… had been my reaction to the frequent use of this label by authors and scholars who have been addressing the issue of Atheism New Atheism. I simply thought, what could possibly be different? There is nothing new about not believing in God or as the atheist likes to put it “lacking in God belief” (as though Atheism were a vitamin deficiency: I’m lacking in B12, folic acid, Vitamin E and God belief.)

I was certain I was right and no one could convince me otherwise.

Well my self-assurance soon turned to crow-eating humility by one much smarter and, to understate it, exceedingly more well-studied than I. Dr. Albert Mohler. (He schooled me and schooled me good by crackey!)

What convinced me was his series on The New Atheism here at Monergism.com just after the top of the page. (By the way, a big thanks to my friend Tony Byrne for putting me on to this – thank you Tony!)

Below, I have listed seven points that are distinctive to the New Atheism over and above the old run-of-the-mill Atheism from decades past.

I hope I have done Dr. Mohler justice in what I took to be the summary of the first in his lecture series and I hope you have time to listen to the series. He is such an incredibly gifted speaker and a true scholar.

The points detailing the distinctions of the New Atheism are as follows:

Things marked with an asterisk* are my “commentary”

1. Celebration of Atheism – no sense of mourning as seen in the “Victorian Loss of Faith”.

2. Changed and clear direction of attention – No longer the philosophical rejection of God but a rejection of the God of Christianity specifically. (*I question this one however, as it would seem there are objections to Islam and Judaism as well as polytheistic systems. But I do concede they are the most vocal against Christian Theism.)

3. Explicitly based in scientific argumentation – *Lack of philosophical discussion surrounding the existence of God. Also I would suggest that while a naturalistic framework (i.e a point of view that excludes the supernatural) is assumed they are not stating their’s as a philosophical position.

4. Attack upon moderate and liberal Protestantism – These theological movements are seen as “enablers” of theistic belief . *Which although not stated in the lecture, I have to think it is due to these movements denying foundational truths of Christianity in respects to not only orthodoxy (right belief) but orthopraxy (right practice). This in turn makes Christianity a less bitter pill to swallow to those searching for truth.

5. Belief in God is not to be tolerated – It is no longer a matter of objecting to the persecution of the skeptic or free-thinker or atheist (vying for a voice in the culture only to be persecuted by the Theist) but it is thought that those who do believe in God should not be tolerated in our society – essentially a move away from religious freedom.

6. Theism is seen as harmful to children – teaching a child theistic beliefs is tantamount to child abuse and on the same level as (if not worse than) physical abuse.

and finally…

7. Theism should be eliminated because of all the harm it has brought to humanity. *Theism simply should not be tolerated in any civilized culture. The Crusades, the Inquisition and even modern day terrorism indicate Theism is bad for humanity. It has done more harm than good as we see from history and we’d be better off ridding it from our society altogether. No longer is a “tenant” of Atheism that of merely objecting to theistic systems but rather there is a pressing need to pro-actively eradicate these systems from our culture in toto.

Going with the above points, Dr. Mohler successfully convinced me that the term, New Atheism, is in fact a legitimate one.

So do you agree with Al? Is the New Atheism truly new? Or is it just the business of “lacking god belief” as usual?

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    80 replies to "New Atheism? Yea, yea, yea whatever…"

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      I agree with Al. New Atheism is more about aggressive-ness, and not mere passive un-belief!

    • C Michael Patton

      It is evangelistic!

    • C Michael Patton

      But Carrie, you did not talk about the crush you have on one new atheist in particular. In the spirit of full discosure, don’t you think you should? 🙂

    • Samson

      I think Dr. Mohler did a good job. He reasonably summed up the books he sighted and his conclusions were plausible.

      Identifying a New Atheism is like New Christianity. Stay with me for a second. If you conceive of New Christianity as not new in the sense of new information added or new as in different but as in new in the way it’s being presented and assimilated into the culture.

      Think of the way the Gospel in Evangelicalism is changed to be understood within the culture. The message remains the same but the way it’s being presented, the different emphasis that may be given (for example on the need to understand your sin for someone who is self satisfied as opposed to someone who knows they’re a sinner and grace needs to be more understood).

      The New Atheism is presented as plausible because you can believe in the belief that it is actually a viable option. (to quote Dennett’s observation of Christian belief in “Breaking the Spell”) This viable option is deemed as better because it cannot be directly linked to any kind of immoral practice since it is itself amoral. Therefore, all religion is bad.

      Good summary on your part Carrie! I’ll be re-listening to these lectures!

    • tyler m taber

      I agree with Alister McGrath (especially in his essay “Is Religion Evil”?) that the New Atheists actually rise together and form a religious status—-which is ironic, considering their usual battle-cry of religion being evil.

      Not that some religious adherents aren’t, but the New Atheists are especially mouthy and cocky.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Wow thanks guys. Good comments.

      Michael, I suppose that can be added to my personal list of why it’s new…

      Someone like myself having a crush on ….

      Christopher Hitchens ….

      He’s just so cute and round, I can’t help it!

    • JRoach

      I am not aware of any humble atheists. They come across as very arrogant. Sadly, so do some of us Evangelicals. It is a hatred of God and that hatred is focused on us Christians since we claim to represent Him. They are militant now more than ever in history. Those who live godly will suffer persecution, per Paul. I would not spend too much time debating an atheist. Titus 3:10,11 – Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

    • Tony Byrne

      I think the “factious man” in Titus 3 is a professing believer within the visible church who is causing divisions, i.e. not an open Christ-rejecting atheist.

      Knowing when and how to talk to certain kinds of atheists always requires wisdom. Even some atheists recognize that the “New Atheists” are like the stereo-type of the fundamentalists, so talking with the former is not always like talking to the latter group. I sometimes talk with atheists at work, if the context seems appropriate, and I have been able to correct some of their caricatures of biblical statements. I wouldn’t call these encounters “debates” but they were apologetic in nature [negative apologetics at least], and sometimes helpful.

