First, we discuss how atheism is defined, then examine how various groups and individuals with competing interests have amplified that definition.
One example provided is by Sam Harris, of the so-called “new atheist” movement, who advocates for a particular kind of atheistic “spirituality” in his book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.
To refute this obfuscation of the words “atheism” and “spirituality” is scholar of religion David Webster in his book, Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish, and Unhappy. Webster argues that “spirituality” is a superficial and meaningless concept that modern society has adapted as a response to institutionalised religion, reflective of our current anti-religious sentiment in the western world. Webster claims that this all-too-broad and new-age concept is actually toxic, and no better or worse than fundamentalist religion.
Finally, we bring up the growing atheist churches that promote values and ethics, examples of which are here and here. These movements are responding to the common accusation that atheistic persons live without ecstasy or ethics by religious groups. One side denounces religious people as stupid and having imaginary friends; the other claims atheists are blind automatons without wonder or morals.
Original air-date February 15, 2015.