Marx and Lenin in Heaven, illustration from 'Simplicissimus' magazine, 11th February 1924.
(colour litho) by Schilling, E. (fl.1923) Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France/ Archives Charmet/ The Bridgeman Art Library.
Since the publication of Sam Harris' The End of Faith in 2005, the English speaking world has seen a spate of books on atheism, most notoriously perhaps Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006). The publication of Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great (2007), and Michel Onfray’s ‘Atheist Manfesto’ (2007), among others, have added to and expanded on the debate. However, despite the popular success of these publications, the 'new atheists' have had a mixed reception, not only among the religious (as is to be expected) but also among fellow atheists and agnostics, who have often accused them of oversimplifying the issues.
The purpose of this site is to set these contemporary 'God Wars' in their historical context, and to offer a range of perspectives (from all sides) on the chief issues raised by the 'new atheists'. We hope this will encourage more informed opinion about the issues, discourage oversimplification of the debate, and deepen the interest in the subject.
Smelling out a Rat, or The Atheistical-Revolutionist disturbed in his Midnight 'Calculations'
Published by Hannah Humphrey in 1790 (hand-coloured etching) by Gillray, James (1757-1815) © Courtesy of the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford/ The Bridgeman Art Library.
The current polarised nature of the 'new atheism' debate often discourages serious discussion of the very issues that the 'new atheists' have brought so forcibly to the attention of the public. Behind some of their more vociferous assertions, there are complex debates going on, and here we will seek to understand how and why these debates have arisen, and what is at stake.
The site contains a definition and historical contextualisation of contemporary atheism, an account of atheist organisations and demographics, an overview of the current controversies, and includes orientation to discussion on issues felt to be central to the current controversies.
Look out for the online Forum to be launched on the site later this year.