After a brief career as one of Richard Dawkins’ fleas, author of some book or another complaining about atheism, Alister McGrath faded away into irrelevance again. Not that he was missed; he always reminded me of the Impressive Clergyman played by Peter Cook in The Princess Bride, that affected pontificator with nothing really to say. I guess he’s trying for a comeback now, but his only tactic is to try and ride the coattails of the New Atheists again, this time by triumphantly pointing out that there is dissent in the ranks, that the New Atheists are all loud and enthusiastic while other atheists are critical of the aggressive approach.
So he has now published a longish opinion piece crowing over what I consider healthy disagreement.
It’s easy to see why the “old school” of atheism is worried. The slick and breezy slogans of the New Atheism simply conceal its obvious evidential and rational deficit. Sooner or later, someone’s going to notice that these simplistic slogans just don’t match up with the reality. And they’re right to be apprehensive.
The conversation has now moved past the sloganeering stage. The froth has disappeared, leaving us free to look critically at arguments and evidence.
It’s classic McGrath. The essay goes on and on for many paragraphs while McGrath struggles to toothlessly mumble over the scenery (I’m sorry, but he doesn’t even have the dramatic flair to be able to chew it)…but he never quite gets around to the “arguments and evidence.” It offers the same hilarity as a cavalcade of clowns tumbling out of a clown car — it’s not so much the individual bits, but that they keep on coming.
And just when you reach those final paragraphs and think he’s finally done, his big announcement is that he’s going to do a whole series of posts just like this one. More clown cars are rolling into the center ring!
Hey, Alister, the joke can only last so long, you know. The incongruity of a fervent Christian denouncing atheism for a lack of evidence helps a little bit, but you’re really going to have to come up with something more entertaining to hold anyone’s interest.