The New Atheists and Old Testament Ethics,” Philosophia Christi 10:1, 2008, pp. Since the New Atheists have denied the existence of any supernatural reality, this moral standard has to have a purely natural and secular basis. At the heart of his argument is the claim that any God capable of designing a universe must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one the existence of such a God is supposed to provide. So that, although it is true from our perspective – and it is true from anybody's perspective – that some of the rhetoric is harsh and dismissive and judgmental and provocative, Christians, of course, would never engage that kind of [crosstalk] _____. Is it new? Sam Harris might be the most accessible popularizer of the group. Some critics, like William Lane Craig, reply that, at best, Dawkins’ argument could show only that the God hypothesis does not explain the appearance of design in the universe but could not demonstrate that God probably doesn’t exist. And though Dennett’s focus is on the evolution of religion, he is likely to have a similar story about the evolution of morality. Harris’s articulation of the nature of faith is closer to Dawkins’ earlier view. These positions constitute the background theoretical framework that is known as the New Atheism. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. What difference does it make? Well, that's that fundamental theological problem that people of faith have been wrestling with ever since the garden. As a physicist and a Jewish atheist who reads a lot of modern scholarship on Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East history, I never found that any of the celebrity New Atheists (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, et al.) So they're dealing with the "science versus faith" question. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007). What’s So Great About Christianity (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007). I'm gonna argue that we learn how to do that as we interact with one another – Christians don't always agree, either – and as we interact with people of other religions, and particularly atheists. Dr. Glenn R. Kreider Yeah, the category of atheism is not new. The New Atheist movement made a splash in the early 2000s with its brash assertion that the existence of God was a hypothesis that can be examined, … That sadness, that disappointment, that sobriety, if you will, is not found – at least not to the same degree – in the New Atheists. At the foundation of Dennett’s “proto-theory” about the origin of religion and religious belief is his appeal to the evolution in humans (and other animals) of a “hyperactive agent detection device” (HADD), which is the disposition to attribute agency—beliefs and desires and other mental states—to anything complicated that moves. But he writes his Letter to a Christian Nation/The End of Faith, which was published in 2004, which he started writing September 12, 2001. And on this issue, quite frankly, I think it requires a great deal of honestly and humility, on our part. The old atheism is based on logic, argumentation, counter-examples, and is primarily aimed at scholars. There is no striving without a reason, and the reason always has something to do with surviving or enjoying your life. The examples they provide of such objectionable behaviors range from the uncontroversial (suicide bombings, the Inquisition, “religious” wars, witch hunts, homophobia, etc.) I think some people forget that what led to the Enlightenment, and also what led to the pursuit of religious liberty, is a reaction to, in part, the religious conflicts that had taken place and devastated Europe. A new Barna Group study shows that most Americans remain relatively upbeat about the role that local churches play in their communities. The framework has a metaphysical component, an epistemological component, and an ethical component. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. His specific hypothesis is that human beings have acquired religious beliefs because there is a selective advantage to child brains that possess the rule of thumb to believe, without question, whatever familiar adults tell them. The New Atheists are not philosophers of religion, and none of them addresses either theistic or atheistic arguments to any great extent. And so, we thought having a discussion about the types of things that they're saying, and how Christians can think about what's being said, was worth talking about. Harris has a degree from philosophy, too, from Stanford, a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. Some of these works are supportive of them and some of them are critical. The focus was on this group of antagonistic-to-religion writers, this of militant atheists, who began to ascend – began, actually, their writing careers as atheists, and particularly addressing the problem of religion, dated post-9/11. A review of and expansion upon the principles of the New Atheism with responses to many of its critics. Dennett believes that a purely naturalistic spirituality is possible through a selfless attitude characterized by humble curiosity about the world’s complexities resulting in a realization of the relative unimportance of one’s personal preoccupations. Again, Harris’s view that our ethical intuitions have their roots in biology is representative. Why doesn't God do something? The New Atheism, Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophical Confusion,” in Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal, ed. An intellectual and moral critique of faith-based religions that recommends their replacement by science-based spirituality. Dawkins insists that the presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is a scientific question. As we talked earlier, that throughout human history wars have often been religious wars. So some of that phenomenon is a cultural phenomenon. