Saturday, October 04, 2008

God and the New Atheism


After reading Antony Flew’s There is a God, a few weeks ago, I found John Haught’s book, God and the New Atheism, a bit of a fizzer. He has some good things to say in his arguments against Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, but he’s repetitious in his writing, and the book looks as though it’s been produced in rather a hurry, in order to cash in on the current interest in the Christian/Atheist debates. Maybe I just don’t like Haught’s style, and that’s put me off. However, I finished reading it this morning, so whatever he has to say, I’ve now read (!)
Flew’s book was inspiring, by contrast. Here’s a man who has the integrity to say he was wrong about the way he thought previously. This seems to me to be the mark of a true philosopher: as Flew says, he follows arguments to their logical conclusion, even if it means given up long-held beliefs.
Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris remind me more of fundamentalists in various religions: people who are so set on a few basic points that they can’t see any other arguments. (The original Christian fundamentalists had far more breadth to their beliefs; unfortunately their name has been adopted for a group who are narrow and backed into corners.) Philosophically they're much more like teenagers in need of acne treatment than people who've grown up and really argued through all the issues. You find plenty of their adherents on the Net: people who have no willingness to listen to anything beyond their own narrow views.
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