James Wood:

The New Atheism is locked into a similar kind of literalism. It parasitically lives off its enemy. Just as evangelical Christianity is characterised by scriptural literalism and an uncomplicated belief in a “personal God”, so the New Atheism often seems engaged only in doing battle with scriptural literalism; but the only way to combat such literalism is with rival literalism. The God of the New Atheism and the God of religious fundamentalism turn out to be remarkably similar entities.

Etc., etc. Stop me if you’ve heard this one bef— oh, you have? Countless times already? Yeah, me too.

In case I’ve never made it abundantly clear before now, I am perfectly in sympathy with the awkwardness of the lifelong struggle to fully grasp our deepest perceptions, let alone give eloquent voice to them. But when it comes to this thing people variously call God, religion, or spirituality, it seems to me that the so-called New Atheists are merely insistently asking two questions of people who profess to be believers: What do you mean by that? And How do you know? Maybe some perceptions don’t lend themselves well to such direct statements, and would require grappling with in the form of literature, art and music. But I can’t help but think that a lot of the flustered harrumphing over the audacity of these rude scoundrels is due to the embarrassment of finding themselves unable to even stammer out a passable answer because they’ve never been challenged before and don’t even know what they think about what are supposedly the most pressing questions of our existence. Caught out in all their lazy glory.