A new typology of modern atheisms: pilgrim atheism versus tourist atheism

Morteza Hashemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper distinguishes between two types of modern atheisms: pilgrim atheism versus tourist atheism. Pilgrim atheism is based on and firmly supports the religion/science dichotomy. New Atheism is today’s well-known representative of pilgrim atheism which is characterised by its hostility to all religions. However, their very atheistic conception of the human being as a cognitively privileged animal depends on a theological conception of humanity, i.e. the human being is a God-like creature who can attain God’s objective knowledge. The second part of the paper is dedicated to exploring an emerging modern atheistic discourse: tourist atheism, emblematised by figures such as Alain de Botton. The fundamental argument of that part is that tourist atheists approach religion as a cultural heritage which still contains some benefits for non-believers. Thus, their strategy of approaching religions is not absolute rejection but engaging with them as repositories of useful sentiments, rituals, insights and ideas. Thus, tourist atheists do not hold the religion versus modernity dichotomy. The paper argues that tourist atheism, which has greater concerns for human subjectivity and internal pleasure of humans, is also an extension of another theological conception of humans as created in the image of God: humans who reproduce God’s autonomy and singularity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume(In Press)
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2016

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  • Atheism
  • theology
  • science
  • Dawkins
  • de Botton


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