The New Atheism and Philosophy of Religion
Philosopher Helen DeCruz has recently posted on Prosblogion an analysis of a survey conducted on how various groups rate the strength of arguments for atheism. Most of the results aren’t very surprising (atheists rate arguments for atheism higher than theists, agnostics are somewhere in the middle); but one thing stood out to me when I was reviewing the analysis. Check out this data:
Argument from inconsistent revelations – no difference in rating between philosophers of religion (PoR) and participants who are not philosophers of religion (non-PoR)
Argument from poor design – also no difference
Argument from evil – also no difference
Argument from divine hiddenness – PoR 1.54 times more likely than non-PoR to rate it as “strong” vs. “neutral”, “weak”, or “very weak”.
Argument from parsimony – non-PoR 1.82 times as likely than PoR to rate it as “strong” vs. “neutral”, “weak”, or “very weak”.
Pragmatic argument – non-PoR 2.26 times as likely than PoR to rate it as “strong” vs. “neutral,” “weak” or “very weak”.
Argument from incoherence – non-PoR 1.76 times as likely than PoR to rate it as “strong” vs. “neutral,” “weak” or “very weak”.
Argument from lack of evidence – non-PoR 1.64 times as likely than PoR to rate it “more favorably”.
I found these results quite interesting, as I consider the arguments rated more highly by non-PoR’s to all be weak at best. The arguments rated more highly by non-PoR’s are also the arguments commonly used by many new atheists.
The even more interesting thing is this: the survey was originally posted on Prosblogion (I’m not sure if it was also posted anywhere else, though), which has many theist readers – readers which would be unlikely to rate these non-PoR favored arguments as “strong” (even if they are non-PoR’s). So I suspect that a poll of only atheist non-PoR’s would show that they rate these arguments even higher than this, perhaps at 3.00 or even 4.00 over atheist PoR’s.