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The Kindlings Muse on the New Atheism: Part I

We wrapped up our Darwin Day celebration with The Kindlings Muse, a locally produced roundtable discussion and podcast which regularly features thoughtful and engaging intellectuals on its program. This week featured our own Dr. John West and Adrian Wyard, from Counterbalance Foundation. The topic was “The New Atheism,” based on an article of the same name from WIRED.

The first segment is already up on the Kindlings site, and it features host Dick Staub interviewing Mr. Wyard and getting a great overview of the three books in question. Staub is a wonderful host who gets to the heart of the matter in a breezy, easygoing way. He asked Wyard to summarize and explain the 3 books by hardline Darwinists and evangelical atheists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, and he notes that each of the three authors in question is advancing the atheist position through a different discipline, all of them claiming science on their side.

The conversation that follows is well worth listening. Wyard notes that the change in the “new” atheism is that the stakes have been raised. “Religious language seems appropriate” to describe their fanaticism as they call on moderates to “listen to the prophetic voice of a small few” who will save us through science.

CSC’s Logan Gage noted the same thing last year in his article from The Examiner, and readers are encouraged to revisit it here.

Staub notices that Dawkins talks “almost like a religious fundamentalist.” In fact, it is Dawkins’ Darwinism which requires atheism in his view of science. Wyard goes on to explain how Dawkins doesn’t make any distinction “between metaphysics and physics” but seeks to make the issue about naturalism and supernaturalism. He rightly identifies this as the legacy of 19th-century postivism… but you’ll have to tune in for the next segment to hear what happened when Dr. John West joined the conversation and the really engaging and provocative dialogue ensued.

Anika Smith