New atheism refers to a set of ideas presented in a series of bestselling books that appeared between 2004 and 2007. Today it remains a strong but minority view among atheists. Basically, new atheists differ from the old atheists by being more willing to challenge religious beliefs that contradict science and reason, and engage in intellectual, moral, and political disputes with even moderate believers.
The old atheists criticize these positions as too uncompromising. They say we need to be more accommodating, be careful not to offend "deeply held beliefs," and to work together with moderate religious groups if (for example) we are to keep creationism out of the schools. This view is commonly found among those atheists who are also scientists, if they think about it at all.
Of course, new atheists don't want to see creationism in the schools any more than the old atheists did. But they don't regard this as such an overarching problem that we should ignore the even greater damage that is done to society by the irrational, magical thinking associated with religion, which penetrates all areas of human life. Creationism is not the cause but the effect of such thinking.
Written By: Victor Stenger
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