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August 31, 2023

Added Review of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (2023) by Gregory W. Dawes to the Faith & Reason and Theism pages in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

The two-fold aim of the apologetic volume True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism is counter the work of the so-called new atheists and to offer a defense of the reasonableness of Christianity. The volume canvasses the problem of religious diversity, the ostensible conflict between science and religion, naturalism in science, the relationship between religion and morality, and the reliability of and morally problematic aspects of the Bible. While the contributors have no difficulty countering the more sweeping claims and poorly informed criticisms sometimes made by the new atheists, they also display an uncharitable unwillingness to admit that atheistic arguments have any merits at all. In particular, there is a little serious engagement with the best atheist thinkers, which the contributors acknowledge but do nothing to correct. The end result is a one-sided discussion concentrating on easy targets rather than more sophisticated arguments. The volume’s defense of Christianity, on the other hand, raises a dilemma: If there were good reasoned arguments for Christian beliefs, then faith would be unnecessary for belief; and if faith gave answers to questions that reason leaves untouched, atheists would be right to ask how Christians can know that their beliefs are true. If not based on reason, then what is faith based upon? One possibility is that the only permissible use of reason is to better understand and defend what Christians already believe. But then any article of faith incompatible with reason would require rejecting the deliverances of reason, leading to a conflict between science and religion. And the restriction on Christians to follow the dictates of reason only when they lend support to the faith looks like dogmatism, one traditionally—but problematically—put forward as a virtue by the faithful.

New in the Kiosk: Open Letter to Bradley J. Lingo, Dean of the Regent University School of Law (2023) by Robert G. Miller

Within evangelical circles, legal apologetics denotes attempts to defend the Christian faith using legal arguments that would ostensibly “prove” certain central tenets of Christianity by the standards of the American legal system. Like other forms of apologetics, however, it is rife with buzzwords and relies on no identifiable criteria by which these tenets might be “proven” by established legal standards. Legal apologists also tend to respond to the arguments of fictional opponents to their “cases” for core Christian doctrines rather than engage real-world legal opponents. Since this has a more propagandistic than truth-seeking function, in this essay retired lawyer Robert G. Miller challenges the Dean of the Regent University School of Law—or any legal apologist for that matter—to accept his invitation to agree to initiate a real online debate with him by September 29, 2023 using long-standing legal standards to “prove” the central Christian doctrine that Jesus rose from the dead.

Recommended reading: Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect (2nd ed., 2023) by Mick West

Many people today passionately believe various conspiracy theories. They consume countless books and videos, join like-minded online communities, try to convert those around them, and even occasionally alienate their own friends and family. Why is this, and how can we help people break free from the downward spiral of conspiracy thinking? In Escaping the Rabbit Hole, Mick West shares over a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience investigating and debunking false conspiracy theories through his metabunk.org discussion forum, setting forth a practical guide to help friends and family recognize these theories for what they really are. West’s tried-and-tested approach emphasizes clear communication based on mutual respect, honesty, openness, and patience. Escaping the Rabbit Hole is a conclusive, well-researched, practical reference on why people fall down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole and how you can help them escape.

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