While there are many things that could be said about the book there were at least a couple things that stuck out to me. First were the eight hallmarks of the New Atheism that Mohler identifies. These are important for us to understand because in some ways they reveal that the atheists may be more perceptive of what the scriptures say than many professing believers today. Here are the eight hallmarks with my comments in italics and in blue:
1 - They have a new boldness in that the old atheists seems to have a sense of longing and a sense of loss but this is not true of the New Atheists. While in times past belief in God may have been seen as archaic and unneeded the New Atheists see it as dangerous to believe in a God. This is important to see in that it lets us see that there is little common ground when conversing with those that hold to this brand of atheism as they have as a goal of theirs rid society of any form of theism.
2 – They are clearer that they reject the Christian God of the Bible. The old atheists simply denied that a God could exist but the New Atheists see the specific God of the scriptures as being “untenable.” What I find interesting here is that while many try and avoid the obvious place of God in the midst of turmoil and Open Theisms attempt to save God from this issue the New Atheists seem to see that plain reading of Bible as God being intimately involved in trials and tribulations. So in some ways they see the text more clearly than many professing believers do. As Christians we need to deal with God and the problem of evil not by stripping God from scripture but truly dealing with the text and the mystery of how God is sovereign and bad things happen.
3- “The New Atheists explicitly reject Jesus Christ.” The reason being is that they recognize that Jesus is not a nicer version of God as so many professing Christians put forth but they see from the NT that Jesus is to be as rejected as the God of the OT. They also see that Jesus is restrictive in entry into heaven and thus they would reject Him for this as well. Again this is a place that all too many believers miss while the atheists seem to see the obvious. This is not new as fro the time of Marcion many have either purposefully or inadvertently tried to picture Jesus as something He is not. When it comes to the Atheist seeing the restrictivism of Jesus this is sort of amazing as there are far too many that claim Christ as savior that either do not see this or do not feel comfortable stating the obvious.
4-“The New Atheism is specifically grounded in the scientific argument.” They see that science in the end has to be able to explain everything and so “their commitment to the worldview of naturalism and materialism is absolute and nonnegotiable.” We as believers need to understand this worldview so that we understand why the New Atheists reject our arguments. I am not saying to change our arguments as many have tried to do but instead it is helpful to now their worldview and thus know from the beginning that we are placing answers before them that come from a worldview they reject. We are not to take of their world view but be firm in ours.
5- They do not tolerate moderate and liberal forms of beliefs. I found this interesting because the moderates and liberals have seemed to try and make palatable Christianity that in the end is obvious even to the atheist not Christianity as the Bible depicts. So the message to us is that the world sees a sham when it is put before them. They may dislike and even dispise true Christianity but they know what scripture plainly puts forth. They do not believe it but they see it clearly there.
6-The New Atheists see the need to rid ourselves of religious toleration. They see all religion as untenable and dangerous. Again, for years we have tried to make Christianity just part of a larger religious picture and sought after religious toleration but this will no longer placate the Atheist.
7-“The New Atheists have begun to question the right of parents to inculcate belief in their own children” An argument that John Dewey put forth in the early 20th century. As believers we need to be aware of this as this is the direction of the public school system. This is not a far flung idea but has been around for many years but as the leaders of academia, many of who would probably hold to some form of this New Atheism train the teachers and students of the years to come this idea will only become more prevalent.
8-They argue that to preserve human freedom “religion itself must be eliminated.” With many believers human freedom, what ever that is, drives everything as it does for the atheist. We need to regain a biblical understanding of freedom in light of the sovereign God revealed in His inspired word.
The other interesting thing to read was the various arguments against the New Atheists from professing believers that hold to some form of evolutionary thought to those that would be in the liberal fringes of belief, The interesting part is that while they argue against the New Atheism it seems clear that in their desire to have things their way they will not win the argument either. While all of the arguments they give attempt to try and show they have it figured out it seems that where they stray from scripture will be their down fall as in the end their footing is on sand and not the solid ground of God’s word.
I would recommend this as book to read. If for no other reason than understanding if you are looking at sending your children to public school or even to college you need to realize that the men and women mentioned in this book that hold to this New Atheism are influential in academia. Whether they would directly influence you children or they do it by those they influence who then teach your children that influence is there.
One last comment; I think that it is a desire to not seem foolish that cause so many of the problems when speaking to those that hold the beliefs, or some form of them, that this book reveals. By this I mean we have forgotten that the message of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing (1 Cor 1:17-21) so should we really expect anything different than the responses these New Atheists place before us. Yes we need to provide an answer for the faith we have (1 Peter 3:15) but realize without the work of God on the person before you the cross is a foolish message but for His children it is a message of hope.