Whither new atheism?

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Abstract

Demographic data shows that atheistic worldviews have been gaining
'market share' in the West for the past 250 years. That demographic data has never stopped religious apologists from arguing that atheistic worldviews are in terminal decline. (The writings of Alister McGrath and Gary Bouma provide a couple of contemporary examples.) Nonetheless, it would be rash to assume that this upward trend will continue in the West, let alone that it will be followed in all other parts of the globe. The worldviews of 'new atheists' are much the same as the worldviews of 'old atheists': what all atheists have in common is merely that they reject theistic beliefs. For the past 250 years, atheists have differed from one another in their willingness to engage in public defence of their atheism, and in the extent to which they are willing to 'grind the gears' of their theistic interlocutors. The current crop of 'new atheists' have much in common with previous generations of atheists who reveled in public sparring with theists; and the irritation expressed by previous generations of theists when confronted with the writing of, say, Thomas Paine or Chapman Cohen, is very much like the irritation that current theistic apologists express when confronted with the writings of, say Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. While predicting the future is clearly a mug's game, there is no reason to think that the worldview of the 'new atheists' will go away any time soon; and nor is there any reason to suppose that at some not to distant date in the future, there will not be any 'provocative' atheists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Atheism:
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives and Contemporary Debates
EditorsChristopher R. Cotter, Philip Andrew Quadrio, Jonathan Tuckett
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
PublisherSpringer
Pages15-31
Number of pages17
Volume21
ISBN (Electronic)97833119549644
ISBN (Print)9783319549620
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameSophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures
PublisherSpringer
Volume21
ISSN (Print)2211-1107
ISSN (Electronic)2211-1115

Keywords

  • Atheism
  • New Atheism
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Alister McGrath
  • Thomas Paine
  • Irreligion

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