The Bare Bodkin

The Atheist Renaissance

Atheists are feeling their oats these days.  Three militant unbelievers—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—have recently hit the best-seller lists and talk shows.  Not since Bertrand Russell have we seen atheism so prosperously married to celebrity.  Why now?

Since the September 11 terror attacks, militant Islam has given ammunition to those in the secularized West who were already disposed to damn “religion” as such, without splitting too many hairs about fine distinctions between, say, Islam and popery.

Consider the mere title of Hitchens’ polemic: God Is Not Great: How Religion Spoils Everything.  The book won a laudatory lead review from Michael Kinsley in the New York TimesSunday Book Review section, less for its content, which Kinsley barely touched on, than for its brilliance as a veteran contrarian’s latest career move.  Takes one to know one, I guess.

Kinsley was basically reviewing author, not book, saluting him on his successful strategy for winning publicity, the principle being that there is no such thing as bad publicity, by which rule the surly atheist has earned the fellowship of such devout men of the cloth as the Reverend Sharpton.

“God is not great”?  “Religion poisons everything”?  Is the animus here antitheistic, or just antimonotheistic? ...

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