Could it be that the New Atheism is a new manifestation of old-fashioned intolerance toward those who are different?
BK at Cadre Comments has quoted at length from a provocative column in First Post by Andrew Brown, titled “The Horror of a New Atheist World.” Brown noted that the New Atheists’ contentions are often quite unbelievable, even ridiculous, such as that Hitler was a believer in the Roman Catholic* religion and that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Christian. Brown could have listed other outlandish examples, like Dawkins’s belief that raising children to believe in Christ is child abuse.
What is going on in these books? Brown has an intriguing suggestion:
But the New Atheist books which really sell are those which mirror the abusive certainty they ascribe to all their enemies.
And what could be behind that?
Why is this view suddenly so popular? Many Americans clearly feel oppressed by Christian pieties, and practically everyone in Europe is afraid of being oppressed by Islamic piety. The belief in human progress with which we all grew up looks less and less like fact and more like yet another fallible ‘faith’.
In this climate of uncertainty, the New Atheism spreads exactly like any other sort of fundamentalism. It offers a clear, compelling certainty at a time of economic and social confusion. It offers enemies (the religious) and wise, benevolent leaders (Dawkins, for example, whose name today appears on the front page of his website a mere 35 times).