Sam Harris, who wrote “The End of Faith” and is a rock star in the atheist world (he traveled with bodyguards because he receives death threats from both Christians and Muslims).
Harris was the place kicker for the modern atheist movement. A movement that basically says all the hate you read about from days of yore is actually good, as long as you hate the right things. His tendency to dogmatically believe that dogmatic beliefs are the problem shows the glaring blind spot that is common in this movement. That he needs body guards isn't uncommon. Just about anyone in the public eye gets death threats. While I don't condone violence or threats of violence, it's equally hard to have sympathy for a man who can't handle the same hatred and loathing he levels at half the world's population when it is thrown back at him.
For my money, he does little to encourage open dialogue or tolerance on the part of believers. After all, a primary point of The End of Faith was the call to end religious tolerance. If that's the reward religious believers have for tolerating atheism, then I don't much blame them if they would prefer to continue any intolerance of the non-religious that might exist.
Another interesting quote was this:
Mr. Myers is way out of the closet as an atheist — proudly, outrageously so. We’re here, he’s saying. And we don’t believe. And we have science and reason on our side. Get used to it.
A commenter on my very own blog made this observation:
P.Z. Myers says he has reason and science on his side? Does he mean science has proven atheism is true? That's news for Richard Dawkins. And if it isn't, does he understand the limitations of the scientific method?
That caught my attention as well. The science vs. religious people who hate science is one of many ridiculous ideas promoted by our new atheist friends. The fact that many scientists have some belief in religion, and historically a great many scientists were serious about their faith, appears to escape them. Like so many things, it really isn't true. It's not meant to be. It's only meant to be cheerleading for the team. Truth be told, religious believers don't 'hate' science so much as they distrust the exploitation of science to advance non-religious and anti-religious philosophies.
Now I have zero respect or regard for Myers. I see him and I think of the old B&W pictures of Nazis throwing bricks through synagogue windows. I find it interesting that he didn't desecrate a Torah. Like most things born of evil, the modern atheists like Myers picks and chooses who and what to hate. If he had any guts or balls, he would have done the same and risked the wrath of the Jewish community. But he's no fool, and knows when to reign it in.
Generally the strength in the modern atheist movement is found in a sympathetic media, a secularized academia, and an ignorant population. Anyone with philosophy, theology, or history 101 knows that their take on religion and religious history makes your average Creationist's take on science seem credible. But their arguments aren't really meant to persuade. Hoping that their liberalism regarding sex will attract yunguns to the cause, many of whom have spent their entire lives being indoctrinated into the dogmas of the secular movement, the MAs don't sweat credibility. Knowing that there is no accountability of secularism or progressivism since most of the principle institutions of learning and communication are in the same bed, they have little incentive to change. And beyond that, the bulk of their word drool is simply preaching to the choir, knowing that no matter how ludicrous their charge, or baseless their arguments, the faithful of the movement will cheer them on.
There are so many things worth laughing about with the new atheists. But there is some concern. The biggest cause for concern being the eerie similarities their rhetoric has with so much of that spouted during the later years of 19th century Europe. Beyond the contradictions, shallow thinking, and general bitterness and lack of contributions to the human condition and experience, the growing tendency to invoke a sort of mental master race theory about themselves, with calls for the extermination of all those religious thoughts they don't like, should give anyone pause. Hopefully, it's just that they know not what they do.