      Spending “much time” conversing with atheists is an ambiguous time reference and person-relative. Again, whether we spend “much time” talking with some individuals depends on the context and the kind of person [their state of mind and overall attitude] you are talking with. Sometimes talking merely for the sake of mutual understanding is helpful.

    • Daniel

      Very good post. I agree that the “new” atheists are far more aggressive in their “lack of belief” than previous atheists. It would seem as though Antony Flew was one of the last great “old” atheists who simply allowed the evidence to lead him to his conclusions and didn’t put any limitations on it.

      These “new” atheists, in a way, DO have a religion of sorts. Materialism, or I’ve heard the term “scientism” bandied about these days. They will accept any and all evidence, provided that such evidence comports with their existing belief in the non-existence of anything outside the natural world.

      As for the “damage” done by the church, I think it was Greg Koukl or William Lane Craig (or maybe it was CMP) who recently mentioned the actual numbers (estimated, of course) of people killed by/for religion vs. non-religious deaths. The latter outnumbered the former by something like 100 to 1 (Ok, I’m guessing there, but it was a LOT).

      Grace, love and peace.

    • Michael S

      On the Power and Influence of Good Deeds
      Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic

      It is difficult, my brethren, to dispute with an atheist; it is difficult to converse with a stupid man; it is difficult to change an embittered man. It is only with the greatest difficulty that you
      will convince an atheist, a stupid man or an embittered man with words. Firstly, you must sway them by your deeds. They will come, “by your good works, which they shall behold, to glorify God” (I Pet. 2:12). Do good to him who would quarrel with you, and you will win the argument. A single act of compassion will penetrate to a stupid man and soften a bitter man more quickly than hours of discussion. If atheism and stupidity and bitterness proceed from
      ignorance, that ignorance is like a fury that is most easily bridled by the influence of good deeds. If you argue with an atheist on his own diabolical terms, you simply strengthen the demon of atheism. If you converse with a stupid man in a spirit of derision, the darkness of stupidity will be made the greater. If you think to change a bitter man by anger, you will merely add more fuel to the fire of bitterness. But a meek and well-intentioned act is like throwing water on the flames.

      Always remember the holy apostles and their behavior towards men. If an atheist challenges you, then it is not the man that challenges you but the devil, for man is by nature devout and tends Godwards. If a stupid man scoffs at you, then it is not the man who scoffs but the devil, for man is by nature intelligent. If a bitter man persecutes you, it is not the man that is doing this but the devil, for man is by nature good and well-disposed. It is the devil that challenges us in lengthy debates and fruitless discussions, but he flees from the power of good deeds. Do
      good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee. You will be working with men, men who are devout and intelligent and good. Everything, therefore, that you do, be sure that you do it in the name…

    • Carrie

      Michael S, I am pretty it’s the atheist raising the objection and not satan himself.

      This post isn’t meant to provide advice to the Christian on apologetic tactic or method.

      It is simply to inform people of a certain view that people we may or may not encounter, hold to.

      It is important to accurrately represent those with whom we disagree.

      That you feel it not necessary to enter into debate is entirely up to you.

      But that isn’t really what this post is about.

    • Boz

      This question (how is ‘New Atheism’ different to regular atheism) has had much discussion on atheist blogs, and much misunderstanding on theist blogs. this is one of the more accurate articles.

      My specific comments are:

      1. Celebration of Atheism – no sense of mourning as seen in the “Victorian Loss of Faith”.

      Agree. Many people find a loss of faith very liberating. Many atheists never experience a conversion, because they ahve never been religious.

      2. Changed and clear direction of attention – No longer the philosophical rejection of God but a rejection of the God of Christianity specifically.

      This is not true. Atheism is the rejection of all deities, including Thor, Zeus, Quetzacotl, Allah and Yahweh. I suspect that Chrstians may experience atheism as a rejection of Yahweh specifically because atheists and christians agree on the non-existence of thousands of other deities, so there is not much to discuss in relation to, e.g, Quetzacotl. The only real point of discussion in relation to deities is in relation to Yahweh.

      3. Explicitly based in scientific argumentation – *Lack of philosophical discussion surrounding the existence of God. Also I would suggest that while a naturalistic framework (i.e a point of view that excludes the supernatural) is assumed they are not stating their’s as a philosophical position.

      Almost all atheists allow for the possibility of the supernatural. They just find it extremely unplausible.

      4. Attack upon moderate and liberal Protestantism – These theological movements are seen as “enablers” of theistic belief.

      Many atheist agree with this. I do. Note that the quote above shoud read: “These theological movements are seen as “enablers” of EXTREMIST theistic belief.”

    • Boz

      continued

      5. Belief in God is not to be tolerated – It is no longer a matter of objecting to the persecution of the skeptic or free-thinker or atheist (vying for a voice in the culture only to be persecuted by the Theist) but it is thought that those who do believe in God should not be tolerated in our society – essentially a move away from religious freedom.

      No atheists beleive this.

      7. Theism should be eliminated because of all the harm it has brought to humanity. *Theism simply should not be tolerated in any civilized culture. The Crusades, the Inquisition and even modern day terrorism indicate Theism is bad for humanity. It has done more harm than good as we see from history and we’d be better off ridding it from our society altogether. No longer is a “tenant” of Atheism that of merely objecting to theistic systems but rather there is a pressing need to pro-actively eradicate these systems from our culture in toto.

      No atheists beleive this.

      As far as I can tell, the main difference between New Atheism and older atheism is popularity, due to several popular books beign written in the past 7-8 years.

      The one belief has not changed.

