Atheists like TNC don’t believe, they understand. (The rest of us just don’t understand, I guess.) And in relation to religion all the arrows of “history” point in one direction.
I used to enjoy reading TNC; I don’t any more. What was once a supple mind, open to a range of experiences, willing to treat even people whose opinions are deeply alien to his own as people while never weakening his own hard-earned convictions, has been for the past year or more retreating into a ever-narrowing sphere of sympathy. More and more people are excluded from this sphere, and therefore from compassion and even basic fairness. I don’t think TNC is even trying any more to understand those who are unlike him. And that’s a real shame, because he used to be one of the best.