Atheism is not a new concept. Even the Bible speaks of the one who tells himself in his heart,“There is no God.”
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good. Psalm 14:1 (ESV)
Atheism became an organized and publicly recognized worldview in the wake of the Enlightenment and has maintained a foothold in Western culture ever since. Disbelief in God became part of the cultural landscape in the 1960s when Time magazine published a cover story—“Is God Dead?” (Time Magazine, April 8, 1966)— that seemed to herald the arrival of a new secular age.
Nevertheless, atheists have represented only a small (if vocal) minority of Americans. Surveys estimate that atheists represent less than 2 percent of the population, even as the larger group of “unaffiliated” includes over 15 percent. Atheists have published books, held seminars, presented their views in the media, and honed their points in public debates. As a worldview, atheism is overrepresented among the intellectual elites, and atheists have largely, though not exclusively, talked to their own.
Until now. Get on an airplane, settle in for a flight, and observe what other passengers are reading. You are likely to see books representing a new wave of atheism as you look around the cabin. The so-called New Atheists have written bestsellers that have reached far beyond the traditional audience for such books.
Books by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have spent weeks and months on the best-seller list published by the New York Times. Clearly, something is happening.
The New Atheism is not just a reassertion of atheism. It is a movement that represents a far greater public challenge to Christianity than that posed by the
atheistic movements of previous times. Furthermore, the New Atheism is not just another example of marketing an idea in the postmodern age. The New Atheists
are, in their own way, evangelistic in intent and ambitious in hope. They see atheism as the only plausible worldview for our times, and they see belief in God as
downright dangerous—an artifact of the past that we can no longer afford to tolerate, much less encourage.
They see science as on their side and argue that scientific knowledge is our only true knowledge. They argue that belief in God is organized ignorance, that theistic beliefs lead to violence, and that atheism is liberation. They are shocked and appalled that American refuse to follow the predictions of the secularization theorists, who had assured the elites that belief in God would be dissolved by the acids of modernity. They have added new (and very important) arguments to the
atheistic arsenal. They write from positions of privilege, and they know how to package their ideas. They know that the most important audience is the young, and
they are in a position to reach young people with their arguments.
Introduction ‘Atheism Remix” by R. Albert Mohler Jr. CROSSWAY BOOKS, Wheaton Illinois, 2008