corks, though, we should beware succumbing to the very accusations levied against the religionists: indoctrination is heresy.
Just because adolescents may begin to recognize Atheism is a viable option -- a shameless, acceptable option -- does not mean it should be uncritically pushed onto them. Adolescents are well-known for making foolish decisions, and letting them dive into Atheism without ensuring they are informed would be tantamount to the same indoctrination techniques that the religionists use. Make your own informed decision
, should be our mantra, as we hand them a pile of information from sources for and against Atheism.
I personally prefer to avoid exposing adolescents to too much, though I try to make it clear that I've chosen a different path, and that my path is perfectly acceptable. Rather than spoon-feed them with the information I've found through years of research and contemplation, I encourage them to begin that journey on their own. Even if they don't head down the path toward Atheism, they will at least have been given an opportunity, and they will have consciously denied the mandate to seek out information on one's own, rather than uncritically accepting what one has been told. I'd like to think that my honesty in this might stick with them, such that even those who remain or become religionists will retain that critical skepticism, which is all they'll ever need to escape the pit... of despaaaaaiiiiirrrrr....
...the pit of despair.