An Evaluation Of The New Atheist’s Anti-Yahwistic Argument From Evil -- By: Jordan W. Jones

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 09:1 (Jun 2011)
Article: An Evaluation Of The New Atheist’s Anti-Yahwistic Argument From Evil
Author: Jordan W. Jones


An Evaluation Of The New Atheist’s Anti-Yahwistic Argument From Evil

Jordan W. Jones

Liberty University

Introduction

This paper is an evaluation of the argument from evil that is put forward by the new atheists. Specifically, there is a nuanced form of this argument that appears repeatedly in their writings as a general attack on Yahweh and the Hebrew Bible. The basic question they ask is how Yahweh can be considered God since he was the agent of so much evil throughout the Old Testament. In order to approach this problem systematically, it is necessary to clearly define what the claims of the new atheist are.

The New Atheist

Many scholars in the scientific, philosophical, and theological disciplines have recognized a recent influx in the popularity of a movement that has come to be known as “the new atheism.” The new atheists consist of scientists and intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. Sam Harris should also be included here, though may not be considered by many to be an intellectual. While these atheists have received a great deal of praise from the non-academic populace of recent times, they have received an equal amount of criticism from some of their fellow intellectual atheists and theists. Alister McGrath identifies this problem in his response to Dawkins’s The God Delusion:

The God Delusion trumpets the fact that its author was recently voted one of the world’s three leading intellectuals. This survey took place among the readers of Prospect magazine in November 2005. So what did this same magazine make of Dawkins’s book? Its reviewer was shocked at this “incurious, dogmatic, rambling, and self-contradictory” book. The title of the review? ‘Dawkins the Dogmatist.’1

This summarizes the sentiments of the intellectual world to a brand of atheism that communicates its theories about religion in terms that can be described as pejorative and ad hominem in nature. Their methods typically involve a mischaracterization of a theistic position followed by a ritual burning down of what was built only by straw, and as a result “the intellectual quality of their atheism is unnecessarily diminished.”2

The new atheists are all unequivocally scientific naturalists who deny that anything that exists has come by any means other than through naturalistic, materialistic processes. To this the new atheists add their complaints about religion—the foremost of which involves the problem of evil.3 The problem of evil is the question of how God (on the classic theist definition of God...

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