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Friday, April 20, 2012

Contemporary Atheism As Hyper-Real Irreligion: The Enchantment Of Science and Atheism In This Cosmos

Chapter in the Brill Handbook of Hyper-real Religions

"A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge" (Sagan 1994: 52). 

Beginning in 2004 a spate of books appeared containing polemical discussion of the pathological acts of "Religion" and an admiration for an Atheistic/scientific worldview. These books achieved large sales and indicate a receptive public concerned about the public resurgence of religion and the erosion of scientific authority. In this chapter Possamai's (2007) hyper-real religions concept will be employed to gain an understanding of contemporary Atheism and its emergence in late modernity. Viewed through the lens of hyper-reality, Atheist materials and culture will be argued to support the individual ontological security of contemporary Atheists via an enchanted public image of scientific understanding and progress. These enchanted versions of science will be viewed as hyper-real in nature and as providing inspiration for the creation of meanings and identity supported by a naturalistic scientific cosmology.