What Is New Atheism? Meaning and Definition

New Atheism believes religion is a way to condition or brainwash individuals’ minds into racism, discrimination, and hate. In the mind of New Atheists, they believe religion is the breeding ground for hostility, violence, and crime within our society.

Contributing Writer
Published Feb 18, 2022
What Is New Atheism? Meaning and Definition

Most people are familiar with atheism, yet not many people have heard of New Atheism. Classical atheism follows the belief that there is no God and believes the world was formed by chance.

Evolution was a hallmark of atheism as atheism believes there is not an intelligent designer behind the creation of the world. New Atheism may sound similar to classical atheism; however, there are many things that make New Atheism different from classical atheism.

What Exactly Is New Atheism?

New Atheism comes from the works of Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Oftentimes, these four men are referred to as the “Four Horsemen.”

According to the writer, Steven Kettell, New Atheism is “based on a naturalist worldview and places a strong emphasis on the use of reason, rationality, and science as the best (or the only) means of understanding reality” (Ibid.).

All forms of religion or religious beliefs are rejected by new atheists. Not only is Christianity rejected, but also Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Any sort of belief system or a belief in God is rejected by New Atheism.

Classical atheism views religion as incorrect or lacking evidence; however, New Atheism takes it a step further. New Atheism does agree that religion is incorrect, wrong, and without proper evidence; however, new atheists also believe any form of religion is “irrational, pathological, and uniquely dangerous” (Ibid.).

New Atheism believes religion is a way to condition or brainwash individuals’ minds into racism, discrimination, and hate (Ibid.). In the mind of New Atheists, they believe religion is the breeding ground for hostility, violence, and crime within our society.

Even though Christianity is a belief in love, redemption, and grace in the person of Christ, New Atheists strongly oppose and attack adherents to this religion. New Atheism believes Christians are misinformed and place faith in a God that does not truly exist.

Classical atheists were passive in their feelings towards those who hold religious beliefs; however, new atheists have a strong inclination to force others to denounce their faith and adhere to the belief that there is no God.

A Christian’s Perspective

As Christians, we know that there is only one God, and He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. New Atheism tries to attack Christianity by claiming we have no evidence for our beliefs. This is not true as the Bible is a reliable historical document.

It has stood the test of time and is completely true. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This means that every single word written in the Bible was breathed out by God. Through the Holy Spirit, different people were inspired to write the true words of God and it was passed down through the centuries.

Even though we do not have the original manuscripts, we do have the copies. The people who copied the original manuscripts were very careful to copy each word from the original manuscript.

Therefore, even though we don’t have the original manuscript, we do have reliable copies of the original writings. As for the side of faith, individuals are not jumping out in blind faith when they decide to place faith in Christ. Placing faith in Jesus is not an easy decision.

There is a lot of thought and research done before a person places faith in Christ. Nobody is going to mindlessly place faith in something they may only think is a half-truth. Individuals place faith in Christ because they trust in Jesus and what the Bible says about Him.

In addition to the historical proof of the Bible and the information in the Bible, many people choose to believe in Christ because they hear someone share their personal testimony. Personal testimonies are extremely effective in helping to share the gospel with unbelievers.

Nobody can argue with a personal testimony because it is your own unique testimony. In other words, nobody can argue with your own personal experience.

Personal testimonies can be moving to others because it shares how that person came to know Christ. Not even New Atheists can argue with a Christian’s personal testimony.

Sharing the Gospel with a New Atheist

It is without a doubt to conclude that New Atheists need to hear the gospel. While we cannot force anyone to accept the gospel, we can share it. The best way to share the gospel with a New Atheist is sharing your testimony as I have briefly mentioned.

In addition to sharing your testimony, you can also pray for them and share information on how the Bible is completely reliable and has passed the test of time. Even if you give all the evidence and share your personal testimony does not mean the new atheist will accept it.

As previously noted, New Atheism tends to be more aggressive than classical atheism. This means that they are not going to be very kind when you are sharing the gospel. They will most likely be hostile and argumentative toward you.

No matter what they say, it is best for you to extend Christ’s love to them. In our actions, we need to represent Jesus. It is possible for us to share the love of Jesus in our actions, but we also have to share Jesus’ love in our words by sharing the gospel.

We cannot merely display in our actions our love for God and deny Him in our words. Only extending love in our actions is not enough to help someone to know Christ. We have to share the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in order for a person to be able to place faith in Christ.

New Atheists will most likely be extremely difficult to share the gospel with; however, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Before you share the gospel or talk with a new atheist, it is important to pray for them and be prepared.

You can be prepared by studying New Atheism and knowing the basic tenets of their belief system, such as the aspects I included at the beginning of this article. Preparation also includes being well equipped in the Bible and being ready to defend the faith.

1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Even if New Atheists do not accept the message of the gospel the first time, it does not mean they will never accept Christ. Give them time and pray for them. Even hard-pressed New Atheists can become Christians if they place faith in Christ. C. S. Lewis was an atheist before he became a Christian.

Granted, C. S. Lewis was not a new atheist; however, he was still an atheist who came to accept Christ. God can do anything; thus, we must not limit His ability.

New Atheism is hostile toward Christianity; however, as Christians, we can still share our faith and point others to the one true God. 

For further reading:

Why Did Humanity Search for Religion?

How Do We Know God Is Real?

Do Agnostics Believe in Anything?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Makhbubakhon Ismatova

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.


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