In the twenty-first century, religion is making a comeback, bringing in its wake extremism of all kinds. From Christian anti-abortion campaigns to suicide bombers claiming the righteousness of Islam, we are witnessing a resurgence of fundamentalism. Michel Onfray's response to the threat of a post-modern theocracy is to lay down the principles of an authentic atheism: exposing the fiction that is God, he proposes instead a new philosophy of reason that celebrates life and humanity.
In Defence of Atheism demonstrates that organised religion is motivated by worldly, historical and political power; that the three dominant monotheisms - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - exhibit the same hatred of women, reason, the body, the passions; that religion denies life and glorifies death. Onfray exposes some uncomfortable truths: Judaism invented the extermination of a people; Jesus never existed historically; Christianity was enforced with extreme violence by Constantine; Islam is anti-Semitic, misogynist, warlike and incompatible with the values of a modern democracy.
Michel Onfray was born in 1959 in the village of Argentan near Caen where he still lives. A high-school philosophy teacher for 20 years, he resigned from the state education sector and in 2002 set up the People's University in Caen. His twenty books map out a theory of hedonism: some celebrate the senses - smell, taste and the visual; others formulate a contemporary atheist ethics. He is currently at work on a six-volume alternative history of philosophy of which the first two volumes have been published.