For many years I taught an introductory theology course for undergraduates titled “The Problem of God.” My fellow instructors and I were convinced that our students should be exposed to the most erudite of the unbelievers. Our rationale was that any mature commitment that intelligent young people might make to a religious faith should be critically tested by the very best opponents.
The recent books by Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris and Christopher Hitchens would never have made the required-reading list. Their tirades would simply reinforce students’ ignorance not only of religion but also of atheism. The new atheists do little more than provide a fresh catalogue of the evils wrought by members of the theistic faiths.