Should the New Atheists be considered the Most Influential Western Philosophers of the Early 21st Century?

This question has bothered me for quite sometime now. Before the recent 2019 data by Pew Research, I only ever had anecdotal evidence and I didn’t think that was enough to make any meaningful case for this, but I’ve really begun to wonder just what is the true extent of the influence of New Atheism on the United States, the larger West, and the rest of the world? It has really felt like a domino effect, but I always wondered if this could really be true. This little known article by Kacem El Ghazzali on HuffingtonPost always made me wonder if the influence of New Atheism was being underreported globally:

It probably never crossed Richard Dawkins’s mind that his book, The God Delusion, would reach out to Arab audiences in their own language. When I met him in Switzerland at Denkfest, organized by the Swiss Freethinker’s Association, he was surprised when I said I had read The God Delusion in Arabic. He told me that he was not aware of the translation, and nor had he had any official request for it. I explained that it had been the work of an Iraqi friend called Bassam Al-Baghdadi, who lives in Sweden.

To say that Bassam’s work has been well received would be an understatement. The pdf was downloaded ten million times, with 30 per cent going to Saudi Arabia. Bassam said that there were over 1,000 downloads on the very first day after he uploaded it, and the numbers only climbed as the translation was picked up and shared on the blogs, websites and forums of prominent Arab atheists.

The book has prompted unprecedented controversy and debate in the Arab and Islamic worlds. The translator received death threats and accusations of conspiring with the Zionists to corrupt the youth. He was forced to close his social media accounts and stop posting for a while. Futile attempts have been made to resist the waves of reason now reaching Arab shores, through toothless apologetic articles and books. There is even a book called The Atheism Delusion, published by Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

In the Arabic translation of The God Delusion, under the title, Bassam added the words: “This book is banned in Islamic countries.” It is fortunate and wonderful that the banning of books in the Arab and Islamic worlds is no longer feasible in our new age of information. I was able to read the book while I was still in Morocco, where I was born. Some atheist friends even managed to get hold of the book in Saudi Arabia. The dark times of censorship, in which knowledge for the people was confined to carefully curated books and resources, are gone and will never return.

“The offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet; that I haven’t understood enough, that I can’t know enough, that I’m always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’d urge you to look at those of you who tell you – those people who tell you at your age – that you’re dead till you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. And that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift, think of it as a poison chalice. Push it aside however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”[1][2]Christopher Hitchens

While I was making a meme in mockery of the Ex-Muslim Twitter whining, I had stumbled upon two articles venerating New Atheism from India; both from the Pro-Congress side of India and an article by Nupur J. Sharma from the far lesser-known pro-Hindutva website which had this to say:

Steven Weinberg, the great American physicist and a Nobel laureate, once remarked, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil, but for good people to do evil – that takes religion” and since then, this quote has almost been weaponised by Atheists around the world to condemn religion as an outdated concept that is using violence to maintain its relevance in a world that has outgrown the need or the desire for its tenets.

The New Atheism movement started in the mid-2000s with the ‘four horsemen for Atheism’ – Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris – gaining immense popularity. The core tenet of New Atheism is that religion was created in an attempt to explain how the world works at a time when science had hardly made the leaps that it has today. Thus, at a time when science has progressed, religion’s validity has expired, so to speak. There are several other claims that New Atheists make which we will examine in the course of this article, however, the central theme remains constant – Religion, any religion, has outlived its validity.

The New Atheism movement, however, ushered in another remarkable trend. It essentially espoused that being an Atheist was not sufficient. Atheists must ‘scientifically’ counter the theists and expose their dogmatic ways wherever they are found.

What started off as an attempt to infuse scientific discourse and composed debate on the question of Religion, soon became a free-for-all with the influx of several ex-Muslims, like Armin Navabi, Harris Sultan and others, who simply assumed that the function of Atheism was ‘desecration’ without the consideration that criticism for every religion would have to differ based on the genesis, nature and context of that specific religion itself.

Of course, the information presented thus far is anecdotal and could just be a form of false consensus effect. New Atheists being known, being watched on Youtube, or even being read more widely than what is popularly known wouldn’t necessarily mean influential change to the public of any country. Even if, by the 2018 count, Dawkins book was downloaded 13 million times in the Islamic world . . . how many read the Arabic translation of The God Delusion? How many agreed with it? What about Hitchens influence in India? What about the US more specifically?

