Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the dearly departed Christopher Hitchens have been tagged with the label “the New Atheists” and their teachings as being the “New Atheism.” This, of course, is hogwash. There is no New Atheism, there is only old atheism that has been brought through modern communication systems to the attention of people who were not previously exposed to such thinking. If one goes back just 100 years, in order to hear such thoughts you had to attend a face-to-face meeting with such a person. Now, you can go on YouTube and search for any of the above prominent atheists and be exposed to hours and hours of them delivering their own words. And when talking about sensitive matters, hearing and seeing augment a simple stream of words tremendously. (Think about the movie “My Cousin Vinnie” and the phrase “I did it.”)
Consider the following:
If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? . . . If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him?
and . . .
I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in one hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell.
The first is from Percy Bysshe Shelly (partially from Baron d’Holbach) ca 1811 and the second from Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899). And, it was the Greeks who first created writings discussing the gods and some of these writings also deplore the atheism of some of their fellows. Certain prominent philosophers were executed for the crime of atheism, Socrates comes to mind (impiety being “not believing in the gods of the state”). So, for as long as we have had gods we have had unbelief and atheism.
There is no “new” atheism, the old serves quite well, thank you.