I might as well recommend this excellent rebuttal to Weiss and Nisbet. Weiss wrote an op-ed which was basically a baseless argument that these uppity New Atheists should sit down and shut up because Charles Darwin “knew there is plenty of room for God at the top”. It’s a stupid argument on many levels, and not just because we are none of us worshippers of Darwinian infallibility…but also because it misrepresents Darwin’s ideas about religion.
Weiss and Nisbet are trying to use Darwin as a positive example to contrast with their presumed negative example of the New Atheists. If they did this with regard to the public expression and aggressive style of the New Atheists, especially in their intolerance of all religions, they would have a good argument. Darwin and most atheists today are much more circumspect than the New Atheists and not so intolerant of all religions and religious philosophies. But instead, they criticized the New Atheists with the actual philosophical atheistic beliefs themselves, and here their argument fails, since Darwin was no different in this regard than Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, et al. By the end of his life, Darwin was a total agnostic, nontheist, and–concerning the Christian God–antitheist. When Darwin wrote, “The safest conclusion seems to be that the whole subject [the existence of an ineffable god] is beyond the scope of man’s intellect,” he was correct about generic gods in general, and I don’t think the New Atheists would disagree. Both they and Darwin would be nontheistic about generic gods. “Every man,” Darwin wrote, “must judge for himself, between conflicting vague probabilities.” For the most part this is obvious, and Darwin had judged for himself and chosen agnosticism and atheism–nontheism for god and antitheism for the Christian God (whose existence he thought had been disproved by the problem of evil).