Sincere Kirabo of the American Humanist Association explains village atheism to be,
“a worldview observed by atheists who embrace a preoccupation with critiquing religiosity and tend to be socially unaware. This kind of mindset helps preserve various cultural prejudices while denigrating those who dare challenge these discrepancies” (1)
As such, the term is a negative one, and is generally pejorative akin to calling someone the “village idiot.” It identifies those atheists who lack a sense of any real self-ideological reflection while also presenting a sort of unsophisticated tribalism. Such an individual is usually quite arrogant and views him/herself as having arrived at the summit of reason.
He or she is also ignorant about her own personal biases and learned prejudices that exert influence on his or her views and beliefs. Kirabo explains that,
“Village atheism fosters social inaction and an inadequate concept of critical thinking limited to the domain of scrutinizing religious faith, supernaturalism, or paranormal claims. It’s selective perception and acts far more as a hindrance than a solution to all the problems humanity (and other life) faces” (2).
Kirabo identifies several traits of the village atheist (5):
1. A tendency to revel in the idea of “logic and reason” except when it comes to applying these principles to matters that don’t directly relate to a preoccupation with the shortcomings of supernatural claims.
2. Referring to feminism as a cult while religiously assembling at the altar of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and esteeming everything that comes out of Bill Maher’s mouth.
3. Believing atheists are this nation’s most oppressed and despised group.
4. Embracing the theory that extinguishing religion would be a magical panacea, somehow curing every social ill from racism to trans-antagonism.
Christian philosopher and theologian Randal Rauser, who has written quite extensively on the atheist-religion debate, shows an awareness of the term,
“More recently, the term has evolved to refer to a species of atheistic expression which tends to be brash in presentation and lacking in critical nuance… The “village atheist,” like the “village Christian,” is a person who tends to be vocal in their opinions and rather lacking in their knowledge, a fact that is manifested in the absence of critical nuance. The village atheist dismisses the Christian as a “faithhead” (Richard Dawkins’ term) as surely as the village Christian dismisses the atheist as a “fool.” In short, each finds security in a quick and ham-fisted dismissal of the other” (3)
However, as some have noted in their discussions with atheists, not all atheists should be seen in this way for there are those who are respectful in cross ideological discussion, seem more self-reflective concerning their own views, and more charitable in their treatment of others (4). Kirabo identifies the recent New Atheism movement as an example of village atheism in practice, and as a sure case of those who are pompous, proud, brashly vocal, but who also possess little expertise or knowledge of the topics they criticize (6).
1. Kirabo, S. 2016. Leveling Up From Village Atheism — A Dialogue with Randal Rauser. Available.
2. Kirabo, S. 2016. Ibid.
3. Randaul Rauser quoted by Sincere Kirabo in Leveling Up From Village Atheism – A Dialogue with Randal Rauser. Available.
4. van Inwagen, P. The Problem of Evil. p. 178
5. Kirabo, S. 2016. Three Warning Signs That Village Atheism Is Your New Religion. Available.
6. Kirabo, S. 2016. Ibid.