I will analyse what we discussed in a later post, but I want to first of all publish here a transcript of the debate.
William Crawley: We are used to hearing criticism of the New Atheists, and especially Richard Dawkins, for their stridency. But, in recent months, more and more atheists have been joining the throng of critics to call for a more balanced, more respectful, more responsible discussion about religion. One of those new critics of New Atheism is Daniel Trilling of New Statesman, who next month becomes editor of New Humanist magazine, and that’s a lot of ‘New’s. He’s been explaining to me why he’s so concerned about Richard Dawkins and his fellow travellers, and he’s been explaining it also to Michael Nugent from Atheist Ireland.
Daniel Trilling: The problem is that among various prominent atheists, there seems to be a tendency to treat Islam as it was a special case, as if it was a specially bad religion, and its followers were particularly violent or inimical to the rest of society. To me, this isn’t about a clash of personalities, but really it’s a wider problem, and what people need to recognise is that sometimes discourse that presents itself as criticism of religion is actually a cover from more conventional racist views.