December 1, 2011 by Chris French
I received this book for free via the Booksneeze program from Thomas Nelson. Why God Won’t Go Away is a dissection of the New Atheism Movement. McGrath starts off the book with a quick synopsis of the four literary leaders of the movement: Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. Each has written his own book espousing the greatness of the New Atheism. It’s “new” because it’s different from your run of the mill atheism. This one’s angry! This anger is one of the main tenants of this type of atheism. The New Atheists don’t particularly want to debate a creationist. They mostly want to grandstand and mouth off at the ignorance and danger of religion.
The New Atheism started right after 9/11. When everyone was thinking how awful the actions of a select extremely radical group of religious people were some people, the above authors included, started thinking how awful religion itself is. They’re not blaming any one religion. They hate them all! Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and all the other religions in the world should be abolished, they say. If it wasn’t for God and religion there wouldn’t be any wars! Wait, what? Of course there would be wars without religion! To be honest I haven’t read “the four horseman’s” (term of endearment for the above literary leaders) books, but McGrath gives a pretty good overview of their works. Most of their logic doesn’t make sense. They dismiss religion not because of any argument, but because they think it’s stupid. They do this with a lot of important sounding words and flowery speech (mostly from Christopher Hitchens), but in reality it’s not that their argument is poor. It’s that they don’t have an argument at all! Calling something stupid isn’t an argument.
The New Atheism is different from the atheism most of us are familiar with in that the New Atheists don’t just want equality with religion, they want religion gone. Normal Atheists use positive arguments. By that I mean that they have their point and bring in evidence to prove that point (faulty evidence, but evidence nonetheless). New Atheists only have negative arguments. They don’t have a position by themselves. Their only move is to disavow something a creationist says, they have nothing to say that would build their argument. New Atheists are atheism’s rabid dogs. They bite anything and everything that has any connection with religion. Even the regular atheists are ashamed of their actions.
I did enjoy reading Why God Won’t Go Away. McGrath is a collegiate professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King’s College in London. This guy is smart and he knows what he’s talking about. He’s well read on the New Atheism and even checks out their websites sometimes. He’s debated a few of the New Atheists and several of the normal atheists. His thoughts on the New Atheism are well structured and quite thorough. The only negative I found was the derision with which he treats the New Atheists. The book is filled with their snide comments. I didn’t really need any more sarcasm or venom from him. Other than that I found the book to be informative and helpful. This is definitely an introduction to the New Atheism, but he’s got some deep things that we need to think thru as Christians too.
Since I’ve benefited from a recent book give-a-way I want to pay that forward so I’ll be giving this book away for free (even free shipping) to someone who comments on the blog. I also am slightly curious how many of you there are out there that read what I write. If you want to be put in the drawing for the book just comment below. Thanks for reading!