Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very helpful overview of the "New Atheism", 11 Aug 2011
This review is from: Why God Won't Go Away - Engaging with the New Atheism (Paperback)
This book provides an overview and assessment of the "New Atheism" promoted by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. After introducing its origins in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the movement's major proponents, McGrath moves on to examine its claims and attraction. Part 2 focuses attention on the New Atheism's three core themes and demonstrates how the movement fails to deal adequately with historical, philosophical and scientific challenges to its assertions. Finally, the author sums up the present state of the New Atheism which, and concludes that while it still continues to have some popular support (particularly on the Web), its intellectual drive seems to have run out of steam.

I found this a very helpful introduction to a movement of which I was before only dimly aware. McGrath applies his broad knowledge of history, science, theology and philosophy to test the claims of the New Atheism. Again and again the movement is demonstrated to be nothing more than hot air; an elitist group increasingly unpopular even amongst atheists. The movement has some appeal at the Sixth form debate level and excels at ridiculing religion, but has little or nothing new of substance to offer.

The one minor grumble I had with the book was on pages 67-68 where McGrath approvingly quotes Professor Robert Pape's findings in order to demonstrate that the 9/11 attacks (and all other suicide attacks) were political rather religious in motivation. This really does not pass muster as in Islam it is not possible to separate religion and politics into two separate sources of motivation. The 9/11 attacks were therefore motivated by both religion and politics. This undermines McGrath's argument somewhat at this point.

Apart from this one point I found Why God Won't Go Away a helpful and enjoyable read and recommend to anyone engaging with the New Atheism, or studying the influence on the Internet on religious thought.
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