Ruse on New Atheism

Michael Ruse is a well known atheist philosopher and scientist. Although he’s a Brit, he has a strong Canadian connection in that he taught at the University of Guelph most of his career. He is currently in better climes in Florida. Ruse is a vociferous anti-creationist and has even gone to court as a witness against creationist teaching in Arkansas. Ruse engages frequently in debates against Christians, in particular proponents of the Intelligent Design movement like William Dembski. His most recent book is Darwinism and Its Discontents (Cambridge, 2008).

When Alister McGrath co-wrote  The Dawkins Delusion? with his wife Joanna McGrath a few years ago, Ruse endorsed the book saying that it was a great rebuttal of Dawkins, whom Ruse accused of being an embarassment to the atheist community. Now, at BeliefNet, Ruse has published an article explaining why he doesn’t line up with the so-called New Atheism. Check out: “Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster.”



Filed under apologetics, articles, atheism, michael ruse, richard dawkins, science

13 responses to “Ruse on New Atheism

  1. I always find it funny when people complain about Dawkins. He always comes off as polite-to-a-fault whenever I see him speak or watch him in video form.

    As for complaining that the ‘new atheists’ don’t address real religion…Ruse may be surprised to learn that millions and millions of people believe in the religion that he claims to be so unsophisticated.

    • I find both Dawkins and Hitchens to be belligerent when they speak with “religionists.” But for I like it Hitchens and can’t stand Dawkins. The latter is so condescending.
      I have to admit, I don’t know enough about Ruse’s overall philosophy.
      Thanks for commenting!

      • Maybe you mistake Dawkins’ incredible patience (I have far less of that than he for bad logic) for condescension. But you’d rather have Hitchens’ ire? (Don’t get me wrong – I love Hitch.) Masochistically weird.

      • Hitchens has the biting wit of a British satirist and it just seems to come out of him. It seems genuine and just part of his personality – something that I appreciate. Dawkins I find extremely frustrating to watch because of the obstinate way he treats people. For example, he was on a talk show here in Canada called The Hour, and he treated the, host George, the same way.
        Hitchens is the kind’ve guy you could go for a beer with.

      • Hitchens is rarely far from a bottle of scotch. His appearance on Penn & Teller’s Bullshit was hilarious.

  2. Ruse is an accomodationist and it wouldn’t surprise me if here were a closet theist. He simply hasn’t a clue about his own stance. For instance, he’s been complaining that everyone is up in arms about Francis Collins’ appointment to the directorship of the NIH because he is a Christian. This is simply false. I’m sure most of the previous directors were Christians as well and we couldn’t give a hoot. We disapprove of the choice because he uses his notoriety to evangelize. His book shows he mixes science and religion (which makes him look ridiculous), two utterly incompatible world views. There is more than sufficient evidence to suggest he might make executive decisions on what research directions get funded. Ruse can’t see that far. He just sees that Collins is a devout Christian and that atheists (actually, a good deal of the scientific community including those who aren’t atheists) are complaining. That’s as far as his analysis goes. Doesn’t matter, really. Ruse is considered fringe anyway and is generally ignored.

    • Thanks, it’s always interesting to observe how the atheist community understands its own. I can see your nervousness about Collins and his evangelism, although I would think the same could be said were an atheist appointed to the same position. We all have our perspectives and judge accordingly, therefore, to one degree or another, our agenda is pushed.
      I’ve not read Collins, so I can’t vouch for whether or not he looks ridiculous. But if it is only because he mixes religion and science, then of course I would disagree. Well, I guess it depends on which religion. But if it is robust, trinitarian, biblical religion that you’re talking about, the two are not only compatible, but necessarily related. Science would not make sense in a world that had not God back of it. But naturally, that is a point you would beg to differ with!

      • I can see your nervousness about Collins and his evangelism, although I would think the same could be said were an atheist appointed to the same position.


        But if it is robust, trinitarian, biblical religion that you’re talking about, the two are not only compatible, but necessarily related. Science would not make sense in a world that had not God back of it.

        Tell me where gods are anywhere included in any scientific explanation for anything. Science simply ignores the supernatural as if it does not exist. Of course, from my vantage, it doesn’t.

      • I think that my following sentence explains why.

        And for science and Christianity, my belief is that you can’t have science without the God of the Bible. He is the necessary precondition for scientific intelligibility. Things like uniformity in nature, the relation of universals to particulars, induction, etc., are nonsense if a sovereign, personal God did not exist.

      • Nope. Don’t see an explanation. You’ve only reiterated your statement, not shown the necessity of a god. And why the god of the bible? Why not Zeus? Wotan?

      • Ben Maher

        Because even Socrates, Plato and Aristotle could tell you that Zeus and the pantheon of gods were an inconsistent notion with the idea of deity, unlike the God of Scripture, which not only agrees with reason, but goes beyond it.

        If one wants to fashion gods after one’s own image, then being an atheist or a Greek pagan is a real easy route to deny the rationality and supra-rationality of a single all-sovereign Creator God.

        If your presupposition is always “anything but God”, your answer is always going to be “nope that isn’t an explanation.”, because there’s always going to be an unknown- an unknown that is both an excuse as well as something to hound the mind till death.

  3. For some odd reason, WordPress won’t let me reply directly to your reply. Weird.

  4. My point is that you are asking the wrong question when you search for God in scientific explanation. The inverse should be asked. How can scientific explanation be possible in a world without the triune God? And the answer is, it can’t.
    God (and I’m speaking of the Christian God as revealed in Scripture) is the only rational source for intelligibility in the universe. An atheistic world cannot account for why there is uniformity which science needs to conduct experiments. When an atheist conducts a scientific experiment, he necessarily assumes the existence of the triune God in order to offer an explanation. If he were to stay consistent with his atheism, there would be no reason to conduct the experiment in the first place.

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