The number of Americans who identify as atheists has doubled since 2007. Though that’s some dramatic growth, atheists still make up just a small percentage of Americans; somewhere between 3% and 9% of American adults don’t believe in the existence of God.
In spite of those small numbers, so-called New Atheists such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens have penned book-length takedowns of religion that have thrusted atheism back into the spotlight.
Meanwhile, Christian theologians have taken the claims of these skeptics head on, publishing rebuttals and engaging in public debates. With both the popular perception of Christianity and the faith of young Christians at stake, formulating a clear, logical, and charitable response to New Atheism is imperative.
But how can pastors and other busy Christians keep up with the voluminous output of the New Atheists? How can we thoughtfully evaluate and engage with their thinking from a Christian perspective? There are dozens of books out there that fit into the New Atheist category. There can be no true substitute for engaging with the most important of those works for yourself. But at the very least, Christians need clear, reasoned summaries of New Atheism’s arguments—and intelligent rebuttals from qualified Christian scholars.
Why God Won’t Go Away
Renowned historian, theologian, and scholar Alister McGrath is on the frontlines of this conversation, and has publicly debated many of these prominent skeptics. Before becoming a Christian, McGrath was an atheist with a doctorate in molecular biophysics. But in Why God Won’t Go Away, he gives a spirited rebuttal to the claims of the New Atheists, critiquing the movement with the rigorous logic of a scientist and the convictions of a Christian theologian.
The New Atheists have found a foothold in today’s cynical society, and have ramped up their efforts to debunk the existence of God. In Why God Won’t Go Away, McGrath challenges claims that religion is inherently delusional and evil, that reason and science have disproven faith, and that the best hope for humanity is the religionless vision of New Atheism.
The Dawkins Delusion?
As a special bonus, this month you can get The Dawkins Delusion? for just $1.99!
In The Dawkins Delusion? Alister and Joanna McGrath’s painstakingly scrutinize Richard Dawkins’ bestselling The God Delusion. The McGraths’ careful analysis will be warmly received by those looking for a Christian assessment of The God Delusion and the many questions it raises—including, above all, the relevance of faith and the quest for meaning.
The meteoric rise of atheism in the twenty-first century presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Christians. Instead of cowering in fear—or decrying the crumbling beliefs of our society—we can engage with the New Atheists with the help of scholars like McGrath. If the Christian story is indeed the story of reality, then ultimately the emptiness of atheism will be revealed to our culture. By understanding and responding to New Atheism’s arguments, Christians can offer the hope and meaning that even the most strident atheist longs for.