Matthew Wade Dillahunty is an American atheist activist. He was the president of the Atheist Community of Austin from 2006 to 2013, he has hosted the Austin-based webcast and cable-access television show The Atheist Experience since 2005, hosted the live Internet radio show Non-Prophets Radio. He is the founder of and a contributor to the counter-apologetics encyclopedia Iron Chariots and its subsidiary sites, he is engaged in formal debates and travels the United States speaking to local secular organizations and university groups as part of the Secular Student Alliance's Speakers Bureau. Alongside fellow activists Seth Andrews and Aron Ra, he traveled to Australia in March 2015 as a member of the Unholy Trinity Tour. In April 2015 he was an invited speaker at the Merseyside Skeptics Society QEDCon in Manchester, United Kingdom. Beginning in the summer of 2017, Dillahunty joined a speaking tour sponsored by the Pangburn Philosophy foundation where he shared the stage with fellow atheists Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss.
Raised Southern Baptist, Dillahunty considered becoming a minister. His religious studies, instead of bolstering his faith as he intended, led him to no longer believe in Christianity and all religions. Dillahunty spent eight years in the U. S. Navy, before leaving to work in the field of computer software design. In October 2011, he married The Atheist Experience colleague and co-host of the Godless Bitches podcast Beth Presswood. Dillahunty describes himself as a feminist. Dillahunty is one of the subjects of the 2014 documentary film My Week in Atheism by director John Christy. Dillahunty is a proponent of debates, both formal and informal, as a effective way of conveying information. "I am convinced from my experience and the evidence that I've gathered over the years of doing this that they are valuable." He has spoken at atheist and freethought conferences around the country and debated numerous Christian apologists, including Ray Comfort, David Robertson on Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable.
At the 2014 American Atheists convention in Salt Lake City, he gave a workshop that outlined some key ideas in effective debating: "Take the opponent seriously:'The audience has to sense that I can understand their views, have rejected them.' Use logic: ` I tell them. Simple: I copy it word for word, except the parts about slavery.' And don't forget emotion:'It is theater. That is my advantage with a Baptist background over someone like Richard Dawkins, although he knows more about science.'" He has stated that he is willing to say "I don't know" in a debate, a "scary concept" to some of his audience. One of Dillahunty's recurring themes has been the superiority of secular morality over religious morality, his key contentions on the issue are that secular moral systems are inclusive, encourage change, serve the interests of the participants, whereas religious moral systems serve only the interests of an external authority. He touched on the subject again at a lecture at the 2013 American Atheists Convention in Austin: "They say we're immoral, when we're the only ones who understand that morality is derived from empathy, fairness and the physical facts about interacting in this universe.
They've sacrificed their humanity on the altar of religion. They say we're lost and broken and in need of salvation, when we're the ones who are free." Dillahunty holds the view that advocating infinite reward or punishment for finite deeds is "morally inferior". Dillahunty has advocated for reproductive rights. After hearing that Secular Pro-Life set up a table at the 2012 American Atheists convention, Dillahunty challenged a representative of the organization to a public debate on the issue; the debate took place at the 2012 Texas Freethought Convention, with Dillahunty debating Kristine Kruszelnicki. Dillahunty used bodily autonomy as his primary argument for abortion rights, based on Judith Jarvis Thompson's essay on the subject, "A Defense of Abortion." In March 2014, Dillahunty debated Clinton Wilcox, not a member of Secular Pro-Life, though the debate was advertised on their blog. The aftermath led to a falling out with the organization, Dillahunty announced in a Facebook post that he would not debate them in public again.
He and Beth Presswood appeared on Amanda Marcotte's podcast RH Reality Check to explain the events of the preceding years, said that "the optics of a cis male without a womb" debating women's rights is not what he wanted to advocate, would let others take the lead in public on the issue. Advocacy of the primacy of skepticism is another of Dillahunty's recurring themes, he said at the American Atheists convention in Austin in 2013 that the closest thing he has to a motto is "to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible," taking his inspiration from David Hume. In the same lecture, he said. In addition, Dillahunty said that skepticism has something to say about untested religious claims, that philosophical skepticism will lead to atheism, he sees atheism as a subset of skepticism, he does not see why skepticism should not address religious claims, something that has become a point of controversy in the skeptic community. Dillahunty rhetorically asked, "how popular would psychics be, how popular would ghosts be, if there wasn't this monolithic idea that 70-80% of the population believe, that within each of us is an eternal soul that leaves the body when we're dead and either goes on to some afterlife or lingers around here on the earth?...
