I have been chided in the past for referring to the "militant" atheism of Dawkins and his like. But the desire for one's creed to spread, in order to make the world a better place, surely merits the label.
So, something "surely merits the label" of "militant" if they desire their "creed" to "spread" in order to "make the world a better place." Liberals want their beliefs to spread in order to make the world a better place, so they must be militant according to Theo Hobson. The same is true of conservtives. Anglicans want their creed to spread in order to make the world a better place, so they must be militant. The same is true of Christians generally — not to mention Muslims, Buddhists, etc.
In fact, just how often is it that someone accepts any political, philosophical, religious, or social ideology and doesn't argue for others adopting it as well? Any reasons you have for adopting an ideology — it makes true statements about the world, it makes true predictions about the world, in creases happiness, reduces problems, etc. — are also reasons for others to adopt it. Few people are zealots on behalf of their beliefs, but few people don't hold any beliefs which they don't think would lead to improvements if more would adopt them.
This has to include Theo Hobson as well. What, you don't imagine that he thinks the world would be better if atheists like Dawkins would accept his conclusions and go do something else? Theo Hobson must therefore be, by his own definition, as much a militant as Richard Dawkins — and only because pretty much everyone in the world is equally militant. This is what happens when a person with an agenda redefines an otherwise sensible concept not to better describe reality, but in order to further that agenda: not only does the word become meaningless, but the person in question completely misses the contradictions and other problems they create.
Atheists reply that there is nothing dangerous or sinister in the desire to see more rationality, less superstition. Really? Dawkins was asked what he hoped an atheist bloc in the US might achieve, and this is the first part of the answer he gave: "I would free children of being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community." Is this not amazing? I have seldom read a sentence that has induced such a sharp shiver of revulsion. This man evidently dreams of a state in which it is illegal to take one's children to a place of worship, or to say prayers with them as one puts them to bed.
Notice that Dawkins doesn't actually say that he wants to make a crime out of teaching religion to children, so Theo Hobson is simply not telling the truth — but then again, what should we really expect from him? Anyone who would claim that simply wanting a viewpoint to spread in order to improve things "surely merits" the label "militant" has passed far outside the boundaries of reasonable discourse or any sort of thinking that is restricted by basic logic. Just look at how he defines atheism:
As I have tried to explain before, atheism is not neutral, nor is it merely negative, an opting out of religious belief. It is the positive belief that the world would be better off without religion, that religion ought to be eliminated. It is intrinsically self-righteous, for its proponents think that they have the key to the radical improvement of the world. The definition of an atheist, as opposed to an agnostic, is someone who has the chilling arrogance to say that the world would be a better place if I ceased to say bedtime prayers with my children.
I guess Theo Hobson imagines that if he repeats his personal, idiosyncratic definition often enough there may be a few people who believe him — but that will only happen among people who have passed as far outside the boundaries of reason as he has. You can't define an idea or even a movement by the statements or beliefs of a single person, and you certainly can't do so on the basis of misrepresentations of that person.
This, however, is precisely what Theo Hobson proposes: limit "atheism" to just the worst things he imagines a few atheists say and do; the rest of the atheists in the world are to gathered under the "agnostic" label. I don't know what Hobson proposes doing with actual agnostics, but I also don't particularly care. At some point you just have to stop listening to silly people and turn your attention back to reality.