Now, happily most Christians and Jews now disregard the morality on offer in the Old Testament and they rationalize the barbarity we find there by saying: “Oh, this was appropriate to the time – was appropriate to the ancient world.” The idea being that the Canaanites were so ill-behaved that just getting together a short list of reasons to kill your neighbor and sticking to it was a great improvement over the general barbarity of the time. No, it wasn’t. It was within the moral compass of human beings then to recognize that killing somebody for adultery was evil. The Buddha managed it, Mahavira the Jain patriarch managed it, numerous Greek philosophers managed it. So, Jews and Christians are simply lying to themselves when they talk about the impediments to morality that prevailed in the fifth century BC and the other thing to notice is that rationalizing the barbarism we find in the Old Testament merely renders it irrelevant, it doesn’t render these books morally-wise. It is faint praise indeed, if the best that can be said of much of Scripture is that it can now be safely ignored. Now, despite what Christians say on the subject, the New Testament isn’t so good as to make the Bible a reliable basis of morality. In fact, much of the book is an embarrassment to anybody who would say that it is a moral book, much less a perfectly moral book and nowhere is this clearer than on the question of slavery. The truth is the Bible in its totality – Old Testament, New Testament – supports slavery.[1]Sam Harris, Aspen Ideas Festival in July 2007.

I fear that we may never truly know at this point as it seems the Western News Media has an overzealous hatred of anything associated with New Atheism. New Atheism was largely a term meant to denote scorn for Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins in particular. The only one who wasn’t fully lashed via rabid verbal abuse in the Western News Media was Daniel Dennett who was seen as the only “sane” one. To have a clearer picture of how deeply problematic the treatment of New Atheists by Western journalism has been, I’d like to share portions of the preface of my book, Faith in Doubt. I first begin with my own introduction to the New Atheist movement on Youtube back in 2007, and then where I cite the evidence of the sheer breadth of the Western News Media’s malevolence towards the New Atheists:

 For many years during my youth, I spent a hefty amount of time being a total nerd and listening in fascination to New Atheist debates by Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens on Youtube. In fact, throughout my time in my senior year of high school and up till early college, I would watch lengthy hours worth of debates by them in my spare time. I would occasionally watch Richard Dawkins too, but he seemed more prone to be annoyed than the other two and he wasn’t as well-versed on why the pertinent portions of theology so resolutely defended by theists were either false or illogical. During my undergraduate and graduate years, I became more acquainted with the works of Friedrich Nietzsche because of a video game that used the themes from his philosophical fantasy novel, Thus Spake Zarathustra. I eagerly began to read all of his main books and was surprised that much of the vitriol against him seemed either misconstrued or pretentious. Far too many times, people criticized Nietzsche for statements that he never even said. This puzzled me until I learned of what his Nazi-loving sister did to his collection of works, even writing the forgery known as The Will To Power through a collection of his notes that people still falsely attribute to Friedrich Nietzsche to this day. It gets more muddled since she and a friend of Nietzsche’s added Nazi lingo to the notes of a book that Nietzsche himself had been planning to write. To further add to the confusion, The Will To Power was the same title that Nietzsche had in mind. Nevertheless, critics of Nietzsche never actually criticized his works nor displayed any confusion about The Will To Power, but rather attributed everything about the man’s life to an incident in which he stopped another man from beating a horse before having a mental breakdown due to what is now suspected to be a brain tumor and not syphilis. I found it peculiar that there was this thoroughgoing contempt for decades by Christian theologians and everyday Christians towards Nietzsche for his mental breakdown. There wasn’t contempt for his ideas, but rather ridicule for his death far more often than not. Otherwise, many Christians seemed to argue on social media that he had better have repented, which shows their own woeful misunderstanding to the point they had obviously never bothered reading even one of his books before judging him.

