Notable members of new type of Atheism that seems aggressive (i.e. 'militant') include best-selling authors such as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (now deceased, who remarked that he was not an atheist so much as an 'anti-theist'. Hitchens defined his atheism oppositionally as a polemical repudiation of theism, not as the simple absence of any theistic belief.) Leading proponents can be defined by an obsession with what they are against, like an ex-lover they just cannot stop talking against. These new, militant atheists are fixated on attacking theism.
Here is what Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, writes: "Anti-theism means actively seeking out the worst aspects of faith in god and portraying them as representative of all religion. Anti-theism seeks to shame and embarrass people away from religion, browbeating them about the stupidity of belief in a bellicose god." There are clearly more than a few such militant atheists (i.e. anti-theists) busy on this R&S site.
Obviously, they declare that there is no God as do all atheists, but they also believe that blind, natural forces are responsible for all of perceived reality. Militant atheists do not restrict themselves to passive disbelief. Rather, they are actively engaged in admonishing others to follow suit, to declare their non-belief in God, and to take the necessary steps to rid the world of religious belief and practice. As Richard Dawkins put it in The God Delusion, “I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself.” That is the difference.
An ironic feature of militant atheism is its strong faith in the inferiority of having faith. These atheists erroneously redefine ‘faith’ as an “irrational belief in the absence of evidence.” This misrepresentation of the nature of faith is absurd, for faith is not essentially a strong belief in something, but rather the ground of Christian faith is believing in someone – God.
When it comes to things, Christians correctly approach the subject looking for strong evidence, while accepting that some matters may be beyond our current understanding. Indeed, many faith-filled scientists have been at the cutting edge of the scientific enterprise and test the evidence using thorough methods and techniques. Militant atheists believe that empirical science is the only path to understanding reality. However, this is erroneous, since the very concept of ‘scientism’ (the view that science is the only way to gain knowledge) is not itself subject to any scientific experiment and ultimately distils to a faith. Faith, far from being an ‘irrational belief in the absence of evidence,’ is a decision to reckon as true something that is not visible. Scientism is a metaphysical concept. Thus, militant atheists require faith of some description, even if not in God. Scientism could be summed up as the belief that ‘empirical science is the only way to be sure about anything.’ Well might we then ask, “What was the scientific experiment that established that empirical science is the only way to be sure about anything?” Militant atheists do not seem to have asked that question.