Book Review: The Scientific Pretensions of the New Atheism and Absolutist Propaganda

Bio headshot

I haven’t read every single one of the various atheist books by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, et al. But I’ve read most of them.

I’ve also read the historic atheists such as Russell, et al.

What amazes me is that anyone takes them seriously. Even when I was deep in my anti-God period, I could see that Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian (which says everything worth saying that is found in any of the other books, by the way) used self-refuting arguments. If you followed his line of reasoning to its end, you would have eliminated the existence of 2 billion Christians who are on the globe today.

The illogic of his logic actually led me to believe that if atheism had good arguments, they weren’t being advanced. This is telling because I was at a point in my life where I wanted to be convinced by atheism.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the crude and nasty atheists of today’s public forums are the way they are for two simple reasons. First, their philosophy, such as it is, is so hopeless and nihilistic that it is crazy-making. Second, anyone who reads one of these “four horsemen” and is convinced by them (much less goes around quoting them and pretending their ideas are your own) is either an adolescent, or they are an adult who is stuck is permanent adolescence.

The Four Horsemen and their progenitors are not thinkers for grown-ups.

I’ve just finished reading a book that addresses this adolescent thinking from the viewpoint of a fellow scientist. David Berlinski is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He has written such books as A Tour of the Calculus and The Advent of the Algorithm. What that means, aside from the fact that he’s got the chops to address the scientific hubris of the new atheism from the inside, is that, unlike most of the professional new atheist apologists, he doesn’t just go around writing hate screeds for a living. He actually writes and thinks about something else.

I wish his book on the scientific pretensions of the new atheism had a less lurid title. The book is of a higher quality than its title. However, I know that titles sell, and publishers make these decisions.

The book is called The Devil’s Delusion, Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

If you haven’t read it, you should. Berlinski writes with dry wit and clarity of the scientific gibberish that makes up the framework of new atheist arguments. The book is not, as the atheist books are, a vicious screed against those who disagree with him. It is rather, a gentle poke in the ribs.

Berlinski (who is not a believer) disassembles the house of cards of atheist scientific arguments against God, based entirely on the sheer outrageousness of their claims. There are no calls to insult people or attack them in the book. It doesn’t make totalitarian arguments that scientists should have their children taken away from them for the “child abuse” of teaching their kids what they themselves believe. There’s no trippy conflab about flying spaghetti monsters, and not one word of building a Christian revenge movement to drive atheists from the public square.

The Devil’s Delusion simply points out a few of the many over-the-top claims that atheists make in the name of science and calls them what they are: The attack polemics of a blind and absolutist faith. All of which is to say that the scientific claims by atheists are propaganda. They are not science at all.

I recommend The Devil’s Delusion. I hope that you will read it. If you’re been reading the adolescent rants of the new atheists, I especially hope you read it. It’s a great palate cleanser.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Boehner Announces Investigation into Planned Parenthood
So ... What Did Cecile Richards' Statement Do for Planned Parenthood?
The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past
What Every Pro-Lifer Needs to Know about the Senate and Planned Parenthood