            I began to notice the same behavior being done to the New Atheist Movement by Christian apologists, Atheists who were religious apologists, and both political sides seem to regurgitate a stream of polemics against them like clockwork instead of criticizing their arguments. For those who don’t know, New Atheism was a term coined by the religious apologist Gary Wolf and utilized by the mainstream Western media to generalize Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett as extremist atheists. The four self-stylized themselves as the Four Horsemen as a joke when making a lengthy video in which the four discussed topics related to atheism. Similar to Nietzsche, people used ad hominem instead of assessing and criticizing the validity of their arguments. A plethora of opinion pages across many mainstream Western news organizations, from as early as 2012 to just a few hours ago as of this writing in 2019, began a deluge of articles practically a few months for each year talking in length about how New Atheism was either ignorant, fueled with ire, or had ended. From the sheer breadth of what I read I’ve learned that New Atheism was over because the New Atheists weren’t looking at the bright side of religion like other atheists were. It was too full of aggressiveness and anger to be taken seriously in 2012.[1][2][3] It was over in 2013 because those arrogant New Atheists lost their way from defending Liberal principles like that pesky neoconservative Hitchens who had passed away years ago[4][5][6][7][8], and just to be sure there were a few articles again in 2014 explaining why New Atheism was over since they held neoconservative views and young Liberals were assuredly looking at the bright side of religion instead of being like those “extremists” who couldn’t get along with the religious.[9][10] In 2015, there was yet another array of news article explaining why the Four Horsemen were an embarrassment to atheism and why New Atheism was over because something-something Islamaphobia and Liberalism.[11][12][13][14] Within the year 2016, I learned that New Atheists were long gone and no longer impactful because they were mean bullies for criticizing religion so harshly but also Liberalism and Islamaphobia[15][16], then in 2017 I learned that New Atheism was over again with yet another article about Richard Dawkins behaving poorly on Twitter or Sam Harris being an Islamaphobe or Hitchens being wrong to support the 2003 Invasion of Iraq along with the neoconservative Christians before his death[17], and then just last year on 2018 I learned how New Atheism was assuredly over again and again in several articles.[18][19][20] Finally, just a few hours ago almost as if ritualistically, the mainstream media assures us that New Atheism is absolutely over because New Atheists are mean people, Dawkins behaves poorly on Twitter, Sam Harris invited Charles Murray and supported his Race Science views on both his podcast and blog, and Hitchens is dead and was wrong about Iraq 2003 because he agreed with neoconservatives.[21] Oh, and upon re-checking when editing this portion of the book, I’ve found yet another 2019 article about how New Atheism is indisputably over.[22]

And further on, where I go into what I felt the Western News Media categorically omitted about the New Atheists in order to push the narrative that they were all hateful bigots:

            It seemed to me that the mainstream media of the West didn’t really value or support critical thinking as they didn’t seem to believe that Western Millennials like myself were capable of it. They kept circling back to the same negative talking points about the New Atheists every year as if pretending it was no longer relevant would make it so. They repeatedly emphasized the negatives; acting as if the entire lives and valuable work of these people could be dismissed by a few short paragraphs that emphasized only what was perceived to be negatives about them. The negatives aren’t necessarily wrong, but they don’t change the positive contributions of these people and they aren’t fair to the enormous value that the Four Horsemen of New Atheism brought to the world.

            Richard Dawkins has been taking part in Secular conferences speaking on issues of religious violence and intolerance; he’s worked along with organizations helping to promote movements like Secular Rescue which seeks to get atheists who are being threatened by death to safety outside of countries like Bangladesh where they’re being targeted and murdered by Islamists. Should his assistance in this be outweighed by making crass or stupid comments on social media? Sam Harris collaborated with Muslim Reformist Maajid Nawaz in making a book and a film about issues on reforming Islam; does holding ignorant views on race science outweigh his defense for human rights and his assistance in Maajid Nawaz’s quest in reforming Islam? Harris has stated that he’s following Nawaz’s lead on this approach and he was convinced of it thanks to having a dialogue with Nawaz. Should Hitchens support for a horrible war outweigh and smother his lifelong commitment to the human rights of all people? Should it outweigh his criticism of despots who threatened and harmed the lives of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims across the world? Does it matter that he subjected himself to waterboarding in the defense of Muslims who were being waterboarded because he sincerely valued their human rights?[23] Does it outweigh his lifelong criticism of sexism and patriarchy in religious institution and how they harm the lives of the most vulnerable women?[24] His criticism of the Duvalier family and support for the public uprising against the Haitian dictator?[25] Does it discount when Hitchens admitted he was mistaken about Robert Mugabe after he had taken power and Hitchens subsequent support for the popular Catholic human rights protestor, Pius Ncube, who spoke out against human rights crimes of the Mugabe dictatorship at the risk of his own life?[26] Does it discount Hitchens criticisms of the Catholic Church for taking money and being silent in complicity with those two dictators as they committed human rights crimes?[27][28] Daniel Dennett has written the book Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking in an effort to further promote critical thinking skills among other books. Should he also be marginalized with his negatives being overemphasized repeatedly to mock him like the others have been?


