Some of the vocal “new atheists, ” such as Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) like to refer to themselves as “Brights.” Not everyone thinks these guys are all that bright, at least when it comes to their arguments against Christianity and theism. Dawkin’s arguments against theism have been criticized as being amateurish and sophomoric, not only by Christians, but even by other atheists. Here are some excerpts from a review of atheist Terry Eagleton’s new book Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. The review was written by Andrew O’Hehir and appears at Solon.com.
Yet their [Dawkins and Hitchens] arguments are fatally undermined by their own unacknowledged dogmas and doctrines, he goes on to say, and they completely fail to understand Christian faith (or any other kind) except in its stupidest and most literal-minded form.
A few years ago, I read an article by a Roman Catholic theologian who wryly observed that the quality of Western atheism had gone steadily downhill since Nietzsche. Eagleton heartily concurs. He freely admits that what Christian doctrine teaches about the universe and the fate of man may not be true, or even plausible. But as he then puts it, “Critics of the most enduring form of popular culture in human history have a moral obligation to confront that case at its most persuasive, rather than grabbing themselves a victory on the cheap by savaging it as so much garbage and gobbledygook.”
Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens, Eagleton insists, are playing to the high-minded liberal-humanist prejudices of their elite audience and, in the process, are displaying a shocking ignorance of their supposed subject, one that would be deemed unacceptable in almost any other intellectual forum. Would anyone be permitted to write a book about courtly love in the Middle Ages based on several visits to a Renaissance Faire, or a book about Nazism based on episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes”?
Still, he is incontestably correct about two things: There is a long Judeo-Christian theological tradition that bears no resemblance to the caricature of religious faith found in Ditchkins [Ditchkins = Dawkins + Hitchens], and atheists tend to take the most degraded and superstitious forms of religion as representative.
There is a richness and depth to Christian theology and philosophy that Dawkins et al. haven’t even touched.
HT: Cruchy Con
Grace and Peace