I have been defending atheism and religious skepticism since we founded Skeptic in 1992, both through the magazine and in my books, and have continued the tradition throughout my nearly 18 years as a Scientific American columnist, for example on the rise of atheism. . . . and the death of God.I usually expect to agree with him, and then discover that I don't.
One problematic aspect of the “atheist” label is that believers and “faitheists” (as you so effectively call atheists who believe in belief — for others, of course), is that we allow others to define us by what we don’t believe. That will never suffice. We must define ourselves by what we do believe: science, philosophy, reason, logic, empiricism and all the tools of the scientific method, along with civil rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, and moral progress as a result of these components of our worldview, which might better be described as humanism or one of its variants: secular humanism, Enlightenment humanism, or as I’m now suggesting, Scientific Humanism, the subject of my final Scientific American column.
Defining ourselves by what we do believe prevents believers and faitheists from calling us “atheists” and then attacking whatever that word means to them, instead of what it means to us (namely, a lack of belief in a deity, full stop).
If atheism just means "a lack of belief in a deity, full stop", then what are all those other issues he brings up in the preceding paragraph?
No, that is not what atheism has come to mean. Atheists attend conferences led by gurus who have written best-selling books, and they have redefined the term. In particular, they have adopted a left-wing agenda that has little to with belief in a deity.
For example, Shermer lists his positive atheist beliefs as including "animal rights"!
More importantly, the atheist gurus seem to all believe in a leftist notion of moral progress. You won't see Trump supporters at an atheist convention.
Shermer calls himself a "skeptic", but what is he skeptical about? He appears to take the most boring and conventional positions that you would expect from our current batch of leftist groupthink academics.