The appeal of Richard Dawkins, outside his hardcore fan base, seems to be fading, certainly judging by the fact that his Magic of Reality book is nowhere to be seen in the New York Times Bestsellers List, 2011.
This year has also seen the death of one of the ridiculously named “Four Horsemen,” Christopher Hitchens, and the subsequent critical assessment of his real merits and demerits in which he doesn’t exactly come out smelling of roses.
Then there is the demise in popularity of Philip Pullman, whose Scoundrel Christ book nose-dived nearly as badly as Dawkins’ latest diatribe, and whose Dark Materials trilogy now shows only moderate staying power, rather than becoming genuine children’s classics as once predicted. Nick Donnelly puts it aptly: “Pullman had hoped that his vile ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy would rival C. S. Lewis’ Narnia sequence, but the reality is that his plans for a film trilogy flopped, while C. S. Lewis’ Narnia films have triumphed in the cinemas, three of the books translating into very successful Disney films.”
Combine all this with silver fox A. C. Grayling’s critically panned compendium The Good Book: A Secular Bible, plus the frequent public gaffes of misogynist Stephen Fry and mocker of handicapped children Ricky Gervais, both of them high profile celebrity atheists, and one can see why the novelty appeal of brash, self-conceited New Atheism is fast wearing off.
‘Today secular faith is ebbing, and it is the apostles of unbelief who are left stranded on the beach’ — John Gray.
I predict that 2012 will be the year in which New Atheism fades away as a popular cultural phenomenon. And good riddance to it.