One would guess that this is a good time in history to promote atheism.
Islamic radicalism around the globe has actually been very effective in helping to discredit any kind of absolutistic religious belief, even if those beliefs are radically different than radical Islam. Guilt by association is alive and well in the public mind. The thinking is that if true believers in Allah, like 9/11 terrorist Muhammad Atta and company, can kill themselves and thousands of innocents for the sake of religious belief, then all religious people must be watched carefully. The assumption (by any measure an errant one) is that it is not a specific set of religious beliefs or a specific tradition that is the problem, but rather it is religion itself that is the root cause of the hate and murderous activities.
Therefore, some modern atheists think now is the time to strike. The environment for atheistic missionary work among the masses has never been better. Several new books by some of the leading atheists of our day are vying for the position of the new manifesto of unbelief. The authors, Sam Harris (The End of Faith), Daniel C. Dennett (Breaking the Spell), and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) are in lock step concerning that idea that all religious ideas-creation, invisible deities, souls, angels, an afterlife, spirits, etc.-cannot stand up to an enlightened scientific view of the world.
Although radical Islam does indeed cast a pall over a range of religious traditions at the moment, apart from that, atheism has never seen tougher times-and ironically this is due to the enlightened scientific view of the world that atheists believe undermine religious belief.
Scientific advances have allowed astronomers to see and to understand the earliest moments of the beginning of the universe. It is scientific knowledge that the universe leaped into existence from nothing a finite time ago. Natural laws and explanations are helpless in attempting to explain the cause of the beginning. On the other end of the spectrum, scientists can now peer with great clarity into every corner of the microscopic world of the living cell. When they do they find complex molecular machinery that defies any explanation apart from the idea that these machines were designed by a supernatural intelligence. Compelling arguments like these were enough to convince the dean of academic atheism, Prof. Antony Flew, recently to give up a life-long defense of atheism and embrace the existence of God at the age of 81.
Radical Islam is a cancer on the religious landscape. But its existence should not call into question more reasonable forms of religious belief. If the "new atheists" in our culture are banking on disgust with Islam to ground their case against God, their case is very weak indeed. They have a long way to go to answer the latest evidence that mainstream science has set forth that points to a supernatural creator of all that exists.