The Other Journal continues its current engagement with atheism with Ryan Dueck’s The New Atheism as Inadequate Theodicy. Dueck makes an interesting argument that the “new atheism” is ultimately portraying a simple and inadequate resolution to the problem of evil. While I find his argument fairly compelling, I think that Dueck would have done better to take Merold Westphal’s advice to take the charges against religious belief a little more seriously and humbly. (For more, see Westphal’s Atheism for Lent.) Here’s a sample:
Those who puzzle at the phenomenon that is the “new atheism”—whether religious or irreligious—could be forgiven for wondering what new cosmological data or insight into human nature suddenly became available around the mid-point of the twenty-first century’s first decade to instantly render belief in the supernatural remarkably less credible than in the millennia that preceded it. …The meager nature of the contribution of the new atheists to the actual philosophical argument about the existence of God demonstrates that something else, clearly, is motivating this latest (and loudest) blast of hostility toward God and religion. It is my contention that this something has less to do with science and reason vs. blind faith than it does with the problem of evil. The entire project undertaken by the new atheists is a theodicy, albeit of a curious sort. This claim is, perhaps, a strange one, and will require some unpacking.