It’s been so easy to get people to take the claims for design in nature seriously after they’ve been inundated by a huge dump of new atheism. But hey, the easy stuff never lasts:
To be sure, New Atheists could be very, very bad at arguing that God does not exist. There was, for example, Lawrence Krauss writing a book about how something can come from nothing while attributing material qualities to the latter. There was Richard Dawkins trying to refute the famous “Five Ways” of Aquinas without even attempting to understand their terms. (“Whereof one cannot speak,” groaned Wittgenstein, “Thereof one must remain silent.”) There was Christopher Hitchens striding into philosophy like an elephant onto an ice skating rink and saying:
…the postulate of a designer or creator only raises the unanswerable question of who designed the designer or created the creator.
Why is it unanswerable? People have certainly tried to answer it. Answers readily came centuries prior to Hitchens himself, actually. Hitchens is free to take issue with Aquinas’ distinction between contingent and necessary existence if he wants, but he’s not free to suggest no answers have been offered. How does the concept of the “necessary being,” for example, fail? Hitchens offers no sign of knowing what it is, because that “unanswerable” is not a logic conclusion but a rhetorical sledgehammer swung at the reader’s skull.
I know atheists can make better arguments. But the New Atheists never felt obliged to, because they were so confident in their own rationality that they never learned about the ideas they were mocking.Ben Sixsmith, “New Atheism: An Autopsy” at Arc Digital
Sixsmith also talks about elevatorgate and a few other stories from the glory days. Don’t miss it.
Oh yes, the elevator row from the glory days …
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