Friday, September 11, 2015

By Dr. Gary Habermas

Contemporary trends, both popular and scholarly, have had a significant impact on religious issues over recent decades. There was the New Age Movement. Overlapping with that and extending far past it is Postmodernism. Now the New Atheism is in full bloom. Although the overall percentages are fairly small, some polls tell us that atheism is on the increase in the United States, especially among teenagers and young adults.

As many writers have noted, this last trend has manifested some very interesting characteristics. For example, leaders of the New Atheism such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris have been referred to as atheistic evangelicals, secular fundamentalists, preachers, and so on. These epitaphs are apparent references to the zeal, fervor, and bombastic methods with which they not only write, but perhaps apply even more to their public presentations, debates, and interviews.

Some have charged that their methods are more bombastic than they are substantial. Interestingly, these critiques are sometimes offered not only by conservatives, but also by the atheists’ secular peers. Their “converts” per­haps come more frequently, not from the rigorous intellectual arguments that are offered, but because of all their public and written vehemence. In other words, there are signs that the movement may be miles wide but only inches deep, at least intellectually.

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