Spotlight on Books in the UUAA Library


Topic: New Atheism

New Atheism is a term coined in 2006 to describe the positions promoted by the “Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse.”  This modern day atheism is advanced by Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.  They advocate for the view that superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational arguments wherever their influence arises in government, education, and politics.

The “Humanism” section of the UUAA library includes these representative titles of New Atheism books:

  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett
  • The End of Faith by Sam Harris
  • god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

 Here is an annotated bibliography of these writings as found on Wikipedia.


The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. He is sympathetic to Robert Pirsig’s statement in Lila (1991) that “when one person suffers from a delusion it is insanity. When many people suffer from delusion it is called religion.’ With many examples, Dawkins explains that one does not need religion to be moral and that the roots of religion and of morality can be explained in non-religious terms.


Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon is a 2006 book in which the American philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett argues that religion is in need of scientific analysis so that its nature and future may be better understood. The “spell” that requires “breaking” is not religious belief itself but the belief that it is off-limits to or beyond scientific inquiry.


The End of Faith by Sam Harris

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason is a 2004 book by Sam Harris, concerning organized religion, the clash between religious faith and rational thought, and the problems of tolerance towards religious fundamentalism.

Harris began writing the book in what de described as a period of “collective grief and stupefaction” following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The book comprises a wide-ranging criticism of all styles of religious belief.


god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is a 2007 book by Anglo-American author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, in which he makes a case against organized religion. Hitchins posited that organized religion is ‘violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children” and sectarian, and that accordingly it “ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” He supports his position with a mixture of personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. His commentary focuses mainly on the Abrahamic religions, although it also touches on other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism.