POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

The Nature of the New Atheism

In the coming weeks I will be trickling out (without a production schedule) a blog series I am calling The Nature of the New Atheism - There has been a bit of a buzz in the media as of late about certain thinkers and leaders many are calling the New Atheism (See Wired Magazine Article - The Crusade Against Religion). 

Recently I have finished a book featuring the thoughts of Bad Religion front man Greg Gaffin, read some of the recent articles on the net and ordered another book by the atheist crusader Sam Harris.  I was thinking of reviewing books, engaging the articles, etc. but then had a bit of a different idea this morning.  What I propose I do is to cover some of the main ideological thrusts from the contemporary (really not all that new) atheistic front in our culture highlighting the books/works of various thinkers along the journey.

So in brief, here is my proposed outline with a brief abstract for each of the five stops on the path.  These entries I hope will be written well, but they will not be research papers handling all the breadth and depth of each topic.  My prayer is that they would serve as food for thought and dialog for us in these important times.

  1. Naturalism as the overarching meta-narrative - the atheistic worldview has philosophical naturalism as its foundational story.  The view holds that our world is a closed system of cause and effect with nothing existing "outside" of nature and therefore nothing acting upon the world.  No gods, devils, angels, demons, non material human souls, universal ethical truths existing at all.  This is the story from which they spin both their rhetoric and scholarship.
  2. Man de-centralizing man - For millennia human beings have thought that they inhabited a special and unique space in the cosmos.  Man, as it were, sat upon a throne at the top of the chain of being, a crowned creature in a world of matter, energy, things living and without life.  The atheistic project has sought to take man off of this throne and remove his crown.  Human beings are but a fortunate convergence of time + matter + chance - a combination which has deceived us into thinking we were special, that we had souls, that consciousness was spiritual, even made in the imago dei.
  3. The primacy of the brain and “evolutionary wiring” - With the advent of neuroscience and the continued creation of computational devices which mimic "thinking" (think...your computer) much is being said today which reduces all consciousness to the function of specialized matter, localized inside your skull.  Ethics, language, sin, and religion are now matters of localized brain function brought into play by the work of evolution.  Over the years we were fashioned into "meat machines" whose brains foster all these illusions upon us.  Morality, God, that you are a soul not just a body etc. are just projections of human brains.  This area goes sci-fi really quickly - so we'll have some fun with this one.
  4. The Fear of Religion and Anti-Religious crusading - With our world embattled by Islamic terrorism, the secularist is now setting aside his postmodern tolerance (well, only a few loud ones are) to rant against the evils of religion.  Not simply the religion which blows up one's self in the name of Allah, but ALL religions of every stripe.  They are outmoded evolutionary hang-ups that we need to grow out of and become enlightened naturalists who will bring utopia to the earth...or at least get us colonizing space before we blow ourselves to smithereens. 
  5. Why Atheism is not the major boogy man it once was - Really, atheism is not the big bad enemy it was in the 19th century Europe and America.  There are new enemies now at the gates of belief.  It remains a formidable element of thought in our culture which we must engage (ie - why I am even writing this) but there are other views which I believe hold more challenge in the future of Christian Orthodoxy. I will discuss the challenges facing atheism and the new boogies in the final post.

Now, I just pray I can complete this sucker before Thomas Reid turns 1 in August of 2007.  Seriously, I hope I can crank these out over the next month or so.  Pray for me will you - I promise I have too much to do than try and write this stuff - but what do you do with an idea that grips tightly onto your soul...

Should be fun.