Footnote 24 — The Archbishop of Atheism

Footnote 24 — Isaac Chotiner, “The Archbishop of Atheism, New Republic (November 11, 2013), p. 27.

Interesting comments from the New Republic interview with Richard Dawkins by Isaac Chotiner – loathe as I am to give Dawkins more publicity, you can read more about it at

IC: People talk about “new atheism.”8 Is there something new about it?

RD: No, there isn’t. Nothing that wasn’t in Bertrand Russell or probably Robert Ingersoll. But I suppose it is more of a political effect, in that all these books happened to come out at the same time. I like to think that we have some influence.

IC: Sometimes when I read the so-called new atheists, there’s almost a certain intellectual respect for the fundamentalist thinkers. For being more intellectually coherent.

RD: I’m interested you noticed that. There’s an element of paradox there—that at least you know where you stand with the fundamentalists. I mean, they’re absolutely clear in their error and their stupidity, and so you can really go after them. But the so-called sophisticated theologians, especially ones who are very nice, like Rowan Williams and Jonathan Sacks, you sometimes don’t quite know where you are with them. You feel that when you attack them, you’re attacking a wet sponge.

8  This term is generally applied to the work of Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, but it does not have a meaning that is substantively

From “The Archbishop of Atheism,” New Republic, November 11, 2013 (p. 27 of the print edition).


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