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Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (Studies in Critical Social Sciences) Paperback – September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1608462032 ISBN-10: 160846203X

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Critical Social Sciences
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160846203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608462032
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This collection will prove to be most valuable to readers who wish to understand the implications and phenomenal success of the new atheism from a multidisciplinary perspective. The editor is to be congratulted for assembling such an impressive list of contributions" - John F. Haught, Georgetown University

"The new atheism, a species of secular fundamentalism, has excited a great deal of comment and controversy in recent years. Religion and the New Atheism raises the discourse to a new level" - Randall Balmer, Episcopal Priest and author of The Making of Evangelicalism

About the Author

Amarnath Amarasingam is a doctoral candidate in the Laurier-Waterloo PhD in Religious Studies in Ontario, Canada. He has published articles in The Journal of Contemporary Religion, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, as well as Mental Health, Religion and Culture.

More About the Author

Amarnath Amarasingam is a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University, and also teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo. He is the author of Pain, Pride, and Politics: Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada (under contract with The University of Georgia Press). His research interests are in diaspora politics, post-war reconstruction, surveillance, social movements, radicalization and terrorism, media studies, and the sociology of religion. He is the editor of The Stewart/Colbert Effect: Essays on the Real Impacts of Fake News (2011) and Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (2010). He is also the author of several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has presented papers at over forty national and international conferences, and has contributed op-ed pieces to Al-Jazeera English, The Daily Beast, The Toronto Star, The Huffington Post and Groundviews. He can be reached at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Goldmann on February 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The (so-called) "New Atheism" is a phenomenon of our most recent history. Authors like Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion", 2006), Sam Harris ("The End of Faith", 2004), Daniel Dennett ("Breaking the Spell", 2006), and Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great", 2007) - as well as others - are regularly labelled as the "New Atheists". The authors are criticizing the world's religions: for being wrong in their basic assumptions as well as for being a threat to an open society or even to the survival of mankind. The books mentioned have been international bestsellers, and have provoked more than 100 books, mostly by Christian apologetic authors, aiming at refuting the claims of the (so-called) "New Atheists".

However, hardly any academic research (as opposed to a refutation) has been conducted. The book "Religion and the New Atheism", edited by the Amarnath Amarasingam (Dept. of Religious Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University), is a rare exception: Its 13 articles by scholars from different disciplines illuminate the manyfold aspects of the "New Atheism" and, therefore, fill this research gap.

A very commendable book!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By H.M. Kaiser on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There is much to be learned when examining a movement whose aim is to wipe out religion. Thankfully, Amarnath Amarasingam's edited work, Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal aids in understanding this growing and influential anti-religious movement, promoting greater focus towards an area of much needed study.

Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett and Christopher Hitchens have been referred to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse--fundamental secularists and anti-religionists. Since 2004, their works have sparked fierce public debate, collectively selling millions of copies condemning the destructive and immoral nature that, they believe, religion and people of faith are granted. As a result, academic literature examining the New Atheists has been increasing in an attempt to better understand the unforeseen rise in popularity and influence these four individuals have attained. This is where Amarnath Amarasingam's edited work shines; a multidisciplinary study illustrating the importance and continued influence of the New Atheism in and outside the academic study of religion.

Thirteen articles, divided into four sections, focus on theological, scientific, sociological, philosophical and ethical perspectives. Positioning this recent surge of anti-religious literature within the "context of larger scholarly discourses and debates" (2), Amarasingam states clearly that Religion and the New Atheism is neither "a defense of theology," nor a "traditional response to the new atheism," nor an "interplay between religion and science" (3).
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Format: Hardcover
For better or for worse, the topic of religion is steadily making its way with ever greater frequency into headlines and popular conversation. This recent, global conversation provides an unprecedented platform for the critics of religion to express their opinions, and has led to the identification of a uniquely twenty-first century form of atheism. Increasingly popular, outspoken and condemnatory, the `New Atheism' has received comparatively little balanced, scholarly attention. Amarnath Amarasingam's timely volume thus aims to redress this imbalance, through engaging with New Atheist literature, and contextualising and critically examining this phenomenon `in order that the scholarly community and educated general reader can become more informed' (`Introduction', p.2).

With this modest aim, the volume proceeds on an informative and stimulating tour through four well-defined sections, considering New Atheism in relation to `Religion', `Science', `Sociology` and `Philosophy [and] Ethics'. Throughout the book, the debate between theists and non-theists is shown to be `improperly' located at the extremities of both groups, the appropriateness of science as a means to assess religious belief is called into question, and the 'New Atheists' are shown to be by no means emblematic of contemporary atheism as a whole. Whilst it is refreshing to a collection of essays from such varied perspectives presented within one easily readable volume, it is unfortunate that many authors engage in criticism and evaluation, rather than description and discussion. On the other hand, it is one of this collections great strengths that it presents articles which seriously discuss the `rewards' offered by New Atheism and demonstrate that it has many positive things to say.
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