Before reading Why God Won’t Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running on Empty?, I wasn’t even aware that there was a “New” Atheism. But there is, and it’s quite different from the atheism I encountered in China.
Alister McGrath gives a brief overview of the philosophy, including its four main spokespersons and their objections to religion. This book is not a defense of Christianity or religion although Alister McGrath is a Christian. Instead McGrath focuses on explaining the primary tenets of New Atheism in terms that a layperson can understand.
In a nutshell, here are the two big ideas I gleaned from the book.
New Atheism is Defined by What it Opposes
The New Atheism is more about attacking religion than stating positively what it believes. In fact, it seems that the entire movement is an angry reaction to religion, an evil and poisonous influence in society, according to its proponents. Religious fanaticism leads to violence; therefore, religious beliefs are dangerous, goes the thinking.
New Atheism and Religion are Both Based on Beliefs (or Faith)
Now that people of faith are using reason and science to persuasively argue a case for God, the Atheists’ primary tools are being used against them. At rock bottom, both religion and New Atheism are based on faith. Regardless of what side one takes, the beliefs are held because of an inner sense of rightness, possibly based on reason or science, but not absolutely proved by either. Reason and science can neither prove nor disprove the matters of spirituality.
I enjoyed reading Why God Won’t Go Away and would recommend it to someone who wants to know more about New Atheism. The book is written from a Christian perspective, but is not an apologetics book like Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias. If you want to refute New Atheism, you will probably need to read additional books.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.