Here’s a piece in the Smart Set about “the backlash of the backlash of the backlash” of the New Atheists, and about how a better approach than the now-trite appeal to “enlightenment” might be Nietzsche’s strategy of simply attacking the source: a god who, after all, is defenseless from any philosophical standpoint imaginable.
I haven’t kept up with the New Atheists since Hitch died, but I think the perception of them has soured not because they are so barbed, but because people don’t like thinking about unpleasant things. Of course, I find the religious worldview to be the unpleasant one; I agree with Nietzsche that it stems from a hatred of life.
What drew me to Nietzsche originally was his quick dismissal of the god hypothesis, as opposed to, say, Kierkegaard, who spends an inordinate amount of page space on Christian guilt. Similarly, what drew me to Dawkins originally was his insistence that there are so many more interesting things to talk about.
The writing workshop I was leading finished up last week, and ultimately it was disappointing. I had dwindling (and varying) attendance, and of those who did show, almost none did or even attempted the assignments. If I were to do it again (and I probably won’t), I’m not sure how I would do it differently. I know it sounds defensive, but it’s difficult to plan and execute engaging activities when nobody in the group is participating. During and after the first class, lots of people said they wanted to get better at communicating. But then they never came back, and never communicated why. Maybe people don’t actually want to look at—and possibly critique—their own communication styles.
After a week of sunny but chilly weather, and then a weekend of rain, the garden is showing signs of action once again. The mint and watermelon are sprouting (perhaps some summery mojito is in order, some time around June), and elsewhere the soil is looking moist and rich. With the new plants’ arrival come the birds, returning to the yard like it’s a family reunion. A bright and chirpy pair of cardinals has re-emerged, much to the delight of my cat, who watches them get within feet of the screen door with demonstrable intrigue (the poofy tail reveals all). I would like to put up a bat house next, but that project will most likely have to wait until next pay-day.