I remember when the new atheist books started appearing on the market that I should purchase and read them. Over a 12-18 month period I read:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett, and

The Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray

Whilst I wondered initially whether they would jolt my Christian convictions, and indeed took a while to getting around to reading these books, I probably was more confirmed in my convictions as a Christians. I wrote an extended book review of The God Delusion posting the review chapter by chapter on the then Sydney Anglican website which I link to below.

I think of these so called ‘new atheists’ as soft core atheists compared to a hard care atheist such as Friedrich Nietzsche who was willing to follow his atheist beliefs to their bitter anti-human end. Dawkins et al are free-loaders whose atheism goes just so far. In order to retain their own comforts and not frighten off would be atheists they argue for a morality borrowed from their upbringing so heavily shaped by Christian moral teaching – of course doffing their hats in favour of same sex marriage and the like. Mostly arrogant, they enjoy the inner glow of their own perceived cleverness and perspicuity whilst expressing, though perhaps also feigning, shock and anger at the stupidity of, and evil generated by religious belief. With the exception of Harris they are careful to avoid criticism of Islam, but are unrelenting in their attack on Christianity. Christians and the Church generally have not always lived up to the teaching of the Bible, but much of the new atheists attack is of the aunt sally variety and their writing is full of ignorance concerning religious belief and motivations, including frequent ad hominem attacks, faulty generalisations and red herrings. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by their ignorance of religious belief and motivation or their rewriting of history or blindness concerning their own ‘big picture of everything’.  Truly it has been said, “claiming to be wise, they became fools”. Even worse than that “since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done”. (Romans 1:22, 28), ie, they have shaken their collective fists at God and one day must answer for that.

I attended the three day 2012 Global Atheist Convention – a celebration of reason – in Melbourne and wrote articles posted on Online Opinion before and after the event – links below. I found it a rather sad event. It certainly failed to generate much interest in the media.

Before listing books from mainly Christian sources written in opposition to the new atheists I offer several links – click on the headings.

Listing of Reviews and Articles related to attacks on Religion by Atheists – 70625 Book Reviews and Articles

This is a very extensive listing of links (some of which as at January 12, 2013 may now be broken) covering published reviews and articles over the period 2004-2008. The following items are covered:

  • The five books by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and Onfray
  • Alister McGrath on Dawkins
  • Multiple Reviews
  • The Angry Atheists
  • Atheism Critiqued
  • Miscellaneous

Answering the Atheists – link

This is a discussion thread run over the course of 2008 on the then Sydney Anglican website in which on comment, principally on a chapter by chapter reading of The God Delusion and David Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales – Stove was Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University in the 1980’s through into the 1990’s. Darwinian Fairytales is a philosophical rebuttal of evolution at least as far as humans are concerned in which Stove interacts extensively with Dawkins writings.

A Daniel in the lion’s den – link

Article written prior to attending the Global Atheist Convention, published Online Opinion, 13th April 2012

Daniel Survives – link

Article written after attending the Global Atheist Convention, published Online Opinion, 17th April 2012

Listing of Books purchased and (mostly) read in response to writings of the new atheists

I comment to the extent of indicating which books I found helpful.

  • Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the meaning of life by Alister McGrath
  • The argument against Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion from the ipod tutor

a careful dissection of Dawkins argument to exposes “its numerous logical fallacies and factual errors, ultimately demonstrating that Dawkins’ primary argument is itself a faith-based construction”.

  • There is a God by Antony Flew

a change of heart from atheism to theism, but not to Christian belief by a prominent former atheist

  • The Devil’s Delusion by David Berlinski
  • God and the new Atheism by John Haught

well worth reading, Haught is a liberal Christian

  • Atheist Delusions: the Christian revolution and its fashionable enemies by David Bentley Hart

Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian who has written one of the better rebuttals

  •  The Drama of Atheist Humanism by Henri De Lubac

an analysis of the thought of Feurbach, Nietzsche and Comte by a noted French priest and later Cardinal

  • The Truth behind the new Atheism by David Marshall
  • The Rage against God by Peter Hitchens

brother of Christopher Hitchens and a Christian who wrote this book in part for his brother

  • Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate by Terry Eagleton

Eagleton is a Marxist but no opponent of Christianity (as refracted thro’ Marxist eyes) has considerable sport at Dawkins and Hitchens’ expense. In Eagleton’s hands they morph into Ditchkins.

  • Is Religion Dangerous by Keith Ward

whilst his answer is no, and the book well worth a read, Ward is a professor of divinity who gives no indication of sustained interaction with the Biblical text that might inform his critique of the new atheists

  • Atheism remix: a Christian confronts the New Atheists by Albert Mohler

a light read that assesses the implications of the new atheism for Christianity – not much of a threat according to Mohler, more “the task is to articulate, communicate, and defend the Christian faith with intellectual integrity and evangelistic urgency”.

  • Faith of the Fatherless by Paul Vitz

written before the emergence of the new atheists, a psychological study comparing notable atheists and theists take turns the commonplace on its head that belief in God is based on all kinds of irrational, immature needs and wishes, whereas atheism or scepticism flows from a rational, grown-up, no-nonsense view of things as they really are – another good read.

  • What’s so great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza
  • God’s Undertaker by John Lennox

excellent, tackles the issue presented by the new atheists that science has buried God. Look out for the expanded 2nd edition.

  • Gunning for God by John Lennox

Like a number of the other books in providing point by point rebuttals of new atheist arguments

  • Where the conflict really lies by Alvin Plantinga

Can be hard going (particularly when he introduces maths!) but a major contribution. Plantinga, probably the foremost Christian philosopher today, describes the claim of his book as “there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism”

  • Aping Mankind by Raymond Tallis

Tallis from the medical sciences is described as a polymath. This book is a critique of any notion that neuroscience (Dennett’s speciality) and evolutionary theory will ever explain human consciousness, behaviour, culture, society or religion.

  • Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel

Nagel, a philosopher, describes himself as an atheist but argues in this book why “the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature” espoused by the new atheists, and Dawkins in particular is “almost certainly false”. His argument is the failure, and this contra Dennett, of Darwinianism to account for the mind. He sees Darwinianism as ripe for displacement, though he is not willing to concede an transcendent alternative.

My recommendations for, say, a 5 book read would be the volumes by Haught, Ward, Hart and the two Lennox volumes. If I were to add 3 more volumes that are a step up in the sophistication of argument, they would be Plantinga, Nagel and Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales.

Nagel, Stove and Lennox are all excellent in challenging confidence in evolution which provides much of the positive buttressing for the new atheists, whilst Nagel and Tallis demonstrate the shallowness of new atheist thinking that the physical sciences will ever be able to account for the mind and consciousness.