The Evangelical Philosophical Society has posted an interview with Taylor University Philosopher, Jim Spiegel, about his new book The Making of An Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief:
How did this book come about for you?
Like any philosopher of religion, I’ve followed the new atheist movement with interest. But after reading numerous responses from Christian apologists, I noticed a conspicuous lack of attention to the moral-psychological roots of atheism. Given that the biblical writers emphasize this dimension of unbelief, I thought someone needed to address it.
How does this book uniquely contribute to critiques of atheism and the “new atheism”?
Most Christian apologists’ responses to the new atheists challenge their arguments and reveal the many fallacies in their objections to religious faith. This is helpful, of course, and I applaud the work of Ravi Zacharias, Alister McGrath, Dinesh D’Souza, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Tim Keller, and others for their superb contributions to the debate. What they so well demonstrate is that atheism is not the consequence of any lack of evidence for God. So the question naturally arises, What is the cause of atheism? That is the question I address in my book.
The “noetic effects of sin” (as it’s sometimes called) plays an important conceptual and explanatory role in your book. In general, can you briefly explain your view on this matter?
I take my cue from Scripture, specifically such passages as Romans 1:18-32, where the Apostle Paul asserts that no one has any excuse not to believe in God. Rather, he says, some “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18). In my book I develop a model for how this happens, tracing the suppression of truth to a willful rejection of God, prompted by immorality and self-deception. Thus, I argue, sinful behaviors cloud and distort cognition. The notion that volitional factors impact belief-formation has been forcefully argued by thinkers as various as John Calvin, Soren Kierkegaard, William James, Michael Polanyi, Thomas Kuhn, and Alvin Plantinga. In terms of a specifically Christian application of this dynamic, I’ve been especially inspired by Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief.
Read the rest on the EPS blog.
Check out Jim Spiegel’s website and blog for more information about his book. You can also find a lengthy article by him on the causes of atheism at Apologetics.com. Reviews of The Making of the Atheist have also been posted on Cloud of Witnesses and the blog Exo Tays Parembolays.