In the years since the so-called “New Atheism” burst onto the scene in the mid 2000s, the movement has not lacked for critics among nonbelievers and agnostics. Until recently, however, few of them wrote books on the subject. Of those who did, apparently the only ones who focused on the cultural and sociopolitical aspects of the movement were Chris Hedges (When Atheism Becomes Religion: America’s New Fundamentalists, Free Press, 2009—first published asI Don’t Believe in Atheists: The Dangerous Rise of the Secular Fundamentalist, Free Press, 2008) and Terry Eagleton (Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, Yale University Press, 2009). As those dates suggest, it’s been a good while since we’ve seen anything new in this vein.
All of a sudden, though, two new titles have recently hit the market. In September, Dangerous Little Books released CJ Werleman’s The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists (280 pages). In October, Oxford University Press published Stephen LeDrew’s The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement (262 pages). Although differing dramatically in style and tone, these studies have much in common both thematically and in terms of sharing one hugely important flaw (discussed below) likely to go unnoticed by most readers. Both books are essential reading for anyone seeking to better understand the waywardness of a large chunk of the atheist movement.