In the early 2000s, across the digital and print world of Christian apologetics, the so-called “New Atheism” was a central topic of conversation.
Authors like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens generated quite an audience by attacking religion in general, and Christianity in particular, portraying both as irrational, evil forces in society. Books like The God Delusion, God Is Not Great, and The End of Faith argued that belief in God was unscientific, and that unbelief would make us all better people.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I haven’t really thought of those guys in quite a while.” Exactly. The movement has grown strangely quiet over the last decade. Message board debates have petered out, rallies and debates have been cancelled, and book sales flatlined.
In fact, the New Atheism has been largely replaced. Some folks who once joined in on the outrage against religion got woke instead and now aim their outrage at privilege, oppression, and perceived inequalities. Others migrated from Rational Wiki to alt-right online hubs like 4Chan and Reddit. Today, those sites are full of former Dawkins fans who swallowed so-called “red pill” ideas about race, sex, and politics, not to mention heaping doses of conspiracy theories.
It’s fair to say now, as Steven Poole did earlier this year in The Guardian, that the New Atheist moment has ended. But what killed it?
Poole makes a strong case that it just became old news. Authors like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens rode the wave of 9/11 and the War on Terror. In the aftermath of the deadliest attack in American history, it was easy to make the claim that religion itself, and not just certain religions, posed unique threats to world peace, despite obvious differences between Christianity and radical Islam. According to the New Atheists, to quote Christopher Hitchens, religion “poisons everything.”
But with al-Qaeda and ISIS in retreat and a generation coming of age that can’t remember 9/11, the New Atheism movement is out of tracks to run on and has failed to convert a younger audience.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris