It’s been a bad week for atheism. Actually, it’s been a bad few centuries for atheism, which is not so much an organised system of thought as it is a very bad mood frocked up for an Oxford formal. But we’ll get to the over-dressed non-history of Western atheism another day. For the present, let’s look at how two of its notables have chosen to spend the last few days.
Sam Harris is by some accounts a capable neuroscientist. He was also certainly a drawcard for the many atheism conferences that so profitably legitimised the racist anxieties of a post-9/11 West and functioned well as singles bars for angry white people. What he is not, as this video demonstrates, is an adequate philosopher. Instead, he’s a good propagandist. What he does here is what he does in his awful book The End of Faith and this week on his blog, which is to restate his revulsion for Islam over and again in a voice that sounds reasonable but from its first breath as irrational as that of a European anti-Semite screaming about blood libels in the Middle Ages.