I just finished reading the article in the June issue of American Atheist by MJP Campbell titled, “PZ Myers: Can We Raise the Standard Please?”. I was confused as to what the author’s actual point was, but I think it was all about “tone”. I am an avid reader of both PZ Myers’ and CFI’s blogs, but if there are two things PZ does not take lightly, it’s accommodationism and complaints about “tone”. Nowhere in this article did I read anything about the actual arguments that PZ made in refuting De Dora. It was all about name-calling, and fundamentalist Atheist dogma (whatever that is) and irrationality vs. rational discourse. I went back and re-read De Dora’s original article and everything that followed and, despite PZ’s tone, his argument is still sound, in my view. I for one appreciate PZ’s willingness to not pull punches and the forceful nature of his arguments. Alliterative name-calling aside, I interpret PZ’s tone to stem from the ongoing frustration he must feel at continually having to refute accomodationist nonsense, especially from someone who ought not to be an accomodationist.
Additionally, equating new-Atheism with fundamentalist religion is patently false and has got to stop. In my opinion, this idea comes from people fearful of religion itself. They want the rest of us to shush so as not to draw the attention of anyone close by that might be religious. In my experience, new-Atheism simply refers to those Atheists willing to actually speak up and be vocal, to actually criticize religion and its ideas, hopefully changing minds in the process, and not afraid to stand and self-identify as an Atheist.
Campbell closes with the ridiculous argument that somehow this exchange between PZ Myers and Michael De Dora has possibly ruined for him any hope of there ever being a feel-good secular society. Well, fine. The rest of us will keep fighting and forge on ahead. But you’ll always be welcomed.