New Atheism

  • Created by: jpeel2001
  • Created on: 30-04-19 13:51

Rejection of belief in deities

'Atheistic'- 'godless'.

Renaissance and the Reformation- used 'atheist'.

The Age of Enlightenment- encouraged individuals to think for themselves and appeal to human reason and scientific method (18th Century).

1770's- ceasing to be a dangerous accusation (meaning of a denial of the existence of God).

20th Century- Atheists in Western society became more active.

1960's- a movement within the Church was viewed as closer to atheism than theism.

Bishop John Robinson- God is the 'ground of our being', placed God deep in the human person.

Don Cupitt- God exiswted as an idea in the minds if believers rather than an external objective being.

21st Century- sees religion as a threat to the survival of human race. Concept of God is seen as a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom.

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Differences between agnosticism and atheism

Negaive atheism- the athiest doesn't make the positive claim that God doesn't exist.

Positive atheism- both the athiest and the theist have to give reasons to defend their belief.

Protest atheism- a revolt against God on moral grounds.

New atheism- the belief that religion is a threat to the survival of the human race.

Strong agnosticism- the assertion that it's impossible to know whether or not God exists.

Weak agnositicism- the belief that the existence of God is currently unknown, but it's not necessarily unknowable.

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The rise of New Atheism- Antitheism

11th September 2001- terrorist attacks in US.

There began a powerful attack on religion- religion was seen as the main cause of the catastrophe.

Sam Harris- published views in The End of Faith.

Dawkins- The God Delusion

Dennett- Breaking the Spell

Hitchens- God is Not Great, 'four horseman' soon began to refer to the four of them.

Those who believe in God are wrong but have shown lillte hostility towards religious belief.

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Criticism- non-thinking

Core defining characteristic- emphasis on rationality and view that faith and religion are irrational.

Dawkins- religion involves faith and faith is opposed to evidence.

Religious people are non-thinking- religious people know that the faith of their birth is the one true faith.

Faith is infantile.

The accusation about non-thinking- is dangerous and leads to fanaticism.

It is religion itself that is to blame not religious extremism.

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Criticism- infantile world-view

NA claims that the kinds of views of the universe which religious people have traditionally embraced have been puny and pathetic.

Science offers a bold and brilliant vision seeing the universe as grand and beautiful.

Deep space, the billions of years of life's evolution and the microscopic workings of biology and heredity contain more beauty and wonder than 'myths' and 'pseudoscience'.

NA rejects the idea of the supernatural.

God is not required as an explanation for the existence of the universe.

God's existence can't explain the world- he must be at least as complex as the world itself.

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Criticism- impedes scientific progress

Affirms a materialistic world outlook.

Scientific theories are based only on evidence.

Religion runs away from evidence.

NA- blind faith in the truth of the holy book as axiomatic for religion.

Dawkins- when a science book is wrong, someone eventually discovers the mistake and it's corrected in susequent books.

It teaches us not to change our minds.

Dawkins- religion as being hell-bent on ruining the scientific eduaction.

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Religious responses to the challenge of New Atheis

It simply attacks easy and lazy denegerate forms of religion ignoring mainstream reality.

Fails to forward a positive and compelling approach of it's own.

Kurtz- 'atheist fundamentalism'

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Rejection by religious groups of NA claims incompa

Denies the idea of multiple explanations of the same things, arguing that only the scienfitic explanation can be valid.

Polkinghorne- no competition, different levels of explanation need weaving together to provide a rich and comprehensive whole.

These two accounts supplement rather than contradict each other.

Two areas of thought that lie beyond the scope of the natural sciences are the notions of value and meaning.

McGrath- evidence and belief in religion is akin to evidence and belief in the natural sciences.

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Increase in fundamental religious activity relatin

A religion can't be a purely private matter for religious believers.

There has been an upsurge in Islamic and Christian fundamentalism- religious groups become more active in opposing the changes by seeking to influence law and public policy.

Uk christian organisations- promote a conservative Christian viewpoint founded on a belief in Biblical inerrancy.

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Increase in religious apologists in media

Led to much public discussion about Christianity.

It has given a platform for Christian apologists to reaffirm and represent the reasonableness of the Christian faith. 

Allowed for a much fuller and more authentic public articulation of the nature and characteristics of Christianity.

McGrath- argument doesn't create conviction but the lack of it destroys it.

NA had high profile in the media.

Given a platform to various religious apologists debating.

Social media has opened the debate to a wider audience.

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