With tongues in cheeks, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett are embracing their reputation as the “Four Horsemen.” Lampooning the anxieties of evangelicals, these best-selling atheists are embracing their “dangerous” status and daring believers to match their formidable philosophical acumen.
According to these soldiers of reason, the time for religion is over. It clings like a bad gene replicating in the population, but its usefulness is played out. Sam Harris’s most recent book, The Moral Landscape (Free Press, 2010), is the latest in the continuing battle. As an agnostic, I find much of the horsemen’s critiques to be healthy.
But most friends and even enemies of the new atheism have not yet noticed the provincialism of the current debate. If the horsemen left their world of books, conferences, classrooms, and computers to travel more in the developing world for a year, they would find some unfamiliar religious arenas.(...more)