Atheist Blogger Accuses Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins of Promoting 'Tribalism,' Possessing 'Self-Defeating Superiority'

Richard Dawkins
Well-known atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins speaks to supporters during the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina, March 31, 2012. |

An atheist blogger has recently denounced the efforts of non-theists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, arguing that they promote "tribalism" and a strategy that is "a recipe for failure."

Steven Neumann, an author and philosopher whose work has been published on Salon and Patheos, posted a blog entry Sunday arguing that Maher and Dawkins possess a "self-defeating superiority."

Neumann argued in Salon that atheist intellectuals like Maher, Dawkins and Sam Harris practice a "rhetoric of tribalism."

"But what these New Atheists fail to realize is that even if their criticisms of religion are correct, pointing them out does nothing to combat tribalism — in fact, it only strengthens it," wrote Neumann.

"Their faith in the power of rationality, which is effective but not perfect, blinds them to the larger problem."

Neumann went on to encourage atheists to "push the circle of our tribe out a little bit further" when working for the common good.

"Forget about disabusing believers of their core convictions with the 'universal acid' of rationality — the best way to fight for social justice and pluralism is to ally ourselves with those who share the same values, regardless of their metaphysical beliefs," continued Neumann.

This is not the first time that Neumann has been critical of the works of atheist public figures like Dawkins, Maher and Harris.

Last September, Neumann denounced the inherent negativity he saw in the statements of Dawkins and Maher regarding their views on religion and its adherents.

"As an atheist who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian milieu, I admit that this rhetoric is not without its appeal," wrote Neumann last year.

"But the atmosphere this kind of animus creates has become as pungent and disagreeable as the stale bread and cheap wine of the church I grew up in."

Neumann is not the only atheist public figure to recently decry the strategies of Maher and Dawkins.

Patton Oswalt, a comedian who has starred in TV sitcoms "The King of Queens" and "Two and a Half Men," told Salon in an interview earlier this month that "I feel, as an atheist, about people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher the way that Christians must feel about Fred Phelps."

Adding to his comments about Maher's outspoken observations on Islam, Oswalt stated: "If you look at Christianity and Judaism when they were young, they were violent. … But right now I would say there's a bigger percentage of that in Islam, but still that percentage is still small. Again, he [Maher] is discounting all of the moderate, progressive, intelligent, horrified Muslims."

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