Wednesday, December 5, 2012


"The Horsemen are drawing nearer
On the leather steeds they ride
They have come to take your life
On through the dead of night
With the four Horsemen ride
Or choose your fate and die."
--Metallica "The Four Horsemen"

In the past 10 years or so there have been a number of books published about atheism and various religious beliefs, many of which were spurred on by the attacks on 9/11. Out of these have risen a number best-sellers by four authors, in particular: Sam Harris (The End of Faith), Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon), and Christopher Hitchens (god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything). These four men of different scholarly backgrounds have collectively become known as The Four Horsemen (some times called the "New Atheists"), due in large part to their books which seek to dismantle the supernatural claims of religion. As much as I highly recommend these books, this post is actually more about the religious responses to these books and other efforts of the New Atheist movement's push back on religiosity.

Rather than going through specific rebuttals to the books listed above (such as Alister McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion), I want to address some of the arguments which religious apologists and theologians use to counter atheist arguments. For instance, one of the key aspects of the books above and one of my own arguments against religion is a lack of evidence supporting their claims: "Without any evidence for the extraordinary claims you make, I have no choice but to withhold belief." Because of this, some apologists have responded with books about supposed evidence for god and how atheists are either in denial of the evidence or are too stupid to understand it.

One such response is from the infamous Ray Comfort (Banana Man), in his book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think. The funny thing about Mr Comfort's book is that his "evidence" seems to be that atheists really do believe in god but deny his existence. Furthermore, while he ridicules atheists for denying his evidence for god, he also explicitly states that he knows for a fact that god exists, and that no evidence was necessary for him to come to this conclusion, nor would any evidence against god be sufficient to convince him otherwise. So, really his book should be titled 133 Pages of Ray Comfort's Theological Hypocrisy.

Another argument which comes up from time to time, is that it takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer, as proclaimed by Bill O'Reilly to Richard Dawkins:

Setting aside the obvious logical fallacy presented by Bill O'Reilly (argument from ignorance), what I find most interesting about this argument is that it belittles the virtue of faith while attempting to insult atheists for utilizing it. It is a flip-flop matched only by certain, recently unsuccessful politicians. Apologists know that evidence is more convincing than faith, and so they try to borrow the credibility of science without actually implementing its principles (i.e. testing, falsification, duplication, etc.). This is especially so in the on-going intelligent design vs evolution debate.

Of course, the primary reason they try to pin atheists with a faith-based position is to level the intellectual playing field (as well as to add insult to ignorance). But by so-doing they have passively admitted the weakness of their own faith-based beliefs.

If faith really is a virtue, why would they seek evidence of any kind? Wouldn't having less empirical support make them more virtuous?

Here is theologian Frank Turek further explaining how he doesn't have enough faith to be an atheist (I'm only posting the 1st of 5 videos; you can look up the rest if you are interested):

As with Mr O'Reilly, Mr Turek's argument is as self-defeating as it is ignorant.


Here is the Atheist Experience ridiculing Ray Comfort's book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think:

And one of Ray Comfort actually calling the Atheist Experience:

Here is religious apologist and "Ex-Atheist" Lee Strobel talking about his best-selling book, The Case for Christ:

Frank Turek vs Christopher Hitchens on the existance of god:

And finally, the Four Horsemen talking together about their books:

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