January 22, 2021

Recommendation and Review: The New Atheist Crusaders, and their Unholy Grail by Becky Garrison (Reviewed by Clark Bunch)

My good friend and associate Clark Bunch has been blogging for a while, and today he’s contributing a book review. You can read him regularly at The Master’s Table and his own weblog. Thanks for pitching today’s game, Clark.

The New Atheist Crusaders, and their Unholy Grail by Becky Garrison

Becky Garrison is an editor of the Wittenburg Door, which if you’re unfamiliar, is a religious satire magazine. Think of it as Mad Magazine for the religiously minded. The New Atheist Crusaders is therefore written with a bit of wit and a satirical outlook on its subject. That does not mean, however, that Garrison doesn’t ask the tough questions that make the reader’s head hurt just a little at the right times.

The New Atheists (as in the people, not the book title) are not just content to not believe in God. They are on a quest to make sure all people everywhere cease to believe in any religion at all. They have been described by some as “anti-theists.” They see religious faith as dangerous, and a threat to society. The purpose of this book is not to convert the hard core atheist, but to reassure people of faith. Garrison refutes many anti-theist arguments, and points out the logic and reason that still back faith in God.

Becky Garrison is neither a scientist nor a professionally educated theologian. She has no direct line to God, and describes herself as a “follower of Christ, not a spokesperson for the almighty.” She points out that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have an almost cult-like following, and titles like The God Delusion can be found on the New York Times best seller list. The devotion to destroy faith is in and of itself a type of religious fanaticism. She also is quick to mention that many times “mistakes” of the faithful makes religious belief an easy target. While she reminds us not to “hold faults of the Church (Christians) against Jesus,” we need to be careful not to make fools of ourselves either.

The book is written in a casual, chat-with-a-friend type manner. She used words like “kewl,” “thingy,” and plenty of country bumpkin jargon frequently. She has also done lots of research to make up for any personal lack of knowledge, and quotes many authorities on both sides of the argument: For atheism, Dawkins and Harris are represented, as well as Daniel Dennett. On the Christian side, she cites N.T. Wright, Dr. Walter Wink, Brian McLaren, C.S. Lewis and a host of others. She references not only theologians and biochemists, but also Monty Python, South Park episodes, and even House M.D. It’s very serious and hilarious. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying I guess.

Garrison’s book is thought provoking and insightful. It takes a serious and a not so serious look at the follies of both anti-atheist attackers of our faith and those of the faithful. Coming in at just under 200 pages, it could leisurely be read on a slow weekend. I highly recommend it as a good read. It is an eye opener, even to those already aware of the battle lines drawn between your faith and their reason.

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