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The New Atheism Dean Hardy Charlotte Christian School

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1 The New Atheism Dean Hardy Charlotte Christian School

2 Old Vs. New Atheists Old New

3 Old Vs. New Atheists Old New 1)Focused on rational arguments against the TRUTH of Christianity 2)Christianity did have some beneficial effects in history. 3)Christianity has had some positive effects on science. 4)Books written by/for scholars; very academic; never bestsellers. 5)Generally respectful of their opponents. 6)Somewhat tolerant of Christianity. 7)Directly took on the classical arguments for God. 1)Focuses on the pragmatic effects of Christianity 2)There are no benefits to religion, it has poisoned everything. 3)Christianity has and will be an impediment to science. 4)Books written by laymen for the masses. Written simply and easy to read. Bestsellers! 5)Has brought a harsh tone to the debate between atheist/Christian. 6)Seeks to eradicate any faith based belief. 7)Seem almost ignorant of the basic philosophical arguments for God.

4 Irony of New Atheists: Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett boast about how reasonable they are and how much their views are grounded in the evidence. They continuously make fun of Christians who don’t have any evidence, but they themselves rarely (if ever) engage the actual classical arguments for God and Christianity. In fact, Dawkins and Harris rarely ever engage in open debates and they never debate Christian philosophers. Dawkins emphatically says, “I won’t debate creationists.” Only Hitchens does debates (see Frank Turek’s website for those). SES professor Richard Howe writes, “Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens seemingly hope that the hysterical pitch of their own rants will distract the readers from noticing that they seldom refute the standard arguments or put forth substantive ones of their own.”

5 Richard Dawkins Charles Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University Author of The Ancestor's Tale The Selfish Gene The Blind Watchmaker Climbing Mount Improbable Unweaving the Rainbow A Devil's Chaplain and The God Delusion "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 5. I am a happy man.

6 Reviews of God Delusion: Alvin Plantinga, The Dawkins Confusion - Naturalism ad Absurdum: “Now despite the fact that this book [The God Delusion] is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins' main argument seriously.”

7 Reviews of God Delusion: “The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’). The fault of Dawkins as an academic was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form.” -Antony Flew

8 What is Dawkins’ main argument??? Evolution is true, therefore God cannot exist. And yes, I am wearing tights.

9 Christopher Hitchens Contributing editor to Vanity Fair and visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School Author of Thomas Jefferson: A Biography Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" Letters to a Young Contrarian Why Orwell Matters and God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything "As I write these words, and as you read them, people of faith are in their different ways planning your and my destruction, and the destruction of all the hard-won human attainments that I have touched upon. Religion poisons everything.” Christopher Hitchens, p13.

10 Sam Harris A graduate in philosophy from Stanford University who has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines. He is completing a doctorate in neuroscience, studying the neural basis of belief with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Reason Project.


12 Let’s challenge Sam: “A glance at history, or at the pages of any newspaper, reveals that ideas which divide one group of human beings from another, only to unite them in slaughter, generally have their roots in religion.” P. 12 (What has divided people in history more than anything else?) “Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity —a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.” P. 25 Is rational discourse possible? Can we even talk about religion? Or Atheism? Then why write a book to a Christian Nation?

13 Let’s challenge Sam’s epistemology: "The moment we admit that our beliefs are attempts to represent states of the world, we see that they must stand in the right relation to the world to be valid.”- Sam Harris End of Faith, 63 "We saw in Chapter 2 that for our beliefs to function logically—indeed, for them to be beliefs at all—we must also believe that they faithfully represent states of the world.” Sam Harris 168. So, we can be sure that what we see, touch, and smell are the actual real world. Right?

14 Wrong. "The claims of mystics are neurologically quite astute. No human being has ever experienced an objective world, or even a world at all. …The world that you see and hear is nothing more than a modification of your consciousness, the physical status of which remains a mystery.” End of Faith, 41. "The sights and sounds and pulsings that you experience at this moment are like different spectra of light thrown forth by the prism of the brain. We really are such stuff as dreams are made of. Our waking and dreaming brains are engaged in substantially the same activity …” End of Faith, 41.

