What does this mean: Old atheists and straight up vanilla atheists don’t get the whole New Atheism movement thing

Hi Everybody

I hope you are in best of health and time

So, I am reading the book The new atheist threat by C.J Werleman and it reads : “Old atheists and straight up vanilla atheists don’t get the whole New Atheism movement thing.”

I am asking exactly about the meaning of this " straight up vanilla atheists"

Thank you very much

It means normal, uncomplicated, simple, straightforward, “run of the mill” (Run-of-the-mill Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster) atheists.
It is implied that the new atheism is different and intellectually more sophisticated than the usual kind of atheism, so those “normal” atheists cannot understand the new atheism

Yes, and I would guess that it originates from vanilla being the standard flavour of ice cream.

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‘vanilla’ used in this type of context means ‘having no special or extra features; ordinary or standard’

More background on New Atheists here

CJ Werleman seems to dislike the New Atheism because of its attacks on Islam, (see his argument with Sam Harris) so I doubt he views ‘New Atheism’ as more sophisticated.

Although I agree, usually this type of phrasing would imply association with the new.

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Yes you are right. He sees New Atheism as how come you do not believe in God, yet you still gather and meet to discuss whether this God is good or bad.

New atheism = atheism with a voice. In particular, it means that it’s ok to be an atheist which is otherwise frowned upon. We had a congresswoman just the other day say that the problems in our society came from “godless people”.


Also, ‘straight up’ means something like ‘undoubtedly’, or ‘simply’. It is a very odd phrase to use it in conjunction with ‘vanilla’ though - I would recommend against using ‘straight up vanilla’ if you want to sound natural in English.

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Can you write it in simpler words? ( Straight up vanilla atheist )…

Thank you again

I actually feel sorry for those who are new atheists because the reality they are anti-theist.

However, I could not get if you are supporting the movement?

Can you please rewrite the statement again using your own words according to the context, I mean this ( Straight up vanilla atheists )

Well, they are not anti-theist in the sense that they are against God (how can you be against God if you don’t think he exists?) but many are anti-theist in the sense of being against belief-in-God, which is actually a reasonable position to take if you a) don’t think God exists and b) think that people should believe in things that exist and not believe in things that don’t exist. I don’t understand why you would feel sorry for them - they are simply going about promoting the truth as they see it.

The atheists you should feel sorry for are the ones who believe that belief-in-God and membership of a religious community bring valuable psychological benefits despite the non-existence of God, who would like to be able to believe in God and partake of those benefits, but can’t, because their rational minds are persuaded on the evidence that there are no gods - and those people are usually not the ones going about being vocally New-Atheist-ish :slight_smile:

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Mainstream atheist.

I could, but the original phrase is pretty odd and going to turn out awkward in my paraphrase.

I think what the writer means is something like ‘people who don’t believe in God but who don’t have any interest in participating in a movement to spread non-belief in God’. But that makes the whole sentence redundant: "Old atheists and [people who are not interested in the whole New Atheism movement thing] don’t get the whole New Atheism movement thing.

Thank you for your detailed respond. This is quite interesting.

I said that because the essence of atheism is that you do not see any God, and therefore you do not care about what life means, you just came from nothing you are going to nothing. So they are gathering to find meanings, which is I see all nonsense :slight_smile:

Ah, okay. Well it sounds like you’ve just been given a mistaken impression of what the ‘essence of atheism’ implies, confusing atheism with nihilism - quite understandably, since a lot of religious people seem to think that if they personally did not believe in God, they would not care about anything / find their lives to be pointless. But in practice, most actual atheists, as far as I am aware (which I’m pretty sure constitutes a majority of the people I know) do not actually lack for things that make life worth living / give them things to strive for etc.

In particular, just because we came from nothing and are going to nothing, does not make it unimportant to strive to make things the best we can during the short time period when we are something - it turns out that you do not need to think that you will live forever to be concerned about living well for as long as you’ve got.

And likewise, people who do not believe in a god don’t seem to be significantly less happy than people who do (and indeed, assuming one of the world’s religions is correct and all of the others false, people who believe in the wrong god don’t seem to be noticeably more or less happy than people who believe in the right god) - apart from the psychological benefits of belonging to a close-knit community, which religions are often better at providing than secular society… but that is of course not an argument that their religious claims are true, since completely incompatible religions are capable of providing the same sort of close-knit community. That is, the on-average benefits of being religious are probably real, but not that large - and in any case are unavailable to people who can’t force themselves to believe something they find unconvincing.

Actually, you might enjoy this little essay about trading off one’s rationality against the benefits of religious community. It’s from a neoreactionary website, which is not a philosophy I support, but I think that the writer is probably onto something here. Apologies if it’s in somewhat convoluted English, but you seem to be pretty good at it so far :slight_smile:


“I actually feel sorry for those who are new atheists because the reality they are anti-theist.”

Why you feel sorry for them? Being anti-something at the end is not a bad thing. For example, if I say that I’m anti-MatDeris (I am not), doesn’t mean that I’ll pick up a flight to Malaysia kill your family and you (I have no idea if your family lives in Malaysia), just means: I don’t like you for however reason.
Those atheits are just expressing there thoghts and people have the right to do. Moreover, you find idiots in all movents, the bigger (a moviment) the more idiots will be found. Does not imply that one or two persons represent all.

“However, I could not get if you are supporting the movement?”

He should, people are just expressing their rights guaranteed by the constitution. Just as religious have their rights non-religious also have; and, as far as i saw, they are not proponents of the extermination of any church, mosque, etc.
I can’t see it as bad, if you will, please explain it to me.

" the essence of atheism is that you do not see any God, and therefore you do not care about what life means, you just came from nothing you are going to nothing."

So what life means to you?
I think that by taking away the religious part your awnser will be very similar to that of an average atheist. Be good to my family, be a good person and so forth.

Ordinary atheist.