Father Thomas Williams, Dean of Theology at Regina Apostolorum University at Rome, recently wrote a book titled “Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God“. In the book, Williams attempts to debunk the arguments made by the recent cadre of atheists who are making the best sellers lists. Listening to him on Bill Bennett this morning, he talked about why he wrote the book. Apparently, he ran across too many people who didn’t know how to respond to books such as “The God Delusion” and “God is Not Great”. Following are some excerpts from an interview he did with Zenit.org:
Q: What spurred you to write this book?
Father Williams: As you are undoubtedly aware, the last several years have seen a surge in neo-atheist literature, with books such as Daniel Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell,” Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith,” Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”
Several of these books have become bestsellers. The problem is, most people only hear one side of the story. They become indoctrinated with the atheistic arguments without ever hearing a reasoned response.
Many people have been confused by these books. Others worry about friends who have read them, or simply would like good answers to the charges atheisms brings against God, religion, and Christianity in particular. I wrote this book to furnish clear, concise replies to the atheists’ charges.
The book lays out — and responds to — the chief claims of the neo-atheists in five categories: (1) the case against God and religion, (2) the case against religion’s benefits for society, (3) the case against religion’s compatibility with science and reason, (4) the case against Christianity, and (5) the case for atheism’s superiority.
The interviewer goes on to ask for examples of why Williams claims that the “neo-atheists rely on myth rather than rational argument”:
Father Williams: Just to name a few, atheists claim that religion is inimical to science, and that the Christian Church in particular sought to stamp out scientific research. They charge that “religion kills” and has been responsible for most of our wars and social ills. They say that religious belief requires the renunciation of reason and the embrace of willful blindness. They assert that religion does not contribute to moral improvement, and that it makes people sour and sad, rather than joyful.
Along with charges such as these, they also add a few absurd, and sometimes dangerous ideas about religion. For instance, Dawkins and Hitchens claim that religious education is a form of child abuse, thus undermining the seriousness of real physical and psychological child abuse.
They sow distrust in believers by asserting that they are trying to hasten the end of the world. Thus Hitchens quotes Marx with evident admiration, where the latter expresses his view that “the abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness” (“God Is Not Great”).
Sam Harris goes so far as to proclaim that religious belief must be forcibly stamped out, and states: “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them” (“The End of Faith”).
On Bennett’s show this morning, when responding to questions about war being caused by religion, Williams listed off every major war in American history…the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Iraq…none were fought over religion. Obviously, there are wars that were, but Williams argues that even the ones that are purported to be have underlying economic or political issues.
I have not read “Greater Than You Think”, but I plan to. Has anyone read it?