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96 MIN READ TIME

The Three Shades of Atheism

When we think of prominent atheists, we may conjure up an image of one of the “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism—Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett—authors famous for their steadfast rejection of any form of deity and their willingness to confront the world’s religions. Ironically, however, when we see them in debates and interviews, the confidence with which they make their case and discount the opposition may at times seem indistinguishable from the offputting dogmatism of the hyper-religious. How typical of atheists are the Four Horsemen?

Our research, based on a sample of hundreds of respondents to a survey distributed through social media, indicates that they probably represent a common form of atheism but not the majority view. Most atheists express some degree of tentativeness in their beliefs and would be prepared to consider contrary evidence and arguments. In other words, they are skeptical in their orientation rather than dogmatic. However, the prevalence of dogmatic atheism may come as a surprise to some observers, including Richard Dawkins,1 who stated that he “would be surprised to meet many people” who would say “I know there is no God.” Many respondents in our survey said this.

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Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole
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A Review of Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan.
Reviews of: Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and Swindles in American History by Nate Hendley Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff by Edward J. Balliesen Houdini’s ‘Girl Detective’ compiled by Tony Wolf The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For it…Every Time by Maria Konnikova
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