… 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?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon 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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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

    • 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

      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


      🙂 🙂 🙂 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

      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.


    • Richard

      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


      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

      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

      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


      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


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

    • Richard


      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


    • 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 –


      “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,


    • Ed Kratz

      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.


    • Ed Kratz

      Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.