by Edward Feser
Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the cluelessness of New Atheists is their strange compulsion to comment at length on books they admit they have not read. Naturally, you see this frequently from anonymous doofuses in comboxes, Amazon reviews, and the like. But what is really remarkable is how often even otherwise intelligent and educated people make fools of themselves by doing exactly what they accuse religious believers of doing – forming an opinion based on preconceptions rather than the actual evidence. We saw biologist Jerry Coyne do this a few years ago when he devoted over 5000 words across two blog posts to harshly criticizing a David Bentley Hart book he admitted he had not read. The latest example comes from theoretical physicist Mano Singham at Freethought Blogs.
Singham’s target is my new book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, about which he makes some highly critical remarks, despite admitting twice in the course of his blog post that he has not read it. Here’s my favorite line:
I have not read his new book and so can only guess at these proofs but going by the names that are dropped I can guess that they consist of warmed over versions of the prime mover, Kalam, design, and the ontological arguments.
End quote. Where does one begin?
First, the “names that are dropped” to which Singham refers are those of Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, and Leibniz. Why on earth would anyone conclude from those names that the book defends the kalam, design, and ontological arguments, specifically? (I do, of course, defend Aristotle’s prime mover argument.)
Second, not only do I not defend the kalam, design, and ontological arguments in the book, but I have, of course, been critical of each of those arguments here at the blog and elsewhere.
Third, why would an academic and a scientist who presumably prides himself on grounding his opinions in empirical evidence, avoiding the rationalization of preordained conclusions, etc. want to make a judgment on the basis of a “guess” as to what is in the book instead of actually looking at the book itself? Even if he just wanted to find out what arguments are actually covered without reading the book, he could do that in five seconds by using the “Look inside” function at Amazon.
The rest of the post isn’t any better. Singham writes…
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