Interesting times on the atheism front. Martin Amis is on top form in a wonderful essay called The Age of Horrorism. I can't possibly do it justice, and wouldn’t dare to précis, so just go and read. (Part two and Part three.) Then there's Richard Dawkins' new book The God Delusion. I have not yet had time to read it, yet, but The Economist's review makes me long to.

The problem, as Mr Dawkins sees it, is that religious moderates make the world safe for fundamentalists, by promoting faith as a virtue and by enforcing an overly pious respect for religion. (Why is it easier for a Quaker to avoid combat duty as a conscientious objector than someone who simply deplores violence?)

And, I might ask, why are Jewish and Muslim butchers allowed to kill animals in a manner that a Christian or atheist are not? Salon had an excellent long interview with Dawkins in April 2005, which The Economist thoughtfully links to.

Best for last, though. An utterly delightful treat on NPR's music podcast for 16 September, which I only got round to this morning. Someone called Chris Smither, whom I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of, played a wonderful song called Origin of Species from his new album Leave the Light On.

Naturally neither Richard Dawkins nor I would ever agree with Smither's final conclusion, but that's a quibble. If, as The Economist suggests, The God Delusion “should help bring the atheists out of the closet,” we'll need a rallying song. Pace The Vatican Rag, Origin of Species is the best I've come across. Thank you NPR and Chris Smither.


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