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Penguin, 2006). He does sketch a brief version of the cosmological argument for God’s existence but asserts that the final conclusion does not follow because the argument does not rule out alternative possibilities for the universe’s existence. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). God's on our side." The New Atheists’ appeal to a universal secular moral standard raises some interesting philosophical questions. If there are no divine revelations, then every sacred book is a merely human book. They believe empirical science is the only (or at least the best) basis for genuine knowledge of the world, and they insist that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. God: The Failed Hypothesis. That part of the story has to be told, too. Let me open with this question. The New Atheists counter the claim that religion makes people good by listing numerous examples of the preceding sort in which religion allegedly makes people bad. And so, for him, Christianity, and all religion, is a problem and is a danger. This Western Philosophical tradition can be said to begin with Augustine and to include a number of prominent Western philosophers up to the present (including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, and more recently, Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne). Harris calls the source of this basic moral knowledge “moral intuition.” Since the other New Atheists don’t argue for the moral principles to which they appeal, it seems reasonable to conclude that they would agree with Harris. Is Religion Dangerous? McCarthyism reached its peak and began its decline during the … McGrath, Alister and Joanna Collicutt McGrath. That the events of that day made them more bold in addressing what they see as the problem of religion, not just Christianity. It's a very small step from there to not identifying as a person of faith, at all. But the flipside of this is the question, well, then, what do you do? Because I think one of the mistakes that can be made is, we can treat it as something that can be easily dismissed. In old England, it was defined as "a system of morality, veiled in allegory (or a story) and illustrated by symbols." If there is no divine being, then there are no divine revelations. James E. Taylor And it takes something of the mercy and grace and love –. We live in a scary world. The scientific investigation of religion of the sort Dennett recommends has prompted a larger interdisciplinary conversation that includes both theists and non-theists with academic specialties in science, philosophy, and theology (see Schloss and Murray 2009 for an important example of this sort of collaboration). Westmont College William Provine says atheists have no free will, no moral accountability and no moral significance: Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. Hitchens includes chapters entitled “The Metaphysical Claims of Religion are False” and “Arguments from Design,” but his more journalistic treatment of the cases for and against God’s existence amounts primarily to the claim that the God hypothesis is unnecessary, since science can now explain what theism was formerly thought to be required to explain, including phenomena such as the appearance of design in the universe. Atheism is in the broadest sense an absence of belief in the existence of deities . U. S. A. a linguistic point of view definition of terms and meaning introduces the potential for understanding David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, offered four observations about the research findings. The fourth philosophical question raised by the New Atheists is one they address themselves: “Why should we be moral?” Harris’s answer is that being moral tends to contribute to one’s happiness. Whether there is any value in any religion, anywhere, and at any time. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. What is the relationship between atheism and the philosophy of materialism?The close association between atheism and materialism is evident in Christopher Hitchens’ edited volume The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever which includes as its first entry a collection of excerpts from the great Roman philosopher Lucretius’ magisterial two thousand-year-old poetic work … When it's clear, from the way people are reacting, that that's not how to handle it. According to Harris, faith is the permission religious people give one another to believe things strongly without evidence. And I think that's important for laying the groundwork, to understand that the phenomenon we're talking about is not merely limited to the Four Horsemen and their followers. ", Now, it's easy for us to say, "But what made you think it was all about you? Each of the New Atheists recommends or at least alludes to a non-religious means of personal fulfillment and even collective well-being. Their arguments for this conclusion focus on what they take to be the moral deficiencies and factual errors of these books. He follows up in The God Delusion with the claim that faith is an evil because it does not require justification and does not tolerate argument. He expresses his hope for a renewed Enlightenment focused on human beings, based on unrestricted scientific inquiry, and eventually productive of a new humane civilization. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (New York: Crown Forum, 2008). Atheism being a lack of belief makes it centre on the agent which retains the belief, effectively defining the term as a psychological state of belief rather than a proposition. Dennett, Daniel. The epistemological component is their common claim that religious belief is irrational. You kind of bring those altogether, and you have what could be called a perfect storm. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. 