Saturday, August 13, 2011

The New Atheists are Old Atheists Recycled

Dr. William Witt, a theologian, has written an excellent piece on Dawkins and Hitchens.  Here is the beginning:

Recently I have been reading some books written by folks like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who have been labelled the “New Atheists,” and I am going to let you in on a secret. The secret is that these books are not about what you might think they’re about. Given the publicity that the New Atheists have been getting, you might think there must be some new knockdown argument that these people have worked out, and the New Atheists finally have proof that there is no God. But what I’ve discovered when I read the New Atheists is that they’re just the Old Atheists recycled. They have no new arguments.

There is some discussion of how science can explain everything we need to know, but any first year under-graduate philosophy student should be able to tell you why this is just not the case. There is also some discussion about problems that have supposedly been raised by contemporary biblical scholarship, but, again, any first year student in biblical studies at a decent seminary [like Trinity School for Ministry, where I teach] has a more sophisticated understanding of the Bible and contemporary biblical scholarship than these folks exhibit. There is also usually an account of some of the horrible things that Christians have done in the name of God, but anyone who has studied any church history at all knows about things that make their stories seem tame. After all, it was Christians who wrote books like Fox’s Book of Martyrs, not atheists. It was Roman Catholics who made Joan of Arc a saint, not Enlightenment freethinkers. The names of Thomas More and Thomas Cranmer, the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the hanging and drowning and burning at the stake of Anabaptists by just about everyone, and the pogroms against the Jews, shows that the committing of atrocious acts of Christians against one another and against those of other religions, has been an equal opportunity sport.

This is well worth reading.  Read it all here.

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