Theo Hobson argues that Atheism is pretentious and cowardly in the Guardian’s Comment is Free. However, his arguments to prove his thesis aren’t argument against Atheism, but an angry, petulant, and childish reaction to what he considers intolerable rejections of Faith and of God. Sugary excerpt:
Atheism is pretentious in the sense of claiming to know more than it does. It claims to know what belief in God entails, and what religion, in all its infinite variety, essentially is. And atheism is muddled because it cannot decide on what grounds it ultimately objects to religion. Does it oppose it on the grounds of its alleged falsity? Or does it oppose it on the grounds of its alleged harmfulness? Both, the atheists will doubtless reply: religion is false and therefore it is harmful. But this is to make an assumption about the relationship between rationality and moral progress that does not stand up. Atheism is the belief that the demise of religion, and the rise of "rationality", will make the world a better place. Atheism therefore entails an account of history - a story of liberation from a harmful error called "religion". This narrative is jaw-droppingly naive.
Some will quibble with the above definition. Atheism is just the rejection of God, of any supernatural power, they will say, it entails no necessary belief in historical progress. This is disingenuous. The militant atheists have a moral mission: to improve the world by working towards the eradication of religion.
Hobson is in fact arguing that Atheism is a form of religion because he cannot comprehend anything that does not have a religious form. It is for this reason that he must redefine atheism to be able to counter it by arguing that it is religious-like in the sense that atheists have the hidden agenda to proselyte the world to remake it at their image. Hobson isn’t absolutely wrong in the sense that Atheism can become irrational and take the form of a religion when it stopped to be rational to become solely reactionary. However, this is true of anything taking to extremes and which ignores reality. It is for this reason that religion can be in itself dangerous for it tends to encourage willful blindness to reality and to humanity. Thus, Hobson’s quarrels is not really with Atheism, but with what he considers to be religion without God, which is in his view intolerable. His real quarrel is with religion itself for his argument is really that only God justifies the excesses and the irrationality that come with religion.