837 thoughts on “ New Atheism: The Godlessness That Failed ” darovas November 18, 2019 at 10:40 am. Second, if the content of morality is not made accessible to human beings by means of a revelation of God’s will, then how do humans know what the one moral standard is? “Afterword” in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 10th anniversary edition (London: Penguin Random House, 2016), pp. His book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, took a great deal of pleasure in criticizing Jerry Falwell, and then celebrated Falwell's death, when he was on a speaking tour, for that book. So, a real discussion to be had. They draw on science for recommended alternatives to religion. Harris quotes passages from the part of the Old Testament traditionally labeled the “Law” that he considers barbaric (such as the command in Deuteronomy 13 to stone family members or close friends to death if they “secretly entice you” to “go worship other gods”) and then asserts (on the basis of his view that Jesus can be read to endorse the entirety of Old Testament law) that the New Testament does not improve on these injunctions. I don't know how else to say it. Actually to sit down and have conversations about how to do that. Copan, Paul. Their conclusion is that science fails to show that there is a God and even supports the claim that such a being probably does not exist. Regarding the metaphysical component, the New Atheist authors share the central belief that there is no supernatural or divine reality of any kind. In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins states that faith is blind trust without evidence and even against the evidence. While atheists can't typically deny that a person believes in some god, they can deny that believers have sufficient justification for their belief. Or just the harsh reality of life in a fallen world, the real struggle for them. In almost every war, there's been the perception that, "God's on my side. An explanation and defense of biological evolution by natural selection that focuses on the gene. This moral component sets them apart from other prominent historical atheists such as Nietzsche and Sartre, and it plays a pivotal role in their arguments because it is used to conclude that religion is bad in various ways, although Dennett is more reserved than the other three. Reviewers have noted that these authors tend to be motivated by a sense of moral concern and even outrage about the effects of religious beliefs on the global scene. So, there is a real sense of tragedy and sadness in Nietzsche, that God is dead, that we've killed him, "Look what you've done to God," and now we're stuck in the aftermath of this great murder. He's much more – maybe because he's a philosopher, but – and he looks like Santa Clause. We have the rise of terrorism, and the fear that it brings. Stenger, Victor. This random, unexpected evil? Personally, I was far more influenced by Hume, Russell and Descartes (even thought we was a theist) than any of the new atheists. Dawkins provides “four good Darwinian reasons” that purport to explain why some animals (including, of course human beings) engage in moral behavior. Hitchens says that religious faith is ultimately grounded in wishful thinking. How Science Shows that God does not Exist (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2008). Indeed, the promise of a blissful afterlife can become the primary goal of following a religion. We have a group of writers who have been dubbed – I don't know if it's affectionately or not – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Dawkins speculates that this cognitive disposition, which tends to help inexperienced children to avoid harm, also tends to make them susceptible to acquiring their elders’ irrational and harmful religious beliefs. But they all die, they all convert to Christianity tomorrow, the problem doesn't go away." Everyone in Medieval Europe was Christian. Rather than being based on logical argumentation, sound reasoning, and dealing with typical theistic arguments, the new atheism is an assault of rhetoric aimed at a popular audience. Harris, Sam. He argues that faith in what religious believers take to be God’s will as revealed in God’s book inevitably leads to immoral behaviors of these sorts. Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. Dennett is characteristically more hesitant to draw firm conclusions along these lines until further empirical investigation is undertaken. One of these is a conference presented by the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, entitled, “My Ways are not Your Ways: The Character of the God of the Hebrew Bible” (held September 10-12, 2009). Their approach is very distinctive, it's very belligerent. This is a list of atheists in science and technology.A mere statement by a person that he or she does not believe in God does not meet the criteria for inclusion on this list.Persons in this list are people (living or not) who both have publicly identified themselves as atheists and whose atheism is relevant to their notable activities or public life. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). And then you also have – several of these guys were philosophers, and others were scientists. The New Atheists reply that Hitler was not necessarily an atheist because he claimed to be a Christian and that these regimes were evil because they were influenced by religion or were like a religion and that, even if their leaders were atheists (as in the case of Stalin), their crimes against humanity were not caused by their atheism because they were not carried out in the name of atheism. Dennett hints at a different objection to the Bible by remarking that anybody can quote the Bible to prove anything. A misogynist, homophobe –" Our immediate reaction – and I think it's a God-given reaction – is to be repulsed and be offended. First, what is the content of morality? Conversations about the New Atheists’ stances and rationales have also taken place in the form of debates between Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennett and defenders