UPDATE: I am reposting this because the old one got messed up and didn’t come up properly. Also, there are some new articles worth reading like Madeleine Bunting, and ZMag. There are also some books including a critical response to New Atheism by John Haught and a more cynical response by my friend Becky Garrison called The New Atheistic Crusaders and their Unholy Grail.
ORIGINAL POST (2006): The New Atheism is making a splash. Here is the skinny.
Last year I read a good history on the key figures of early atheism. Its called God’s Funeral by A.N. Wilson (1999) which gets its title from a poem by Thomas Hardy. It was interesting and informative but there was no expectation that atheism would make a comeback and honestly, i wondered whether i was wasting my time reading the book. Now its 2006 and New Atheism has become a hot issue on the blogosphere with its fundamentalist intolerance for faith and Christianity.
Richard Dawkins’ new book The God Delusion is part of that conversation. I was tempted me to part with £16 last week but after thumbing through the book, i didnt think it a serious reason to part with my money. Alister McGrath agrees, calling it his "weakest book to date" [Wikipedia] You can always read the free essay by Dawkins released the same day as his book called "Why There is Almost Certainly No God.
I DID, however, buy Wired magazine for their feature article on new atheism by Gary Wolf called The Crusade Against Religion (or The Church of Non-Believers) which was worth every cent and btw is available freely on the website. Dawkins’ brand of atheistic fundamentalism is not supported by quite a number of atheists and the article takes a more rounded approach, looking into other voices on atheism that are not as extreme as that of Richard Dawkins.
And talking about extreme intolerance to religion, Michael Medved has a good article entitled "The ‘tolerant’ Sir Elton wants to Ban Religion" in which he argues that religion is more tolerant than Elton thinks.
But back to Dawkins. Ted Haggard makes it into Dawkins’ book. In fact, I watched Ted Haggard chat with Dawkins on the BBC special called The Root of All Evil. You can view part one here, and part two here.
IMHO Ted Haggard could have done a lot better by appealing to the supernatural realities he had already witnessed. I once heard Ted Haggard speak at the Post-denominational Symposium in Pasadena (1996 or 97?). He told us about a trip to Colombia where so many people get raised from the dead that people who lose loved ones call the church before they call the morgue – just in case. Ted went out on one of these calls and the guy had been dead for a few days. In fact, Ted said he was secretly hoping the guy wouldn’t come back to like because he smelled so bad (tongue in cheek). And he didn’t, actually. But many others do and Dawkins would be struggling for a rational scientific explanation to the raising of the dead, and the supernatural healing of the sick in answer to prayer – something that is quite common in poor countries but not applicable to wealthy intellectuals who have enough medical care and enough money to never pray for a miracle. Which seems to be the the small elite demographic that embrace atheism.
But Ted did not play that card. I think he should have. A religion with no power will become a haunt for demons and a place for decay to set in. And it will leave the church struggling to find rational answers for realities that are mysterious and supernatural and not easily boxed up in scientific terms.
Once I was blind, but now I see.
Anyway, I am reading through Wilson’s book on atheism again, thinking through the impact of Gibbon and Hume, and getting ready for some new conversations.