The recent spate of books about atheism are so tired in their false iconoclasm that it’s a wonder they have attracted any attention. I’ve seen more provocative works in a high school newspaper. The atheist players–Hitchens and Dawkins most prominently–flatter themselves by smashing the already-destroyed idols of the Middle Ages. Their false courage should be self-evident; in no world where Christendom were vital would subversive tripe like The Da Vinci Code be as popular as it was. It is rather the believers who are the insurgents while the atheists are the court intellectuals to the largely agnostic and atheistic elite of the modern world.
Theodore Dalrymple, himself a self-professed agnostic, notes that the new wave of atheist auteurs are really heroes only in their own minds:
Of course, men—that is to say, some men—have denied this truth ever since the Enlightenment, and have sought to find a way of life based entirely on reason. Far as I am from decrying reason, the attempt leads at best to Gradgrind and at worst to Stalin. Reason can never be the absolute dictator of man’s mental or moral economy. . . .
The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works. Evidently, there is a tide in the affairs, if not of men, at least of authors.
The curious thing about these books is that the authors often appear to think that they are saying something new and brave. They imagine themselves to be like the intrepid explorer Sir Richard Burton, who in 1853 disguised himself as a Muslim merchant, went to Mecca, and then wrote a book about his unprecedented feat. The public appears to agree, for the neo-atheist books have sold by the hundred thousand. Yet with the possible exception of Dennett’s, they advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14 (Saint Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence gave me the greatest difficulty, but I had taken Hume to heart on the weakness of the argument from design).