The Four Horsemen review – whatever happened to ‘New Atheism’?


This post is by Steven Poole from Books | The Guardian


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Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris ... were the apostles of atheism as fearless as they thought?

Whatever happened to “New Atheism”? It was born in the febrile aftermath of 9/11, when belief in a deity – or, let’s be honest, specifically in Allah – seemed to some people a newly urgent danger to western civilisation. Sam Harris began writing The End of Faith (2004) immediately after the World Trade Center attacks, and it became a bestseller. There followed the philosopher Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great. The men toured vigorously, but they all met together only once, and this book is the transcript of what ensued, with new brief introductions by the surviving members, Hitchens having died in 2011. Contrary to the book’s subtitle, the “atheist revolution” was not sparked by this cocktail-fuelled pre-dinner round of chat and backslapping, ...

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray review – fascinating study of disbelief


This post is by Richard Harries from Books | The Guardian


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The British philosopher has produced a thought-provoking account of the tradition of atheism and the problems with it

There is an old story of two atheists in Northern Ireland who expressed relief that they had risen above the religious rivalry of their contemporaries. Then one defined himself as a “Protestant atheist” and the other as a “Catholic atheist” and they split apart. The serious point here is that there are many forms of atheism and their meaning depends on what God or gods are being rejected. The first Christians were called atheists because they refused to worship the state deities. John Gray is scathing about the intellectual pretensions of the “new atheists” with their “smears and fulminations” but sees in them a fault line that has run right through most forms of atheism since the 18th century. This is that in reacting against the creator-God of the Jewish and Christian ...

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray review – is every atheist an inverted believer?


This post is by Terry Eagleton from Books | The Guardian


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An an impressively erudite work, ranging from St Augustine to Joseph Conrad, embraces an atheism that finds enough mystery in the material world

There has been a rash of books in recent years by thinkers for whom the human race is getting nicer and nicer. Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley and Sam Harris are rational humanists who believe in progress, however many famines and genocides may disfigure the planet. We are en route to a vastly improved future. Perhaps this return to the values of the western Enlightenment is not unrelated to the threat of radical Islam. The philosopher John Gray’s role has been to act as a Jeremiah among these Pollyannas, insisting that we are every bit as nasty as we ever were. If there is anything he detests, it is schemes of visionary transformation. He is a card-carrying misanthrope for whom human life has ...

Peter Hitchens: I’m no zealot | Letters


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‘I am a soppy, broad-church Anglican,’ says Peter Hitchens

Sam Wollaston (TV review, 6 March) calls me a “Christian zealot”. I think this is because I said during Monday’s largely admiring TV profile of Philip Pullman that this author’s work is an attempt to undermine Christianity. Actually, I was citing Mr Pullman’s own self-description. In the Washington Post, on 19 February 2001, Mr Pullman was quoted by his interviewer, Alona Wartofsky, as having said: “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.” As it happens, I am a soppy, broad-church Anglican who dislikes any sort of religious enthusiasm or sectarianism, given to hiding behind a pillar during Evensong. I don’t especially want to undermine anyone’s faith, even that of atheists. Surely, it is Mr Pullman, with his self-declared hostile intent towards the Church, who is the zealot.  
Peter Hitchens
London

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B Peterson – digested read


This post is by John Crace from Books | The Guardian


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‘Here’s a rule that’s catnip for right-wingers everywhere: do not bother children while they are skateboarding’

Just a few years ago, I was an unknown professor writing academic books that nobody read. Then, with God’s help, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and develop my potential. Pinkos and wishy-washy liberals had cornered the market in cod psychology, so I guessed there must be a huge hunger for a self-help book, backed up with religion, mythology, CAPITAL LETTERS and stating the obvious – one directed at responsible, socially minded conservatives craving some pseudointellectual ideology to prop up their beliefs. And bingo! Here are my 12 Rules for Life.

1 Stand up straight with your shoulders straight
Most lobsters are complete bastards left to their own devices. Most humans are complete bastards left to their own devices. This proves there is a God who wants us to have Order. Order ...