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The New Atheism And The Secularization Thesis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the debates surrounding the rise and decline of the secularization thesis, and discusses the ways that the emergence of the New Atheists provides evidence that both supports and contradicts it. The periodization presented offers the reader an introduction of sorts that will help contextualize the current influx of the New Atheist polemics. Though social scientists have been debating the secularization thesis for over a century, there still remains little consensus about its merits and efficacy. The New Atheists, on one hand, seem to support the secularization thesis, showing how religious authority has decreased to a point where Science can fill the void. On the other hand, we see how much people have held on to their religions as the primary source of meaning and order. If we actually lived in a 'Secular Age,' then, like God, the New Atheists would cease to exist.

Keywords: new atheism; religious authority; scientific knowledge; secularization thesis



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