Article | First Things

An unfortunate link from Arts&Letters Daily led to this silly article by David B Hart in First Things. The article presents itself as a review of the recently published 50 Voices of Disbelief but after briefly dismissing a number of the contributions to that effort it goes on to become a general polemic against the so-called “New Atheists”. Not that I hold any brief for any of these worthies in particular (in fact I do often find them smug though I seldom agree with the common charge of outright brutish rudeness), but Hart’s article is full of derisive snorting about failings which he does not substantiate (and which I know are often unfairly ascribed).

I have to agree with commenter Jack Rawlinson who calls it an “absurdly and unnecessarily prolix exercise in empty sneering”

Or commenter Eric MacDonald who says:

What a disturbing piece of intellectual foppery! For someone who criticises the quality of argument in the writings of the New Atheists, this diatribe – for that is what it is – contains incredibly little, if any, argument at all – an astonishing display of rude confidence in the power of declarative pronouncement. At one point he offers an analogy to the regress argument, but calls it a feeble one – which it is. If Hart is going imperiously, and with an surprising fund of insulting and belittling language, to condemn others for their arguments, he must at least provide one or two!

. . .

and later:

. . .
As to Hart’s other claim, that none of the so-called New Atheists seem to have any sense of the tragic dimension of life, arguments against religion are scarcely where this will be found. But this profound dimension of the tragic and of the complexity and depth of human conscience and self-critical awareness does not depend on belief in god or gods. Read some Tzvetan Todorov or Vassily Grossman, or even some of the essays of AC Grayling, and the subtlety and profundity of regligionless human awareness will be abundantly evident. Hart is looking in the wrong place, and on that basis proposing that contemporary atheism is simply empty. But surely, nothing can be quite so empty as the disparaging hubris of Hart himself, lacking in both self-critical awareness and human depth.

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