The New Atheism

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Kevin Drum raised a good point the other day. There have long been atheists in the West, especially among the intellentsia, but lately there seem to be an awful lot of what you might call evangelizing atheists who want to publish books about how awful religion is. Kevin names Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens and I was also add Daniel Dennett into the mix. What's going on?

It seems especially odd to me because it's so contrary to the spirit of non-theism to go around writing books like this. The whole strength of the non-theistic intellectual enterprise over the years has simply been to go about our business without talking about God. Talk about the origins of the universe. Talk about human history. Talk about ethics and politics. Talk about the nature of truth. Talk about the origin of species. And do it without talking about God. That's atheism -- just doing the intellectual work of explaining and debating things without reference to the supernatural -- not devising ever-more-intricate proofs that there is no God.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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