If you teach
Christian atheism is a form of cultural Christianity and ethics system drawing its beliefs and practices from Jesus' life and teachings as recorded in the New Testament Gospels and other sources, whilst rejecting supernatural claims of Christianity. Christian atheism takes many forms: some Christian atheists take a theological position in which the belief in the transcendent or interventionist God is rejected or absent in favor of finding God in the world while others follow Jesus in a godless world. Hamilton's Christian atheism is similar to Jesuism. Thomas Ogletree, Frederick Marquand Professor of Ethics and Religious Studies at Yale Divinity School, lists these four common beliefs: The assertion of the unreality of God for our age, including the understandings of God which have been a part of traditional Christian theology; the insistence upon coming to grips with contemporary culture as a necessary feature of responsible theological work. Varying degrees and forms of alienation from the church as it is now constituted.
Recognition of the centrality of the person of Jesus in theological reflection. According to Paul van Buren, a Death of God theologian, the word God itself is "either meaningless or misleading". Van Buren contends that it is impossible to think about God and says: We cannot identify anything which will count for or against the truth of our statements concerning'God'; the inference from these claims to the "either meaningless or misleading" conclusion is implicitly premised on the verificationist theory of meaning. Most Christian atheists believe that God never existed, but there are a few who believe in the death of God literally. Thomas J. J. Altizer is a well-known Christian atheist, known for his literal approach to the death of God, he speaks of God's death as a redemptive event. In his book The Gospel of Christian Atheism, he says: Every man today, open to experience knows that God is absent, but only the Christian knows that God is dead, that the death of God is a final and irrevocable event and that God's death has actualized in our history a new and liberated humanity.
Theologians including Altizer and Lyas looked at the scientific, empirical culture of today and tried to find religion's place in it. In Altizer's words: No longer can faith and the world exist in mutual isolation…the radical Christian condemns all forms of faith that are disengaged with the world, he goes on to say that our response to atheism should be one of "acceptance and affirmation". Colin Lyas, a Philosophy lecturer at Lancaster University, stated: Christian atheists are united in the belief that any satisfactory answer to these problems must be an answer that will make life tolerable in this world and now and which will direct attention to the social and other problems of this life. Thomas Altizer has said: he radical Christian believes that the ecclesiastical tradition has ceased to be Christian. Altizer believed that orthodox Christianity no longer had any meaning to people because it did not discuss Christianity within the context of contemporary theology. Christian atheists want to be separated from most orthodox Christian beliefs and biblical traditions.
Altizer states that a faith will not be pure if it is open to modern culture. This faith "can never identify itself with an ecclesiastical tradition or with a given doctrinal or ritual form", he goes on to say that faith cannot "have any final assurance as to what it means to be a Christian". Altizer said: "We must not, he says, seek for the sacred by saying'no' to the radical profanity of our age, but by saying'yes' to it", they see religions. This is part of the reason. Altizer wrote of God as the enemy to man because mankind could never reach its fullest potential while God existed, he went on to state that "to cling to the Christian God in our time is to evade the human situation of our century and to renounce the inevitable suffering, its lot". Although Jesus is still a central feature of Christian atheism, Hamilton said that to the Christian atheist, Jesus as an historical or supernatural figure is not the foundation of faith. Christian atheists look to Jesus as an example of what a Christian should be, but they do not see him as God, nor as the Son of God.
Hamilton wrote that following Jesus means being "alongside the neighbor, being for him" and that to follow Jesus means to be human, to help other humans, to further humankind. Other Christian atheists such as Thomas Altizer preserve the divinity of Jesus, arguing that through him God negates God's transcendence of being. In the Netherlands, 42% of the members of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands are nontheists. Non-belief among clergymen is not always perceived as a problem; some follow the tradition of "Christian non-realism", most famously expounded in the United Kingdom by Don Cupitt in the 1980s, which holds that God is a symbol or metaphor and that religious language is not matched by a transcendent reality. According to an investigation of 860 pastors in seven Dutch Protestant denominations, 1 in 6 clergy are either agnostic or atheist. In one of those denominations, the Remonstrant Brotherhood, the number of doubters was 42 percent. A minister of the PKN, Klaas Hendrikse has described God as "a word for experience, or human experience" and said that Jesus may have never existed.
