The New Atheism Is Neither New Nor Interesting

The term “new atheism” generally refers to the claims, made prominent by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others, that religion is both objectively false and socially pernicious. According to Peter Berger, the new atheists have little to say that has not been said by critics of religion since the 18th century. What distinguishes them is their lack of intellectual subtlety:

What is at least relatively new about the “new atheism” is its aggressiveness and its attitude of absolute certainty (in that respect, curiously mirroring conservative Christianity, its main antagonist). Atheists can be described as people who have heard a voice from heaven telling them that heaven does not exist. There have been tormented atheists such as Friedrich Nietzsche, who proclaimed the “death of God” (he understood that this event, if it really took place, would be a cosmic tragedy). More recently Albert Camus in his novel The Plague depicted individuals who, without the comforts of faith, heroically defy suffering and evil. This is a far cry from the flippant contempt for religion that characterized H.L. Mencken (I would see him as a precursor of the post-1960s intelligentsia). He once proposed that the universe is a gigantic Ferris wheel, that man is a fly who happened to land on it and who thinks that the whole contraption was created for his benefit.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Albert Camus, Atheism, Friedrich Nietzsche, New Atheists, Religion, Richard Dawkins

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy