Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt concluded 2009 by broadcasting a debate about God between polemicists Michael Shermer and Gregory Koukl, thereby bidding adieu to what he called “The Decade of the New Atheists”. It was indeed a remarkable cultural phenomenon how four atheologians in particular rose to prominence by selling scads of books: Sam Harris with The End of Faith (2004), Christopher Hitchens with god is not Great (2007), Daniel Dennet with Breaking the Spell (2006), and, of course, Richard Dawkins with The God Delusion (2006). But just as noteworthy, perhaps, is the cavalcade of able critics who rose to these challenges to Christian theism. As with the cottage industry of criticism that accompanied Dan Brown’s and then Ron Howard’s The Davinci Code, these broadsides served as provocation for countless apologists. Of course, none of them were remotely as successful as their atheistic rivals in terms of sales. One wonders whether they will slip into oblivion just as Hume survives in philosophy readers, while most of his contemporaneous critics do not. Whatever happens, the swift and mostly scholarly response to this one decade’s worth of the perennial barrage on Christian theism leaves it an open question whether, in the final analysis, it was the atheists or their counterparts who owned the aughts. Consider the following list an opportunity to judge this contest of ideas for yourself.
Books Responding to the New Atheists
- Alister McGrath’s The Dawkins Delusion? (2007)
- John F. Haught’s God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (2007)
- Keith Ward’s Is Religion Dangerous? (2007)
- Douglas Wilson’s Letter from a Christian Citizen (2007)
- R.C. Metcalf’s Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point (2007)
- Thomas Crean’s God is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins (2007)
- David Robertson’s The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths (2007)
- David Marshall’s The Truth Behind the New Atheism (2007)
- Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great about Christianity(2008)
- Ravi Zacharias’ The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (2008)
- Chris Hedges’ I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008)
- Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism (2008)
- Eric Reitan’s Is God A Delusion: A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers (2008)
- Scott Hahn’s and Benjamin Wilker’s Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God (2008)
- Tina Beattie’s The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion (2008)
- Edgar Andrew’s Who Made God? Searching for a Theory of Everything(2009)
- Peter S. Williams’ A Sceptics Guide to Atheism: God Is Not Dead (2009)
- Keith Ward’s Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (2009)
- David Berlinki’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (2009)
- Paul Copan’s and William Lane Craig’s Contending with Christianity’s Critics (2009)
- Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (2009)
- William Lane Craig’s and Chad Meister’s God is Great, God is Good (2009)
- Gregory E. Ganssle’s A Reasonable God: Engaging the New Face of Atheism (2009)
- David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies(2009)
- David Fergusson’s Faith and Its Critics: A Conversation (2009)
- Phil Fernandes’ The Atheist Delusion(2009)
- Phillip E. Johnson’s and John Mark Reynolds’ Against All Gods(2010)
- Ian S. Markham’s Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong(2010)
- Peter Hitchens’ The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith(2010)
- Michael Poole’s The ‘New’ Atheism: 10 Arguments That Don’t Hold Water(2010)
- David Brog’s In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity(2010)
- Dave Hunt’s Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny (2010)
- John Lennox’s Gunning for God: A Critique of the New Atheism (2011)
- Tom Gilson’s and Carson Weitnauer’s True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism (2012)
- David H. Glass’ Atheism’s New Clothes (2012)
There were, of course, many other significant contributions to the God and religion debate in the last decade. This list represents only those works explicity responsive to the New Atheist challenge. Our book stacks include a wealth of volumes of a less occasional nature, many of which are likely to have more enduring influence. No doubt, the many volumes here vary in quality and I’ve read only a fraction. Bolded items are volumes I can vouch for as worthy of consideration. It turns out that Richard Dawkins’ compatriots maintain their own list of critical works, referring to these critics as “fleas” — affectionately, no doubt.
As I remember and rediscover them, I’ll be adding a list of online articles as well. Critics here include both theists and non-theists.
- “The Dawkins Confusion” by Alvin Plantinga at ChristianityToday.com (Mar 3, 2007)
- “The New Atheist Movement is Destructive” by Julian Baggini at Fritanke.no (Mar 19, 2009).
- “Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster” by Michael Ruse at Belief.net (Aug 14, 2009).
- Six reflections in Marginalia, by yours truly, here at Afterall.net.
- “The Plight of the New Atheism: A Critique” by Gary Habermas in Journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society 51:4 (2008).
- “The Moral Indignation of Richard Dawkins” by Paul Copan at Parchment and Pen (Mar 20, 2008).
- “Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark” by David Bentley Hart at First Things (Jan 2007).
- “Believe It or Not” by David Bentley Hart at First Things (May 2010).