    • Buks van Ellewee

      I think the term Atheist may be a bit confusing here. I don’t believe we have to do with a new atheism but rather a revival of fundamentalist humanism. These “new atheists” are perhaps not so much driven by their lack of belief in God, than they are driven by a passionate belief that human reason are the only valid standard and the only way for humanity to be saved from destroying itself and to “advance” themselves! They are against God because they believe that belief in Him somehow weakens or supresses our ability to reason and think.

      Now, to go listen to Dr Mohler and perhaps I’ll also change my tune? 🙂

    • Carrie

      Boz…

      On 4 … moderate and liberal Protetant movements are far from extremists … how then does it follow they promote extreme theistic belief?

      On 5 and 7 are you saying no atheists believe the entire point or only parts of it?

      Thanls for your feedback as well.

    • Gary Simmons

      Boz: There are atheist ideologies that do indeed seek to ban religious practice altogether. Take for example North Korea and China. You don’t see it because you’re more familiar with Western thought and literature, I suppose.

    • Jonathan Eggleston

      If you want to see a example of this visit

      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pray-for-an-Atheist

      This site was set up as a place for atheists and christians to dialog but the dialog is often brought to a screeching halt by what you have described. You have seen the future.

    • Carrie

      @ Gary … exactly.

    • Stephen

      The New Atheism: When lacking substance, go for vitriol.

      Boz: While many atheists may in theory allow for the supernatural, most, when discussing the miraculous, simply take the Hume tack of stating that miracles are always irrational to believe.

      As for 5 and 7, You have far more faith than I, especially when marxist form atheists explicitly state that religion is not to be tolerated. I guess they’re just lying.

    • Randy Olds

      Unfortunately, I have had the opportunity to experience the “New Atheist” agenda up close and personally because my younger brother and a number of his friends fall into this category.

      For a number of years my brother flip-flopped between atheist and agnostic. He always had a dislike for Christians but it was fairly benign until about five or six years ago when he joined the “New Atheist” crowd. Many of those other “New Atheists” that he has become friends with are Internet based, but living in ultra-liberal Austin, TX, he has a fair number of like-minded friends in his area.

      Where “Boz’ commented that there are no atheists that believe #7 or #8, he is quite wrong. My brother and the bulk of his friends believe that theistic belief is the cause of most of the ills of the world and should be eradicated. There are a great number of New Atheist websites where you can find these sentiments resounded over and over again.

      And so far as apologetics or “good deeds” go, the New Atheist is not impressed. Most New Atheists subscribe to a form of Secular Humanism, and believe that they can be much better people from a secular humanist viewpoint than any theist can be with their gods who they like to call “imaginary friends.”

      After I committed my life to Christ a couple of years ago, my brother pretty much disowned me. From his New Atheist mindset, I had “gone off the deep end” (his words). I tried for quite a while to lovingly tolerate him, but eventually had to cut ties with him after I found out that he was trying to convince my teenagers that there was no God and that their dad’s (mine) conversion was simply some sort of mid-life crisis gone really, really bad. (and I’m a Methodist for crying out loud)

      There is most assuredly a vast chasm separating the New Atheist from the “old.” It is a very scary thing to look across, and without direct intervention from God, it cannot be crossed.

    • Henry K

      Greg Koukl (http://www.str.org) and Michael Shermer (http://www.skeptic.com/) actually had a very good debate/forum on the Hugh Hewitt Show end of last year on the topic of the existence of God. You can get some sense about where the New Atheism stands (although Michael might not be as radical or aggressive as Richard Dawkins). The show transcripts can be found at:

      http://www.hughhewitt.com/transcripts.aspx?id=53dc1daa-c9b6-429f-9732-923b01ba19b3

      It might be a bit painful to go through the transcripts since the texts are very crowded. The other option is to order a MP3 CD from str.org.

      As to point 7 and Daniel’s comment with regard to the estimated numbers of people murdered by religions vs. institutionalized atheism, Greg Koukl summarized in the following townhall.com article under the section “Greatest Murderers”:

      http://townhall.com/columnists/GregKoukl/2006/11/21/christianitys_real_record/page/full

      All interesting reads. Hope these help.

    • Teluog

      I heard an apologist on a radio program say that these New Atheists haven’t actually given any new arguments that haven’t been proposed since Christianity started 2,000 years ago.

    • Boz

      Carrie said: “Boz… On 4 … moderate and liberal Protetant movements are far from extremists … how then does it follow they promote extreme theistic belief?

      On 5 and 7 are you saying no atheists believe the entire point or only parts of it? Thanls for your feedback as well.”

      On point 4, moderate religious movements provide cover for extremist religious movements. They enable extremists. They don’t explicitly promote extremism.

      The religious beliefs moderates and extremists are 80%(?), 90%(?) 95%(?), 99%(?), identical. So it is difficult for moderates to criticise extremists without criticising themselves. And when moderates do criticise extremists, the criticisms are weak and minor, because there is a small scope for criticism.

      Furthermore, the existence of moderates makes it harder for those from other religions and the non-religious to criticise the basis of the actions of extremists. Because the same basis/belief is held by moderates, and this reduces the receptive audience, and increases the numebr of offended people.

      Take for example the murder of george tiller. Moderates would agree with 90%, 99%(?) of the murderer’s views on abortion.

      On points 5 and 7, we are talking about new atheists. none of them agree with the whole of 5, and the bolded first sentence of 7.

      Garry Simmons, China and North Korea are not new-atheism.

    • Boz

      Randy Olds, my brothers friend is a christian, and, taking his lead from Lot and his daughters in the book of genesis, is an active practicioner and promoter of rape and incest.

      Christianity is a vile and disgusting movement, given its promotion of rape and incest.

    • Carrie

      Hi Boz,

      OK thanks that gives me insight into point 4. I was well off in my assumption of what was being put forth.