of religious belief and religion such as Dinesh D’Souza, who has published his own defense of Christianity in response to the New Atheists’ arguments. – are all questions that science can provide the answers to. One suspects that for some New Atheists, 9/11 was not a revelation to this effect, but rather a convenient (and spectacular) argument to deploy in support of a cause to which they were already committed. A case for studying the history and practice of religion by means of the natural sciences. What made you think it was –" But, really, the stories are, "I've been taught that this is the way God is, this is the way he acts. Dawkins labels his argument for God’s non-existence “the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit,” because he thinks that God’s existence is at least as improbable as the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrap yard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747 (an image that he borrows from Fred Hoyle, who used it for a different purpose). That introduces, particularly in a world of fear, a [laughs] complicating element. Right? New Atheism is modern-day atheism advanced by a group of thinkers and writers who advocate the view that superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever their influence arises in … That’s not t… And that there's something about our response. All Content © 2020 Dallas Theological Seminary. Dawkins argues that the “God Hypothesis,” the claim that there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe, is “founded on local traditions of private revelation rather than evidence” (2006, pp. And who exactly are we talking about? The framework has a metaphysical component, an epistemological component, and an ethical component. They agree that these sociological and psychological phenomena are rooted in biology. Why are we here? And that the destruction, His judgment of the Israelites, follows year after year after year after year of warning and calls to repentance. Whereas the former categorization suggests that Dawkins thinks that faith is necessarily non-rational or even irrational, the latter description seems to imply that faith is merely contingently at odds with rationality. Email: There will come a day after which we must ask, whenever a person dies, 'could they have been saved if medical science hadn't been retarded by religious belief?' Its founding figure, Zoroaster, was an innovative religious thinker and teacher who is believed to have lived between 700 BCE and 500 BCE in Persia (modern-day Iran). Okay, let's turn our attention to these four. That, in a post-9/11 world, and in a world of threats of terrorism, people are afraid. Dennett, Daniel. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. And we look forward to having you back with us when we finish our conversation on atheism. Atheists’ primary belief that there is no god (s)/God means the universe has emerged accidently and without inherent meaning and that humans must be the ones to give life its meaning. Those kinds of questions. What he appears to mean by this charge is that this intelligent design hypothesis claims to provide an ultimate explanation for all existing improbable complexity and yet cannot provide an explanation of its own improbable complexity. Hitchens hints at his own source of secular satisfaction by claiming that the natural is wondrous enough for anyone. The New Atheists seem to be generally agreed that theistic belief has generally worse attitudinal and behavioral moral consequences than atheistic belief. But at the conferences where the surviving New Atheists spoke and on the online forums where their books were debated, shouting matches regularly broke out over accusations that they were Islamophobic apologists for American empire. I think the world – at least the American perception of the world – radically changed in 9/11. A collection of essays by philosophers and theologians defending the rationality of theistic belief from the attacks of the New Atheists and others. Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Vintage Books, 2008). A journalistic case against religion and religious belief. A defense of the God and ethics of the Old Testament against the New Atheists’ criticisms of them. This sort of claim invites further discussion about the sorts of purposes God would have and strategies God would employ in communicating with human beings in different times and places. Many non-theists have located the natural basis for morality in human convention, a move that leads naturally to ethical relativism. Hitchens, Christopher. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. The New Atheists agree that, while religion may have been a byproduct of certain human qualities that proved important for survival, religion itself is not necessarily a beneficial social and cultural phenomenon on balance at present. That caused people to say, "If this is where religion takes us, then the further we can move religion away from the political process, the better we would be." Criticisms have been raised about a number of the New Atheists claims mentioned above. 119-120). Though Hitchens mentions Dennett’s naturalistic approach to religion in his chapter on “religion’s corrupt beginnings,” he focuses primarily on the interplay between a pervasive gullibility he takes to be characteristic of human beings and the exploitation of this credulity that he attributes to the founders of religions and religious movements. It is not a lack of … Dawkins, Richard. The Greeks all worshipped the gods of Olympus. So the problem of evil – and, you might say, so how does that lead to atheism? As a matter of fact, he says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction” (Dawkins 2006, p. 31). We can't say, "This story didn't exist, it didn't happen." Masonry is a course of moral instruction which uses both allegories and symbols to teach its lessons. It's another thing to be so vitriolic in your criticism of it. Schloss, Jeffrey and Michael Murray, eds. That there is nothing in any religion anywhere – Hitchens and Dawkins said – that's not found, also, outside of religion. But he realizes that life as a complete nihilist is destructive and simply doesn't work. