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An Agnostic’s Assessment Of New Atheist Attitudes

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens—these are the posterboys for what some have called the “New Atheists”. What’s new about the New Atheists? In his book, Gunning For God, Oxford mathematician John Lennox says it’s their tone and emphasis. The tone of today’s New Atheists is one of intensity and aggression. They are not out to merely inform. They are out to convert—to de-vangelize. In the The God Delusion, Dawkins admits: “If this... Read More

An Atheist in Church? Why Christians Should Listen to Their Atheist Neighbors

A few years ago I was preparing to debate an atheist on the existence of God at my home church. One lady came up to me, curious about the posters she was seeing advertising the event, and asked about the individual I was debating. “He’s an atheist,” I explained. Immediately her expression tightened and a look of confusion came over her as if to say, “Why would you talk to an atheist?” Forming opinions about the atheist community To be honest, it’s not an unusual reaction.... Read More

The Dying of the Brights

“We have to make this planet as good as we possibly can and try to leave it a better place than we found it.” The crowd, gathered to hear Richard Dawkins debate the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, responds to the trite apothegm with unsurprising applause. But off-stage, after the cameras are turned off, the proverbial devil of the details rears his ugly head. A weary Dawkins—one almost gets the sense that he’d rather not talk to anybody at all—kneels besides... Read More

The Argument from Johnny Cash

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Filed under Music

Johnny Cash

Recently, for my Mom’s 60th birthday, I put together a tribute video complete with creased photographs, old music, and clips of my brothers recounting a favorite memory of her—mostly revolving around her cooking or buying the four of us food. As part of the tribute, I asked my Dad to summarize their forty years of marriage together in a minute-long clip—a Herculean task that he met with such calmness and profundity that I knew instantly it would be the grand finale. I also... Read More

A Tale of Two Hitchens

Over the years, I’ve written often about the late Christopher Hitchens, who over the last decade has probably been the world’s most prominent atheist. When we learned of his terminal cancer, I did a piece on the CNN blog, urging Christians to pray for Hitchens—and to my astonishment, this benign recommendation was met with an extraordinarily negative reaction from atheists. But that’s a story for another day. What I'd like to write about today concerns a recent vacation on which... Read More

What God Is and Isn’t

The most signal contribution of David Bentley Hart's new book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (Yale University Press, 2013), is to clarify that serious theists and atheists, though they debate frequently concerning the reality of God, are hardly ever using the word "God" in the same way. This fundamental equivocation contributes massively to the pointlessness and meanness of many of these discussions. It is not so much that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins... Read More

The YouTube Heresies

YouTube

A few years ago I began posting brief reflections on movies, music and culture on YouTube, probably the most watched Web site in the world. In my mind, this exercise resembles St. Paul's venture onto the Areopagus in Athens, preaching the Gospel amid a jumble of competing ideas. YouTube is a virtual Areopagus, where every viewpoint—from the sublime to the deeply disturbing—is on display. Never as a Catholic teacher or preacher have I addressed less of the "choir.” The most... Read More

Turning the Problem of Evil On Its Head

Joker

Many atheists are fond of using the argument from evil to debunk the notion of God. It goes something like this: If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), He could stop evil. If God is all-loving (omnibenevolent), He would stop evil if He could. Therefore, if an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God existed, evil would not. Evil exists; therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God does not. Another variation of the argument was put forward by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, centuries before the... Read More

Why I Loved to Listen to Christopher Hitchens

I have, over the years, playfully accused some of my atheist interlocutors of being “secret Herods.” The biblical Herod arrested John the Baptist but nevertheless took pleasure in listening to John preach from his prison cell. So, I’ve suggested, the atheists who come to my website and comment so acerbically and so frequently on my internet videos are, despite themselves, secretly seeking out the things of God. I will confess to having a certain Herod syndrome in reverse in regard... Read More

Douglas Wilson vs. Christopher Hitchens: A Catholic Perspective

Wilson and Hitchens

I just finished teaching Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics this semester. This is the tenth year I have taught it, and every time I teach it, I more deeply appreciate its truth and importance. One reason for its importance can be found in the Wilson-Hitchens video that I discuss below. Twenty years ago, I believed what is called divine command theory.1 I had grown up thinking that right and wrong were based on divine commands, and could be known only by knowing divine commands. At that... Read More