SuperScholar’s feature article “The 25 Most Influential Living Atheists” has attracted enormous attention on the web. As is always the case with such lists, individuals will be left off that some readers feel should definitely be there.
One name that has kept coming up is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Should she have made the list? First note that SuperScholar does recognize her enormous influence, having placed her on our list of “The 20 Most Influential Women Intellectuals.”
That said, SuperScholar’s exclusion of Hirsi Ali from our list of atheists was deliberate. Her atheism seems less than central to her life’s work and mission. Her target, taken negatively, seems to be Islam, and the more extremist forms of it. Her target, put positively, is to create space for the full range of human freedom.
In this respect, she is willing to make common cause with all peoples of good will, those with and without faith. In THE CAGED VIRGIN, she will write:
I now feel the common humanity with those whom I once shunned: the Jews, Christians, atheists, gays, and sinners of all stripes and colors.
Hirsi Ali seems, in our reading of her, not to have made it a priority to rid the world of religion and God. Nor do her writings and actions strike us as an apologetic for atheism. For this reason she did not make our list.