Hendrikse gained attention with his book published in November 2007 in which he said that it was not necessary to believe in God's existence in order to believe in God. The Dutch title of the book translates as Believing in a God Who Does Not Exist: Manifesto of An At
Clinton Richard Dawkins, is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. With his book The Extended Phenotype, he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment. In 2006, he founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science. Dawkins is known as an outspoken atheist, he is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In The Blind Watchmaker, he argues against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he describes evolutionary processes as analogous to a blind watchmaker, in that reproduction and selection are unguided by any designer.
In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion. Dawkins has been awarded many prestigious academic and writing awards, he makes regular television and Internet appearances, predominantly discussing his books, his atheism, his ideas and opinions as a public intellectual. Dawkins was born in Nairobi in British Kenya, on 26 March 1941, he is the son of Jean Mary Vyvyan and Clinton John Dawkins, an agricultural civil servant in the British Colonial Service in Nyasaland, of an Oxfordshire landed gentry family. His father was called up into the King's African Rifles during World War II and returned to England in 1949, when Dawkins was eight, his father had inherited a country estate, Over Norton Park in Oxfordshire, which he farmed commercially. Dawkins lives in Oxford, England. Dawkins has a younger sister. Both his parents were interested in natural sciences, they answered Dawkins's questions in scientific terms. Dawkins describes his childhood as "a normal Anglican upbringing".
He embraced Christianity until halfway through his teenage years, at which point he concluded that the theory of evolution was a better explanation for life's complexity, ceased believing in a god. Dawkins states: "The main residual reason why I was religious was from being so impressed with the complexity of life and feeling that it had to have a designer, I think it was when I realised that Darwinism was a far superior explanation that pulled the rug out from under the argument of design, and that left me with nothing." From 1954 to 1959 Dawkins attended Oundle School in Northamptonshire, an English public school with a distinct Church of England flavour, where he was in Laundimer house. While at Oundle, Dawkins read, he studied zoology at Balliol College, graduating in 1962. He continued as a research student under Tinbergen's supervision, receiving his MA and Doctor of Philosophy degrees by 1966, remained a research assistant for another year. Tinbergen was a pioneer in the study of animal behaviour in the areas of instinct and choice.
From 1967 to 1969, he was an assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley. During this period, the students and faculty at UC Berkeley were opposed to the ongoing Vietnam War, Dawkins became involved in the anti-war demonstrations and activities, he returned to the University of Oxford in 1970 as a lecturer. In 1990, he became a reader in zoology. In 1995, he was appointed Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position, endowed by Charles Simonyi with the express intention that the holder "be expected to make important contributions to the public understanding of some scientific field", that its first holder should be Richard Dawkins, he held that professorship from 1995 until 2008. Since 1970, he has been a fellow of New College, he is now an emeritus fellow, he has delivered many lectures, including the Henry Sidgwick Memorial Lecture, the first Erasmus Darwin Memorial Lecture, the Michael Faraday Lecture, the T. H. Huxley Memorial Lecture, the Irvine Memorial Lecture, the Sheldon Doyle Lecture, the Tinbergen Lecture, the Tanner Lectures.
In 1991, he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children on Growing Up in the Universe. He has edited several journals, has acted as editorial advisor to the Encarta Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Evolution, he is listed as a senior editor and a columnist of the Council for Secular Humanism's Free Inquiry magazine, has been a member of the editorial board of Skeptic magazine since its foundation. Dawkins has sat on judging panels for awards as diverse as the Royal Society's Faraday Award and the British Academy Television Awards, has been president of the Biological Sciences section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2004, Balliol College, instituted the Dawkins Prize, awarded for "outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities". In September 2008, he retired from his professorship, announcing plans to "write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in'anti-scientific' fairytales."In
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy, he became the youngest to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems. In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties, he lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900. Nietzsche's body of work touched a wide range of topics, including art, history, tragedy and science, his writing spans philosophical polemics, cultural criticism and fiction while displaying a fondness for aphorism and irony. His early inspiration was drawn from figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Richard Wagner and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Prominent elements of his philosophy include his radical critique of truth in favor of perspectivism. He developed influential concepts such as the Übermensch and the doctrine of eternal return. In his work, he became preoccupied with the creative powers of the individual to overcome social and moral contexts in pursuit of new values and aesthetic health. After his death, his sister Elisabeth became the curator and editor of Nietzsche's manuscripts, reworking his unpublished writings to fit her own German nationalist ideology while contradicting or obfuscating Nietzsche's stated opinions, which were explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism. Through her published editions, Nietzsche's work became associated with Nazism. Nietzsche's thought enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1960s and his ideas have since had a profound impact on 20th and early-21st century thinkers across philosophy—especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism and post-structuralism—as well as art, psychology and popular culture.
