Just recently I've been part of a rousing e-mail debate that began with a question about Dawkin's rant "The God Delusion". Like you, I hate spending money on a book I know I will hate, so I read the review. Alvin Plantinga, arguably the most famous Reformed philosopher in the past two decades, graciously wrote a devastating book review
. It's rational, it's biting, it's actually challenging Dawkins with a strong counter-argument. Go ahead and read it now, it's better than this blog.
A scientist responded that they were trying to read everything they could in philosophy and the history of science, because they felt that anti-theism was rampant in their field. (It is, in the same sense as the "running of the bulls".) He ended with this anecdote of the late Greg Bahnsen, who graduated from Westminster Seminary some 30 years ago.
Bahnsen likened it to being locked in a room with a man trying to shoot you. Arguing evidence is like getting really good at dodging bullets. Skill with philosophy of science is like learning how to get the gun out of his hand so he cannot shoot in the first place."
One of the people who responded was journalist Denyse O'Leary
who has several blogs on philosophy of mind
, and intelligent design
. (I need to take lessons from her on keeping blogs thematically distinct.)
From what I can see, it is NOT an intellectual phenomenon. If it were, the crowd would want to hear from people like Thomas Nagel or Antony Flew (or a still-atheist successor). But they do not. They want to hear from angry atheists calling for jihads and fatwas against traditional believers.
This confirms what I had said in an earlier blog
about my own evolution from rational apologetics. Here's what I wrote in response:
I think the 20th century was all about rationalism and modernism, the 21st century seems to be shaping up post-modernist and irrational. The global jihad of Islam is not at heart a rational movement. I too enjoyed Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism",
but recall that Fascism relied upon materialism and rationalism for its anti-theist metaphysics. Today the anti-theism, the anti-rationalism is driven by some other metaphysics, the Post-Modern metaphysic.
I've blogged extensively on PoMo, and concluded it is essentially polytheistic.
This is the phrase Paul Johnson uses to describe the multiple absolutes of feminism, eco-terrorism, abortion rights, gay rights, etc. And in polytheism,
rationality is not a virtue (for it would suggest there was a single absolute that ruled all nature). So what replaces rationality?
Peter Woods explained it in an essay "A Bee in the Mouth", as "authenticating anger". What Dawkins and Dennet and Hitchens and Harris
all have is "authenticity". That's why they are rock stars. And what ID folks lack is "authenticity". So if my predecessor at Westminster, the late Greg Bahnsen were alive, I would say to him, "Not only am I in a locked room with a maniac shooting a gun, but there's foam around his mouth and he's trying to bite me. What do I do?"