Anyone who has read these authors couldn’t help but notice the strident, intolerant, arrogant posture the so-called New Atheists have adopted against religious belief and believers. Hitchens’s title says it all. Dawkins’ contempt is similarly blatant. And they all rely on arguments based one way or another on modern, and in quantum-physical string theory and cosmology, postmodern ‘science’.
David Berlinski, a professor of mathematics and philosophy, science writer and agnostic ("a secular Jew" whose "religious education did not take") decided, in defense of religious thought and sentiment, to take on these atheists. In his recent book, "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions", he does so with razor sharp wit and logic. Some samples:
... When [Sam Harris] writes that he has been ‘dumbstruck’ by Christian and Moslem intellectual commitments, I believe the word has met the man.Berlinski doesn’t argue in favour of any particular religious beliefs but instead shows how the bellicose proselytizing atheists’ arguments from science are full of logical holes.
... The sciences, many scientists argue, require no criticism because the sciences
comprise a uniquely self-critical institution ... Individual scientists may make mistakes, but like the Communist Party under Lenin, science is infallible because its judgements are collective.
... physicist Victor Stenger scoffs that it is the "last resort of the theist who seeks to argue for the existence of God from science and finds all his other arguments fail". Sheer chutzpah, if I may use the Greek for cheek. It is Stenger who is arguing against the existence of God "from science."
... Having begun with Stenger, I might as well finish him off.... he has completely misunderstood the terms of the problem ... A man must really know his limits, as Clint Eastwood observed.
No less than the doctrines of religious belief, the doctrines of quantum cosmology are what they seem: biased, partial, inconclusive, and largely in the service of passionate but unexamined conviction.
To an editorial in ‘Nature’ that claims: "The idea that human minds are the product of evolution is ‘unassailable fact’ ... With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside." [Berlinski replies:] Those not willing to put such sentiments aside, the scientific community has concluded, are afflicted by a form of intellectual ingratitude. – It is remarkable how widespread ingratitude really is.
I would find Hitchens’s thoughts even more gratifying than I do had he not enlarged them to encompass nonlinear dynamics and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, subjects that in his ineptitude he waves like a majestic frond.
On Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg’s nihilism: "The more comprehensible the universe becomes ... the more it also seems pointless." He has a point. The arena of the elementary particles – his arena – is a rather depressing place ... What is it’s point?
"The Devil’s Delusion" is a real gem. Berlinski is a credit to agnostics; the religious will thank him; atheists will hate him. It’s win, win, win.