Born on 15 October 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony. He was named after King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, who turned 49 on the day of Nietzsche's birth. Nietzsche's Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, they had two other children: a daughter, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, born in 1846. Nietzsche's father died from a brain ailment in 1849; the family moved to Naumburg, where they lived with Nietzsche's maternal grandmother and his father's two unmarried sisters. After the death of Nietzsche's grandmother in 1856, the family moved into their own house, now Nietzsche-Haus, a museum and Nietzsche study centre. Nietzsche attended a boys' school and a private school, where he became friends with Gustav Krug, Rudolf Wagner and Wilhelm Pinder, all of whom came from respected families. In 1854, he began to attend Domgymnasium in Naumburg; because his father had worked for the state the now-fatherless Nietzsche was offered a scholarship to study at the internationally recognized Schulpforta.
He transferred and studied there from 1858 to 1864, becoming friends with Paul Deussen and Carl von Gersdorff. He found time to work on poems and musical compositions. Nietzsche led a music and literature club, during his summers in Naumburg. At Schulpforta, Nietzsche received an important grounding in languages—Greek, Latin and French—so as to be able to read important primary sources, his end-of-semester exams in March 1864 showed a 1 in German. While at Pforta, Nietzsche had a penchant for pursuing subjects, he became acquainted with the work of the almost-unknown poet Friedrich Hölderlin, calling him "my favorite poet" and composing an essay in which he said that the mad poet raised consciousness to "the most sublime ideality." The teacher who corrected the essay gave it a good mark but commented that Nietzsche should concern himself in the future with healthier, more lucid, more "German" writers. Additionally, he became acquainted with Ernst Ortlepp, an eccentric and drunken poet, found dead in a ditch weeks after meeting the young Nietzsche but who may have introduced Nietzsche to the music and writing of Rich
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research. Bohr developed the Bohr model of the atom, in which he proposed that energy levels of electrons are discrete and that the electrons revolve in stable orbits around the atomic nucleus but can jump from one energy level to another. Although the Bohr model has been supplanted by other models, its underlying principles remain valid, he conceived the principle of complementarity: that items could be separately analysed in terms of contradictory properties, like behaving as a wave or a stream of particles. The notion of complementarity dominated Bohr's thinking in both philosophy. Bohr founded the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen, now known as the Niels Bohr Institute, which opened in 1920. Bohr mentored and collaborated with physicists including Hans Kramers, Oskar Klein, George de Hevesy, Werner Heisenberg.
He predicted the existence of a new zirconium-like element, named hafnium, after the Latin name for Copenhagen, where it was discovered. The element bohrium was named after him. During the 1930s, Bohr helped refugees from Nazism. After Denmark was occupied by the Germans, he had a famous meeting with Heisenberg, who had become the head of the German nuclear weapon project. In September 1943, word reached Bohr that he was about to be arrested by the Germans, he fled to Sweden. From there, he was flown to Britain, where he joined the British Tube Alloys nuclear weapons project, was part of the British mission to the Manhattan Project. After the war, Bohr called for international cooperation on nuclear energy, he was involved with the establishment of CERN and the Research Establishment Risø of the Danish Atomic Energy Commission and became the first chairman of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1957. Bohr was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 7 October 1885, the second of three children of Christian Bohr, a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen, Ellen Adler Bohr, who came from a wealthy Danish Jewish family prominent in banking and parliamentary circles.
He had an elder sister, a younger brother Harald. Jenny became a teacher, while Harald became a mathematician and Olympic footballer who played for the Danish national team at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. Bohr was a passionate footballer as well, the two brothers played several matches for the Copenhagen-based Akademisk Boldklub, with Bohr as goalkeeper. Bohr was educated at Gammelholm Latin School. In 1903, Bohr enrolled as an undergraduate at Copenhagen University, his major was physics, which he studied under Professor Christian Christiansen, the university's only professor of physics at that time. He studied astronomy and mathematics under Professor Thorvald Thiele, philosophy under Professor Harald Høffding, a friend of his father. In 1905, a gold medal competition was sponsored by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters to investigate a method for measuring the surface tension of liquids, proposed by Lord Rayleigh in 1879; this involved measuring the frequency of oscillation of the radius of a water jet.
