Revision: New atheism

Taking it further: new
Taking it further: new atheism
The new atheism (1)
•New atheism: ‘religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered,
criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.’ (Hooper,
•The Four Horsemen of New Atheism: Dawkins, R., Dennett, D., Harris, S.,
Hitchens, C.
•The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (2004) by Sam Harris,
was a bestseller in the USA and was motivated by the events of 11 September 2001,
which he blamed directly on Islam.
•In 2006 Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion. Other atheist authors include
Dennet, C.C., Stengerm, V.J., Hitchens, C., Onfray, M. and Barker, D.
Taking it further: new atheism
The new atheism (2)
•Tom Flyn wrote a newspaper column ‘Why I Don’t Believe in the New Atheism’ in
2010 in which he said that ‘New Atheism was neither new nor a movement but
simply the publishing of atheist material by well-known publishers’.
•Most of new atheist thought comes from scientists. Dawkins argues that the ‘God
Hypothesis’ is valid scientifically and can be tested and falsified.
•He argues that naturalism is sufficient to explain everything in the universe, from
the galaxies to the origins of life. Among others, he argues that there is no need for
God in order for people to understand reality.
Taking it further: new atheism
The new atheism (3)
•New atheism employs the ‘Argument from Divine Hiddenness’ and the idea that
‘Absence of evidence is evidence of absence’.
•In line with their scientific approach, new atheists believe that religious claims such
as the virgin birth of Jesus, the afterlife and the power of intercessory prayer can all
be tested scientifically and that all fail.
Taking it further: new atheism
Incompatible properties argument
Stengerm argues that a God who is omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipotent
cannot logically exist.
Taking it further: new atheism
•NOMA: the two views of non-overlapping magisteria proposed by S. J. Gould
concern the existence of a ‘domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate
tools for meaningful discourse and resolution’. He argues that science and religion
should be confined to distinct non-overlapping domains: science the empirical realm
and religion with questions of ultimate meaning and moral value.
•New atheism has argued that NOMA does not describe empirical facts about the
intersection of science and religion.
•Dawkins, in The God Delusion, contends that the Abrahamic religions deal in
scientific matters.
Taking it further: new atheism
Criticisms of new atheism (1)
•Cardinal William Levada, who served under Pope Benedict XVI as prefect of the
congregation for the doctrine of the faith, stated that new atheism misrepresented
the doctrines of the Church and argued that it was the main cause of discrimination
against Christians.
•The sociologist William Stahl wrote ‘What is striking about the current debate is the
frequency with which the New Atheists are portrayed as mirror images of religious
fundamentalists.’ (One-Dimensional Rage: The Social Epistemology of the New
Atheism and Fundamentalism, 2010)
Taking it further: new atheism
Criticisms of new atheism (2)
•Some writers have accused the New Atheist movement of Islamophobia.
•Jacoby, W. and Yavuz, H. state that a group of ‘new atheists’ such as Richard
Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have ‘invoked Samuel Huntington’s
“clash of civilizations” theory to explain the current political contestation’ and that
this forms part of a trend toward ‘Islamophobia…in the study of Muslim societies’.
(‘Modernization, Identity and Integration: An Introduction to the Special Issue on
Islam in Europe’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 28(1):1)