Adam Phillips writes:
No one can write about religion now without having in mind the new mockery that accompanies the new atheism. The new atheism’s ‘smug emissaries’ – as the blurb of Francis Spufford’s engaging new book calls them, meaning above all Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins – believe in spite of all evidence that eventually the religious will see sense. And yet with their magical belief in the truth of science – their taking for granted a consensus about the value of scientific evidence – and their unspoken assumption that virtually everyone who has ever lived has been out of touch with reality, the evangelical atheists have provoked some quite rational defences of religious faith. Given how much religious believers have achieved – all of human culture up to the end of the 19th century (and most since), including forms of scepticism about religion, as well as ways of evaluating faith and belief – it isn’t entirely surprising that the emissaries of the new atheism haven’t had it all their own way.