      On 5 & 7 …

      You said *no* atheist believe that. Not no new atheists believe that. So Gary’s point about North Korea and China (essentially secularist countries that pro-actively prohibit Christian Theism) doesn’t affect your statement that “Atheists don’t believe that”?

      What about those points is inaccurate in describing what the new atheists does (or does not as you stated) believe?

    • Carrie

      Also, please note this post isn’t really a platform for debating Theism v. Atheism.

      In all sincerity, I simply wished to map out a particular aspect (the New Atheism) of the overall debate and sought to do so with accuracy.

      So if this starts going in a direction of “Christians are vile and stupid and believe in talking snakes so why should we listen to them” or “Atheists are fools, and their arguments fall flat” etc… while although i certainly believe the latter is the case, this particular post was not intended for that discussion.

      It seems that its going well thus far, however if it does turn into that, I will quickly nip it in the bud.

      Cheers everyone!

    • […] full post is well worth […]

    • Ishmael

      “Explicitly based in scientific argumentation”? I’m curious about that one — are they alledging that there’s some sort of “proof” according to the scientific method that there is no “god”? IOW, they have devised a reproducible experiment where if there was a “god”, outcome A would be observed and if not, then outcome B is observed?

      Or is this just more Dawkins-babble that “science” has such a good explanation for everyhting that the implication of no deity is justified (which, BTW, is a theological position not a scientific one)?

      “New” atheism? I don’t think so — the same muddy old pig dressed up in some new clothes is still a muddy old pig.

      We really need to do a better job of teaching science in our schools — you “do” science and “scientific” does not mean that you take the priest off the pedestal and put a twit in a lab coat in his place.

      — Ishmael

    • Steve Cornell

      Yes, there is a strange new brand of atheism.

      Best work on New Atheism:

      http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/atheist-delusions/

      8 Reasons it’s not easy to be an atheist:

      http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/not-easy-to-be-an-atheist/

    • mbaker

      Interesting piece. I would largely agree. What I always ask is the why of it, and I have come to the following conclusions after observing the increase in atheism in the last decade.

      (1) The breakdown of corporate family life, especially in our culture. With everyone nowadays encouraged to do their own thing, the family that prays together no longer necessarily stays together as a Christian unit, solidified in one belief system.

      (2) The self-help or ‘It works for me’ mentality. Since the DIY movement has been rising in popularity the last few years, there seems to be a self-help book or support group now for every conceivable problem. This has been applied to religious practices as well, as we see by the enormous growth of every conceivable kind of church in the last decade.

      (3) the over-specialization of Christianity. Nowadays there are so many more niches of theological thought being created, rather than the overall essential beliefs predominating as they once did.

      (4) In recent years, more pastors have become like corporate CEO’s, who concentrate on managing an individual church rather than focusing on attracting outsiders to Christianity itself. This is exemplified by their personal preference for programs which focus on entertaining people, rather than spreading of the gospel.

    • Carrie

      @ Steven – Ooooh that book looks good. Thanks for pointing that out!

      @Ishmael – I think that it is simply a move away from philosophical argumentation and limiting it to strictly scientific ones.

      The term “scientific” in this case is loaded down with pre-suppositions, to be sure, but arguing against the points wasn’t the purpose of my post.

      @mbaker – It would seem a lot of these would tie into point 4 (some directly some in a more roundabout way.

      Great thoughts.

      Thanks to you all for such great thought-filled replies!

    • Topher

      So what about the ‘anger’ of New Atheists emerging from a far more overt Christian political movement in the United States. That is what gets me all riled up. I could care less what people believe and think I have a nuanced view of religion, but when preachers and Christians tell me that the grocery store should be forced to close on Sunday, “Blue Laws” or that gay people are not deserving of rights, or the pro-life arguments, or as my brother-in-law believes, that global warming is a satanic plot, creationism in public school etc…

      I could go on, but it is the intersection of Christianity and politics that seems to be the cause of so much anger. I would argue that “New” Atheism is a reaction to the vocal Christian political movement, in the US at least.

    • Carrie

      Topher I think this is part of the explanation for the “why” of Point 5.

      I would agree that there seems to be a backlash against the Christless moralism that has so dominated our (read American) culture for the past 20 to 30 years.

      I’d say, I object to it as much as, if not more than, the atheist.

    • Steve Cornell

      Toper,

      The anger is larger. Science should have put an end to this “God stuff”. We know so much more, why in the world does belief in God keep growing and among really intelligent people? But it does! The atheist’s misguided hope to get rid of God turned on them and now they’re mad! Yes, they have reserved a special anger for Christians (perhaps because they know it plays to their choir or because they’re afraid of Muslims).

      As to the whole Christian thing you raise, I guess Christians are not allowed to have any say at all in public discourse about what is good for us. Isn’t democracy about a shared understanding of what is good? THis means that all voice get to contribute their opinions. Should we let radical militant homosexuals and radical abortionist rule the discussion? Admittedly, Christians don’t always present themselves well but let’s not fall for the tyranny of only a politically correct definition of tolerance. This is a cowardice conformity to perceived popular opinion.

      For some more balanced thinking on this, see:
      the excellent column by Michael Gerson, The Ugly Party vs. the Grown-Up Party.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/29/AR2010062903841.html

      And a similar piece I wrote: Watching the tone of our debate:

      http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/watching-the-tone-of-our-debates/

      Steve Cornell

    • Carrie

      Steve …

      This isn’t meant for debating the issue.

      Thus far we have avoided it.

      What I understood Topher’s post to be was a clarification of one of the points in the original post.

      It didn’t seem as if he were debating the issue but adding clarity to the point itself.

      I don’t mean to suggest that you are but it seems it has the potential to go in that direction.

