The Secret Sympathy: New Atheism, Protestant Fundamentalism, and Evolution

Liam Jerrold Fraser 1
  • 1 School of Divinity, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland


In spite of the apparent differences between the two, a number of commentators have suggested an underlying sympathy between new atheism and protestant fundamentalism (e.g. De Botton 2012; Vernon 2007; Flew 2007; Robertson 2010) While such comparisons are intriguing, it not always clear whether they should be taken seriously, as they are frequently asserted without sustained argument. This paper seeks to ameliorate this lack of clarity through a textual study of new atheist and protestant fundamentalist texts. This textual study reveals two presuppositions shared by new atheists and protestant fundamentalists: a literal, univocal, and perspicuous understanding of Scripture, and a disruptive and substitutionary conception of divine activity in nature. As such, for all their differences, both groups share similar beliefs concerning the Christian faith. While scholars frequently critique new atheist and protestant fundamentalist arguments by attacking biblical inerrancy or metaphysical naturalism, this paper concludes by arguing that a more successful critique of these two groups can be advanced by questioning the biblical and theological presuppositions that they share.

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Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.