Blogs About Nothing

by Graham Veale

blogs about nothingThe New Atheism has attempted to re-brand atheism. Once upon a time, many atheists (the continental, existential type) were angry at God for not existing; God’s absence robbed the world of significance. Marxists rejected God for a monumental struggle with history. Most atheists were outraged at the great suffering in the world (Schopenhauer wished that the earth was as lifeless as the moon) and argued that a good God would never have allowed such a world. This “problem of evil” was the bedrock of atheism.

But a gloomy demeanour doesn’t sell in the modern marketplace. The New Atheists realised that a makeover was necessary before religion could be challenged as a source of meaning and hope. So some atheists have taken to labelling themselves “Brights”; no sense of despair there, then. If God doesn’t exist, we should get on with enjoying life and deciding what values we would prefer to live by. New Atheist bloggers are wild and witty (in a Python-esque way). They would rather write worship songs for a Flying Spaghetti Monster than engage with existential angst. A sort of cheerful, cheeky nihilism has been embraced, mass produced and widely distributed. The New Atheism may not be deep, but it sure is fun!

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Now, New Atheists will chafe at the title “nihilist”. Nihilism sounds much too philosophical and much too gloomy. But we’re using the term in its technical, philosophical sense[1]. A nihilist simply denies that there is any overarching purpose to our lives; they do not recognise any transcendent value that gives our existence meaning. To state it bluntly, here and now is all we’ve got. Consider the universe according to PZ Myers:

The universe is a nasty, heartless place where most things wouldn’t mind killing you if you let them. No one is compelled to be nice; you or anyone could go on a murder spree, and all that is stopping you is your self-interes


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