The “New Christians”

In my post Theology of the Emperor’s New Clothes I referred to the anger exhibited in many of the reviews of the recent atheist books. The best known of these books are The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), The End of Faith (Sam Harris), Letter to a Christian Nation(Sam Harris), Breaking the Spell (Daniel C. Dennett) and God Is Not Great (Christopher Hitchens). These sort of reviews have been parodied by Adam Roberts in a “review” of a fictional book (The Fascism Delusion by Richard Dawkins). Clearly, many religious people are responding emotionally to the current discussion of religion and belief.

Dawkins, Dennett and others have pointed out that this sort of reaction is a specific character of religion. People see religion as something that needs protection from the scrutiny normally acceptable in other fields of human endeavour. This is a bit rich, of course, given the harsh criticism of atheism religious people have made over the years. If the current interest in atheism and religion resulted in the ability to discuss these issues in a calmer way that would be a very welcome outcome.

Books by the “New Christians”

One reviewer has commented that the arguments of the “new atheists’ has caused a confusion amongst religious believers. This confusion has resulted in a new wave of books aimed at providing believers with arguments enabling them to respond with more confidence. recently provided a list of books by the “New Christians” – all of them in response to Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchens. I have given these, and a few others, below:

The Return of the Village Atheist by Joel Mcdurmon;
Letter to an Atheist
by Michael Patrick Leahy;
Letter from a Christian Citizen
by Douglas Wilson;
Letter to an Atheist Nation
by Michael, Allen Robinson;
The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day;
Letter to an Influential Atheist by Roger Steer;
The God Delusion Revisited by Mike King;
Beyond the God Delusion
by Richard Grigg;
The Dawkins Delusion?
by Alister McGrath;
The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths
by David Robertson;
The God Solution A Reply to the God Delusion by James A. Beverly;
Darwin’s Angel: An angelic Reposte to The God Delusion by John Cornwell;
The Argument Against Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion
by The Ipod Tutor;
by David, Reuben Stone;
A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins by Thomas Crean O.P.;
The New Atheist Crusaders and Their Unholy Grail by Becky Garrison;
The Truth Behind the New Atheism
by David Marshall;

This is a pretty big harvest for a few atheist books published only recently. Even so, I suspect there are more in the pipeline.

What I am waiting for though is the atheist response to these. Are we going to get a secondary wave of atheist books? Maybe even a new group of authors – the “Even Newer Atheists.”

Related Articles:
Agnostics – what do they stand for?
Theology of the Emperor’s New Clothes
Debating science and religion
The atheist wars?
Atheism and religious diversity
The Enemies of Reason
Religion and Schools
“I’m an atheist, but ……”
Special rights for religion?

4 responses to “The “New Christians”

  1. Ken,

    (unrelated to the above post)

    A random (and not intentionally loaded!) question for you on fossils:

    As far as you know, what is the prevailing view on why we have so many fossils?
    Also, isn’t it true that in order to have a fossil record of any carbon-based organism, you have to have rapid burial? If an organism dies and is not buried relatively quickly, it decomposes and leaves no trace.

    (I used to work for a lumber company, and we purchased an existing lumberyard in Mexico, Missouri, and upon inspecting the grounds, I found a dead dog behind a stack of lumber. I took a board and pushed it to check, and it flipped over, revealing that half of the dog had decomposed – quite the sight!)

    For this reason, do not most geologists (or others that study fossils) hold that a catastrophic event caused the burial of all these organisms? Are there other theories than the meteor collision one and the ice-age one? I was wondering, because neither of these would seem to be characterised by rapid burial following death.

    (And please don’t see this as me trying to say anything at all about a global flood or Noah or Arks, etc.) 🙂




  2. I don’t know that we think we do have “so many fossils”. It’s the nature of the situation that only a small fraction of individuals would have been fossilised because of the conditions required. Hence we must expect large gaps in the fossil record – but over time some (or many?) of the gaps are being filled in.
    I agree that rapid burial, or something similar, would be required to preserve, and then fossilise, soft tissues. But most fossils are of skeletons. I imagine these could be preserved by far less rapid burial. In any case, rapid burial could arise from relatively small local events. Some relatively soft tissue could also be protected against decomposition before burial by specific mechanisms. I remember seeing the petrified forest in Arizona – perhaps decomposition of these trees was limited by presence of resins, or burial in swamps, before fosilisation.
    I agree that catastrophic events such as impacts, while leading to extinctions would not, in themselves, cause massive burial on a planetary scale. I don’t think there is evidence for such burial anyway. An interesting extinction mechanism that doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the popular media is that of hydrogen sulphide poisoning. It seems that a massive extinction 260 million years ago (95% of a species wiped out) may have arisen through global warming, disruption of oceanic currents, reduced oxygen concentrations in deep oceans and the consequent proliferation of sulphate microbes causing release of poisonous H2S into the oceans and atmosphere. Some of that is a bit close to our current situation!


  3. Very interesting.

    I can see how such a poisoning could wipe out organisms, but still looking for a good explanation for the rapid burial (allowing for and ensuring the subsequent fossilisation) of those organisms…

    Now, please understand, I’m not pushing a bible-wagon or saying anything about arks or pairs of animals, OK? But I’ve seen some decent-sounding geological theories about how the earth’s tectonic plates could have ruptured and shifted causing a flood-like result. Huge gaps in the ocean floor (including depths we’ve not been able to reach); plates crashing together (is this not how many think mountains are formed?); etc. It could be just the catastrophic type of event (think of the variety of degrees of mud-flows [huge and ‘less-huge’] that could have resulted – killing and burying animals, preserving plant-life, etc.) that best explains what we see?



  4. You seem to want to have a scenario of rapid burial by a global mechanism. I don’t think that’s at all necessary (and it wouldn’t explain fossil distribution anyway). Have a look at the information on the web – I’m sure there is plenty explaining current understanding of fossil formation.
    These geological theories you mention – are you sure they are scientific theories? (Point me to a name if you think they are). The only thing I have seen like this is on creationist web sites. They have been trying to justify a biblical myth (“the flood”) using scientific sounding ideas. It’s just rubbish. To me it’s the classic attempt to impose ideas (a bronze-aged myth) on reality rather than developing ideas, theory, from reality.


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