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One-Dimensional Rage: The Social Epistemology Of The New Atheism And Fundamentalism

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Chapter Summary

Atheism is on the march. Yet as soon as one examines it, the so-called New Atheism appears to be a good deal less than it seems. What is striking about the current debate is the frequency with which the New Atheists are portrayed as mirror images of religious fundamentalists. Both claim to have a monopoly on the truth. Both are dualistic and engage in bumper-sticker-like polemics, and are socially and politically conservative. This chapter explores the sociology of this symmetry. It argues that both New Atheism and fundamentalism are attempts to recreate authority in the face of crises of meaning in late modernity. The argument in the chapter unfolds in three steps. First, both New Atheists and fundamentalists are absorbed in a quest for certainty. The failure of this quest leads, secondly, to a crisis of authority, which, thirdly, involves both in a social and political backlash.

Keywords: fundamentalism; New Atheism; social epistemology



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