The other day in the Times I noticed a column by Hugo Rifkind which struck a bit of a chord with me, about the nasty tone which often dominates the conversation of the New Atheists. Of course, Christians are not always guiltless in this department, and we ought to be better given what we believe. But I think that on the whole these days, in England at least, Christians make every effort to be gracious and persuasive about our message instead of ranting and being rude. The New Atheists don't seem to realise how deeply unattractive their approach is, and I think Hugo Rifkind's article is interesting because it picks up on that:
You know what bothers me about the most passionate advocates of atheism? Why they aren't nicer. Personally, if I were desperately keen to convince the world that faith wasn't required to be a loving and benevolent moral agent, I'd be at pains not to act like a nasty, bilious oaf.
...the overall tone is one of a sort of pious, gleeful, sneering. This is pretty much the same tone that seems to predominate in most atheistic discourse, and I'm not just talking about Dawkins. If you don't believe me, Google some of the online forums he's inspired, which will doubtless have picked this up by now, and be busy proving my point.
Obviously, atheist hate isn't a patch on religious hate, and the things that Pope Benedict has covered up are considerably worse sins than blah, blah, blah. But guys, you're supposed to be above all that. You're supposed to be the rationalist pinnacle of humanity, showing us all the glorious future the world will enjoy once it casts off its silly superstitions and finally realises how clever and right you are. I've got to say, you're not really selling it.
Original article at the Times website though you'll need a subscription to read it (as will I once my subscription runs out in a few days).