In just the last few months, three books attacking belief in God and making a case for atheism have been national best sellers: "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins; "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchens; and "Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris. A fourth book, "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" by Daniel C. Dennett also sold very well.
In my opinion -- and I dialogued with three of the four authors on my radio show (Dawkins has refused to come on) -- the arguments put forth are far more emotional than intellectual, and even secular liberal journals have written devastating reviews of the Hitchens and Dawkins books.
It is not due to their eloquence, originality or persuasiveness that these books have become best sellers. I believe other factors are at work. And they are:
First and most significant is the amount of evil coming from within Islam. Whether Islamists (or jihadists, Islamo-Fascists or whatever else Muslims who slaughter innocents in the name of Islam are called) represent a small sliver of Muslims or considerably more than that, they have brought religious faith into terrible disrepute.
How could they not? The one recognized genocide in the world today is being carried out by religious Muslims in Sudan; liberty is exceedingly rare in any of the dozens of nations with Muslim majorities; treatment of women is frequently awful; and tolerance of people with different religious beliefs is largely nonexistent when Muslims dominate a society.
If the same were true of vegetarians -- if mass murder and violent intolerance were carried out by vegetarians -- there would be a backlash against vegetarianism even among people who previously had no strong feelings about the doctrine.
Religion's reputation is made all the worse by the lack of any significant outcry in the Muslim world against the atrocities committed in the name of their religion. The negative impact of this Muslim silence, especially given the amount of Muslim rioting that occurs when Muslims are disturbed by something, can hardly be overstated.
If Muslims around the world -- especially in free countries -- demonstrated against Muslim terror with anything like the fervor that Muslims demonstrate against perceived offenses against their honor, Islam -- and by extension religion generally -- would have elicited immense respect, despite all the evil being committed in the name of Islam.
There are other, long-term, factors involved in the popularity of books against religion.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”