Saturday, November 14, 2009

The New Atheism

I have just finished reading The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Dr. Victor Stenger. It reads like a dispatched update from the War between Rationality and Superstition. Stenger responds to the ignorance and misrepresentation of those who write against the "New Atheists". We get a thorough debunking of the myth that atheism is responsible for the atrocities of communism, some of which mirrors the arguments I made in my book, Atheism and Naturalism. Stenger also gives a brief summary of his natural scenario for the origin of the universe, which I must admit, I still find puzzling. However, his summary of the origin of the laws of physics is a great deal more understandable, and is fascinating. You won't find that information in many other books. I spotted a problem with Stenger's arguments at the end of his first chapter in which he said,

"The reason we trust reason and science, and have no trust whatsoever in religious arguments, is that science and reason work in understanding the world and making it a better place for humanity while religious argument leads universally to dismal failure and untold human suffering."

This sounds very much like a circular argument. For example: if one uses science (knowledge gained by observation) only because one has observed it to work, well, we all see the circularity inherent in that. However, on page 239 Stenger makes some comments that may clear this up.

Anyway, Stenger also spends some time on Eastern religions and finds that there may be something to them (when stripped of their supernatural beliefs, of course). Overall I enjoyed the book. It's a good read.

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