New Atheists believe the religion is blind, irrational and stupid. The take home message from "The God Delusion is clear "those who believe in God are fools who have been hoodwinked into believing something absurd. Dawkins thinks religious people are deluded." (emphasis mine)
I don't think this is a fair summary of Dawkins' message. Yes, he does think the believer has been hoodwinked, yes he thinks they believe something absurd, yes he thinks they are deluded, but he does not think they are fools. Many people in the atheism movement used to be believers, does that mean they used to be fools and now they are not? No. They just used to believe something silly which they do not believe anymore. There is a difference between calling an idea stupid and calling the person who believes that idea stupid.
Why are the new atheists so staunchly opposed to religion? "Why resort to attacking those whose lives are enriched by belief in God?"
This is the same problem, there is a difference between attacking the people and attacking their beliefs. Furthermore, my understanding of Dawkins is that he thinks the average believer is incorrect that their life is truly enriched by belief in God, that is his motivation. Not to attack them, but to help.
The New atheists are clearly not a fan of faith, several examples are given of new atheists saying things to this effect including a long quote by Sam Harris. The section is ended with the following "The New Atheists regularly proclaim the irrationality of religious faith, and yet they offer no evidence to back it up."
This statement seems totally bizarre to me, I feel like the majority of what the new atheists talk about is such evidence. Every time they talk about contradictions in the bible, counter-apologetics, or ridiculous things that come out of the church they are providing such evidence. You might disagree with the evidence, you might think none of it is valid, but to say they don't provide any evidence at all seems to be to be simply dishonest. I would also like to point out that immediately following that statement is an attempted debunking of such evidence, proving my point.
What About Doubting Thomas?
Dawkins claims Thomas is evidence that christianity is about blind faith. He refused to believe Jesus was risen from the dead until he had evidence while the others believed on faith and they were held up as worthy of imitation. However, in the context of this story it isn't just blind faith. Jesus predicted on multiple occasions that he would come back from the dead so Thomas should have been expecting it. Second, Thomas heard eyewitness testimony and still refused to believe, almost all science is based on eyewitness testimony. Third, Jesus did miracles proving who he is which Thomas witnessed.
Interesting argument, it is important to put things in context and I am glad we are doing that here. I don't completely agree with the analysis in the book however, let's take them point by point.
1. The fact that Jesus predicted he would come back from the dead. If a good friend of mine says he will come back from the dead, and after he dies another friend says he did when I wasn't around, I am no more inclined to believe it than if I was never told in the first place.
2. In a sense, science is based on trusting experts, but that is a bit of an oversimplification. Given any experiment, you can always doubt it and try to replicate it yourself. You are supposed to question it. To say he heard eyewitness testimony and then citing it is like science as a reason he shouldn't have questioned doesn't seem right to me.
3. This last one is a little more interesting and the only one that holds any weight at all for me. The fact that Jesus performed miracles in front of Thomas does show that he has some amazing powers and it did give him reason to believe. However, apparently Thomas thought that healing people and feeding 5000 people was much different from coming back from the dead. He wasn't ready to believe that one necessarily proved the other. I still think Dawkins' interpretation of this is valid.
Some Christians have blind faith, but that does not necessarily mean that Christianity values blind faith. Faith in supposed to be belief in light on the evidence, not in spite of it. Several examples are given from the bible where evidence is given that would be a reason to believe, such as miracles by Jesus. And several examples are given of Christian thinkers through the years who say things to the effect of "we shouldn't have blind faith"
I really like the message in this section. I like the idea that Christians don't have blind faith but something more like 'faith with reason'. My experience growing up around Christians is that people do simply have blind faith, but I have learned over the years that I can't necessarily extrapolate that to all Christians. I was disappointed however that all examples given for reasons to believe were from the Bible. What would the author say to someone like myself who does not believe in the bible a priori.
Everyone Has Faith
It is not just religious people who have faith, everyone has faith in things. You have faith that the pilot in your plane is properly trained and won't crash the plane, you have faith that other drivers won't swerve into your lane, etc.
This is true, but it is really a different use of the word faith. I have faith that the pilot is trained and will do a good job flying my plane, but I also know there is a chance we could crash. Based on previous data the chance is low but I'm not sure. I have faith that someone won't swerve into my lane because it generally works that way, but there are accidents all the time so I know I might be wrong. This is fundamentally different from when people say "I KNOW there is a God".
The new atheists have faith, some say more faith than christians. Here are a few examples
I really have to take the author to task here, a few of these statements are complete misrepresentations of the new atheists positions. Let me focus on 2 of them
The have faith that the universe came into existence from nothing
Given the evidence, we know what the universe was like an extremely small amount of time after the big bang. We do not know what it was like before that and I have never seen a new atheist say they do. As far as I know none of them are astrophysicists and I always see them defer to the scientists. Nobody says they know it came from nothing, they say they don't know (or maybe we don't know if the sentence even makes sense because of the way space and time are connected).
They have faith that multiple universes exist
This is a cool idea that people like to throw around as a possibility. I don't think anyone would claim they think it is true with any kind of certainty.
The Evidence for God
The following arguments are given: The cosmological argument, design from physics, design from DNA, the moral argument.
All of these have been addressed by atheists countless times. I've even done one version of the cosmological argument.
Whether you are Christian or Atheist, have you ever gotten to know a thinking person from the other side and learned how and why they think what they do?
I have, and I hope to have more discussions like that with Christians in the future. I think it is interesting to see why people think what they do. It is one of the reasons I started this blog.