Atheism Remix

Recently out is a new book by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, entitled Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists. As you may have guessed, this book deals with the concept and public conception of atheism.

As Dr. Mohler notes, the word “atheism” was not useful until the sixteenth century, which makes the philosophy relatively young. It wasn’t until Charles Darwin made his contribution that, according to Richard Dawkins (one of the modern forerunners of atheism) it was possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist.” For it was then that the atheistic worldview and associated materialistic idea of reality birthed a viable creation explanation.

Dr. Mohler makes the argument that historically it was once almost impossible not to believe, but now, for many it is impossible to believe. He begins by examining the foundation of atheism – the four horseman of another apocalypse – Nietzche, Marx, Darwin, and Freud, focusing mainly on the writings of Nietzche, and the way atheism has moved from its morose, apologetic, almost despairing roots to the modern in-your-face style of the four horsemen of the New Atheism – Dawkins, Dennet, Harris and Hitchens.

He traces the ideas of the endgame of atheism – cultural secularism – and describes accurately how the early forecasts of a secular society have largely fallen by the wayside.

The four horsemen are discussed in some length. Richard Dawkins is the most visible of the four and Dr. Mohler gives him the most attention accordingly – both in introducing them and in subsequent discussion of their work.

What is the New Atheism? Dr. Mohler answers this with clarity and organization. Its most staunch characteristic is its zealous boldness where, in times past, it has been shrouded in dirge-like despair. “Instead of a requiem, there is a celebration!” Other characteristics include its apparent grounding in science (though many scientists would disagree), its view of liberal theologians as the unacceptable enablers of the conservative branch, and its questioning (if not all-out disapproval) that “the rights of parents to inculcate belief in their own children.” This is seen, by the New Atheism, as a “for of child abuse.”

In responding to the New Atheism, Dr. Mohler does not attempt to make scientific arguments against scientists. As he has said countless times, he is no scientist, but a theologian. I would counter that we are all both, but the point that he is not a trained scientist is well taken. Instead he looks at the cultural, philosophical and theological ramifications. He highlights arguments made by Oxford educated and now Oxford professor of biophysics Alister McGrath and Notre Dame professor of philosophy Alvin Plantinga, who systematically dismantle Dawkins’ work from science and philosophy. In short, both would tell Dawkins, at the very least, to stick to biology. His wanderings into philosophy are “you might say… sophomoric, but that will be unfair to sophomores.”

He then moves to the liberal theologians attempts to answer the New Atheism by dismissing it as an attack on Conservative Evangelicalism and not on theism as a whole. He concludes:

In any event, the point of this review is to assert with clarity that the future of Christianity cannot be found in any accomadation to vague spirituality or to the New Atheism. Christians must summon the courage to respond to this challenge with the full measure of conviction and with a bold assertion of biblical theism.

Dr. Mohler certainly does just that in Atheism Remix. He states clearly that the New Atheists “understand what they are rejecting.” And he makes a concerted and successful effort to help the Christian readers, informed by a Biblical Worldview, understand what we are rejecting. For any who will need to answer this naturalistic argument, Atheism Remix is a good place to start.

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment