In the game of Theological Whack-a-Mole, in which one book after another is proffered as the “best argument for God and/or religion,” only to be replaced by another after the first is found wanting, there is supposedly now A Mole That Can’t Be Whacked. And that is the book I’m holding below, which I finally procured via interlibrary loan.
Yes, it’s David Bentley Hart’s new book, which I’ve written about here and here. The world of Sophisticated Theology™ is thrilling to Hart’s effort, singing in chorus that, this, at long last, is the book that makes the strongest case for God. This is the book that we, as atheists, must confront if we’re to have even a shred of credibility.
Here, for example, is the breathless praise of Hart’s book from Damon Linker in The Week:
One of the many virtues of theologian David Bentley Hart’s stunning new book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, is that it demolishes this facile, self-satisfied position [that of the New Atheists], exposing how completely it relies on a straw man account of God for its cogency. Atheism may well be true; a society of secularists might get along just fine without any form of piety. But until those unbelievers confront the strongest cases for God, they will have failed truly and honestly to rout their infamous enemy.
. . . That bracing and bold assertion, like the others that pack nearly every page of The Experience of God, should be questioned and subjected to scrutiny. But it should also be pondered. For provoking deep thought about the profoundest human questions, and for taking an intelligent stand in defense of faith and against its complacent, cultured despisers, Hart deserves the gratitude of a large and appreciative audience.
Okay, I accepted that challenge and got the book. (I didn’t want to pay for it, and the copy in our library was sent to another school on interlibrary loan, where it appears to have been purloined.) I will begin reading it immediately, for I’m eager to see the Best Case for God. I’ll report on it when I’m done.
In the meantime, as I’ve said before, I don’t see why we can’t play the same Whack-a-Mole game as do the theists.
So, you religionists, don’t bother to criticize atheism until you’ve abandoned your facile and straw-mannish view godlessness, and truly pondered The Best Case for Unbelief. Don’t open your mouths until you’ve read the following:
The complete works of Robert G. Ingersoll
Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
Dawkins’s The God Delusion (criticized far more often than read)
Hitchens’s God is Not Great
Dennett’s Breaking the Spell
Harris’s The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation
George Smith, Atheism: the Case Against God
Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason
Victor Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis
Walter Kaufmann’s Critique of Religion and Philosophy
David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Natural History of Religion and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
And when you’re done with those, I’ve got more up my sleeve. After all, the Best Arguments Against God just keep on coming.
Readers are invited to add to the list.