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Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong

ISBN: 978-1-4443-5800-1
176 pages
September 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong (1444358006) cover image
In this new book, Ian Markham analyzes the atheistic world view, opposing the arguments given by renowned authors of books on atheism, such as Richard Dawkins. Unlike other responses to the new atheism, Markham challenges these authors on their own ground by questioning their understanding of belief and of atheism itself. The result is a transforming introduction to Christianity that will appeal to anyone interested in this debate.
  • A fascinating challenge to the recent spate of successful books written by high-profile atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris
  • Tackles these authors on their own ground, arguing that they do not understand the nature of atheism, let alone theology and ethics
  • Draws on ideas from Nietzsche, cosmology, and art to construct a powerful response that allows for a faith that is grounded, yet one that recognizes the reality of uncertainty
  • Succinct, engaging, but robustly argued, this new book by a leading academic and writer contains a wealth of profound insights that show religious belief in a new light
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Acknowledgments viii

Introduction: Meeting Fred and Natalie 1

1 Getting inside Fundamentalist Atheism: The Gentle Atheism of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris 7

2 Nietzsche: The Last Real Atheist 28

Interlude: The Perspective from God 46

3 Appreciating the Faith Discourse 50

4 Physics: The Grown-up Science 65

5 A Revealing God 80

6 Christianity 92

7 Islam 105

8 Suffering, Providence, and Horrid Religious People 116

9 Religion and the Future 128

10 Faith and Uncertainty – Believing the Truth 135

Conclusion 144

Notes 147

Select Bibliography 156

Index 159

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Ian S. Markham is the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology and Ethics. He is the author of numerous books, including: Encountering Religion (2000), A Theology of Engagement (2003), Do Morals Matter? (2006), Understanding Christian Doctrine (2007), A World Religions Reader, 3rd edn (2009), and the 2-volume reference work, The Blackwell Companion to the Theologians (2009), all published by Wiley-Blackwell.
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  • Aggressively challenges the recent spate of books from high-profile atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris
  • Tackles these authors on their own ground, arguing that they do not understand the nature of atheism, let alone theology and ethics
  • Draws on ideas from Nietzsche, cosmology, and art to construct a powerful response that allows for a faith that is grounded, yet one that recognizes the reality of uncertainty
  • Succinct, engaging, but robustly argued, this new book by a leading academic and writer contains a wealth of profound insights that show religious belief in a new light
See More

“It is a thoughtful, eirenic and wide-ranging contribution … This is a serious and sophisticated addition to the burgeoning New Atheism literature, and a very good advert for its author’s avowed ‘classical Catholicism in its Anglican form’ (p.8).”  (Modern Believing, 1 July 2012)

"Markham encourages people of faith to listen to the challenging critiques of atheists and to engage them for much of value ‘can be learned', shared, and clarified in a respectful exchange of ideas (p. 134). Religious and non-religious people wanting to learn more about atheism, a religious response to atheism, and the connections between science and religion should read this book." (Religion & Theology, 2012)

"Unlike other responses to the new atheism, Markham challenges these authors on their own ground by questioning their understanding of belief and of atheism itself.  The result is a transforming introduction to Christianity that will appeal to anyone interested in this debate." (Studies in Spirituality, 2010)"In addition, this book details fairly well (albeit briefly) with some sensitive topics: homosexuality, Islam, religious extremism. . . still, there is much to commend about Against Atheism, and it surely deserves a wide readership." (Theological Book Review, 2010)

"Markham's apologetic infuses contemporary science with classical philosophy, up-to date theological scholarship, and a pastoral sensitivity to mental, emotional and physical anguish that any life of faith necessarily confronts. ...helpful for its seriousness yet conciseness and accessibility...clear signposts and summaries for alert readers to follow and discern their own spiritual rootedness. Markham is consistent in his approach ... . For its clarity, precision and wit, the book is certainly accessible." (Christian Scholar's Review, October 2010)

"Of the many current contra-atheism books suddenly on the market, Markham's is helpful for its seriousness yet conciseness and accessibility." (Christian Scholar's Review, October 2010).

"Accessible and patient ... .Markham does not evade tough questions." (The Tablet, April 2010)

"Markham's comparison of Nietzsche to the New Atheists is particularly insightful … .This book will be enjoyed by academically minded believers looking to bolster their arguments against atheism." (Library Journal, April 2010)

"Stands out from the crowd by questioning the theological, ethical, and spiritual content underpinning books by Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. By challenging the very foundations of their position, [Markham] exposes the weaknesses in their arguments." (Sourcews, November 2009)

"Ian Markham ... offers a moral argument for faith. Markham accuses the so-called New Atheists—Dawkins et al.—of not facing up to the conse­quences of their atheism. Markham argues the case very well." (Church Times, April 2010)

"A brilliant defence of the reasonableness of Christian belief, against its modern detractors. Written beautifully and clearly, this is modern Christian thought at its best." –Keith Ward, University of Oxford, UK

“I find this book  to be absolutely superb! It’s a lucid, respectful, comprehensive, and compelling case for the rationality and veracity of Christian faith.  I love the irenic spirit of Markham’s engagement – in stark contrast to his interlocutors.”
Sam Lloyd, Dean of Washington National Cathedral

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