15 So, to Sum up Sam’s view. See this Tree? I can see it too! But I can’t know whether it’s REALLY real or not. It’s likely just impulses of my brain. But you know, I decided to write a book stating that faith in God is foolish; but I don’t know that for sure, because humans can’t know if ANYTHING is REALLY REAL. I mean, I believe my dreams are just as real as this tree. So, wait, then if I have a dream about God, then He must be real too. Um…. There I go again, I’ve confused myself. Wait, why do I have a Christmas tree?

16 Ok. Now let’s look at Dawkins: "The presence or absence of a creative superintelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if it is not in practice—or not yet—a decided one." [Dawkins in The God Delusion, 59-59] So, is the existence of God a scientific question?

17 Can we use science to prove God’s existence? Can we prove by scientific induction? –NO! no one can “produce” God unless he wants to be his own witness. So, can we use science at all? –YES! Forensic science….it can be used to… Prove a criminal guilty Prove a worm was once in my apple Prove that God exists

18 Inductive Vs. Forensic Science Inductive argues from Cause to Effect: Ex. What happens if you mix ethyl alcohol with concentrated hydrogen peroxide? Forensic argues from Effect to Cause: Ex. How did this chemistry room explode?

19 Evolutionists use the SAME Science and logic as theists! MOYERS: Is evolution a theory, not a fact? DAWKINS: Evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening. MOYERS: What do you mean it's been observed. DAWKINS: It is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene. And you… the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue.

20 Dawkins and The Cosmological Argument Um, yeah. I am a stud.

21 What does “Infinite” mean? 1.An unending chain of events or line of “things.” Only a “potential infinite” (like infinite regress). OR 2. A thing that is unlimited. “Unlimited Perfection” (God) First- a quick reminder about the Cosmo argument…

22 If an infinite regress is not possible, then there must be an infinite thing that grounds all existence. An infinite regress is not possible Therefore something infinite must exist. The Cosmological Argument in a nutshell: OK, What is an Infinite Regress (of Causes)? The idea that the cause/effect scenario has been happening forever and never had a given starting point.

23 An easy way to present this argument: There are only 3 options: The cosmos has always existed The cosmos “popped” into being An infinite being created it Two of these options are completely illogical and scientifically impossible.

24 “All three of these arguments rely upon the idea of an infinite regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. *Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God; omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts. Edward Lear's Nonsense Recipe for Crumboblious Cutlets invites us to "Procure some strips of beef, and having cut them into the smallest possible pieces, proceed to cut them still smaller, eight or perhaps nine times." Some regresses do reach a natural terminator. Scientists used to wonder what would happen if you could dissect, say, gold into the smallest possible pieces. Why shouldn't you cut one of those pieces in half and produce an even smaller smidgin of gold? The regress in this case is decisively terminated by the atom. The smallest possible piece of gold is a nucleus consisting of exactly 79 protons and a slightly larger number of neutrons, surrounded by a swarm of 79 electrons. If you "cut" gold any further than the level of the single atom, whatever else you get it is not gold. The atom provides a natural terminator to the Crumboblious Cutlets type of regress. It is by no means clear that God provides a natural terminator to the regresses of Aquinas. -Richard Dawkins Critique of the Cosmological Argument

25 Dawkins and Design “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” - Dawkins I am not designed! I just randomly evolved this way.

