This is a clever little book. Johnson and Reynolds are not writing an apologetic, or polemic against the wave of New Atheism (although they do not agree with it.) What this book does is to call out Scientists and Universities to seriously study the claims of new atheism and to scrutinise it’s arguments. And this is the reason the authors and this book are very clever.
The new atheist movement is on the offensive. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchen’s are not just atheists – but they have become evangelical atheists. They have moved from not believing in God, to actively trying to bring down theism as a rational position. They have moved from saying religion is a waste of time, to religion is evil.
Yet the authors of this book argue that while they disagree with the conclusions of the new atheists, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchin’s are asking the right questions. They are bringing the issue to the forefront. And this is a GOOD thing for the authors of this book. Why? Because it will force universities and scientists to engage with the claims of the new atheists. Dawkins especially, has pushed the boundary of what science is beyond the comfort zone of many scientists. Would the scientific world endorse Dawkins claim (scientifically) that the logic of Darwinism supports atheism, or that the answer to cosmic fine tuning is in fact that there are a huge number of alternative universes? Surely this has left the discipline of empirical science and entered philosophical speculation.
For me this book throws down a challenge to the scientific and academic world. The challenge is – “Please – engage with New Atheism, and it’s claims vigorously. Make Dawkin, Harris and Hitchin’s defend their position. Compare it with scientists who accept intelligent design as well as the claims and teachings of Christianity and then make your mind up. Please, let’s have an open, fair, deep and impartial examination.”
As the authors suggest, if this were to happen, this will mean that for the first time new atheists will have to defend their position rather than merely taking skeptical shots at christianity.