... thought history was bunk but compensated for this deficiency by focusing almost entirely on the present, and the wide open future. He was not a scientist, but he found science a way of "affirming" and demythologising a world made (he thought) sick by religion.
He made enemies far more easily than he made friends.
...was as tireless in the promotion of his brand of secularism as America was unready for its promulgation. He was reticent, often inarticulate, artless, rude, charismatic - but above all a self-promoter.
...Many of the titles were by unknown writers; the press could not count on sales generated by a stable of names.
One of Ralph Waldo Emerson's friends, William Furness, once complained that while Emerson wrote on a variety of subjects, he could write "only one book - the one I write over and over". The same can be said of...
He was prolific in the way only a man with a single message can be, authoring humanist "manifestos" - and always much addicted to various sorts of "declarations" and "statements" whose closest literary cousins are Papal bulls. His...books are largely accessible to a popular audience, and while not lacking in depth are not prolific in insight. His appeal was always to the village atheists, the town sceptics, the debunkers and grumps of small-town America. His local heroes were men like Robert Ingersoll and Joseph McCabe, common sense unbelievers.
The ideologically confused opposition to religious fundamentalism that had driven secular humanism through much of his career was finding fewer targets. Not only was Christianity not going away, it was proving remarkably able to adapt - better even than social theorists like Peter Berger had prophesied...Secular humanism by the millennium had become a movement that needed to create enemies to stay in business.
He had become isolated...quaint, curious and ineffective - a small ship tossed in a sea of change. The boy stood on the burning deck.
Alas, many humanists still live under the spell that once they move beyond religion, they have become moral. This biography suggests otherwise. But it is not a finding of Shakespearean depth: more like the Wizard, caught out when Toto reveals him for what he is, saying "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." Ordinary people are made no bigger through magnification.
i) Richard Dawkins
ii) Richard Carrier
iii) John Loftus
iv) Robert Price
v) Christopher Hitchens
vi) PZ Myers