26 A quick note on design: Irreducible Complexity “An irreducibly complex system is one composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” ~ Michael BeheMichael Behe

27 Irreducible Complexity “Professor of biochemistry, Michael Behe formalized the concept of irreducible complexity with the publication of his book Darwin's Black Box. Surprisingly, it was Darwin himself who actually introduced the concept of irreducible complexity in his book The Origin Of Species when he stated: "if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely breakdown." Darwin did not use the term irreducible complexity; but that is what he was talking about.” –

28 Clip from Expelled Ben Stein takes on Richard Dawkins in the conclusion of expelled on the issue of irreducible complexity and the explanation of “apparent design”


30 Interesting Dawkins Quotes I have lots of books on a wall behind me…so I am really smart.

31 Interesting Dawkins Quotes: “Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose. Does the embryo suffer? (Presumably not if it is aborted before it has a nervous system; and even if it is old enough to have a nervous system it surely suffers less than, say, an adult cow in a slaughterhouse.)…if late-aborted embryos with nervous systems suffer – though all suffering is deplorable – it is not because they are human that they suffer. There is no general reason to suppose that human embryos at any stage suffer more than cow or sheep embryos at the same developmental stage.” Notice: The equality of man in animal in his quote… Notice the Contradiction? (On Good/Evil/Morality)

32 On our Purpose: “We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA…It is every living object's sole reason for living…that the purpose of all life is to pass on their DNA means that all living things are descended from a long line of successful ancestors…which can best be understood as fulfilling a purpose of propagating DNA…There is no purpose other than that.” (On Marriage and Sexuality…) Dawkins’ Anthropology: “What is a human? What is a human self, a human individual? That's more difficult. It's not a question I can answer - it's not a question any scientist can answer at present, though I think they will. I believe it will turn out that what a human is, is some manifestation of brain stuff and its workings…I'm certainly happy that we are a product of brains and that when our brains die, we disappear.” Interesting Dawkins Quotes:

33 Ethics: “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” “If somebody used my views to justify a completely self - centered lifestyle, which involved trampling all over other people in any way they chose roughly what, I suppose, at a sociological level as social Darwinists do - I think I would be fairly hard put to argue against it on purely intellectual grounds. I think it would be more: “This is not a society in which I wish to live. Without having a rational reason for it necessarily, I'm going to do whatever I can to stop you doing this.” I couldn't, ultimately, argue intellectually against somebody who did something I found obnoxious. I think I could finally only say, “Well, in this society you can't get away with it’ and call the police.” I realize this is very weak, and I've said I don't feel equipped to produce moral arguments in the way I feel equipped to produce arguments of a cosmological and biological kind. But I still think it's a separate issue from beliefs in cosmic truths.” “I see absolutely no reason why, understanding the way the world is, you therefore have to promote it. The darwinian world is a very nasty place: the weakest go to the wall. There's no pity, no compassion. All those things I abhor, and I will work in my own life in the interests of thoroughly unDarwinian things like compassion.”

34 Hitchens and Morality I am not James Dean, but man I am trying…

35 But first, What is the Moral Argument? C.S. Lewis’ argument: Lewis’s Premise (1): Everyone knows, and so believes, that there are objective moral truths. Lewis’s Premise (2): Objective moral laws are very peculiar in that they are quite unlike Laws of Nature and “natural” facts. Lewis’s Premise (3): The hypothesis that there is an intelligence behind, or beyond, the natural facts that implants the knowledge of right and wrong in us and serves as the foundation for good judgments and the best explanation of objective moral facts. Does Clive use any Bible Verses or even argue from Christianity here?

36 The Moral Argument continued Conclusion: The existence and nature of objective moral facts supports the existence of an intelligence behind them serving as their basis and foundation.

37 The Moral Argument for the Existence of God 1. Every law has a lawgiver 2. There is an absolute Moral law 3. Therefore, there is an absolute Moral Lawgiver


39 Michael Ruse – agnostic professor of philosophy and zoology at Florida State University "It is not that the atheists are having a field day because of the brilliance and novelty of their thinking. Frankly - and I speak here as a nonbeliever myself, pretty atheistic about Christianity and skeptical about all theological claims - the [atheistic] material being churned out is second rate. And that is a euphemism for "downright awful." It is simply that it (and the other works) is not very good. For a start, Dawkins is brazen in his ignorance of philosophy and theology (not to mention the history of science). Dawkins misunderstands the place of the proofs, but this is nothing to his treatment of the proofs themselves. This is a man truly out of his depth."

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