A nice piece here on the “new” atheism by Ian H. Hutchinson, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The designation “New Atheists” has been gaining ground as a name given to this century’s best-selling authors, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens and company, who attack religion. I greatly prefer the designation “Militant Atheists”. It is far more accurate. There is very little new in their critiques. Their militancy is the distinctive feature of their writings. Calling them “Hysterical Atheists” is funny and makes the same point, but it is a bit too provocative to be useful.
Engaging their arguments has been undertaken already by a very respectable variety of commentators, including both Christians and unbelievers.1 it is not altogether a rewarding task, because while the militants’ writings are fluid and stylish, the arguments are often silly. David Bentley Hart’s tone is more disdainful than charitable when he refers to their “embarrassing incapacity for philosophical reasoning … that raises the wild non-sequitur almost to the level of a dialectical method”2, but his criticism’s content is right on target. Terry Eagleton, no Evangelical apologist, begins his blistering critique in the London Review of Books “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology”.3 There is plenty in the militant atheist writings to criticize.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if people from as different backgrounds and educations as Hutchinson, Eagleton, and Hart can so readily see and dismiss the utter and patent nonsense making up the new atheist “reasoning” such reasoning can hardly be described (as my intrepid interlocutor does) as a “universally compelling logic.”
I’m just saying.