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The New Atheism And Sociology: Why Here? Why Now? What Next?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter treats the new atheism primarily as a social, rather than as an intellectual, phenomenon. From a sociological point of view, the most interesting aspect of the new atheism is not its ideas, but the reception of those ideas. The chapter proceeds in three sections. Firstly, the general socio-religious situations of the USA and Britain are sketched, as the backgrounds against which the new atheism is to be understood. Secondly, specific factors are identified which may have motivated and/or sustained the new atheists and their positive reception in society at large. And thirdly, drawing on the most recent statistics available, some tentative remarks are made regarding the possible mid-to long-term effects that the new atheism may have on the British and American socio-religious climates. It seems reasonable to think that, the new atheism will result in both more non-believers and self-ascribing atheists, and more committed, practicing religious believers.

Keywords: American socio-religious climates; British socio-religious climates; new atheism; practicing religious believers

10.1163/ej.9789004185579.i-253.42
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