Bohr conducted a series of experiments using his father's laboratory in the university. To complete his experiments, he had to make his own glassware, creating test tubes with the required elliptical cross-sections, he went beyond the original task, incorporating improvements into both Rayleigh's theory and his method, by taking into account the viscosity of the water, by working with finite amplitudes instead of just infinitesimal ones. His essay, which he submitted at the last minute, won the prize, he submitted an improved version of the paper to the Royal Society in London for publication in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Harald became the first of the two Bohr brothers to earn a master's degree, which he earned for mathematics in April 1909. Niels took another nine months to earn his. Students had to submit a thesis on a subject assigned by their supervisor. Bohr's supervisor was Christiansen, the topic he chose was the electron theory of metals. Bohr subsequently elaborated his master's thesis into his much-larger Doctor of Philosophy thesis.
He surveyed the literature on the subject, settling on a model postulated by Paul Drude and elaborated by Hendrik Lorentz, in which the electrons in a metal are considered to behave like a gas. Bohr extended Lorentz's model, but was still unable to account for phenomena like the Hall effect, concluded that electron theory could not explain the magnetic properties of metals; the thesis was accepted in April 1911, Bohr conducted his formal defence on 13 May. Harald had received his doctorate the previous year. Bohr's thesis was groundbreaking, but attracted little interest outside Scandinavia because it was written in Danish, a Copenhagen University requirement at the time. In 1921, the Dutch physicist Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen would independently derive a theorem from Bohr's thesis, today known as the Bohr–van Leeuwen theorem. In 1910, Bohr met the sister of the mathematician Niels Erik Nørlund. Bohr resigned his membership in the Church of Denmark on 16 April 1912, he and Margrethe were married in a civil ceremony at the town hall in Slagelse on 1 August.
Years his brother Harald left the church before getting married. Bohr and Margrethe had six sons; the oldest, died in a boating acciden
Argument from inconsistent revelations
The argument from inconsistent revelations known as the avoiding the wrong hell problem, is an argument against the existence of God. It asserts that it is unlikely that God exists because many theologians and faithful adherents have produced conflicting and mutually exclusive revelations; the argument states that since a person not privy to revelation must either accept it or reject it based upon the authority of its proponent, there is no way for a mere mortal to resolve these conflicting claims by investigation, it is prudent to reserve one's judgment. It is argued that it is difficult to accept the existence of any one God without personal revelation. Most arguments for the existence of God are not specific to any one religion and could be applied to many religions with near equal validity; when faced with these competing claims in the absence of a personal revelation, it is argued that it is difficult to decide amongst them, to the extent that acceptance of any one religion requires a rejection of the others.
Further, were a personal revelation to be granted to a nonbeliever, the same problem of confusion would develop in each new person the believer shares the revelation with. Christians believe that Jesus is the Christian Messiah, Savior of the World and the divine Son of God. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was divinely authored, while Jews and Christians do not. There are many examples of such contrasting views, opposing fundamental beliefs exist within each major religion. Christianity, for example, has many subsets, which differ on issues of doctrine. Hinduism, with its conception of multiple avatars being expressions of one Supreme God, is more open to the possibility that other religions might be correct for their followers, but this same principle requires the rejection of the exclusivity demanded by each of the Abrahamic religions. Additionally, faith-confirming events such as visions and miracles are reported within all faiths with regularity. A single deity associated with a single exclusive existing faith or sect would either have to have caused adherents to other faiths to have visionary or miraculous experiences which lead them to continue to reject the true faith, or at least allowed some other agency to cause these same effects.
