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"The Loser Letters" vs. Big Atheism

BY Matthew Archbold

| Posted 5/24/10 at 11:44 AM

 

The new atheists are on the march. They’re in bookstores. They’re on television. They’re everywhere. But nowhere is their effect being felt more than on college campuses and by young people. So invasive is the new atheist movement that in many ways their outlook has become the default mainstream culture.

For too long Christians have been a punch line for militant secularists. It’s time somebody punched back. And Mary Eberstadt’s new book “The Loser Letters” is an unexpected roundhouse to the new atheist movement. I read it last week and urge you to pick it up. (You can click on Amazon.com.)

“Christians are always at a moral disadvantage because we’re told to turn the other cheek,” said Eberstadt. “So there’s been a lot of playing defense. I’m trying to go on offense.”

She calls her book “apologetics for the Facebook generation.” And they need it.

In an exclusive interview, Eberstadt said she’s not concerned that the new atheists are creating “an army of belligerent atheists. The ultimate danger is an army of ignorant secularists.”

Eberstadt brilliantly defends the faith from radical New Atheism with wit and humor by telling the story of a young twenty something newly converted atheist with a rough history that unfolds throughout the book. Her attempts to iron out the problems she finds in atheism from the inside are devastating to the new atheist movement. Eberstadt is more than a match for Hitchens and Dawkins and their flying spaghetti monster.

Eberstadt’s wit is so biting it might even make you feel sorry for the New Atheists. For one little moment anyway. But if you ask me, the New Atheists were asking for it. Never have such a humorless and self righteous crowd monopolized the cultural conversation. It’s high time someone started laughing at them.

“The Loser Letters” is being billed by many as similar to CS Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” but it’s very different. Eberstadt remembers reading Lewis’ classic as a young person and it intrigued her enough to explore issues she hadn’t considered before. She said she hopes her book can do the same for others. But the similarities between the two books really end there.

Eberstadt said her main concern in writing the book was to counter the predominant atheism movement. She said she worries about the effect that Dawkins and Hitchens and their ilk are having on young people. “They are very different from the atheists before” she said. “So personal and aggressive.”

She says that biggest danger to not taking on the new atheist movement head on is not that atheists will necessarily convert everyone to atheism itself. She worries that it’ll have a “trickle down effect of being wishy washy Christians.”

The new atheists have pushed so hard to make people believe that all the big questions have been settled by Darwin and advanced scientific theories. To listen to them you’d think that anything else is simply superstition. She sees The Loser Letters as turning things around on them in a “ju-jitsu way” using their own theories and words against them.

In one sense the book mirrors what is going on in our culture and the damage secularism is doing, especially to young people. But it goes beyong diagnosing by supplying the much needed antidote of Christianity.

“The Loser Letters” is a well deserved lampooning of the new atheism but done with humor and satire. But mind you, the book also packs an emotional punch. The final chapters where the narrator reveals herself more fully are heartbreaking yet, in the end, hopeful- which is really what Christianity is about.

I urge you to go buy the book at Amazon.