Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has admitted that the Church of England is challenged by the image of atheism as the "new cool thing."
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the growing popularity of atheism may the due to popularity of high profile atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
Dr. Rowans, according to The Telegraph, admits that there will be no "quick fix" for the growing image of atheism as the "new cool thing," but says that the church will continue to struggle to convince people that atheism is not "cool."
Dr. Rowans said, while speaking at Canterbury Cathedral, that the growing impression that atheism is "cool" has, however, not led to people abandoning faith:
I would want to know how many atheists Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion created. The book sold, but did it make a difference to the number of people who were actually committed one way or the other? I'm not avoiding the point that the coolness of atheism is very much in evidence. The problem is it's become a bit of a vicious circle. Atheism is cool, so books about atheism are cool…They get a high profile, and books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong don't get the same kind of publicity because atheism is the new cool thing. It's difficult to break into that, but plenty of people are trying.
Dr. Rowan's view that atheism, in spite of its positive public image, is not converting people may be informed by a recent report by the Roman Catholic Church which indicated that, since the Pope's visit to Britain last year, there has been a rise of interest in religion and spirituality in Britain.
The Roman Catholic study based on opinion polls showed an increase in the level of religious belief in Britain after the pope's visit. The survey showed that the number of Britons professing religion and/or spirituality rose from 38% before the papal visit to 47% after the visit and one year after, half the population of Britain profess religious beliefs or spirituality. Polls also show that the number of professing atheists in Britain have fallen slightly from 18% to 16%.
Crowds estimated at 600,000 lined the streets when Pope Benedict XVI visited England and Scotland last September.