Atheist Delusions and God and Philosophy: Two Reviews

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (2009)

From the title, one might assume this award-winning apologetics book from Yale UP is a polemic against prominent atheists. The title, no doubt, is a reference to Richard Dawkins’s bestselling The God Delusion. If one is at all familiar with Hart, one might further guess that it is a work of philosophy (Hart has his own following as a talented Orthodox philosopher and social critic). Actually, the title is misleading. It is not a rebuttal of any particular work or works by the New Atheists. It does not directly address popular arguments against the existence of God. It is not an academic tome (like some of Hart’s work). Hart himself characterizes it as an “historical essay,” a deliberately provocative retelling of Christian history that places itself in opposition to popular misconceptions exploited by New Atheists such as Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett.

Hart’s intended audience, therefore, is not chiefly atheists as such, but those who are swayed or simply disturbed by common historical critiques of Christianity. He is on the defensive, in the sense that he is not actively trying to convert anyone, but rather to defend the faith from popular calumnies.[1] His tone ranges from biting satire to almost poetic delineation of the meaning of the Christian Revolution in history. His praise for this quiet, slow, and momentous Revolution is often qualified, but will doubtless inspire many Christians to new appreciation of their religious heritage.

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