      Again I am not going to argue against the merits of any of the points I listed from the Mohler lecture.

      Not because I can’t and not because I don’t wish to, but because that is not the intention of this post.

    • Topher

      Thank you Carrie, yes my intention was to give my perspective as an atheist (not sure if i am ‘new’ or not) on the post above. Many of the commentators have spoken of the anger they see in the new atheist movement. I think that this anger is in many cases a direct result of Christian political action. If Christians enter the political arena, ofttimes very angry themselves, they should not be surprised to find equal vigor from there opponents. At no point did I imply that Christians should be banned from participating in politics, don’t put words in my mouth.

      Basically I think many of the above post’s points stem from atheists reacting to political Christianity as opposed to just the existence of Christians. Sure, there would be plenty of atheists who would argue with Christians if they were not politically active. I just think the anger burns so hot because of the combination of religion and politics.

    • Carrie Hunter

      I see Topher. I appreciate your thoughts on that.

      Cheers!

    • Hm

      That last point of ‘The damage theism has brought to humanity’ is interesting.. Consider all the damage brought to humanity from the copius amounts of historic records we have of wars, crusades, and moral crime against the greatest to the least application of ‘humanity’.
      What is the common factor? Humans causing the damage. What is a common trend – humans claiming justification (for their damaging behaviour) in some way or another, through either divine, natural, cultural, political or any other kind of means.
      So to hold that point in balance, if were going to eliminate theism from society, than we should also eliminate anything that we can use to justify our evil choices.

      also consider this. ‘the damage theism has brought to society’, from a no ‘christian god’ point of view.

      Another angle would be to observe the damage wrought by humans (in the name of theism) as positive progress (atheisticslly)
      it wouldn’t be hard to kid yourself.
      from where comes this perspective that it is damage?
      (if the perspective comes with time, ie witnessing the destructive effects of the behaviour and therefore deciding it was evil, something is still guiding your choice to percieve it in this way)
      A certain moral code?
      With theism there Is 1 constant guided set of morals, throughout all time. (warped and misunderstood by most human beings).
      Without theish, morals are always being defined and changing as time and place changes also.
      Therefore to look back over human progress and apply 1 code of morals to human behaviour, is closer to a theistic perspective of morals than an atheistic.

      Maybe you could say that our time and culture is the most advanced out of all history and we have learnt from our mistakes – sure we have. Political wars over oil. Poverty and greed. Increasing levels of crime. Increased gap between poor and rich. Humans don’t tend to learn from histories lessons!

    • Richard

      Carrie,
      1. I love your commentary.
      2. Your point #1: I fully agree that New Atheists try to drag the 19th century thinkers (what they love to disparage as “Victorian”) into their Elmer Gantry view of Christianity. But haven’t they ever read Dickens or Hardy…or…?? The “down-and-dirty” Victorians—Christian or not—were very concerned about loving their neighbors as themselves.
      3. Point #3: Excellent. But why is the obvious—really obvious—not obvious to the N.A.s? (My answer: Being right is much more important to some people than truth. Have they never noticed that they are sometimes wrong about some things in their life?? Being wrong sometimes is…human. Go figure!! 🙂
      4. #5: Ahhh…”Tolerance!!!” screamed by the intolerant. Wait…where have I heard this Liberal voice before?? Wait…it’l come to me…
      5. #7: LOL…Harvard used to produce people who didn’t make me laugh unintentionally. LOL.
      6. Thanks so very much for this post, Carrie…and for my opportunity to agree and rant. God is too good to me–and He knows it much too well! 🙂
      7. Come on Mbaker…where are you?? 🙂

    • mbaker

      Richard,

      Already up there in comment #30. Thanks for your shout out on the other thread. Just sincerely hope I am up to your high expectations, If not then I’ll certainly forgive you for both being an SBC and a Calvinist! 🙂

      God bless.

    • Richard

      Mbaker,

      Again…I must run to the grocery store. But… But:

      1. You’re welcome, and my “shout out’ was very sincere.
      2. You have now exceeded my high expectations–well…not quite enough 🙂
      3. Thank you for your forgiveness. Calvinists never forgive that much 🙂
      4. You better write back….I’ll be back in about 2 hours.

      All love…..

    • Carrie

      Thanks Richard!

      And good to know there are a few more SBC/Calvinistic types about! (and thanks to mbaker for pointing that one out… 😉 )

    • mbaker

      As one having an Armenian leaning, but not all the way, as Richard has rightfully pointed out, I tend to share the compaatbilistic point of view more so, but not their philosophical one. I must say that the ‘new’ atheism isn’t new at all, it has simply been redefined in modern terms. Ah, I am admittedly elderly, but the more things change the more they stay the same 🙂

      Here’s where the the old and the new meet, as I have seen it over the years: They both challenge popular theology. The old by saying it’s all about the majority of the early church fathers where historical opinion wins, right or wrong, and the new athesim that challenges everything traditional. Either is an extreme view, IMO.

      So, realistically, where do we meet to challenge atheism of any sort? To me, that’s the moot question for any Christian.

    • mbaker

      To qualify that, I meant that if we don’t completely agree with the historical view of the early church fathers, we are considered ‘atheists,’ to some degree at least, in some theological circles. or at least outside the realm of what is considered the latest trend in orthodoxy.

    • Richard

      Mbaker,

      Oh….oh…Old? Hey, I’m a 59 years old guy who everyone thinks is 35/40ish–just read my immature “stuff”. (Actually, I really could pass for a 35ish…well, 40ish–ok, 45ish guy). But age…Oh mannn….I almost said something sooo inane! (like “wisdom bubbles up from the well of age”…Good grief!!). But, the truth, the “real truth” is this: Wisdom comes from time, experience and, hopefully, from some looking over one’s shoulder. You know this,—and please try to convince a 25 year old of this very wisdom. Ya know what I mean! LOL.

