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Something Old, Something NewContemporary Entanglements of Religion and Secularity$
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Wayne Glausser

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190864170

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190864170.001.0001

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The Rhetoric of New Atheism

The Rhetoric of New Atheism

(p.26) Chapter 2 The Rhetoric of New Atheism
Something Old, Something New

Wayne Glausser

Oxford University Press

New atheists face an old problem that entangles them with their theist opponents. The fundamental cosmological question—why does the world exist?—cannot be answered in scientific terms. As questions of cause slip into infinite regress, new atheists, like the theists they resist, must posit that something simply exists: something must be granted exemption from causal reasoning. This chapter first examines new atheists’ responses to the aporia described above, then analyzes several rhetorical tropes they deploy to supplement science proper. These tropes include paralepsis, a sarcasm cluster (apodioxis, tapinosis, diasyrmus), pathopoeia, and the linked tropes of catachresis and metalepsis. Especially with the last three tropes, new atheists find themselves entangled with the religious discourse they mean to supplant.

Keywords:   new atheist, rhetoric, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Alan Lightman, Jim Holt

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