Plantinga on “New Atheists”


The death of God is preached by the New Atheists (or “Brights,” as they like to call themselves), but it will take a great deal more than their intellectually puny efforts to undermine belief in God. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et al. make a lot of noise, but what they say really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, as my grandfather used to say. Where their comments are worth taking seriously, they are unoriginal; where they are original, they are not worth taking seriously. According to Psalm 2, the Lord scoffs at them; he holds them in derision.

We Christians ought to lean in the same direction. True, as Karl Barth said, only unbelief deserves to be taken as seriously as belief, but not because what the New Atheists say constitutes any threat. In the long run, their intemperate screeds are less dangerous than amusing. According to Psalm 14, the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’; here we have just one more example, and an unprepossessing one at that, of this prideful foolishness.

I say we must pray for them, not fear them.

Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame, from his Letter to the Editor, Christianity Today, September 2008

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