The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist
The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist is a new book by Andy Bannister, Canadian Director of RZIM. It is a book which is intended to expose the logical fallacies in the arguments used by New Atheism. For those unfamiliar with New Atheism, it is a movement which arose around 2004 as a sort of atheistic fundamentalism and by most accounts appears to be waning in popularity. It was characterized by aggressive ad hominems, religious zeal and an unprecedented proselytizing.
In this book, Bannister counters the arguments of New Atheism by exposing the logical errors in the arguments. As the book description says,
. . . when one pokes at popular atheism, many of the arguments used to prop it up quickly unravel. The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist is designed to expose some of the lose threads on the cardigan of atheism, tug a little, and see what happens. Blending humour with serious thought, Andy Bannister helps the reader question everything, assume nothing and, above all, recognize lazy skepticism and bad arguments.
Overall the book delivered what it promised. Bannister certainly has an understanding of logical fallacies and is very adept at communicating the reason why an argument should be categorized as a fallacy. This is not only true of the individual arguments used by popular atheists but it’s also true of their greater body of works. What Bannister excels at is demonstrating that the entire house upon which New Atheism is built upon is very shaky ground. Their arguments generally avoid the rigorous research and in depth analysis of the classical atheists and rely mostly upon sound bytes which don’t penetrate the intellectual foundation of theism. Bannister systematically demonstrates this with each argument until the reader is left wondering what else is left in the atheistic arsenal.
The weakness of this book is its over-saturation of humor. I’m not against using humor in apologetics. In fact humor can be a very effective tool when addressing the weaknesses of a person’s arguments. As long as it isn’t an ad hominem attack it can help to deflate an escalating tension between two people. However, humor should be used sparingly and strategically. I came away from this book really believing that Banister is a wonderful communicator and a skilled logician; but a lot of this was lost due the the unfortunate timing of witty quips. I’m not saying that Bannister isn’t funny. He has a wonderful sense humor and uses it to demonstrate the irony. It was simply too saturated.
Excessive humor aside, I would recommend this book to anyone who has found themselves stumped by the arguments of the New Atheists. I would also recommend it for those who innately recognize the logical fallacies of popular atheism but aren’t quite sure how to best communicate it to others. Bannister is someone who we can all learn from when it comes to his ability to effectively illustrate why a poor argument is so poor. It is this attribute of Bannister’s writing which makes this book so valuable and so effective. We can all learn from his communication style. I certainly have and consider myself to be a better communicator because of it.
This book would make a perfect addition to a homeschool curriculum or as a book for adults who are tired of hearing the rantings of the New Atheists but don’t quite know how to communicate where their argument breaks down.
If you would like to purchase this book you can search for the best price on Amazon by following this link. or . . .
Purchase The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments at ChristianBook.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Dr. Andy Bannister is the Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He speaks and teaches regularly throughout Canada, the US, Europe, and the wider world. From churches to universities, business forums to TV and radio, Andy regularly addresses both Christian audiences and those of all faiths and none on issues relating to faith, culture, politics, and society.
With a background in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy (focusing especially on Islam), Andy was previously based in Oxford, where he worked with churches and organizations across the denominational spectrum.
Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies, a topic on which he has taught extensively. He has spoken and taught at universities across Canada, the US, the UK, and farther afield on both Islam and philosophy and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.
Andy is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an, a groundbreaking and innovative study that reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed. His latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments), is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism.
When not traveling, speaking, or writing, Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber, and photographer. He lives in Toronto and is married to Astrid; they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher.
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