Monday, September 14, 2009

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the “new atheists” help or hurt the cause of Darwinism? Winner announcement

Recently, we asked Uncommon Descent Contest Question 8: Do the "new atheists" help or hurt the cause of Darwinism?

The new atheists' impact in general is often debated. What exactly have they contributed to atheism? Many traditional atheists or their sympathizers think not much.
Bryon R. McCane, Professor of Religion at Wofford College, asks,

Has something gone wrong with the new atheism? For awhile, it was really on a roll. Several best-selling books aggressively attacked religion, calling it a “delusion” (Richard Dawkins), and a “spell” (Daniel Dennett) that “poisons everything” (Christopher Hitchens). Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous” warned that humankind must get rid of religion or die. New atheism looked like the wave of the future. But not anymore. “Religulous” got mixed reviews and disappeared quickly. Rebuttals to Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens have appeared, culminating with Karen Armstrong’s new book, The Case for God. Sales of atheist books have fallen off the charts, literally. Months have gone by since one appeared on the best-seller list.

To me, the key problem was that they had a new level of hate, not a new idea. I wrote about that here.

Winner announcement: Jerry at 91. I especially enjoyed this observation:
There is an old maxim in marketing. Nothing kills a bad product faster than extensive advertising and good distribution. The faster people realize how bad a product is, the quicker it is rejected. The new atheist movement has accelerated the communication and distribution of their product but in the process open themselves up for intense scrutiny.
I must arrange for more prizes, as I would have liked to offer StephenB and Adel DiBagno a prize for their entertaining and useful discussion; however, I have only five copies of Meyer's Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009), hardcover, and if I burn through 60% of them in one contest, the publisher might not be very anxious to help me restock.

Jerry, I need a snail address for you.

I am a bit behind, judging contests, due to unrelated uproars. But here are the entries that seemed, to me at least, to shed light: Go here for more.