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The New Intolerance
Atheism is in trouble. You can tell because its most eloquent spokesmen are receiving icily critical reviews in the very mainstream press that Christians often dismiss for liberal bias.
Take, for example, the reviews of Richard Dawkins's book The God Delusion that appeared in The New York Times, the London Review of Books, and Harper's. No one would mistake those journals for members of the Evangelical Press Association, but the Times reviewer, science and philosophy writer Jim Holt, upbraided Dawkins for not fully appreciating the intellectual force of classical arguments for God, especially in light of the more sophisticated versions presented by today's theistic philosophers: "Shirking the intellectual hard work," Holt wrote, "Dawkins prefers to move on to parodic 'proofs' that he has found on the internet."
"Those books really haven't dealt with compelling evidence for the existence of God," says Craig Hazen of Dawkins's God Delusion and its close cousin, Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation. Hazen, who directs Biola University's M.A. program in Christian apologetics, told CT, "It's a stronger form of fundamentalism than you can find anywhere."
In the London Review of Books, Terry Eagleton complained that Dawkins reduces complex social problems to simplistic narratives in which religion is the villain. Take Northern Ireland. Dawkins thinks that "the ethno-political conflict" there "would evaporate if religion did."
And Islamist terrorism? Dawkins apparently "holds, against a good deal of the available evidence, that Islamic terrorism is inspired by religion rather than by politics."
But politically inspired Islamist terrorism provides the opening for this new antitheism, says Biola's Hazen. "They are taking advantage ...1