Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Why New Atheism is Fizzling Out...

If you pick up Alister McGrath's book "Why God Won't Go Away" in hopes of getting a discourse on the merits and rationale behind Christianity, you won't. Instead, his work is more of a "situational report" (to borrow a term from another reviewer) on the state of New Athiesm. McGrath writes says "It's not my intention to argue the case for the Christian faith in this short volume, yet I can hardly fail to point out that the common Christian understanding of human nature over the last two thousand years is that we possess, and are meant to possess, a homing instinct for God."

The bulk of the work is spent dissecting the writings of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, atheist best-sellers who are commonly referred to as the Four Horsemen. McGrath sorts through the arguments of these men and identifies the weaknesses in their beliefs and positions, often finding their foundation unstable and often based on myths or facts taken out of context.

New Athiesm began to take prominence in position after 9/11, when a small group of people fanatically schemed such a horrible attack on our country, all in the name of their religion. The conclusion is drawn therefore that religion is violent, dangerous and deluded, yet there is no consideration given to violent men of history who made no claims of religion or belief in a God.

Another irony is that God often gets blamed for all the bad things in the world and "who would want to believe in a God like that"? Well...if an atheist believes that God does not exist, then he or she has no other way to explain away evil acts other than the depravity of man. You can't blame a god you don't even believe in.

Another point to consider is that New Atheism may not be as prominent as we are led to believe by media attention and spin. Events are attended by few, atheist blogs now regularly feature "agonized reflections on the failure of the movement to gain intellectual ground", and more books are being published asserting the reasons for Christian belief.

Sometimes the mission of these new atheists backfire. McGrath closes the book with a story about a young man who decided to learn more about God and ultimately give his life to Him after reading Dawkins' "The God Delusion". He says he found it unfair and one-sided so much so that he wanted to know what the other side of the story was... he says, "Without Dawkins, I would never have given God a second thought." This work is a worthy and easy read because as a believer it's always good to know what those who disagree with you are thinking. If you are not a believer, maybe you'll end up like the young man just mentioned when you dig a little deeper. After all, McGrath, the author, is himself a former atheist.