This polemical text takes aim at the New Atheism. The lecture-based piece is scathing about the popular efforts of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Professor Eagleton is particularly rude about the work of Dawkins, even condemning him for his unpolished prose style.
Eagleton is really harsh about the political company kept by Hitchens and Dawkins. Neo-conservatives and liberals do not persuade Eagleton. However, the thrust of his male-centric argument is that the New Atheists missed the point about religion. They used science to try to understand religion, which is like attempting to use physics to comprehend poetry. Eagleton is less dismissive of the more complex analysis of Freud and Marx.
While much of the material is serious, humour is employed to sharpen the reception of the content. The comic digressions skewer parts of postmodern culture with deadly accuracy:
“Such a cult of the will characterises the United States…For some in the USA, the C-word is ‘can’t.’ Negativity is often looked upon there as a kind of thought crime. Not since the advent of socialist realism has the world witnessed such pathological upbeatness.”