I've just finished reading a book that may finally reveal the falsehood of this claim. An Atheist Manifesto was first published by Joseph Lewis in 1954 and blows anything I've read from Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, or Dennett out out the water in terms of the antagonism leveled against god belief.
An Atheist Manifesto is only 64 pages long, and the Kindle version can be had for free. Do not confuse it with Onfray's Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The titles are similar, but these are different books. And speaking of titles, An Atheist Manifesto is a bit of a misnomer, as this book reads like more of a manifesto of anti-theism. In fact, Lewis has managed to pen the sort of polemic of which Thomas Paine would be proud. This book is nothing short of a call to war on god belief.
Lewis demonstrates how god belief has retarded human progress by opposing countless developments, especially those designed to ease human suffering.
Do you know that the religionists opposed the use of anesthesia on the ground that God sent pain as a punishment for sin, and it was considered the greatest of sacrileges to use it—just think of it, a sin to relieve man of his misery! What a monstrous perversion!Those who continue to argue that there is something new about "new atheism" are going to be in for a surprise. Remember all the controversy Dawkins created when he suggested that indoctrinated children into a religious tradition was abusive? Lewis goes so far beyond that in his criticism that he makes Dawkins look mild. He refers to religion as a "paralyzing menace," and he's no fan of the Christian bible either.
It is because of the Biblical curse on man's search for knowledge, which has so paralyzed his mind during the past ages, and its detrimental effect upon progress, that makes the Bible the most wicked, the most detestable, the most pernicious, and the most obnoxious book ever published. It has been a curse to the human race.Remember, this was written in 1954 long before anybody was talking about "new atheism." And yet, Lewis was not afraid to call the abolition of religion. I cannot remember the last time I actually caught myself exclaiming "hell yeah" while reading a book, but Lewis' manifesto did indeed have that effect.
I'll end with my favorite sentence in the book, one with which I wholeheartedly agree:
As long as man loves a phantom in the sky more than he loves his fellow man, there will never be peace upon this earth; so long as man worships a Tyrant as the "Fatherhood of God," there will never be a "Brotherhood of Man."