New Atheist oddities
I’m not much into debates about the existence or non-existence of God, and so I don’t pay much attention to the New Atheists, though it was mainly the trad atheists who debated the existence or non-existence of God. Their case was usually well argued, and they tried to be logical. But as Bishop Nick Baines points out, Nick Baines’s Blog: “The New Atheists give atheism a bad name by substituting assertion for argument.”
It’s the strange inconsistencies in their arguments that puzzle me.
For example I can understand it when Richard Dawkins says this: Positive Atheism’s Big List of Richard Dawkins Quotations:
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
— Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” published in Scientific American (November, 1995), p. 85
He is speaking from his field of expertise, biology, and, if I weren’t a Christian, I’d probably share his view.
But if that’s what he thinks of life, the universe and everything, why, when challenged by a Christian theologian to a debate, does he refuse to do so on the grounds that Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig | Richard Dawkins:
But Craig is not just a figure of fun. He has a dark side, and that is putting it kindly. Most churchmen these days wisely disown the horrific genocides ordered by the God of the Old Testament. Anyone who criticises the divine bloodlust is loudly accused of unfairly ignoring the historical context, and of naive literalism towards what was never more than metaphor or myth. You would search far to find a modern preacher willing to defend God’s commandment, in Deuteronomy 20: 13-15, to kill all the men in a conquered city and to seize the women, children and livestock as plunder. And verses 16 and 17 are even worse:
“But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them”
Why does Dawkins care?
Shouldn’t he rather regard it with a blind pitiless indifference?
If there is no justice in the universe, as he asserts, why does he then get on his moral high horse about debating with someone who, he says, defends genocide? Surely that should be a matter of complete indifference to him?
If there is no god and no evil, why should he refuse to debate somkeone because he regards him as “evil”, as having a “dark side”. Why should it matter if, as Dawkins asserts, there is no “dark side”?