For our atheism episode (which has, incidentally been pushed back to be recorded in late May or possibly June… sorry, Russ!), I’m trying to read through the most popular of the “new atheist” books, and I’m sure we’ll only end up discussing some select portions of the books in any detail, so as I’m going through these, I’m going to generate a few blog posts to fill readers in on some additional points and help myself remember what I’m reading. My point here is primarily to give points from the books, not to cast judgment upon them, so don’t take this as an endorsement (or rejection).
Daniel C. Dennett is the only actual philosophy professor among the most popular of these folks. (Sam Harris was a philosophy undergrad when he wrote his major works and has just recently earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience; Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, and Hitchens is a “columnist and literary critic.” I know Peter Singer also argues for atheism, and he’s as famous a philosopher as they come, but he’s not been considered part of this movement for some reason.) We read a little bit of him and devoted maybe 10 minutes of our discussion to him in our philosophy of mind episode, which didn’t go very well, in that Wes at least really dislikes him, yet we didn’t go into enough detail on the arguments of his article to clearly convey why Wes dislikes him. To sum up the critique, he’s not known for, say, clearly and charitably presenting the views of past philosophers and saying exactly how his position differs from them. Instead, he uses a popular style to make his points, with a heavy emphasis on specifically citing scientific work