Aggressive secularism has long seemed like the last gasp of an increasingly anaemic liberalism. All of the prominent so-called 'New Atheists' - Ditchkins, Harris, and co. - stand as exemplars of the virtues of liberal democratic capitalism. Faith is the enemy of progress because it has the terrible tendency to reach beyond the liberal framework of individual rights and liberties. As right as Nick Clegg may have been to call for the disestablishment of the Church of England the fact that it was Clegg calling for it proves it is not a radical demand. I find myself sympathising with the conservative tobacco salesman Roger Scruton as he took aim Dawkins with his musket and fired this noteworthy potshot:
Richard Dawkins and his followers have recycled the theory of evolution not as a biological theory but as a theory of everything – of what the human being is, what human communities are, what our problems are and how they’re not really our problems, but the problems of our genes: we’re simply answers that our genes have come up with, and it’s rather awful to be the answer to someone else’s question, especially when that thing is not a person at all. Nevertheless people swallow that.
Not long after that I was amused to find, in The Spectator of all places, a piece on the "cult" of Richard Dawkins. He's still busy since retiring years ago. For just £85 a month you can be apart of the 'Reason Circle' and get discounts on Dawkins merchandise. If you should want the chance to see Richard Dawkins speak at an event then you have to pay £210 a month. Only £100,000 to have a meal with him and gain entrance to the 'Evolution Circle'. That's not where it ends. You could make a donation of £500,000 to have dinner with the man - just the once - and become a member of 'The Magic of Reality Circle'.
The New School for the Humanities comes to mind. It was set up by another 'militant' atheist AC Grayling and it charges tuition fees of £18,000 a year. Is this more obscene than the Dawkins cult? It's a close call. And it was a long time ago that Marx wrote "Now atheism itself is a minor sin as compared with the criticism of existing property relations."