Ian Hutchinson on the New Atheists
Ian Hutchinson tells us in this video discussion that New Atheism -- a term used to describe recent intellectual attacks against religion -- is actually a misnomer. It is better, he says, to call the movement “Militant Atheism”. In fact, the arguments made by New Atheists are not new at all, but rather extensions of intellectual threads which have existed since the late 19th century. The only unique quality of this movement is the degree of criticism and edge with which its members write and speak about religion.
According to Hutchinson, the books written by New Atheists in the past decade simply restate many of the same arguments which have emanated from atheist thinkers for decades. The militant edge of these arguments is what makes “New” Atheism unique and elevates it to a level of popularity within a subset of the population. It is because these Militant Atheists show no respect at all for religion, says Hutchinson, that they are receiving status as a new movement.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Ian H. Hutchinson is professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His primary research interest is plasma physics and its practical applications. He and his MIT team designed, built and operate the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, an international experimental facility whose magnetically confined plasmas are prototypical of a future fusion reactor. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Cambridge University and his doctorate in engineering physics from the Australian National University. He directed the Alcator project from 1987 to 2003 and served as head of MIT’s nuclear science and engineering department from 2003 to 2009. In addition to over 200 journal articles on a variety of plasma phenomena, Hutchinson is widely known for his standard monograph on measuring plasmas: Principles of Plasma Diagnostics. For more, see Hutchinson's book Monopolizing Knowledge.