Among the New Atheists, Christopher Hitchens didn’t consider himself a philosopher, but I certainly do. In my opinion, he was too humble about it. The level of ignorance, stupidity, and filth that has accumulated in the Western world with nonsensical arguments like Islamophobia – which he warned about – and a deluge of other nonsense has had me convinced. Hitchens spoken and written arguments are as relevant today nearly a decade after his death as they were back in 2011. It has become demonstrably clear looking at the world today that when Christopher Hitchens tragically passed away, the entire world dropped ten IQ points down and the current barbarian mentality of censorship, street violence, paranoid conspiracy theories proliferating everywhere, and the inability of current atheist activism to do anything more than constantly whine about their accounts being blocked by Twitter shows that we lost the greatest philosopher of our lifetime.

Also, the claim he and other New Atheists didn’t have any “original ideas” is clearly false since they made it clear that they didn’t value any of the superstition of religion without any added pabulum about how they taught good morals. New Atheists directly stated religion didn’t teach good morals, they brought up child rape crimes by the Catholic Church, they brought the lack of historicity of Exodus to the forefront of the public conscious, they brought up the lack of credible scientific value in circumcision, and went into erudite and comprehensive arguments from the point of view of human rights against ancient religious figures and the use of rationalism against their ancient religious claims.

Furthermore, assuming the Pandemic didn’t reverse this trend, there’s been a precipitous decline in religious affiliation among all ethnic backgrounds and different income levels. Despite all the “What happened to the New Atheists?” articles by ignoramuses in the journalistic field, there’s yet to be a comprehensive study on what is leading to this decline in religiosity. If there is a causal link between Hitchens and other New Atheist arguments to the decline of religiosity in the US, that in itself would make them among the greatest philosophers of our time.

Pew Research excerpt of “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace:

The changes underway in the American religious landscape are broad-based. The Christian share of the population is down and religious “nones” have grown across multiple demographic groups: white people, black people and Hispanics; men and women; in all regions of the country; and among college graduates and those with lower levels of educational attainment. Religious “nones” are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions. And although the religiously unaffiliated are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults.

We can’t really know because no hard data has been made to check for any causal links since the barbarians of Western journalism are more interested in “What happened to the New Atheists?” headlines literally every single year with the same nonsensical claims about how we brown people and black people are somehow incapable of the same intellectual rigor as rich White people. This claim has been a deadhorse beaten over and over and over ad nauseum since 2013. Nobody talks about how their own Pew Research results show that in the US 10 percent of Hindus don’t believe God exists27 percent of Buddhists don’t believe in a God (granted, Pew claims this one is mostly White converts to Buddhism), and approximately 22 percent of Jews don’t believe in a God. What is conveniently not brought up by Pew is that you don’t need to believe in a God to be a Jew, a Buddhist, or a Hindu and Pew Research’s definition of atheism is flawed since they claim 1/5th of “atheists” in the US believe in a God.

So, Pew Research and Western Journalists tried to orchestrate this nonsensical claim that ethnic minorities were more religious and White-majority Americans in the US were more atheistic . . . by ignoring the definition of atheism. Thankfully, they’re more hard-pressed to deny this is a generational change towards atheism pushed by Gen X and Millennials towards atheism now.

A 2006 video of Christopher Hitchens condemning the attempt by Al Qaeda to blow up the Lok Sabha in India (Time Stamp 10:24 onward) and further going on to support India’s claims on Kashmir. Christopher Hitchens goes on to say that if Pakistan and Al Qaeda were able to wrench Kashmir from the Indian union then it would result in a bloodbath that would dwarf that of the partition of India (Time Stamp 15:19 onward):

All this to say, I would be incredibly surprised if this is not the impact and legacy of New Atheism on US culture. I’d love for a study to be done on this, because I think US and other Western journalists have been lying for a very long time now, even before the Catholic child rape sprees across the globe incidentally pushed religious issues to the forefront of the US public consciousness once again. Maybe he was too humble to consider himself a philosopher, but Hitchens has all the makings of a philosopher whose impact may be deeper than we all currently are aware of. There is sufficient evidence that Richard Dawkins impact certainly qualifies if the unaccounted for millions of .pdf downloads of The God Delusion in Arabic is even half the numbers that is claimed. While I can’t be as sure about Sam Harris due to insufficient evidence and lack of any circumstantial evidence notwithstanding . . . this should have been probed deeper by the barbarians of Western Journalism if they were even a quarter as intellectually competent as they have desperately tried to claim themselves to be and have notoriously failed to prove time after time.

