Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God is a new book book by Dr. Scott Hahn and Benjamin Walker. When Scott Hahn had heard that there were students at Franciscan University of Steubenville losing their faith after reading Dawkins’ The God Delusion he decided to write a book that specifically addressed Richard Dawkins’ arguments. Even though the arguments that Dawkins’ uses don’t hold up to much rigor he writes in such a way that many people will be convinced by them. Even some of his fellow atheists after reading his book had said much the same thing about some of his arguments. Fr. Benedict Groeschel is fond of saying that he could write a better book defending atheism than Richard Dawkins’ did. That being said many people just don’t have the background to see the logical and philosophical errors made and this book provides and excellent counterpoint to Dawkins’ contentions. While this book specifically addresses the arguments personally made by Richard Dawkins’ it pretty much applies to many of the arguments used by all of the “new atheists.”
I have never read any of Dawkins’ books myself. When I was an atheist I didn’t read any atheist apologetics until I started to lose my atheist faith and wanted to save it. This book though quotes extensively from the arguments used in “The God Delusion” and some of his other books to fairly state them. You also get a good idea how polemical Dawkins’ book is from some of the statements quoted. This book though in contrary is not polemical towards Dawkins’. As is proper the arguments used by the authors stick to the realm of reason it does not rely on revelation at all. The focus of the book is not an apologetics work specifically towards Christianity or even atheism, but a direct response to Dawkins’ reasoning for atheism.
Since one of Dawkins’ main thrusts is to equate what is impossible as just highly improbable this book takes those arguments head on by showing how at times Dawkins’ minimizes the numeric improbabilities of things happening purely by chance. Though this isn’t done as Intelligent Design versus Darwinian evolution, but to answer certain claims that Dawkins’ uses as proofs. This section of the book uses the type of information that was influential in bringing influential ex-atheist Anthony Flew from atheism to theism. Anthony Flew has even praised this book by saying “Rarely, if ever in my many years as a procfvessor of philosophy did I hever have the opportunity to read such a compelling argument.”
The latter sections of the book deal to a large part with Dawkins’ philosophy and his grounds for morality. This is really where Dawkins’ case is weakest since he has such a poor grasp of real theological arguments and philosophy. In Dawkins’ world straw men evolve quite quickly. He never seems to realize how the arguments he uses to bash religion, especially Christianity in many cases could be more aptly used against his view of how evolution works. It is quite evident that his own worldview departs from his chance-based evolutionary scheme when he feels it necessary to do so and will not quite go along with the conclusions of what he preaches. He is obviously trying to prove at times that atheists can be good people – something I would totally agree with. My own experience was that when I did something morally good when I was an atheist it was not because of my atheistic faith, but often despite it.
Richard Dawkins’ also tries to show that religious believers have nothing to worry about from atheists such as himself while at the same time calling religion a “mind virus” and teaching religion to children as “child abuse.” The last chapter of the book is an interesting theoretical exercise in the consequences of what a society that had a King Dawkins at its helm and followed what he has said would be like. Not a pretty picture if you take seriously that teaching religious belief is “child abuse” and that euthanasia, bestiality, and infanticide are “moral” choices.
I found this to be an excellent book and Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker have really done their homework in answering Dawkins’ arguments in a very accessible way. Many of the arguments of the new atheists are not as strong as they appear and this book serves as a good inoculation to those arguments.