In a recent interview on the rise of a “new” atheism, John Milbank observes:
Post 9/11 has allowed the media to present the religion versus science story in ever cruder terms. Of course it’s highly significant that Christopher Hitchens also supported the Bush foreign policy. This is because, at bottom, neo-liberalism and scientism line up with each other. But Hitchens never really explains how his imperialism of reason relates to the messianic aspect of American imperialism.
My guess is that Hitchens finds Christianity easier to domesticate than Islam. Rather than seeing two players on the stage – Belief and unBelief – he sees three: Islam, Modernity, and Christianity. When he – the Modern – looks toward Islam, he wants Christianity to cover his back. If the battle were between Islam and Christianity, he’s likely just sit on the sidelines and hope they destroyed each other. His actions, however, tell us he sees the conflict between modernity and religion being waged more effectively and forcefully by Islam. Most Christians – at least the kind that walk with him in the halls of modernity – love modernity as much as he does, and wouldn’t want to see it fall.