The endless debates and arguments sparked off in recent years by the phenomenal success of books by the New Atheists — an irritating term to describe writers such as Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens — have a number of strands that are not always clearly disentangled. One thread of criticism, developed by writers such as Karen Armstrong, is that these authors have a childish, not to mention foolish, obsession with the beliefs of religious people. For Armstrong, this mistake finds a parallel in the obsessive defence of specific beliefs and doctrines by followers of religious traditions. The problem, in short, is that religion should not really be construed as a matter of belief, but should be seen as a form of practical knowledge, something you do rather than think. I’ve written a short piece for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section following up the implications of this recommendation.