By Alister McGrath: He is a British/Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian,scientist, and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King’s College London
Patheos.com: The term “New Atheism” was invented in 2006. Gary Wolf was writing an article for Wired, a British magazine “for smart, intellectually curious people who need, and want, to know what’s next.” He was looking around for a snappy slogan to refer to a group of writers who had attracted media attention with best-selling popular books advocating atheism: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion; Sam Harris, The End of Faith; and Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell. Wolf hit on the phrase “New Atheism” to designate their highly censorious diatribes against both religious belief in itself, and cultural respect for religious belief. By 2007, the movement had gained a new hero. Christopher Hitchens published another atheist bestseller: God Is Not Great.
The phrase “the Four Horsemen” now began to be used to refer to these writers, who were now collectively identified as the intellectual and cultural spearhead of a popular movement, distinguished by its aggressive rhetoric more than the originality of its ideas. American humanist organizations had been talking about these things for years. Their mistake was to use polite language and reasoned arguments. The media ignored them. What attracted media attention were the outrageous claims and aggressive rhetoric of the New Atheism. They made for great headlines and simple stories. Other recent atheist writers were eclipsed, drowned out by the New Atheist noise.
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