Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Comparative Religion

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

This thesis analyzes the ongoing public argument between people of faith and the group of loosely affiliated writers and media personalities known as the New Atheists. In recent years, the argument has spawned a variety of books on both sides. My research examines the broader discourse while focusing specifically on four works, including Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion and a counterpoint by Reverend Timothy Keller entitled The Reason for God. Additionally, two films will be examined; Bill Maher's Religulous, which is critical of religion, and Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which is connected to the anti-evolution movement and speculates about the costs of a secular worldview. The style and content of these works will be analyzed, compared in depth, and contextual ized in terms of religion's place in modern society. The social groups behind the diverse arguments will also be explored, demonstrating that the discussion is not merely between secular and religious thought, as traditional moderate religion must defend a social and philosophical position which differentiates it from more recent conservative religious movements. The history of the struggle over religion's place in modern society will be examined, and the future of the conflict will be considered.

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