If God died in the 1960's, then someone forgot to tell the English publishing industry. Books about God have been surprising bestsellers for the past decade. Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion which has sold over a million has been joined in the best seller lists by Christopher Hitchin's God Is Not Great, Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation, A.A. Grayling's Against All Gods, and a host of other books extolling the virtues of atheism and the dangers and follies of religion. Atheist publications are not new, and for anyone with any knowledge of basic philosophy and religion, the arguments put forward in these books contain nothing new. What is interesting is why they have proved to be so popular. They are clearly tapping into something in the popular zeitgeist in sections of both European and North American society. From a publishing point of view, it is clearly the right place and the right time to launch the New Atheist publishing. Why?
There is no doubt that the books are in general well-written, entertaining, and informative. They are written in a populist style about subjects, which most people would consider important and interesting. Little wonder that they have proved a hit. Yet there are other reasons why they have hit the spot.
The first is fear. People are afraid of religion. After all, as is pointed out ad nauseum by all the atheist writers, atheists don't fly planes into buildings. Granted, but then neither do they build hospitals or establish schools because of their atheism. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and the others love to warn us that the religious are going to bomb us, take us back to the Dark Ages, and abuse our children.