With friends like these: Atheists against the New Atheism
By RUSSELL BLACKFORD - ABC - RELIGION AND ETHICS (AUSTRAILIA)
Added: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 13:13:55 UTC
In Western countries, there is a long tradition of intellectual critique of religious teachings - going far back into antiquity. This tradition has sometimes thrived, though sometimes it has been suppressed. In any event, twentieth-century Westerners did not lack access to material that disputed the existence of deities and challenged popular religious doctrines.
Consider the 1980s and 1990s, however - the rather recent past. Critiques of religious teachings were available but not especially fashionable and not highly visible.
Mostly, they were tucked away in academic books and journals, in material published by what we can think of broadly as the rationalist movement, or in monographs from relatively small publishers such as Prometheus Books.
This has now changed, and you can pinpoint the exact year when it happened: 2004. That was the year when large trade imprints in English-speaking countries began publishing forthright, unashamed attacks on the truth of religious doctrines and the moral pretensions of churches and sects. Since then, some of the most prominent books, such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, have sold millions of copies.
In November 2006, journalist Gary Wolf published a piece in Wired magazine under the title "The Church of the Non-Believers." He dubbed Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett "the New Atheists" and hyped up their hostility to religion, as opposed to mere disagreement with religious doctrines.
The New Atheism thus acquired its label, though the main thing that had changed was the reading public's hunger for such material.
That hunger continues, and with it there is a vibe of people organising under the banner of atheism. For whatever reasons, large numbers of us seem to be fed up with religion, and we're not afraid to say so.
- - BBC News Comments
A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.
Robert F. Worth - New York Times Comments
A great article about Jerry DeWitt and the growing presence of atheist communities
Chip Rowe - Playboy Comments
Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins
- - YouTube - townsquare Comments
Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, Huffingtonpost.com) leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').
Kimberly Winston - Washington Post Comments
Last weekend, the Atheist Film Festival showed more than a dozen films about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools.
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Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God Letter" Handwritten Shortly Before His Death
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I enjoyed reading Mike LaBossiere’s post entitled “Church & State: Immaculate Contraception”, but I can’t resist the impulse to add a post of my own – perhaps because I lack free will in the matter, but mainly because I devote an entire chapter of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State to this sort of issue (so it is kind of on my mind), and certainly because it has become even more topical than usual.