Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Atheists = Intellectual Lightweights

(Note: this post follows in line with my first post about the "new" atheists back on December 13, 2007)

From The Christian Century, John F. Haught's article, titled "Amateur atheists, Why the new atheism isn't serious" caught my eye from Triablogue.

I've cut and pasted a few choice quotes here:

What is remarkable is that none of the new atheists seems remotely prepared to admit that his scientism is a self-sabotaging confession of faith. Listen to Hitchens: "If one must have faith in order to believe in something, then the likelihood of that something having any truth or value is considerably diminished." But this statement invalidates itself since it too arises out of faith in things unseen. There is no set of tangible experiments or visible demonstrations that could ever scientifically prove the statement to be true. In order to issue the just-quoted pronouncement with such confidence Hitchens already has to have subscribed to the creed of a faith community for which scientism and scientific naturalism provide the dogmatic substance.


By contrast, the recent atheist authors want atheism to prevail at the least possible expense to the agreeable socioeconomic circumstances out of which they sermonize. They would have the God-religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—simply disappear, after which we should be able go on enjoying the same lifestyle as before. People would then continue to cultivate essentially the same values as before, including altruism, but they would do it without inspired books and divine commandments. Educators would teach science without intrusions from creationists, and students would learn that evolution rather than divine creativity is the ultimate explanation of why we are the kind of organisms we are. Only propositions based on evidence would be tolerated, but the satisfaction of knowing the truth about nature by way of science would compensate for any ethical constraints we would still have to put on our animal instincts.

This, of course, is precisely the kind of atheism that nauseated Nietzsche and made Camus and Sartre cringe. For them, atheism of this sort is nothing more than the persistence of life-numbing religiosity—it is religiosity in a new guise. These more muscular critics of religion were at least smart enough to realize that a full acceptance of the death of God would require an asceticism completely missing in the new atheistic formulas.


And if we allow the hard-core atheists into our discussion, we can draw this conclusion: If absolute values exist, then God exists. But if God does not exist, then neither do absolute values, and one should not issue moral judgments as though they do. Belief in God or the practice of religion is not necessary in order for people to be highly moral beings. We can agree with soft-core atheists on this point. But the real question, which comes not from me but from the hard-core atheists, is: Can you rationally justify your unconditional adherence to timeless values without implicitly invoking the existence of God?

Yeah, what he said.


Worship Leader Ron said...

Dr. Al Mohler recently spoke at Dallas Theological Seminary in Feb and gave four lectures you can download for free diving pretty deep in to the new atheism. You may be blessed by it. It is certainly Eye opening.

I love the triablogue guys!

Letitia (The Damsel) said...

Thanks for the fyi. I hope you also saw my first post about the "new" atheists that I wrote back on December 13, 2007.