This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/how-should-christians-respond-to-the-false-gods-of-the-new-atheists
Once again I thank Steve Snobelen for allowing us to publish an expanded, updated version of his excellent essay on the New Atheists. I’m also grateful for his participation as a dialogue partner in the comments section. The stated goal of my blog is “to bring some of the best scholarship about Christianity and science out of the ivory tower” and into the streets. There’s no better example than this series. Steve’s essay was previously available only in a hard-to-find print book (which readers interested in the New Atheism should purchase, using the information at the end of the column), and it’s an important instance of a seriously scholarly response to a group of people who, in general, simply do not understand the depth of the water they are walking into.
Look for something new from me in a few weeks.
For my part, I have three sets of thank-yous to offer. First, to Ted for his unfailing professionalism in reading through and offering sound guidance and insight on the revised and expanded sections of my discussion about science, religion and the New Atheism. I can assure readers that there is some of Ted in the material (he also read the draft of the chapter before it was originally published in 2013)–and by that I mean beyond the visible statements he made in the blogs to the actual content of my text. I benefited from his experience and expertise in so many ways. So, thanks again to Ted. Second, I am grateful to the editorial and administrative team at BioLogos for providing me space on this excellent and very civil forum. It really has been a privilege. Finally, I am grateful for all the thought-provoking feedback and ideas from all of the good people who took the time to offer comments on the blog instalments. This is a special blessing, as the feedback is much greater and much more detailed that one ever receive from a traditional print publication, committed as I still am to that medium. I have learned a great deal from BioLogos readers and I thank all of you for making the experience not only educational in the best sense of that word, but truly inspirational and motivational. I may decide to expand the material further in the near future–perhaps into something that might fit in the space of a small book. If so, I will certainly revisit the comments as I revise. So, again, thanks to everyone! In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what Ted has up his sleeve.
Thank you both for your efforts is sharing this thoughtful piece. I found your comments to the effect that we are often our our worst enemy ring true.
We inevitably will interact with those who have this militant philosophy. It is better to know their position ahead of time to respond appropriately and with love, especially for our youth.
The positive aspect of the New Atheists is their bringing into high profile an alternative to Western dualism in our time. That view is Physical Monism.
The problem with this is people, or at least people on BioLogos and other venues I have experienced do not take people like Dawkins and Dennett seriously. That is insulting to them and to the discipline of philosophy and theology.
The reason why Physical Monism has gained traction is because the standard alternative, Western Dualism, is NOT intellectually defensible. We have not done our job either fixing it or replacing it.
This is my problem with BioLogos. It is looking for a bandaid when we need something much more basic and extensive… I don’t want to be alarmist, but really, when you look around, things are not good. The problem is not with God, it is with us and we can’t go around blaming someone else.
I am ready to work on this problem, but I can’t do it all myself.
Are familiar with the book, Competing Truths: Theology and Science as Sibling Rivals by Richard J. Coleman?
He develops the interesting idea the theology, science, and philosophy are sibling rivals and discusses the history of this rivalry. Where I think that it breaks down is that he fails to develop a three sided process, which logically could lead to a three/one cosmology, but instead falls into the old dualistic pattern which is a dead end.
Even so he is on the right track if he would just understand that God, thinking, and Reality are relational.