Review: The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist by Andy Bannister

Andy Bannister’s The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist is a witty and easy-to-read take upon the problems with the new pop-atheism.

Brief Summary of the First Three Chapters Athiest-who-p2e-really-small

In chapter 1 he critiques the atheist buses … that is, the ones in England with the atheist advertisements “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.” He illustrates how poor of an argument it is by substituting God with other imaginary things like the Loch Ness Monster. One of the problems with the advertisement is that it fails to truly consider the human experience where suffering continues to abound even on a naturalistic framework.  Additionally, he tackles some of the further nonsensical statements by Richard Dawkins.

In chapter 2 Bannister presents the case for why atheism is actually a belief system. Perhaps to your surprise some pop-atheists try to argue that atheism isn’t a worldview, just a lack of belief. Even the late Christopher Hitchens wrote, “Our belief is not a belief.” This is self-refuting to the astutely-minded. It also runs into additional problems such as how inanimate objections can be atheists (since they, too, lack a belief in the existence of God).

In chapter 3 we are faced with the “One God Less” argument. Atheists have been known to deploy this tactic that because Christians deny the existence of Zeus, Thor, and other gods, the atheist is merely consistent and denies the existence of the Christian god, too. The trouble with this “argument,” however, is that it proves too much. If this method is applied to other fields such as law or science we find that it erodes truthful propositions. Its rhetorical flair requires dismissing truth propositions that many of us are willing to affirm.

Assessment

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to read Bannister’s style of writing. I’ve never read his work before so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. He also does well with humor, though at times some of the created dialogues seemed a few lines too long (but that might just be my personal preference). A bit of knowledge of British terms is helpful but not necessary; many of you may find yourself learning more about another culture (which is wonderful!)

If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know that I am a big fan of footnotes, and The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist does not disappoint. First of all, I find footnotes to be extremely helpful if you’re interested in quickly checking the source of a quotation. Secondly, Bannister has given footnotes a new importance through his anecdotes and humor.

I would highly recommend this very affordable book to skeptics, genuine seekers, lay-level Christians, and those that are new to apologetics. Bannister encourages us to ask the right questions rather than be swayed by silly sound bites.

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Kurt Jaros is the Executive Director of Defenders Media. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Highland Theological College in Dingwall, Scotland. He holds two Masters degrees in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, and Systematic Theology, from King’s College London. He also blogs at Values & Capitalism a project of the American Enterprise Institute. He likes systematic and historical theology, philosophy of religion, and issues in Christian pop culture. His theological interests include theological anthropology, hamartiology, soteriology, divine providence, and other issues in Christian pop culture. Additionally, he enjoys political philosophy, economics, American political history and campaigns. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago with his lovely wife and daughter.

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