Gunning for God

Why the new atheists are missing the target

John C. Lennox, Lion Hudson, 2011


The flavor of this book seems more confrontational than "God's Undertaker", which spent most of it's time making statements supportive of theism. Here he starts out with more direct criticism of the new atheists.

p10 After comments about the usual cadre of new atheists (Dawkins,Dennett, Hitchens, Harris) he introduces Michel Onfray, a French philosopher)

p10 Dawkins' "cat-herder" quote from "The God Delusion". Then comments on part of that "noise" as the athiest's message purchased on the sides of buses "There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life." Dawkins helped finance that. Response from David Berlinski p11 and a stark quote of Jean Paul Sartre "Atheism is a long, hard, cruel business."

p12 Amusing story of two school children the atheists picked out to epitomize normal happy children. They turned out to be the children of a devout Christian family.

p13 Good bio material on Lennox. Debates with Dawkins, Hitchens, Stenger, Schermer

p14 References to McGrath, Ward, David Bentley Hart, David Robertson for allies.

p15 Discussion of the objective of the book

p15 Discussion of "the brights" as the atheists call themselves

p17 Quotes of Hitchens and Harris

p17 Dawkins' discussion of how 9/11 radicalized him fro "A Devil's Chaplain"

p17 Dawkins' "imagine" quote from The God Delusion.

p18 Weinberg quote containing "anything we can do" to get rid of religion.

p19 Polls summarizing the religious landscape.

p20 Comments on new atheism rejecting postmodernism and regarding truth as real. At least that raises hope for rational dialog.

p21 Quote of John Tyndall, religion must be subject to science.

p21 Presents his take on the atheist agenda and proposes to challenge it.

  1. Religion is a dangerous delusion: it leads to violence and war.
  2. We must therefore get rid of religion: science will achieve that.
  3. We do not need God to be good: atheism can provide a perfectly adequate base for ethics.

    p23 Even many atheists oppose the agenda of the new atheist. Amusing summary by BBC Radio commentator John Humphreys.

    1. Are God and Faith Enemies of Reason and Science?

    p27 Onfray quote from "In Defense of Atheism"

    p28 Good general response from Lennox about Onfray's "fictional gods" including "Well, fictional gods may well be the enemies of reason: the God of the Bible certainly is not." He expands on that theme.

    p31 Takes on Hawking's position in "The Grand Design".

    p31-38 A response to Hawking taken from his book "God and Stephen Hawking". Strongly criticized Hawking's inadequate view of God, his "God of the gaps" charge, and his confusion of mechanism and agency.

    p38-39 General discussion of whether science and/or religion requires faith, with assertions by Dawkins and Baggini that science doesn't require faith, or very little of it. Includes Dawkins comparison of faith to smallpox and his assertion that it's absence of evidence is shouted from the rooftops.

    p42 Dawkins letter to daughter included in "The Devil's Chaplain" which points to evidence-based faith. He includes "Inside feelings must be backed up by evidence otherwise you just can't trust them." Lennox enthusiastically agrees and comments "Exactly! Evidence-based faith is not an unfamiliar idea - even to the New Atheists."

    p42 Lennox quote "faith is not something that makes up for lack of evidence."

    p42 Lennox charges that the new atheists are relying too much on the Mark Twain definition of faith. From Hitchens "If one must have faith to believe in something, then the likelihood of that something having truth or value is considerably diminished." Lennox's response if "Exit science then! Exit also Christopher Hitchens .. on the presumption that Christopher Hitchens has sufficient faith to believe in his own existence, his argument would tell me that the likelihood that he actually exists is considerably diminished. Such 'logic' is not exactly impressive, is it?"

    p43 Kant quote "I have .. found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith." Lennox calls this "a false disjunction between faith and knowledge that has caused endless trouble ever since." "Many have taken Kant to mean that if there were convincing evidence for the existence of God, then there would be no room left for faith." Lennox counters this on p43 with a story about evidence that smoking causes cancer.