The problem does not arise in some theological models. In Deism, it is believed that there is a God, but presumed that there are no divinely caused revelations or miracles at all, leaving reports of such to have natural explanations. In some forms of Pantheism and in Pandeism, the appearance of many inconsistent divine revelations or miracles might result unintentionally from the divine nature of the Universe itself; the concept of mutual exclusivity of different religions itself is associated with Abrahamic faiths. The roots of the mutual exclusivity may be seen in the Torah, where Jews are ordered to worship the God of Israel to the exclusion of all others; the argument appears, in Voltaire's Candide and Philosophical Dictionary. It is manifested in Denis Diderot's statement that, whatever proofs are offered for the existence of God in Christianity or any other religion, "an Imam can reason the same way". Argumentum ad populum Argument from nonbelief Denis Diderot Voltaire
New Atheism is a term coined in 2006 by the agnostic journalist Gary Wolf to describe the positions promoted by some atheists of the twenty-first century. This modern-day atheism is advanced by a group of thinkers and writers who advocate the view that superstition and irrationalism should not be tolerated but should be countered and exposed by rational argument wherever their influence arises in government and politics. According to Richard Ostling, Bertrand Russell, in his 1927 essay Why I Am Not a Christian, put forward similar positions as those espoused by the New Atheists, suggesting that there are no substantive differences between traditional atheism and New Atheism. New Atheism lends itself to and overlaps with secular humanism and antitheism in its criticism of what many New Atheists regard as the indoctrination of children and the perpetuation of ideologies founded on belief in the supernatural; some critics of the movement characterise it pejoratively as "militant atheism" or "fundamentalist atheism".
The Harvard botanist Asa Gray, a believing Christian and one of the first supporters of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, commented in 1868 that the more worldly Darwinists in England had "the English-materialistic-positivistic line of thought". Darwin's supporter Thomas Huxley was skeptical, as the biographer Janet Browne describes: Huxley was rampaging on miracles and the existence of the soul. A few months he was to coin the word "agnostic" to describe his own position as neither a believer nor a disbeliever, but one who considered himself free to inquire rationally into the basis of knowledge, a philosopher of pure reason The term fitted him well and it caught the attention of the other free thinking, rational doubters in Huxley's ambit, came to signify a active form of scientific rationalism during the final decades of the 19th century. In his hands, agnosticism became as doctrinaire as anything else--a religion of skepticism. Huxley used it as a creed that would place him on a higher moral plane than bishops and archbishops.
All the evidence would suggest that Huxley was sincere in his rejection of the charge of outright atheism against himself. He refused to be "a liar". To inquire rigorously into the spiritual domain, he asserted, was a more elevated undertaking than slavishly to believe or disbelieve. "A deep sense of religion is compatible with the entire absence of theology," he had told Charles Kingsley back in 1860. "Pope Huxley", the Spectator dubbed him. The label stuck." —Janet Browne The 2004 publication of The End of Faith: Religion and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris, a bestseller in the United States, was joined over the next couple years by a series of popular best-sellers by atheist authors. Harris was motivated by the events of 11 September 2001, which he laid directly at the feet of Islam, while directly criticizing Christianity and Judaism. Two years Harris followed up with Letter to a Christian Nation, a severe criticism of Christianity. In 2006, following his television documentary series The Root of All Evil?, Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion, on the New York Times best-seller list for 51 weeks.
In a 2010 column entitled "Why I Don't Believe in the New Atheism", Tom Flynn contends that what has been called "New Atheism" is neither a movement nor new, that what was new was the publication of atheist material by big-name publishers, read by millions, appearing on bestseller lists. On 6 November 2015, the New Republic published an article entitled, Is the New Atheism dead? The atheist and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson wrote, "The world appears to be tiring of the New Atheism movement.." In 2017, PZ Myers who considered himself a new atheist, publicly renounced the New Atheism movement. On 30 September 2007, four prominent atheists met at Hitchens' residence in Washington, D. C. for a private two-hour unmoderated discussion. The event was videotaped and titled "The Four Horsemen". During "The God Debate" in 2010 featuring Christopher Hitchens versus Dinesh D'Souza, the men were collectively referred to as the "Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse", an allusion to the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation.
The four have been described disparagingly as "evangelical atheists". Sam Harris is the author of the bestselling non-fiction books The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, as well as two shorter works published as e-books, Free Will and Lying. Harris is a co-founder of the Reason Project. Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion, preceded by a Channel 4 television documentary titled The Root of All Evil?. He is the founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science, he wrote: "I don't object by the way. I'm less keen on'new atheist': it isn't clear to me how we differ from old atheists."Christopher Hitchens was the author of God Is Not Great and was named among the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. In addition, Hitchens served on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America. In 2010 Hitchens published his memoir Hitch-22. Shortly after its publication, Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which led to his death in December 2011.
Before his death, Hitchens published a collection of articles in his book Arguably.