“Can one really believe–as the New Atheists seem to do–that secular reason, if finally allowed to move forward, free of the constraining hand of archaic faith, will naturally make society more just, more humane, and more rational than it has been in the past? What evidence supports such an expectation? It is rather difficulty, placing everything in the scales, to vest a great deal of hope in modernity, however radiantly enchanting its promises, when one considers how many innocent lives have already been swallowed up in the flames of modern ‘progress.’ At the end of the twentieth century–the century when secularization became an explicit political and cultural project throughout the world–the forces of progressive ideology could boast an unprecedentedly vast collection of corpses, but not much in the way of new moral concepts. At least, not any we should be especially proud of. The best ideals to which we moderns continue to cling long antedate modernity; for the most part, all we can claim as truly, distinctively our own are our atrocities. One could, I suppose, argue that the secular project had somehow been diverted from its proper course at the dawn of the twentieth century, just as the new ideologies were assuming concrete political forms, or had been stalled or subverted by certain intransigent forces of unreason. This would be a more credible claim, however, if the twentieth century’s horrors were demonstrably aberrations within the larger story of the modern world. But, in fact, the process of secularization was marked, from the first, by the magnificent limitlessness of its violence. One does not have to harbor any nostalgia for the old order of Christendom, or of the church’s degrading association with the state, to be conscious of scularity’s cost. . . . In purely arithmetic terms, one cannot dispute the results. The old order could generally reckon its victims only in the thousands. But in the new age, the secular state, with all its hitherto unimagined capacities, could pursue its purely earthly ideals and ambitions only if it enjoyed the liberty to kill by the millions. How else could it spread its wings?”
~ David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions, 222-23.