Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Separation of Church And State Thing

The Evangelicals aren't having it all their own way, of course. I have argued that September 11 will be the religious right's undoing—because it pits America in a life-or-death conflict with murderous fanatics whose goal is the complete elimination of any separation between church and state. It's a lot harder to implement a theocracy at home when your country is fighting a theocracy overseas.

I have also seen evidence that September 11 energized American secularists to argue more stridently against religion by citing its destructive consequences throughout history and in the world today. The article below gives an overview of this literary counter-attack by atheists against the recent resurgence of religious fanaticism.

Many of these counter-attacks have serious problems—not least being that most of the atheist authors (Christopher Hitchens excepted)—want to fight against religion only at home, while opposing any effort to fight Islamic theocracy overseas. But this is an important trend, and one I intend to cover in more depth in the future.

"Atheist Authors Grapple with Believers," Rachel Zoll, Los Angeles Times, May 26 The time for polite debate is over. Militant, atheist writers are making an all-out assault on religious faith and reaching the top of the bestseller list, a sign of widespread resentment over the influence of religion in the world among nonbelievers.

Christopher Hitchens' book "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" has sold briskly since it was published last month, and his debates with clergy are drawing crowds at every stop.

Sam Harris was a little-known graduate student until he wrote the phenomenally successful "The End of Faith" and its follow-up, "Letter to a Christian Nation." Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and Daniel Dennett's "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" struck similar themes—and sold….

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school in Pasadena, said the books' success reflects a new vehemence in the atheist critique. "I don't believe in conspiracy theories," Mouw said, "but it's almost like they all had a meeting and said, 'Let's counterattack.'"…

Given the popularity of the anti-religion books so far, publishers are expected to roll out even more in the future. Lynn Garrett, senior religion editor for Publishers Weekly, says religion has been one of the fastest-growing categories in publishing in the last 15 years, and the rise of books by atheists is "the flip-side of that."

"It was just the time," she said, "for the atheists to take the gloves off."

1 comment:

Michael Krahn said...


I am a Christian who is writing a blog series on Dawkins' book "The God Delusion".

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