      Now, I will reply to your remarks with a 1., 2., 3. thingy ( as all of us advertising/PR writers love to do):

      1. You share all of my Calvinist views about life and Christ (oh, yeah, one in the same)…You just want, in my very humble–very humble—opinion to avoid the obvious, and “chicken out” :). Believe me, I understand the SBC consequences 🙂 But, come on…really?? You want to be a compatiiblist without agreeing with “C” philosophy??? Really? Sorry…that only makes sense to women 🙂 (I’m dragging you into my humor here, and you know it!! 🙂 But….but, I truly don’t understand the difference between compatiblism (Sp?) and the Calvinist view of life/reality: For whatever reason (I never ask God “why”? anymore), God has decided to elect all of those whom He and I and you love–always. Always. Forever. Even ME! Can you even imagine a God who wouldn’t love those you don’t? That’s one reason I believe in Him (are you listening, atheists??—Easy faith, like yours, is…unbelievable)
      2. Thanks so much for your comments, Mbaker!
      3.Carrie, I truly loved your post, but I hate your name (ex-wife stuff :)–I hope, however, we can still be “humor mates” like Mbaker and me! Truly a very good post. Thank you.
      3. Mbaker….Mbaker: Have you published anything, anywhere; If not, why do you refuse us this blessing?!?
      4. Oh mannnnn…..no time for editing. A friend needs my help. Darn!. But don’t think…

    • Vladimir

      “Belief in God is not to be tolerated”

      This is quite reminiesent of the violent rhetoric of Lenin. Although Christianity (Orthodoxy) was allowed as a pathetic ideology, it was impunged and disdained. Stalin carried out in the extreme the violent purges against both political and religious opponents of Communist ideology. This however was a State organized persecution, resulting in the death of a high although unknown number of Russian citizens (55 million – this figure includes WWII dead). It resembles also the Roman empires persecutions of early Christians. While the present civil government will check any violent reprisals against Christian beelief, sporadic persecutions could appear randomly according to their outlook.

      Vladimir

    • Carrie

      Sure Richard! I always love finding humor mates.

      Vlad excellent points.

      Hm while I certainly appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to type them up and share, it seems that it is debating the points I posted.

      I didn’ t create this post for folks to debate the points.

      I only sought to explain how my own thinking was changed in respects to this particular issue.

      So I will leave your comment (because, it really is a very good one) but I do discourage further “debate-like” structure in replies on this particular post.

      And with that, I am going to bed.

      Nite nite all.

    • Hm

      Fair call 🙂

    • Richard

      Hi Carrie,

      You said, “I didn’ t create this post for folks to debate the points.
      I only sought to explain how my own thinking was changed in respects to this particular issue.”

      Well…I appreciate that you appreciated my comments, but, I’m a little confused: Why would you post something about which you don’t want other folks “to debate the points”? Isn’t that why anyone would post to a blog?? Debate? Truth?. Truly, I don’t understand. If I, or anyone else, is not supposed to respond, in agreement or disagreement to the the issues you raise, then why blog at all?? I’m not angry or upset or….anything like that. I’m just truly confused. I understand that you wanted to express your perspective. But, for some reason, you seem to feel slighted that I agreed and disagreed with you about something you posted?? Really, truly, I don’t get it.
      Mbaker, or Michael, please help me out here: Were my comments inappropriate or something??? If so, I’ll try harder, but….what?? I agreed with and congratulated you, Carrie, for the most part, on what you said. Maybe I was mistaken. It happens too often!!
      Confused!!!!
      Oh, darn!! I just realized that you might have been addressing Vlad instead of me. Darn! If so, I forgive you…If you were addressing me, then I hate you !! 🙂 🙂 But always in love! (Ni shi wode xin. Zhende!—Du bist mein Herz!—I’m just showing off for Mbaker with my Chinese and German 🙂 🙂 Sorry. Are you following Mbaker? 🙂 🙂 For the rest of you guys: Look for Mbaker’s posts. She’s brilliant, until she tries to defend Arminianism. 🙂 🙂 Then trust me, Michael, and apparently, Carrie–and any other reasonable person.

    • Carrie

      Hm – cool mate.

      Richard the intent of the post isn’t to debate the points of New Atheism.

      I have said a few times:

      Comment 11. This post isn’t meant to provide advice to the Christian on apologetic tactic or method.

      It is simply to inform people of a certain view that people we may or may not encounter, hold to.

      It is important to accurrately represent those with whom we disagree.

      Comment 26. Also, please note this post isn’t really a platform for debating Theism v. Atheism.

      In all sincerity, I simply wished to map out a particular aspect (the New Atheism) of the overall debate and sought to do so with accuracy.

      So if this starts going in a direction of “Christians are vile and stupid and believe in talking snakes so why should we listen to them” or “Atheists are fools, and their arguments fall flat” etc… while although i certainly believe the latter is the case, this particular post was not intended for that discussion.

      It seems that its going well thus far, however if it does turn into that, I will quickly nip it in the bud.

      and

      Comment 35. This isn’t meant for debating the issue.

      Thus far we have avoided it.

      I am not certain how else I can say it Richard?

      I haven’t felt slighted by you at all? I am not sure where you are getting that from.

      Anyway to state once again, this post was not meant to debate whether or not atheism is true. This post was meant to accurately represent the position of the New Atheist.

      The only “debate” that has been allowed is a few atheists stating their opinion of the points as in “well this isn’t really what it entails” etc, or with fellow believers stating “this could be adjusted a bit”

      Not all blog post are put on the table as an invitation to debate.

      This is one of those.

      I hope that helps Richard?

    • Carrie

      Richard, perhaps you are taking the comments I directed at “Hm” as being directed at you.

      That may possibly be the cause of the confusion.

