David Berlinski: The Devil’s Delusion

The following is an excerpt from an old interview of David Berlinski regarding his book The Devil’s Delusion. Berlinski basically says that these “new atheists” attack straw men, rather than their opponents due to their theological cluelessness. James White echos pretty much the same sentiments as Berlinski in the following lament regarding Christopher Hitchen’s ineptitude (James White had written this while Hitchens was still alive):

“He [Christopher Hitchens–CD] even misrepresented Rome for crying out loud. His knowledge of Biblical Christianity is absolutely pitiful. It’s pitiful. That’s the only way to describe it.”

James White is certainly not saying that Rome (i.e., Roman Catholicism) is Biblical Christianity (which should be clear to anyone who knows even a smidgeon about White’s theology). White is basically saying that not only does Hitchens misrepresent Biblical Christianity, he can’t even represent blatantly heretical religion accurately either.

This article shows that James White, too, has difficulty in understanding and accurately representing the basics of Biblical Christianity:


Interviewer: Is the new atheism scientific?

Berlinski: Barely. I mean, you might as well ask if it’s literate — it’s neither. Because the people who are advocating atheism — Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg (great physicist), Sam Harris — they’re profoundly illiterate with respect to the tradition that they’re attacking, namely the theological tradition of the West that has been continuous for more than five thousand years. They don’t know a thing about it. Which is astonishing when you think that people are making claims attacking a certain tradition, and reveling in the radiance of their ignorance.

Interviewer: What made you decide to turn your time toward atheism and the debate over science and religion?

Berlinski: I think it was a combination of irritation and envy. Irritation because I really don’t like what these guys — Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, uh, Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins, Vic Stanger, Steven Weinberg — I don’t like what they’re saying, thinking, arguing, advocating in their books. That was the irritable part about it. And at the same time I have to acknowledge that uh, the enormous success they’ve scored certainly prompted a subterranean tickle in my own thoughts, why not me? So, the combination of irritation and envy prompted me to write the book.