    p43 Baggini again, using the Thomas story to suggest that Christianity glorifies faith with no evidence. Lennox gives a fine response.

    p45 Dawkins quotes Pirsig in calling faith a delusion. Lennox response.

    p45-46 Blames Freud for some of the "faith is a delusion" business. quotes Lutz

    p47 Milosz quote

    p48 Davies quote from Templeton lecture about faith of a scientist. Einstein quote about the faith of a scientist and another from his letter to Phyllis Wright.

    p49 Grayling

    p50 Polkinghorne taught Lennox quantum mechanics at Cambridge

    p51 "confidently place our faith . ."

    p51 par 3 Ont

    p52 Faith in rationalintelligibility of the universe, quotes of Einstein and Wigner.

    p53 "Reason" is "designed" to fulfill the purpose of discovering truth."

    p53 Haldane quote

    p54 Hawking and Gay quotes, Plantiinga

    2. Is Religion Poisonous?

    p59 Sims and Nietzsche quotes

    p59 Weinberg quote

    p61 Discussion of the blanket condemnation of all religions and Harris' surprising dissent.

    p63 Lennox "His naivete' is wonderful .."

    p63 par3 Bertrand Russell quote

    p64 Nietzsche quote

    p64 "..diametrically opposed to what Christ himself taught.."

    p65 reinforces with Gethsemane story and analysis of Pilate's response.

    p73-76 Quotes criticizing Dawkins' blanket condemnation of religion, some from atheists.

    p77 Sims quote on advantages of religious belief.

    p78-79 Times correspondent Matthew Parris

    p80 Berlinski quote

    3. Is Atheism Poisonous?

    p84 Robinson quote

    p84 Peter Berkowitz quote

    p88 Marx quote

    p89 Hitler echoing Nietzsche

    p89 Berlinski quote

    p90 "Do the new atheists really think .." good summary by Lennox.

    p91 quotes of Harris, Peter Singer, M Hauser

    p93 John Gay and original sin

    p95 Lennox statement

    4. Can We Be Good Without God?

    This chapter is the best written treatment I have seen of this subject. I heard a great presentation with this title by William Lane Craig but this is a great accessible reference.

    p97 Dostoievski quote, "If God does not exist, everything is permissible." p98 for reference

    p98 Singer quote

    p99 Pointer to C S Lewis "Abolition of Man". Singer and Hauser have published data and comments to the effect that people of all faiths or none respond similarly to moral dilemmas. They use this to argue against faith, but Lewis in Abolition .. had already pointed this out and attributes to a morality written on our hearts by our Creator.

    p99 Einstein and Feynman quotes asserting that science cannot ground morality

    p99 Dawkins and Harris on morality

    p100 Holmes Rolston - "Science has made us increasingly competent in knowledge and power, but it has also left us decreasingly confident about right and wrong. The evolutionary past has not been easy to connect with the ethical future. There is no obvious route from biology to ethics - despite the fact that here we are.. The genesis of ethics is problematic."

    p100-103 Excellent section on Hume's "is to ought".

    p100 Lennox "Hume here observes that authors on moral philosophy often advance arguments for what ought to be on the basis of factual statements about what is. They appear to derive imperative conclusions from indicative premises. According to Hume, this is just not possible."

    p101 "is to ought" as a category error. Noting that Hume continued to try to ground ethics naturalistically, he cites C S Lewis in "The Abolition of Man"

    p101 Lennox "Science can tell us that if you put strychnine in your grandmother's tea it will kill her. Science cannot tell you whether you ought or ought not to do so in order to get your hands on her property."

    p102 Harris' "slight of mind"

    p102 Appiah and Myers quotes

    p103 Spencer and social Darwinism used evolution as the pointer to progress and the base for morality.

    p103 Section on social Darwinism

    p103 Ruse quote - social Darwinism assumes evolution has a direction when at base that is what is denied by evolution. Very good first two paragraphs on social Darwinism.

    p104 Wallace and Darwin and the dark side of social Darwinism - harbinger of the "Final Solution".

    p105 Horgan review of Harris

    p106 Sociobiology Jacques Monod - Monod quote on "is to ought".

    p106 Singer quote

    p107 Provine - quote

    p107 Palmer quote

    p107 Monod quote

    p108 Ruse & Wilson on genes to ethics

    p108 Gray quote critical of Monod

    p108 Lennox's comeback to Gray

    p109 Monod - quote from "Chance and Necessity"

    p109 Evolution and altruism - describes problem that altruism poses to evolution

    p110 Wilson calls it "the central problem of sociobiology"

    p110 Ruse's version

    p111 Dawkins dilemma

    p111 last para excellent statement by Lennox - conflict of instinct and moral urging

    p112 Dawkins "no good, no bad" fuller quote than usual

    p112 Lennox repeats his "imagine" sequence

    p113 In summing up, discussion of "acid"

    p113 Sartre's summary of Dostoievski

    p114 Berlinski "how is it that most of us both know and care"

    5.Is the God of the Bible a Despot?

    p118 Good opening statement - no intellectual base - lack of balance

    p118 Hitchens - hates a God who is watching him

    p118 Dawkins "in group" ignorance

    p121 Atheist 10 commandments

    p124 Basic morality of Dawkins is broadly Christian.

    p125 Canaanite invasion

    p132 Butterfield - importance of supervision

    p135 Dawkins key quote "no evil, no good"

    p135 Hart on Nietzsche

    p136 What do you accomplish by denying God - don't take away suffering or evil, but take away hope.

    p137 Points to resurrection as origin of confidence that yields hope.

    p138 Dawkins tirade against resurrection. "The Crunch"- does death end everything.

    p139 C S Lewis and Romans 8:28

    p140 Free will, man not a machine.

    6.Is the Atonement Morally Repellent?

    p146 Nature of sin

    p147-148 Dawkins quote

    p148 quote Dawkins Christmas essay

    p148-149 discussion of sin

    p157 Simon Wiesenthal's "The Sunflower"

    p161 David Gooding on the two thieves on the cross

    7. Are Miracles Pure Fantasy?

    p165 Hume and Flew quotes. Story of Jay Richards and Hitchens, Lennox and Dawkins.

    p166 Francis Collins quote

    p168 Hume's quote and discussion of it from "God's Undertaker"

    p171 Hume denying cause and effect

    p172 Continues case against Hume, response of Flew and Earman

    p172? Wright on miracles

    p175 C S Lewis

    p176 C S Lewis

    p178 Hume criticism of evidence

    p180 Hume criteria, rise of Christianity

    p181 Another round on Hume's objection to miracles. This chapter largely responds to Hume and along with the chapter in God's Undertaker is a pretty thorough response to Hume.

    p183 C S Lewis - only belief in a Creator is satisfactory grounds for belief in the uniformity of nature. Excellent C S Lewis quote.

    8. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

    An excellent chapter, much more than I expected. Very thorough in its presentation of evidence, and to me, touching. Interesting final comment on the silence of the new atheists on this evidence.

    p187 Dawkins and Wright

    p188-189 Scholarly quotes

    p191 Discussion of manuscripts

    p 192 After citing manuscript evidence for Iliad and the like, ancient Greek literature, quote NT is by far the best attested

    p194 Kenyon quote

    p194 Metzger quote

    p196-197 Historical accuracy of Luke. No mistakes on historical placements, "any attempt" quote

    p198 Summary of evidence: Death, Burial, Empty tomb, Eyewitnesses. Very thorough

    9. Final Reflections

    p227 Good analysis of Romans 1:20

    p228 Spaeman - good quote

    p231 Quote last paragraph

    Windows of Creation
    Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reasonable faith
Reasonable FaithR Nave
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