      No worries either way.

    • Richard

      Carrie,
      Thank you for the clarification. “Hm” it is 🙂 I also should have approached your post with more than 3 hours of sleep in two days. My bad. I did, however, very much enjoy the read.

    • […] theology blog, Parchment and Pen, gives it a shot (in reaction to this): Things marked with an asterisk* are my […]

    • Carrie

      No problem Richard.

    • Richard

      Carrie,

      🙂 🙂 🙂 And please post a little more often. I enjoy your thoughtful contributions. But next time please post something that will make those “A” people, like Mbaker say to themselves, “Don’t always believe what you think.” (Come on, Baker 🙂 🙂 You know my sense of humor by now.) Thanks again, Carrie. I’m serious about looking forward to more of your articles.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Thanks Richard, but in truth, my place in the ministry isn’t really that of a blogger or well that of contributing to the public aspect of the ministry. I’ll leave that to Michael, Tim, Lisa, Dan and the many others who contribute in such a big way (and are really more qualified than I to do so.)

      I keep my posting down to about one blog every two years or so.

      Thank you though for such encouraging words. It means a lot to me that you and others have enjoyed the post and are thinking about its content.

      And a thanks to Andy who linked to this post from his blog. I had a look at what he had to say over there and it is well worth reading. Although, I am a little put off at the thought that the “worshipers of political correctness” as he puts it, would like my post.

      I am not what you would call … politically correct. In. The. Least.

      Anyway, back to work for me … you know the behind the scenes at Reclaiming the Mind stuff… that is where I am most comfortable.

      Cheers everybody!

    • Richard

      Carrie,
      I truly understand. I feel more comfortable “behind the scenes” as well. But my position with friends/family/church demands that I “speak out” more often than I would prefer. Darn! Michael, et al are great writers and thinkers (for the most part :), and they have made P&P and RMM…what it is. I must tell you, however, that I not only enjoyed the great read of your post, but I was swept away by your…sweet authenticity (Something I also appreciate about Michael and Mbaker, BTW). That is what Christ meant, when He said (paraphrasing from John 15?): “I give you one command: If you love Me, love others!”
      Thank you for such a great display of doing exactly that. And…please contribute more publicly–when you can bear it 🙂

    • The Barefoot Bum

      As a “militant” New Atheist (and revolutionary communist), I have to say that your interpretation of Mohler’s analysis of “New Atheism” is both accurate and perspicacious. (Quibble: New Atheists confront “moderate” and “liberal” religions because we believe they *affirm*, not deny, foundational assertions of more orthodox and more violent religions)

      A couple of notes: Of course we appear “arrogant”: we believe we are correct, and you are mistaken. Of course we appear “intolerant”: we are no more tolerant of religious error and falsity than we would be of any other error, and we no more tolerate religious institutions who use their social influence to shield depraved criminals from justice than we tolerate the criminals themselves.

      We atheists do not object to religion because you believe you are correct, nor because you say you are correct. We object to religion because — so we believe and so we argue — you are *wrong*.

    • Richard

      Barefoot Bum,

      Great read. It’s odd, however, that you feel compelled to be a “revolutionary communist/militant New Atheist” and also not be arrogant about it. No one—no one—can talk you into accepting Christ as the One who offers you salvation from your horrible…”life stuff.” Truly. But I’m always amazed by how hard and how fast some people run from God. Your decision, of course. Always. Eternally. I did the same thing, so I understand. What I don’t understand is why God loved me–ME–enough to “send His Hounds” after me until I discovered His passion to love me—Me? Me? Have you ever considered the possibility that you’re reading P&P because those same “hounds” are nipping at your heals? It was true of C.S. Lewis, as well. Honest question. I’m just say’n…

    • The Barefoot Bum

      It’s odd, however, that you feel compelled to be a “revolutionary communist/militant New Atheist” and also not be arrogant about it.

      Who says I’m not arrogant? If by arrogant you mean I believe I’m actually correct and those who disagree with me are mistaken, then I cheerfully confess. If you mean I *undeservedly* believe myself to be correct, well no one thinks they’re undeservedly correct. If you mean something else, you’ll have to be more specific.

      No one—no one—can talk you into accepting Christ as the One who offers you salvation from your horrible…”life stuff.”

      First, it does seem like a lot of Christians *try* to talk me into stuff. Second, my “life stuff” is just fine, thankyouverymuch, and I see no need for any sort of salvation, much less the kind of salvation founded on equal parts of fantasy, self-delusion and wishful thinking.

      Have you ever considered the possibility that you’re reading P&P because those same “hounds” are nipping at your heals?

      I’m reading this particular post because my friend Dagood linked to it, and I wanted to tell Ms. Hunter the description is accurate.

    • Carrie

      Barefoot, thank you for your earlier comments. It adds clarity to the original points.

      As far as the subsequent discussion between you and Richard ….

      Guys this is exactly what I didn’t want this to turn into.

      So please no more of this here.

      Thanks heaps.

      Carrie

    • Richard

      Carrie,
      Sorry if I seemed too confrontational with Barefoot. Didn’t mean to. I was just adding my 2 cents worth of response (Ok… you can stop laughing at the “2 cents” thing, Barefoot—I can hear you from here 🙂

      Friendly friends always.

    • The Barefoot Bum

      I didn’t take any offense from Richard’s comments. Anyway, like I said, the post is a fair summary of the most important ways New Atheists distinguish themselves from “run-of-the-mill” “old” atheists.

    • Richard

      Barefoot,

      Thanks for your posting to Carrie. Being “new” sometimes feels better than being old (at 59yrs old, I know a little about this 🙂 But sometimes “old” and “new” don’t mean much (If you have kids, just ask’m—but never ask them whether truth is more important than being right or wrong. They’ll always lie about it, and say the “truth” is more important, and then insist to themselves that they are right–and love it. Strange.

