It never ceases to amaze me how truly ignorant people are when it comes to atheists/atheism. Unfortunately, many of these clueless individuals find the need to write/talk incessantly about atheists. Two recent, but by no means unique, examples annoyed me quite a bit. Both the Allergic Pagan's (Patheos) "Being an atheist just ain’t what it used to be" and HuffPo John Carlson's "Remembering Albert Camus and Longing for the Old Atheism" are chock-full of bullshit and bigotry.
John Halstead of Allergic Pagan is the more disturbing since the piece is largely about his own son coming out as an atheist and that he himself comments on sometimes identifying as an atheist. He clearly does not get it. Being an atheist is not like picking which outfit you want to wear that day. You believe or you don't. You are an atheist or you are not. Though, that is a minor point in comparison with some of the other ridiculous things he comes up with. Halstead is disturbed that his son will accept "...materialism that bleeds the world of beauty and meaning and everything that makes life an interesting adventure." Does this dipshit not ever pay attention to the news? Didn't we just go through this bullshit with that bitch Oprah? Big hint, moron, there is NO beauty or wonder without materialism. What are you marveling at if you can't sense it in any way. All those feelings and emotions are produced by the brain. The brain is a physical/material organ. His piece is loaded with all sorts of similarly ill-informed biased myths and stereotypes as well as a multitude of logical fallacies.
Carlson was not quite as annoying since the title made it pretty clear what I was in for. It is yet another piece that has picked up on a fairly recent tactic being used by critics of atheists/atheism. They want to seem reasonable and civil by "praising" or "respecting" the "Old Atheism" while denigrating or dismissing the "New Atheism." It is a crock of shit from start to finish. First it creates a blatantly false dichotomy. The ideas and arguments of atheists haven't really changed that much. The only verifiable distinction between the "old" and "new" has to do with media. The mainstream media, though still rather biased, is willing to talk/write about atheists more than they ever have in the past. It is also now possible for atheist to get published by large publishing houses. Not that long ago only small niche publishers would touch the works of an atheist. That is the only noticeable difference, assuming you actually pay attention to what atheist say and write rather than pretending you do. I have a sneaking suspicion that many who claim to have read the works of this or that atheist have not actually done so.
The second major problem with this contemporary canard of theists is that it is often grossly inaccurate. To be honest, I'm not that familiar with Camus so I do not know whether Carlson is misrepresenting him or not. I do know that other critics have used long-dead atheists to similar ends. One I am familiar with is Nietzche. Numerous critics have presented very opinionated and flimsy interpretations of Nietzche's work for the sole purpose of attacking contemporary atheists by contrast. It's an odd tactic but seems to be growing in popularity among certain circles. It is not an example of sound literary criticism or any intellectual endeavor. It is simply bigotry dressed up.
Why these assholes find the need to go on about things they clearly do not understand or have any interest in understanding is both confusing and annoying. If you want to engage in discussion and debate or just learn about an unfamiliar demographic that would be one thing. Doing that involves real inquiry not making up shit based on what you prefer to believe.