Answering the New Atheists: Is Faith Irrational?
by Kerby Anderson
Many of the best selling books over the last few years have been written by the New Atheists. I’d like to consider some of the criticisms brought by these individuals and provide brief answers. You may never meet one of these authors, but you are quite likely to encounter these arguments as you talk with people who are skeptical about Christianity.
For our discussion, we will be using the general outline of the book Is God Just a Human Invention? written by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. I would encourage you to read the book for a fuller discussion not only of the topics considered here but of many others as well.
You cannot read a book by the New Atheists without encountering their claim that religion is blind, irrational, and without any evidence. Richard Dawkins makes his feelings known by the title of one of his books: The God Delusion.
Why does he say that? He says religions are not evidentially based: “In all areas except religion, we believe what we believe as a result of evidence.” In other words, religious faith is a blind faith not based upon evidence like other academic disciplines. So he concludes that religion is a “nonsensical enterprise” that “poisons everything.”
Each of the New Atheists makes a similar statement. Dawkins states that faith is a delusion, a “persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” Daniel Dennett claims Christians are addicted to blind faith. And Sam Harris argues that “Faith is generally nothing more than the permission religious people give one another to believe things without evidence.”
Is this true? Do religious people have a blind faith? Certainly some religious people exercise blind faith. But is this true of all religions, including Christianity? Of course not. The enormous number of Christian books on topics ranging from apologetics to theology demonstrate that the Christian faith is based upon evidence.
But we might turn the question around on the New Atheists. You say that religious faith is not based upon evidence. What is your evidence for that broad, sweeping statement? Where is the evidence for your belief that faith is blind?
Orthodox Christianity has always emphasized that faith and reason go together. Biblical faith is based upon historical evidence. It is not belief in spite of the evidence, but it is belief because of the evidence…
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|Recommended Resources: Is God Just a Human Invention? | Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors|