You would have to have been hitchhiking across Siberia to have missed a striking new phenomenon: The atheists are back. Not just back, mind you, but globally parading in triumph across tv, bookstores, and the Internet. But don't be tongue-tied; an unlikely God Squad (including the flamboyant Al Sharpton) is taking them on.

In the past 12 months, atheist authors, according to The Wall Street Journal, have created a publishing sensation, selling more than 1 million books worldwide. These include: 500,000 hardcover copies of Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion (2006); 296,000 in sales for Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007); 185,000 copies of Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation (2006); 64,100 copies of Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006); and 60,000 copies of Victor J. Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007).

The leader of the atheist pack is Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, holder of the Charles Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science at Oxford University. Simonyi is one of the Microsoft billionaires. An atheist, he insisted that Dawkins be the first holder of his professorship because, as he said, Dawkins would be "Darwin's rottweiler."

Dawkins sets the tone for the new atheist surge, describing the God of the Old Testament as "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it … petty … unjust, [an] unforgiving control-freak … misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal. … "

Meanwhile, ex-Englishman Hitchens (who once provoked left-wing British mp George Galloway into calling him "a drink-sodden, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Global Prognosis
David Aikman is professor of history and writer-in-residence at Patrick Henry College and wrote for Time magazine from 1971 to 1994. Among his books are Jesus in Beijing and A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush. His column, "Global Prognosis," ran from 2006 to 2007.
Previous Global Prognosis Columns:
May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Interview with a Pharisee—and a Christian Subscriber Access Only
How two believers of two faiths talk to one another with conviction and civility.
RecommendedIn ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
In ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
Pure Flix's adaptation of the apologetics classic succeeds most where it preaches least.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Puncturing Atheism
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.