Science, Religion and the New Atheism: Introduction

Understanding the New Atheist assault on religion
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Questions and comments are always welcome.

A truly splendid post, thank you, Ted, and Dr. Snobelen. I am very happy to see this series about the new atheists here on Biologos. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

BTW, a brief comment about the Hawking Mladinow book. At the end, Hawking does suggest that God is not needed to start the universe; all that is needed is gravity. No discussion on how gravity came to be present.

I wonder if either of you have seen discussions on the idea (theory? hypothesis?) that the universe might be a simulation produced by some advanced alien form? Neil Tyson moderated one such discussion, featuring atheist philosophers and cosmologists. Somehow the theological implications of the idea were not developed.

When I was in a group assault as the lone theist surrounded by atheists … I found I could only get relief when I took a page from the New Testament!

Acts 23:6-10
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.

(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)

There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

Within the world of Atheism, the only realm still left to dispute amongst each other is Free Will. Some Atheists swear by Free Will. Others insist it is an illusion.

So I asked the attending attackers who among them believed human free will was an illusion!

There were a few who jumped in on that (their next favorite topic!).

This immediately created a stir amongst Atheists of another flavor … those who said Free Will is obvious.

And so, I demonstrated to them all, In Real Time, that if the greatest Atheist thinkers in the world could not agree on something as basic as Human Free Will … how did they think they could convincingly tell Theists that Atheism is plainly obvious?

I quietly tip-toed away as they continued to “savage” each other over Freedom…


Thanks, Dr. Davis and Dr. Snobelen – I look forward to each future installment as well.

Dr. Snobelen frequently refers to the “science” of the New Atheists while then parenthetically qualifying their claim on the term, such as in the snippet below:

"Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy had not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge” (p. 5). This is a nakedly imperialistic statement in favour of the dominance of science (or at least a particular form of it).

I applaud this much-needed challenge – thanks for these continued reminders that militant fundamentalisms comes in all stripes from atheistic to theistic.

Let me suggest another realm of dispute within atheism, George: the morality of abortion. Given the way in which that issue has seemingly put most Christians on one side and most atheists on the other side, that might seem wrong. But, this has been debated by atheists on a prominent atheist web site: Debates Secularist Abortion » Internet Infidels

I note that the pro-abortion side in this debate was taken by Richard Carrier, one of just a few professionally trained historians I can think of who is a New Atheist: Richard Carrier - Wikipedia. Among other views, Carrier promotes the view that Jesus never existed–a position he advanced in a debate with another non-believer, the famous biblical scholar Bart Ehrman:

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Thank you for adding the topic of Abortion to “the list” ! And under that heading I would add one more sub-twist:

Regardless of which side of the Abortion issue one takes … whether one agrees [or disagrees] that a moral question of this category should have a determinative influence on the design of Civil / Public policies.

I prefer a different type of philosophical analysis.

Atheists say that they are materialists, which means that reality is only physical. If that is true, then it would also be true that science which is the study of the physical would explain everything.

However there is much more to life than the physical and the natural sciences. There is music and art. There is love and forgiveness. There are ideas and concepts. This does not mean that atheist do not or cannot love and enjoy art and music. It just means that their world view does not have any place for them. How can they value things that do not exist.

Then there is the mind/body issue. Dawkins resolves it by saying that they are one or the same. The mind is not physical in that thinking is not a physical process, but a mental process which uses special neural cells and organs.

Science can tell us something about how we perceive the world and analyze information, but it is philosophy which has been the basic discipline for how humans rationally understand the structure of the universe.

If the universe is purely physical, it is not rational, because the physical does not think. Of course even though science is about the physical (although it is also about the organic and the human also) it requires thought to understand the rational structure of the universe. Sadly some “scientists” have suggested that science is not about trying to understand the universe, but just to describe the universe and this has infected the science of evolution.

Science is about the physical, philosophy is basically about the rational, and theology is about meaning and purpose. We can say that world is basically physical, but it is not. We can say that the world is basically mental, but it is not. We can say that the world is basically spiritual, but it is not.

Christianity as far as I can see is the only world view that says that the world is basically physical, rational, and spiritual. That is why atheism and all other -isms are wrong. We owe it to the world to share this fact and truth.

Atheists can make their little jokes about “nothing.” Things are important, but the non-physical spiritual values and rational ideas (no-things) are also important and more important than things.

Krause clearly does not understand the difference between “quantum” nothing and the absolute nothing before time, space, matter, and energy. Hawking does not understand that gravity requires the same. Science does not explain how the Beginning took place. Only theology and philosophy can do that.

It’s nice to see a guest post from a member of my community. Steve has been a good friend of mine for years, and his work on the interface of science and Christianity is excellent. Not to mention his authoritative work on Newton.


Hi Sy
Here is a simulation discussion at TSZ. Interesting that there are over 2500 comments.

Elon Musk Thinks Evolution is Bullshit.
Posted on June 4, 2016 by phoodoo

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