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. Copan, Paul and William Lane Craig, eds. For instance, our symbols for the Entered Apprentice Degree are … People tend to think of certain times and places as completely uniform in their beliefs. Other works include both positive and negative evaluations of the New Atheism. The New Atheists observe that if there is no supernatural reality, then religion and religious belief must have purely natural explanations. That violence is the default reaction, throughout human history. I do a lot more listening than talking, when one of those is in my office. A Christian minister’s reply to objections against Christianity of the sort raised by the New Atheists together with his positive case for Christianity. They also anticipate the reply that the moral consequences of atheism are worse than those of theism. Harris, Sam. Of course, the Early Church reflected this, and actually generated much sympathy for what it was that they believed, because they didn't respond, oftentimes, in kind. Dawkins endorses the general hypothesis that religion and religious belief are byproducts (what some evolutionary biologists call “spandrels”) of something else that has survival value. In doing so, he employs the concept of a “culturally based replicator,” which Dawkins had previously labeled a “meme” (on analogy with “gene,” which refers to biologically based replicators). [8] Atheism is contrasted with theism , [9] [10] which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists . That just because somebody uses strong, inflammatory rhetoric, and –, So, you hear Dawkins say things like, "God is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction, jealous and proud of it. 421-26. And so, that here is this growing group of people that are moving away from the faith, some of whom would even identify as no longer being believers – of being atheists – because of either what they've been taught about God that wasn't true. Dennett discusses a number of these specific hypotheses more thoroughly in his attempt to “break the spell” he identifies as the taboo against a thorough scientific investigation of religion as one natural phenomenon among many. Though it is difficult to find a careful and precise definition of “faith” in the writings of the New Atheists, it is possible to glean a general characterization of this cognitive attitude from various things they say about it. Here’s where the New Atheists (including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens) are so puzzling. So, let's go through the four, and talk about what each of them brings to the table. The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2009). He is not trained in science or in philosophy, and he is the most strident. So, I thank you for coming in, and I thank you for being a part of The Table, today. In the early 2010s, New Atheism was less in the headlines than it had been during its heyday. And it creates a culture of fear. Harris is much more willing to affirm that there are certain benefits of religion, but it's not necessary, we don't need it. He celebrates the liberation of human beings from ignorance due to the growing and assumedly limitless capacity of science to explain the universe and everything in it. According to this view there can be no theistic belief that is also reasonable or rational. The New Atheists also affirm evidentialism, the claim that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. As I think you've heard me say before, we can't ignore that those texts are in the Scripture. Moreover, they think that it is possible to live a satisfying non-religious life on the basis of secular morals and scientific discoveries. There never has been. The key fault lines and tensions around new atheism and other elements within the broader atheist, secular and humanist population, are also explored, considering the extent to which new atheism can be said to have been thus far successful in its goals. The New Atheists appeal to the deliverances of the empirical sciences as their criterion for rational religious belief. And I wonder what that looks like in the future. But the other issue that that raises for me is that we are increasingly living in a world where you have to be incredibly naïve to believe in pluralism. What does it mean to be open to being martyred? I mean, the horror of a disobedient child must be taken out and stoned. That is a statement about an evil so deep and so poisonous and so destructive that it needs to be eradicated. The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. It's interesting to watch the television interview where they were dubbed the four atheists, and hear them talking among themselves about whether religion ever produces anything good. Of the New Atheists ’ arguments by a Marxist literary critic trust without evidence really is – makes! 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'S that fundamental theological problem that people of faith: religion as a person of faith religion... Christi 10:1, 2008 what is new atheism and what is its primary goal pp of faith-based religions that recommends their replacement by science-based spirituality elsewhere! These sorts of issues raised by the New Atheists appeal to a discussion of issues by! Of certain times and places as completely uniform in their beliefs s articulation of the Barna group offered! ’ argument for the media on NT issues known as the `` New Atheists by a literary... Science shows that God does not dedicate much space to a Christian Nation ( York! The permission religious people give one another to believe in God in an even narrower sense, atheism is the!
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