      Again, truly, thanks for your comments. Glad for the debate. That’s where truth seems to emerge.

    • The Barefoot Bum

      If it’s permissible, I would like to hear from Richard what he considers to constitute “arrogance”, especially in a pejorative or negative sense.

    • Richard

      Barefoot,
      I’ll do my best:
      “Arrogance” is perhaps best defined as SELF-centeredness to the point that being right is more important than truth–but, of course, never admitting that, because…well, because the arrogant person has to be right in order to hold it over someone else. And it is always pejorative/negative–with little or no hint of humility. My definition may be a little shaky here, but that’s the short of it. And BTW it’s unfortunate, but true, that arrogant people are found on both sides of the Christian/Atheist fence. Again, thanks for not laughing too loudly at my 2 cents 🙂

    • The Barefoot Bum

      “Arrogance” is perhaps best defined as SELF-centeredness to the point that being right is more important than truth–but, of course, never admitting that, because…well, because the arrogant person has to be right in order to hold it over someone else.

      I’m not sure I understand you here. First of all, I’m not sure how whether you’re using “right” to mean “good”, “truthful” or “winning”.

      I can’t even start to figure out what you mean if you mean the sense of “right” as good, so I’ll assume (unless you correct me and clarify) that’s not what you mean.

      If someone believes something, they believe it’s true. So it would seem we can find someone “arrogant” only if they believe something without sufficient justification or good reason. This is a pretty good sense of “arrogant”, but to determine which side (if any) of a disagreement about the truth is arrogant, we have to look at their reasons for believing something.

      There is definitely a reasonable sense of “arrogant” where a person cares more about winning an argument than about actually getting at the truth.

      Not that I take any offense at all, but I don’t understand why you might think think I myself was arrogant in either sense merely because I stated specific philosophical and political opinions.

      Since I didn’t discuss my reasons, I don’t understand why you would think I don’t have good reason for believing there is no god or believing a communist revolution would be the most beneficial outcome for humanity. Similarly, since I’m merely stating a position and not engaging in any sort of argument or debate, I don’t understand why you would think I care more about winning than about getting at the truth.

      Of course, I might be completely missing your point, in which case I would be more than happy to have additional clarification.

    • Richard

      Barefoot,
      You said, “There is definitely a reasonable sense of “arrogant” where a person cares more about winning an argument than about actually getting at the truth.”
      That’s basically what I meant.
      I didn’t mean any offense to you. I believe you’re wrong about many things, but…that’s just my opinion. BTW I think I read in one of your earlier posts that you post somewhere else about politics. My two passions: #1 God’s love #2 Politics (Reaganite here 🙂 Is there a blog where we could debate only politics–and be arrogant together? 🙂

    • The Barefoot Bum

      Of course you believe I’m *wrong*; I pretty much figured that going in. And I too think you’re wrong. I have my suspicions, but I don’t yet know with confidence *why* you believe what you do. Nor do I know how you feel about winning. I don’t see any reason why either of us should at least start off believing the other cares more about winning than than the truth.

      I post on my blog about politics and economics from, of course, a revolutionary communist perspective; I include the the occasional posts about philosophy and atheism as well. My blog is linked to from my handle here.

      I don’t publish comments on my blog, but you’re welcome to email me (you can find my address on my profile) and I’ll reply. I’ll also publish sensible emails as blog posts — credited, unedited and of course only with your permission.

    • The Barefoot Bum

      BTW: You do know that Reagan *spits on floor* was (like George Washington) at the very least not a church-going man, and probably an atheist.

    • Richard

      Barefoot,

      Dumb question here, but I guess I’m not “geekish” enough :): Where/how do I find your profile or handle. Sorry, I’ve just never tried to do that before.

    • mbaker

      Richard,

      You just click on his name next to the comment number. If the person has a blog it goes right to it.

    • Richard

      Mbaker,

      Oh…It worked. Thanks for look’n after me. That’s the 3rd reason I like you so much 🙂

    • Carrie

      Howdy all…

      Once talk of Ronald Reagan arises on a post such as this it is definitely time to take it to email. 🙂

      Cheers y’all.

    • Carrie

      Hmmmm….

    • The Barefoot Bum

      Keep in mind that I’m here merely to present the positions of the New Atheist community, and all I can do is present these positions as best I understand them. If you want to argue the merits of these positions, you’re welcome to email me and we can set something up.

    • The Barefoot Bum

      My email, for those who don’t want to go through all the effort of finding it from my blog, is lrhamelin at gmail dot com

    • Carrie

      @ Richard –

      Carrie,

      “I fully agree: Hmmmm….. Truly.

      Doesn’t it seem sometimes that the greatest form of denial, comes from the need to deny? I know: Hmmm…. :)”

      That isn’t what I was “hmmmm ing” about”

      @ Barefoot,

      Cheers.

    • Carrie Hunter

      I think perhaps would be a good time to explain something here.

      Theology takes discipline.

      It requires discipline to engage in theological discussion.

      Discipline in conversation is that of staying on the topic and not arguing towards different points simply because one possess the faculties and information to do so.

      I find that often, on blogs in general, people simply lack the discipline required to engage in a way that is productive. Which is why you will rarely see me on blogs engaging in debate of any kind.

      I stated over and over and over what was actually on the table to discuss yet in the face of that people still managed to sneak in debate.

      Barefoot, this was not meant as a platform for you to promote your atheistic worldview and it was not meant as a platform for others to debate it.

      Yet still it turned into that.

      So I really don’t know what else to say.

      The comments have been deleted and I don’t think there is a need for me to explain why.

      Anyone wishing to actually discuss things about this post within the parameters put forth, go for it.

      Thanks.

    • Carrie Hunter

      Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.