End Notes

  1. [1] Baggini, Julian. “Atheists, Please Read My Heathen Manifesto | Julian Baggini.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Mar. 2012,
  2. [1] Harris, Sam. “Sam Harris Aspen Ideas Festival Full Unedited Video.” YouTube, Aspen Institute, 25 Nov. 2012,
  3. [1] Hitchens, Christopher. “Christopher Hitchens Delivers Yet Another Masterpiece.” YouTube, Religion, Atheism, Science, 16 Mar. 2011,
  4. [10] Robertson, Eleanor. “Richard Dawkins, What on Earth Happened to You? | Eleanor Robertson.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 July 2014,
  5. [11] Sparrow, Jeff. “We Can Save Atheism from the New Atheists like Richard Dawkins | Jeff Sparrow.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 29 Nov. 2015,
  6. [12] Birkenhead, Peter. “Why Do We Let New Atheists and Religious Zealots Dominate the Conversation about Religion?” Salon,, 27 Apr. 2015,
  7. [13] Bruenig, Elizabeth. “Is the New Atheism Dead?” The New Republic, 4 Nov. 2015,
  8. [14] Gray, John. “What Scares the New Atheists | John Gray.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Mar. 2015,
  9. [15] Hoelscher, David. “New Atheism, Worse Than You Think.” org, 1 Feb. 2016,
  10. [16] Gauthier, Brendan. “Never Tweet, Richard Dawkins: Famed Atheist Now Signal-Boosting Nazi Propaganda.” Salon,, 1 Feb. 2016,
  11. [17] Torres, Phil. “How Did ‘New Atheism’ Slide so Far toward the Alt-Right?” Salon,, 29 July 2017,
  12. [18] Cep, Casey. “Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 24 Apr. 2019,
  13. [19] Megoran, Nick, and Russell Foster. “Why the Arguments of the ‘New Atheists’ Are Often Just as Violent as Religion.” The Conversation, 19 Sept. 2018,
  14. [2] Halla, Barbara. “New Atheism: Missing the Point.” Harvard Political Review New Atheism Missing the Point , 7 May 2012,
  15. [2] Hitchens, Christopher. “Does a Good God Exist? A Debate Between Hitchens and Dembski (November 2010).” YouTube, ReasonPublic / Biblical Worldview Institute, 19 Apr. 2012,
  16. [20] Illing, Sean. “Why Science Can’t Replace Religion.” Vox, Vox, 4 Nov. 2018,
  17. [21] Poole, Steven. “The Four Horsemen Review – Whatever Happened to ‘New Atheism’?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Jan. 2019,
  18. [22] Hamburger, Jacob. “What Was New Atheism?” The Point Magazine, 25 Jan. 2019,
  19. [23] Hitchens, Christopher. “Christopher Hitchens Get Waterboarded | Vanity Fair.” YouTube, Vanity Fair, 2 July 2008,
  20. [24] Hitchens, Christopher. “Christopher Hitchens: Hell’s Angel: Mother Teresa (English Subtitles).” YouTube, BBC News, 7 Jan. 2015,
  21. [25] Hitchens, Christopher. “Christopher Hitchens: Hell’s Angel: Mother Teresa (English Subtitles).” YouTube, BBC News, 7 Jan. 2015,
  22. [26] Hitchens, Christopher. “The Dark Side Of Religion | Christopher Hitchens @ FreedomFest.” YouTube, FFreeThinker, 25 Apr. 2009,
  23. [27] Hitchens, Christopher. “The Dark Side Of Religion | Christopher Hitchens @ FreedomFest.” YouTube, FFreeThinker, 25 Apr. 2009,
  24. [28] Hitchens, Christopher. “Christopher Hitchens: Hell’s Angel: Mother Teresa (English Subtitles).” YouTube, BBC News, 7 Jan. 2015,
  25. [3] Murphy, Ian. “Five Atheists Who Ruin It for Everyone Else.” Salon,, 5 Aug. 2012,
  26. [4] Hobson, Theo. “Richard Dawkins Has Lost: Meet the New New Atheists.” The Spectator, 12 Apr. 2013,
  27. [5] Hussain, Murtaza. “Scientific Racism, Militarism, and the New Atheists.” Israel | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 2 Apr. 2013,
  28. [6] Lean, Nathan. “Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists Flirt with Islamophobia.” Salon,, 29 Mar. 2013,
  29. [7] Greenwald, Glenn. “Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and Anti-Muslim Animus | Glenn Greenwald.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Apr. 2013,
  30. [8] West, Ed. “New Atheism Is Dead.” Catholic Herald, 4 Mar. 2013,
  31. [9] Green, Emma. “The Origins of Aggressive Atheism.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 Nov. 2014,

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