It was only a matter of time before someone proposed an ‘atheist temple’, given the religious-like zealotry and dogma of the New Atheists.
Frank Furedi, Spiked
There was a time when it was very dangerous not to believe in God. In ancient Athens, Socrates was hounded and eventually executed for questioning the city-state’s gods. Throughout most of history, to be ‘godless’ was considered a form of moral decadence deserving punishment. In the seventeenth century, even John Locke, the great liberal philosopher who promoted the idea of religious toleration, regarded atheism as intolerable. He said atheists should not be tolerated because ‘promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist’.
Paradoxically, today, when atheism enjoys unprecedented respectability, it is being turned into a new cause. Over the past decade, books celebrating atheism and denouncing belief in God have frequently appeared on bestseller lists. In Western societies, intellectual and cultural life has been very responsive to the arguments of the so-called New Atheists, including Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, who have discussed at length the moral failings of organised religion. Their outlook is widely endorsed in popular culture. Dan Brown’s mega bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, recycles the dominant cultural narrative that depicts organised religion as complicit in institutional abuse, moral corruption and dishonesty.
Where atheism was once depicted as a dangerous and subversive creed, today it is often portrayed as an enlightened outlook that perches on the moral highground. But what is often overlooked is that the growing cultural affirmation of atheism has been paralleled by a big transformation in its meaning.
Continue reading here:
How atheism became a religion in all but name