The attempt to defend Dawkins’ The God Delusion seems beside the point by now: the issue isn’t the delusions about godhead, but the appearance of a substitute for religion that is ever more stupid than the Xtian mainstream. And that has nothing to do with atheism.
As for ‘social movements’ of atheism: they appeared promptly in the nineteenth century in the era of Marx, positivism, and the post-Hegelian Feuerbach.
The entire history of Bolshevism is one of atheism.
So I fail to see the novelty here. To me, the new atheism makes it necessary for outstanding atheists from times prior to this dumb movement to seek a new label so as not to feed this new cult whose problems are not with the god question, but the whole package of beliefs based on scientism, Darwinism, muddled reductionist views of ethics, and a whole list of problematical notions.
Duking it out over The God Delusion
By ERIC MACDONALD – CHOICE IN DYING
Added: Friday, 20 May 2011 at 10:20 AM
I’ve been reading reviews of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion over the last few days. There are a surprising number of them. Most of them, as is to be expected, no doubt, are written by religious believers, and are very negative, not to say contemptuous. Dawkins is called everything from lazy, to sloppy, poorly researched, sophomoric, careless, offensive and wrong. Quite astonishing is the vitriolic denunciation of a book that is accused, by so many who denounce it so vitriolically, of being itself vitriolic! Since I have decided to read the book once again, having read it only once when it first came out in 2006, I will consider, in a later post, whether The God Delusion is, as claimed, in poor taste, offensive, strident, or vitriolic. This book, after all, is the fons et origo of the New Atheist movement. Sam Harris’s book, The End of Faith, was the first major success of a book written from an atheist point of view and published by a mainstream publisher, but Richard Dawkins’ book provided the momentum for a movement which is now, because of its forthrightness, a major influence in the world. So important has the new atheism become that popes and archbishops are convinced that it is a danger to faith, and have established programmes to combat it. Despite the fact that many less bold and forthright atheists find the new atheism too confrontational and prefer to remain on friendly terms with religion, it is only since atheism hit the best seller lists that atheism itself has become almost a mainstream phenomenon. At the same time that Alister McGrath wrote and published his slight — and often inaccurate — study on what he thought was The Twilight of Atheism, the new atheism was already in gestation. Far from being in its death throes, as McGrath thought, atheism was preparing to become a major cultural phenomenon.