On Wednesday night, I addressed the Rationalist Society, here in Melbourne, on "The 'New Atheism'" - the publishing phenomenon that we've seen recently, with a flood of books by such writers as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Michel Onfray. I gave a defence of these writers: although I have no great problem with deists, pantheists, and genuinely moderate religious believers, I do have a serious problem with people who want to impose their religious views on others. In current circumstances, I think the new atheism is both necessary and desirable. If the authority and credibility of religion are coming under sceptical scrutiny, that is a positive social development.
Although I was kind of preaching to the choir, I had a reasonable audience (20-25 people, quite a few of whom are prominent in various secularist circles), and the talk elicited some good discussion about what needs to be done to counter current attacks on the separation of church and state.