More From Paul Johnson
Intellectual fashions come and go. The current one is militant atheism. Waves of atheism have swept the West before. One was in the mid-18th century, when the devastating Lisbon earthquake, killing some 60,000 people, shook the belief of many in the benevolence of God. Another was in the mid-19th century, when advances in geology destroyed the traditional chronology of the Old Testament, proving that Earth was much older than the 6,000-odd years the Bible allowed. A third spasm followed the First World War, when the combination of Freud's writings and Einstein's theories of relativity upset established views of the human psyche and the universe. We now seem to be in the midst of a fourth. It is prompted partly by the academic deification of Darwin and his particular theory of evolution, and partly by the revulsion against Islamic fundamentalism and its violent expression, which for some has discredited all forms of belief in God.