The prize?: A free copy of Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009).
Judged: Go here for winner.
You may wish to note this discussion on the new atheists and the problem of evil.
Admin Note: Re contest 7: Endoplasmic Messenger needs to send me a real world address at email@example.com, in order to collect his prize. It will NOT be added to a database for any further purpose.
My own view – and not meant to prejudice yours:
That is a fascinating subject, and one on which I have written. But let philosopher Michael Ruse have the floor now, complaining about the new atheists:
“Why I think the new atheists are a bloody disaster” In the past few years, we have seen the rise and growth of a group that the public sphere has labeled the “new atheists” – people who are aggressively pro-science, especially pro-Darwinism, and violently anti-religion of all kinds, especially Christianity but happy to include Islam and the rest. Actually the arguments are not that “new,” but no matter – the publicity has been huge. Distinctive of this group, although well known to anyone who studies religion and the way in which sects divide and proliferate, is the fact that (with the possible exception of the Catholic Church) nothing incurs their wrath than those who are pro-science but who refuse to agree that all and every kind of religious belief is wrong, pernicious, and socially and personally dangerous. Recently, it has been the newly appointed director of the NIH, Francis Collins, who has been incurring their hatred. Given the man’s scientific and managerial credentials – completing the HGP under budget and under time for a start – this is deplorable, if understandable since Collins is a devout Christian.
I am not a devout Christian, yet if anything, the things said against me are worse.
Oh? Indeed? Why, exactly, is what is said about Francis Collins “understandable?” Why are atheists given a worldwide passport and “get out of jail free” card for bad behaviour? Anyway, Jerry Coyne replied, removing all doubt about the atheist agenda.
I have never figured Ruse out. He was raised a Quaker and lost his faith in his early twenties. I know for a fact that he hangs around the ID guys. Not that there is anything the matter with that, except that he has said,
… I think intelligent-design theory and its companions are nasty, cramping, soul-destroying reversions to the more unfortunate aspects of 19th century America. Although I am not a Christian, I look upon these ideas as putrid scabs on the body of a great religion …
But he was at the head table at a dinner given in honour of Phillip Johnson in 2004. I was there.
I suspect that Ruse never figured himself out either. He is not like Larry Krauss, a determined atheist, who dines on well-fed “Catholic” profs who never get their rotting ships in tackle, and maybe don’t even care, as long as the taxpayer or the devout believer fronts their bills anyway.
No, Ruse wants us to know that he somehow cares about the people he really, obviously, despises, while he explains, in hearty “English” terms, why these new atheists are a bloody disaster.
But are they really? If so, to whom? Not to the new totalitarians in government, of whom many of us have had a way bigger dose than we are prepared to stomach. And this new totalitarianism advances in the name of theories of government birthed explicitly in atheism.
Still, despite Ruse, I can think of three reasons the new atheists could indeed be a bloody disaster – but mainly for themselves:
1. People realize that the new atheists’ theories are not true. Consider the endless kvetching from tax-funded science orgs that we don’t believe the crap they feed us about Darwinism. That’s because we know something is wrong. So we are all wrong and they are all right? We’ve heard that enough times from tax-funded orgs before, when the evidence just didn’t add up, to raise suspicion.
2. Many Darwinists, like Richard Dawkins, invested heavily in Darwinism’s unfortunate offspring, “evolutionary psychology”, a predictable disaster, given what we know today about the plasticity of the human brain. Still, every yap, whine, or therapy scream in the popular press’s weekend “Relationships” section somehow “proves” [hush! hush! respectful silence here!] Evolution! That brings the whole discipline of evolutionary biology – if it is indeed a discipline – into disrepute. Significantly, evolutionary biologists rarely denounce this nonsense. Would medical doctors refuse to denounce a supposed treatment based on “space rays”? So why the continued silence?
3. Ruse seems to think that some form of Christianity would be compatible with Darwinism. This is false and known to be so by almost every serious Christian. No form of Darwinism is compatible with Christianity or any other type of theism, because Darwin developed his theory precisely to rule that out. His serious followers understand that. Telling people things that they know are false is hardly a good way to convince them. (Note: Of course, there are numerous confused, nice, well-meaning reverends and bible school profs who do not understand this, and just want everyone to be “nice.” I have dealt with enough of them myself.)
But is Ruse vs. Coyne just a pretend squabble, a good cop/bad cop routine? I think so myself. Just a way of distracting attention and getting nice, well-meaning reverends and bible school profs to agree with Ruse and not Coyne, and – above all – not to see the big picture. Like taking candy from a baby, actually.
Anyway, that’s my view, but I am not in the contest. I only mail the prizes . The floor is yours. Here’s the question again:
Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?