The new atheists are a diverse bunch. Philosophers, scientists, “public intellectuals” such as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris cornered much of the non-fiction trade publishing market in the early 2000s writing about the intellectual and moral virtues of being atheist. Ironically, many of them are revered in some circles like prophets – media-savvy prophets with a couple of million Twitter followers.
Yet, new atheism is a controversial movement.
Many new atheists, including Dennett or Dawkins, have been criticised for being too radical. The phrase “militant atheist” is often thrown about. The general worry is that they have little patience or compassion for religious people and the reasons why they choose religion.
A second wave of new atheism in the 2010s, championed by philosophers Philip Kitcher or Alain de Botton, sometimes wittily referred to as “Atheism 2.0”, is more tolerant. It is atheism with a human face, and its proponents try to engage with religious people on equal footings and with compassion.