respect

Ariane Sherine, who launched the Atheist Bus campaign in the UK a few years back, has written a piece for New Humanist magazine suggesting that the time has come for atheist polemic to become kinder. This is a development devoutly (and not-so-devoutly) to be welcomed. And for what it’s worth it fits very much with my sense that the particular cultural moment associated with the Four Horsemen (etc) is ending. The perceptual tide has turned, and the tone of caustic contempt that marked the atheist bestsellers of the last decade has started to look awkward and dated and dismissive of human complexity, rather than fresh and bold. From the atheist side as well as on the centre ground of unimpassioned unbelief, there’s a tentative sense that more interesting conversations between belief and unbelief might be available, if belief were not labelled in advance as being utterly unworthy of human respect.