Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Godless Delusion

I seem to be on a atheist kick here... In The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism, Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley present a sort of no-argument-left-unsung challenge to current atheist claims. It is a good book, but doesn't approach The Loser Letters (about which I cannot say enough) for wit and even persuasiveness (is that a word?).

The philosophical explanations are clear and well-presented--a great introduction to Kant and Darwin for anyone with little experience! The authors intersperse the heavier stuff with concrete examples, anecdotes, and analogies. They do good work describing the so-called "problem" of evil, the moral implications of atheism, and the inability of atheism to account for the human experience.

Atheists reading might be offended by the constant claim that "all atheists know in their hearts that God exists." It's a sort of "anonymous Christian" claim that may shut down a dialogue (not that Christopher Hitchens isn't completely offensive to theists). Then again, if what I believe is true, then atheists do "know" God exists if only because they have to live with reality each and every day.

The most thought-provoking bits for me were the explanations of the basic atheist philosophy: naturalism. Naturalism is the assumption that matter--atoms, molecules, cells, etc.--is all that there is and provides a sufficient explanation for all phenomena in the world. The authors are particularly concerned to drive home the consequences of a society built on naturalistic principles: When God is dead, all is permitted. They contend that the basic assumption of our current society is increasingly naturalistic, specifically in education. Most educational institutions in the West now implicitly tell students that God is irrelevant to knowledge. We can know the world and live good lives without any reference to the spiritual or supernatural. (I think naturalism is one reason why we're homeschooling. I don't want my children to spend eight hours a day in a building where God is, if not explicitly denied, at least considered unnecessary to life and learning.)

It's worth a read.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Godless Delusion.


Melanie B said...

I do think that naturalism is a large part of our decision to homeschool too.

The sad thing is that in my experience at a Catholic school because the curriculum and textbooks were all from secular sources it was my own practical experience as well, aside from religion class every day and Mass once a week. God was compartmentalized into a narrow box labeled "religion" and was not felt as a presence in the rest of the day.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Thank you for the book review. Sounds like the arguments are the same-old, same-old, but it is interesting to see how yet another author tries to counter them. The problem is that even with atheism we are still dealing with a BELIEF system, and most people do not base their beliefs on logic but on emotion. So, arguing against the logic is not all that persuasive.

Erika said...

Yes, Elizabeth, I completely agree. That's why I'm not sure how many atheists would be convinced by this book over another. The Loser Letters is much more persuasive because it ties in an emotional/psychological element to the logical arguments.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I never heard of the Loser Letters, Erika. I will track it down. It sounds intriguing.

A Philosopher said...

Just for the record, there's no necessary connection between atheism and naturalism. It's quite possible to be a non-naturalistic atheist - I know several examples.