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The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy, and Polemic after 9/11, Arthur Bradley & Andrew Tate, London and New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 2010, 136pp.

The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy, and Polemic after 9/11, Arthur Bradley & Andrew Tate, London and New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 2010, 136pp.

Marcus Mann

Sociology Department, Duke University

Email: marcus.mann@Duke.edu

ABSTRACT

As the story goes, on the morning of September 12, 2001, Sam Harris, a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of California – Los Angeles, woke up with an itch. He had been shaken to his core by the events of the previous day and found himself drawn to his computer, relating his thoughts on the 9/11 terrorist attacks’ implications to a word processor. What started as an itch evolved into his first book, The End of Faith: a scathing indictment of religion, which in his opinion, was an impetus just as effective and real as the jet engines that propelled the terrorists’ weapons of choice to their targets. The End of Faith was the first of four polemics that have come to symbolize what is now known as “The New Atheism,” a term meant to encapsulate a 21st century religious skepticism characterized by its vitriolic and unapologetic stance toward religion and the moral relativism that the new atheists claim protects it. Following Harris’s example, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins published his book, The God Delusion, cognitive philosopher Daniel Dennett came out with Breaking the Spell and journalist and literary critic Christopher Hitchens concluded the movement’s must-read canon with God is Not Great. While these four polemics are indicative of each author’s expertise, they are united in their claim that organized religion is an affront to reason and that we ignore its potential to inspire destruction in this technological age at our peril.

 

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Science, Religion and Culture

June

Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82

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