Aaron M Brown
1107 E Mission Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
Phone: (509) 551-9714
My project for the semester involves examining the skepticism of Hellenistic doubters and of the so-called "New Atheists". I have a few different angles that I want to pursue in regards to this project, and I'm having an exceptionally hard time narrowing it down. First of all, I'm inclined towards a paper or some aspect of the project which shows just how misguided the "New" Atheist nomenclature is. Very little of what is being said by thinkers like Dawkins, Dennet, or Hitchens is, in fact, new at all. Many of the arguments in books like <i>The God Delusion</i> go back hundreds of years and several go back all the way to the Hellenistic era.
Another possible angle I could pursue is kind of an opposite tack, showing that, for as similar as they are, Hellenistic and contemporary Atheism tend to approach or arrive at religious doubt from opposite directions. Most of the Hellenistic skeptics took an inductive road to Atheism (cf. Xenophanes' critique of the Olympian Gods), the New Atheists take an Naturalistic, Empiricist deductive path, saying, in essence "we ought not believe in things for which there is no empirical evidence, therefore, absent of empirical evidence, we ought not believe in a religion." This is deductive in the sense that it is sourced in a general maxim and the more particular conclusion is drawn primarily based on this over-arching maxim. What's interesting, and which muddles the "inductive/deductive" contrast is that it's a deductive decision to use ONLY inductive reasoning.
So I'm not sure which of these two tacks I'll take in the end, or if possibly there's another thesis laying in wait for me somewhere in the research. I'm grinding my way through <i>Doubt</i> by Jennifer Hecht at the moment which, despite being written in a bit of an irritating style, has a lot of good information in it. I'm also doing index skims on some of the New Atheist books I've read, including ''The God Delusion'' by Richard Dawkins ([http://richarddawkins.net/]) and ''God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything'' by Christopher Hitchens. ([http://hitchensweb.com])
As I develop my thesis more, I'll be updating my wiki page, so if my project interests anyone, please feel free to drop by there for more information as it becomes available.