Never heard that before

How exciting: a new fresh original unexpected take on theNewAtheism. (Illustrated, I have to add, by a staggeringly banal sculpture called “the Hand of God” which is…a big hand, with a Man perched on it. Wo!!!!!!! Mind-blowing, huh?)

It’s James Wood who has the excitingly new fresh original unexpected take. He breakes the mold in the very first sentence.

In the last 10 years or so, the rise of American evangelicalism and the menace of Islamist fundamentalism, along with developments in physics and in theories of evolution and cosmogony, have encouraged a certain style of aggressive, often strident atheistic critique.

And everything that follows is equally challenging and paradigm-exploding.

I can’t be the only reader who finds himself in broad agreement with the conclusions of the New Atheists, while disliking some of the ways they reach them.

No, you certainly can’t. Couldn’t you have checked? Google is your friend.

Along with this curious parochialism about the varieties of religious belief comes a simplistic reading of how people actually hold those beliefs. Terry Eagleton and others have rightly argued that, for millions of people, religious “belief” is not a matter of just totting up stable, creedal propositions…

The New Atheism is locked into a similar kind of literalism. It parasitically lives off its enemy. Just as evangelical Christianity is characterised by scriptural literalism and an uncomplicated belief in a “personal God”, so the New Atheism often seems engaged only in doing battle with scriptural literalism; but the only way to combat such literalism is with rival literalism. The God of the New Atheism and the God of religious fundamentalism turn out to be remarkably similar entities…Since militant atheism interprets religious faith, again on the evangelical or Islamist model, as blind – a blind leap of faith that hurls the believer into an infinite idiocy – so no understanding or even interest can be extended to why or how people believe the religious narratives they follow…

So let’s talk about literature instead. Ok, but why start with theNewAtheism?

Your guess is as good as mine. Possibly.

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