The New Perspective of Atheism

Introduction

Many publications promoting the advantages of atheism have gained popularity in North America since Sam Harris’ The End of Faith was published in 2004. Other novels have appeared, but none have attained the same level of recognition. The mildest of these works, Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, advises that atheists should call themselves “bright” – which implies that theists are plainly less ‘bright’.

The ‘new atheists’ believe that the only truth claims that can be accepted are those that fulfil current scientific standards. They denied the existence of the supernatural or super-sensible. They also demolish intellectual evidence of God, create hypotheses about religion’s pathological origins, recount religious atrocities, and question the relationship between religion and morality.

This article responds to the new atheists’ philosophical assertions, analysing their philosophical underpinnings both logically and from the standpoint of the Baha’ Writings. Their writings are profoundly defective logically and intellectually, and they generally disagree with the Baha’ Writings – albeit they agree on several points.

This study will not point out every factual inaccuracy, every logical flaw (and there are many) or the many polemical and rhetorical theatrics they use to push their cause.

Atheists and Baha’ Writings have more disagreements than agreements or convergences, as predicted. Abolitionist writers are unlikely to share much with religious texts, even if they embrace evolution, rationality, the intrinsic harmony of religion and science and believe in the independent exploration of truth.

Remember that the new atheists want to establish as much distance between their views and religion as possible. They are disinterested in religious common ground.

Is there opportunity for dialogue with the new atheists given the extent of disagreement and their typically scathing self-expression? The answer is a qualified yes, based on several agreements. Also, considering their disdain for theologians and/or theistic philosophers, we may agree to remain cautiously optimistic.

Of course, philosophical agreement is impossible since rejection of super-sensible truths weakens any basis for religious accord. In other words, there can be no agreement on fundamental problems, even if there is agreement on non-essential topics.

What do we know about New Atheism?

The new atheism is led by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. Unlike implicit atheism, which is the lack of belief in God, gods, or the supernatural without any conscious, i.e., purposeful rejection, explicit atheism involves conscious and intentional rejection of belief in God, gods, or the supernatural. Ignorance or apathy can lead to implicit atheism.

Then there is “negative theoretic atheism” which is based on a lack of adequate facts to declare the existence of super-sensible realities, and the intrinsic constraints of human intellect in understanding such realities. This second kind of atheism is agnostic.

Finally, we must distinguish between atheism that rejects the existence of any and all super-sensible beings, personal or not. Examples of the former are Theravada Buddhism and Jainism.

Who are the New Atheists?

If Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett are the ‘new atheists,’ who are the ‘old atheists?’ Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Sartre are notables since 1800. Feuerbach constructed an anthropological God in which human nature is pushed forth in a larger-than-human form.

To put it another way: God is man enlarged. Ontologically, God does not exist. Feuerbach inspired Marx, who saw God as a creation of the ruling classes to subjugate the oppressed. Humanity is the ultimate being in the cosmos, according to Marx’s radical humanism.

That Nietzsche said “God is dead” is perhaps the most renowned contribution to the rise of atheism. That we can be more human without a God who stands in our way, and stops us from claiming our own identity, values, or dedication to earthly existence in the name of abstract spiritual heaven. Rather, he declares “Dead are all the Gods” to pave the way for Superman’s development.

Nietzsche denied metaphysical existence. Freud said that God is a childhood delusion that keeps us from reaching intellectual and moral adulthood. Instead of protecting ourselves, we turned to God as a father figure. So, God-believing infantilizes us.

Sartre, the most famous post-war atheist, denies God’s existence because it imposes a predetermined nature on us, preventing us from making ourselves via our choices. A being cannot be both “in-itself” like any item in the world and “for-itself” like all self-conscious creatures since “for-itself” is a denial of “in-itself”.

What do you think of God as a “Scientific Concept”?

Also, Dawkins’s claim that “the God question is not in principle and permanently outside the ambit of science” is problematic. [42] and “God’s existence is a scientific hypothesis.” These claims contradict him blatantly. How can a natural, physical experiment establish or refute a non-physical entity’s existence?

How can an experiment that only looks at entities that exist in time and space prove or deny God, who is not a natural object? A measurable, tangible or material creature would be subject to scientific investigation and experimentation, but God is not.

To depict God as a mere ‘natural object’ is a straw-man argument with which no religion agrees. Unthinkable, inexhaustible, and indestructible is Abdul’s-Divine Baha’s Reality… It [the “Infinite Reality”] cannot be defined in terms of the created world’s phenomenal realm. 

“In God’s universe, time is non-existent.” Time has no power over animals or God.” God is not bound by space. 

In short, the God proposed by all faiths lacks the properties of the phenomenal world studied by science. So, Dawkins’ argument refutes a ‘strawman,’ a naturalistic ‘god’ as Dawkins has concocted him for polemical reasons. Like all straw-man arguments, Dawkins’ claim is irrelevant. The presence or non-existence of God is beyond scientific research, but not necessarily beyond human logic.

This issue also afflicts Dennett’s work, but from a different He offers to research religion scientifically, which is not incompatible with the Baha’ Writings, but he forgets that examining religion in evolutionary terms is not the same as proving atheism scientifically. However, the former only analyses how the religious drive shows itself in diverse cultural forms, which says nothing about God’s presence or non-existence.

A non sequitur argument from past religious expressions to God’s non-existence. Finally, Dennett reduces God to a phenomena that science can investigate, ignorant to the reality that he has created a straw-man argument by substituting his naturalistic ‘god’ for a supernatural God.

Reason vs Faith

The new atheists believe faith and reason are incompatible. “All attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are doomed to failure and ridicule,” says Hitchens. Religious faith, according to Harris, is a twisted, cultural uniqueness — a vanishing point beyond which logical conversation is impossible. “Religious faith is an exceptionally effective suppressor of rational calculation,” argues Dawkins. Questions regarding the nature and extent of reason follow.

The new atheists’ work clearly identifies reason with science and the scientific method, i.e. with a naturalist conception of reason that must function within the constraints of science’s understanding of nature. Genuine knowledge transcends the natural domain and hence cannot meet the scientific standard of knowing.

As a result, faith is “simply unjustified belief” that is irreconcilable with reason. Faith simply refuses to “stoop to reason when it has no cause to believe.” Faith is fundamentally illogical, and hence incompatible with reason. We define knowledge as reasonable, explicable in rational terms, and within the natural boundaries provided by science.

Nothing knows beyond our natural boundaries; reason only works properly when it confines itself to the natural world. Trying to think beyond nature leads to religious superstition.

Conclusion

As anticipated, there are a lot a greater number of differences than matches between present-day agnostics and the Baha Writings — yet the size of the likenesses and their key person are startling. In any case, the inquiry remains, ‘Are these equal adequate to take into consideration veritable discussion between the two?’

Is it conceivable to accommodate the inconsistencies between new sceptics and the Baha Writings? At the end of the day, is there anything on which the two can work together?

Author/Editor

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