From the LA Times: Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining, by Charlotte Allen
Subtitle: Superstar atheists are motivated by anger — and boohoo victimhood.
Here are a few quotes:
I can’t stand atheists — but it’s not because they don’t believe in God. It’s because they’re crashing bores.
Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book, “Faith, Reason, and Revolution,” take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”) and political journalist Christopher Hitchens (“God Is Not Great”) for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can’t prove something, it doesn’t exist.
Maybe atheists wouldn’t be so unpopular if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God. This is a favorite Dawkins theme. In a recent interview with Trina Hoaks, the atheist blogger for the Examiner.com website, Dawkins described religious believers as follows: “They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do.” Thanks, Richard!
The problem with atheists — and what makes them such excruciating snoozes — is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering. Atheists seem to assume that the whole idea of God is a ridiculous absurdity, the “flying spaghetti monster” of atheists’ typically lame jokes. They think that lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets accusing God of failing to create a world more to their liking (“If there’s a God, why aren’t I rich?” “If there’s a God, why didn’t he give me two heads so I could sleep with one head while I get some work done with the other?”) will suffice to knock down the entire edifice of belief.
What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn’t rationalism but anger — anger that the world isn’t perfect, that someone forced them to go to church as children, that the Bible contains apparent contradictions, that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary. Hitchens thinks that “religion spoils everything.” Dawkins contends that raising one’s offspring in one’s religion constitutes child abuse. Harris argues that it “may be ethical to kill people” on the basis of their beliefs.
Read the entire editorial here.
Grace and Peace
3 thoughts on “The new atheists: “primitive opposition to faith and reason””
Do you have the temerity to also print the rebuttal PZ Myers wrote in the LA Times, too?
Thanks for your comment, and for pointing me to PZ Myer’s response, which I did not know about.
I really don’t think Myers addressed Allen’s criticisms of atheism. For example, Allen specifically addressed the issue of evolution, and stated that many Christians have no problem with it. Myers ignored what Allen had to say (I guess it isn’t convenient for him), and brought up the young-Earth creationists, with their distortions of both science and theology. The silliness of young-Earth creationism doesn’t negate the truthfulness of the Bible or the existence of God. The Bible simply does not say how old the Earth is or that all of the geological record was deposited by the Flood.
Myers said, “Contrary to Allen’s claim that we aren’t interested in criticizing the important elements of religious belief, we are: We go right to the central issue of whether there is a god or not.” Hogwash. None of these prominent new atheists really understand Christianity or the Christian arguments for the existence of God. It is not just me saying this, but other atheists such as philosopher Michael Ruse.
In my experience, there is no argument for the existence of God which has not been addressed somewhere. Is there a particular Christian argument for the existence of God which has not been discussed from the atheist point of view?
When you say the prominent new atheists don’t really understand Christianity, I think they really understand the fundamentalist faction of Christianity toward which most of their writing is directed. They are writing popular books, so if they fail to address subtle epistemological arguments which even most Christians couldn’t recite, maybe it’s because doing so would make their books even MORE boring to people like Charlotte Allen.
Christians who acknowledge that science makes a compelling case for evolution are not really a problem for someone who is making a case for evolution. Young earth creationists are the problem. While P Z Myers may not mention the many evolution-believing Christians in this particular response, he does recognize that they exist. Indeed, at http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/true_christians_dont_do_science/ he chides creationists who claim that there is a dichotomy:
[quote]So, is faith a useful marker for distinguishing people who do not believe in evolution, and those who accept the scientific evidence? No. Most religious beliefs are irrelevant to the creation-evolution argument.
Many (about half, by some polls) scientists have accommodated their religious beliefs to their scientific ideas, rather than simply rejecting them[…][/quote]
I expect I could find similar acknowledgment from Dawkins, Dennet, and Harris.