The New Atheism’s vigorous and uncompromising assertion of the rationality of its own beliefs and the irrationality of everyone else’s has caused many within the wider atheist community to cringe with embarrassment.
As the atheist philosopher Julian Baggini pointed out, the New Atheism seemed to believe that “only through stupidity or crass disregard for reason could anyone be anything other than an atheist.” This sort of dogmatic intellectual arrogance, he suggested, just gave atheism a bad name.
Faith and the prison of mere rationality,
How is it that the country which most ruthlessly sought to eliminate religion in the last century is now poised to become the most Christian nation in the world? Approximately 65 million lives were eliminated in China last century in an unparalleled attempt to plant materialism firmly in the hearts of the Chinese people. It failed disastrously.
It is not known exactly how many Chinese Christians there are, but a conservative guess now estimates that there are at least 65 million Protestants in China and 12 million Catholics—more believers than there are members of the Communist Party. Some Chinese Christians think the number is well over one hundred million. Furthermore, China is now the biggest publisher of Bibles worldwide.
The communist revolution was not exactly successful. To endeavor to imprison people within the narrow confines of a materialist worldview is a hopeless task. To claim that there is no supernatural order to the universe, that there is nothing beyond the four bare walls of the physical world is a hideous lie that ultimately will not stick.
People have an intrinsic need for meaning, for transcendence, for some kind of connection with the spiritual realm. It’s in our DNA. It’s written in our hearts. This inner thirst can never be satisfied by merely indulging our physical senses. There’s a longing within us that the material world cannot satisfy. The Bible describes it with these words: “He has also set eternity in the hearts” (Eccles. 3:11).
Religion is under attack in the West. Forces such as New Atheism have risen up to replace Christianity with a purely naturalistic worldview. China tried that and it failed (not to mention several other countries where the experiment also crashed and burned.) It didn’t work in the East, and it won’t work in the West. People simply cannot be contained in such a suffocating prison.
–J. O. Schulz
The cultural and intellectual authority of science depends critically upon its absolute neutrality in such debates. If it is hijacked for ideological purposes, its public reputation can only suffer. This point was appreciated long ago.
Darwin’s great supporter Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895) famously declared that declared that science “commits suicide when it adopts a creed.” Huxley was right. If science allows itself to be hijacked by fundamentalists, whether religious or anti-religious, its intellectual integrity is subverted and its cultural authority is compromised.
That is one of the reasons why so many scientists are troubled by the New Atheist agenda. They see this as compromising the integrity of science, and hijacking it for the purposes of an anti-religious crusade.
Stephen Hawking, God and the role of science,
New atheists are opposed to faith in God. In place of God what do they offer? Well, there’s a lot they don’t offer. No rules, no truth, no purpose, no morals, no absolutes, no purpose, no meaning, no afterlife, no ultimate justice, no basis for human dignity, no real reason for being here.
Is there anything left?
When you stop believing in truth, everything turns mush and grey. You can no longer discern between good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, sacred and sleazy. It’s all up for grabs—and you don’t have to worry if you got it right.
When you stop worshipping God, pseudo deities rush in to fill vacuum. You end up bowing before the gods such as sex, pleasure, consumerism, and success. When you resist serving God you infallibly fall into the servitude of self-gratification. You end up serving a pitiful deity—yourself.
When you stop believing in the sacred, you end up undermining the ideas of beauty, and goodness, and wonder, and dignity, and virtue. If there’s no Higher Power everything goes flat.
Not believing in a Supreme Lawgiver leaves you with no boundaries, no guidelines. It is like playing soccer with no rules—the game self-destructs.
When you refuse to believe that the universe has a Maker, you end up believing in the ultimate magic trick that the universe popped out of nowhere, on it’s own, from nothing. Frankly I can’t muster up that much faith. It’s remarkable what you end up believing when you don’t want to believe in God.
When you reject the idea of a Creator, you have to create yourself. You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul. Lots of luck.
There’s no one to pray to and no one to thank. You’re on your own.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the New Atheists.
-J. O. Schulz
An innocent reader might assume that this movement had discovered new scientific evidence or philosophical arguments that demonstrated that God was the arbitrary and meaningless construction of the human mind. Yet it soon becomes clear that there are no new arguments here. The old, familiar and somewhat tired arguments of the past are recycled and rehashed. What is new is the aggressiveness of the rhetoric, which often seems to degenerate into bullying and hectoring. It serves a convenient purpose, by papering over the obvious evidential gaps and argumentative lapses that are so characteristic of this movement. But it does little to encourage anyone to take atheism with intellectual seriousness.
But I think first that these people (the New Atheists) do a disservice to scholarship. Their treatment of the religious viewpoint is pathetic to the point of non-being. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing. As I have said elsewhere, for the first time in my life, I felt sorry for the ontological argument. If we criticized gene theory with as little knowledge as Dawkins has of religion and philosophy, he would be rightly indignant. . . . Conversely, I am indignant at the poor quality of the argumentation in Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and all of the others in that group. . . . I have written elsewhere that The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Let me say that again. Let me say also that I am proud to be the focus of the invective of the new atheists. They are a bloody disaster and I want to be on the front line of those who say so.
–Philosophy professor Michael Ruse