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). It is, however, a book that situates the existing conversation between religion and New Atheism within a broader arena of discourse, adding more diversely selected participants, demonstrating the necessity and relevance of analyzing the New Atheism from a multidisciplinary approach.
By examining the New Atheism from this perspective, Religion and the New Atheism does what it hoped to achieve--it raises more important questions and ignites more needed study and debate. An evaluation of this movement's rising influence pushes the authors to examine it critically, drawing from their own respective fields of study, adding new insights and challenging arguments. This process allows for a range of observations, additional questions and possible explanations on what the New Atheism is and its role in academic and non-academic circles.