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

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy