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 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.
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
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 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 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 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