Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Reviewed by Dr. Richard Mayhue
20.1 (Spring 2009) : 113-114
Dr. Mohler’s primer on the “new atheism” originated with his four-part, W .H. Griffith-Thomas Lectures delivered at Dallas Theological Seminary in early 2008. The reviewer fully agrees with superlative endorsements offered by Drs. David S. Dockery, D.A. Carson, and Daniel Akin. Mohler presents his timely analysis concisely, clearly, and compellingly. This highly recommended work evidences wide reading and deep thinking by the current President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Mohler’s clear-cut proposition comes midway through the book (66). “Atheism is not a new challenge, but the New Atheists are perceived as presenting a new and powerful refutation of theism. Their challenge deserves and demands a cogent Christian response.” His conclusion/challenge appears near the end: “Evangelical Christians simply cannot surrender biblical authority, propositional revelation, and biblical theism in order to meet the various challenges presented to us in the twenty-first century” (102).
This well-crafted volume progresses as it originated, i.e., in four parts/chapters. Chapter One explores the history of atheism from the Enlightenment period (18th century) through the twenty-first century. Two broad movements fill out this section, (1) atheism (15-28) and (2) secularism (28-37). The central chapter (Two) on new atheism follows. The author first identifies four chief proponents (R. Dawkins, 39-43; D. Dennet, 43-47; S. Harris, 48-52; and C. Hitchens, 52-54). He concludes by articulating eight principles that differentiate older forms of atheism from the “new atheism” (54-63).
Chapter Three unfolds with brief summaries of two responses/challenges to Richard Dawkins by well-respected thinkers from an evangelical perspective: first, Alister McGrath (65-77), and second, Alvin Plantiga (77-85). This section contrasts with the following chapter (Four) in which Mohler reacts to responses to “new atheism” from two liberal theologians, namely Tina Beattie (90-95) and John F. Haught (95-102).
The author concludes (102-8) with summary thoughts about new atheists and about liberal theologians who are, by their rejection of biblical authority, defined as “practical” atheists, although not self-confessed, practicing atheists. Mohler ends with this striking thought, “Atheists are certainly right about one very important thing—it’s atheism or biblical theism. There is nothing in between” (108).
Dr. Mohler provides the reader with a crucial reminder. “In the end, evangelical Christians must remember that the burden of our concern is not merely to refute atheism or to argue for the intellectual credibility of theism in any generic or minimal form. Instead, our task is to present, to teach, to explain, and to defend Christian theism” (84). Atheism Remix serves as an excellent introductory piece for a much larger, much needed volume which this reviewer challenges the author to undertake. That way, the God of the Bible will have both the first and the last word (cf. Pss 10:4; 14:1; 53:1).