The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement

Stephen LeDrew. Oxford Univ., $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-19-022517-9
In this complicated study and critique of atheism, LeDrew primarily focuses on the four heavyweights of "New Atheism": Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. While atheism is nominally opposed to theism—and commonly seen as antagonist toward religious fundamentalism—LeDrew argues that, beyond the metaphysical dimension, New Atheism has become a social and political movement utilized as a "defense of the position of the white middle-class western male." Drawing parallels with the mechanisms of religion, LeDrew makes the case that a secular fundamentalism controls the New Atheism movement. Discussing the Islamophobic atmosphere in the post–9/11 era, for instance, LeDrew explains how ideological scientism underscores such animosity and is, in fact, a means for maintaining Western hegemony in the face of competing belief systems. LeDrew also proposes that the atheism movement is in the process of splintering following "a break in the historical connection between scientific atheism and classical liberalism." He sees atheism diverging along political lines, with an "atheist Right" forming in opposition to traditional movements toward social justice and multiculturalism with atheism. Although some readers will find his conclusions moribund, LeDrew has created a detailed and even-handed examination of the social and political environment surrounding New Atheism. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Religion
Digital Format - 978-0-19-022520-9
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