I don't normally deal with issues related to atheism on this blog because the focus is on varieties of belief and engagement between adherents of these belief and ritual systems, but a recent couple of articles at religion dispatches caught my eye for a few reasons.
An article touches on the "new atheism," that brand of very vocal atheism now found in various expressions in pop culture, particularly through authors like Richard Dawkins. Eric Reitan is the author of Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion's Cultured Despisers (Wiley-Blackwell, 208) and in an interview at religion dispatches he makes a few points that demonstrate problems on both sides of belief and disbelief. For example, his research into the misrepresentation of Thomas Aquinas' arguments for God's existence by Richard Dawkins, and the development of his arguments for atheism from these misrepresentations, led him to the writing of his book. Interestingly, Reitan points out that both Christians and atheists frequently allege that the natural result of either atheism or theism is immorality and irrationality. Reitan is careful to point out flaws in both sides of this debate, and he calls for representatives of these belief systems to move beyond this problematic rhetoric.
Reitan also reminds us that arguments for "a fundamentally mysterious reality beyond the empirical world" do not have to be all or nothing, either proving God's existence beyond a reasonable doubt or tossed aside as of no value. Reitan states that "Just because an argument doesn’t take us all the way to God doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to the case for theism." Christians, especially apologists, need this helpful reminder, along with a dose of epistemic and sociological humility in the process of developing arguments for theism.
Finally, in the interview Reitan mentions the influence of Marilyn McCord Adams through her book Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology (Cambridge University Press, 2006). Adams develops the thesis that evil is central to Christian theology and that "incarnation and crucifixion as God’s solution to the problem." The title and topic are intriguing, and I've added it to my "to be purchased" list.
I applaud the efforts of writers like Reitan who seek to move representatives of belief and unbelief beyond the rhetoric which preaches to the choir so that individual constituencies can cheer for their heroes and takes us to more promising attempts at understanding and engagement.