Jewish Philosophical Response to the New Atheists - Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens

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A profound, valuable, scholarly study of theology from a cogent well- written Jewish perspective, exposing the arrogant disregard the “New Atheists” bring to the God-controversy by their collective neglect of the great variety of God- concepts embodied in the works of Jewish theologians.


“ William Kaufman’s analysis and rejection of the ideas of the New Atheists is an important contribution to Jewish scholarship and contemporary religious thought. It will be of interest to non-Jews as well as Jews since it utilizes both philosophy and Christian theology to help identify and clarify complex insights and ideas.”
-Emmanuel S. Goldsmith,
Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies,
Queens College of the City University of New York

“In his new book, Professor William Kaufman has provided us with a carefully constructed critique of the ideas of the group of thinkers often termed the “New Atheists…the critique is not new…[it] has been frequently raised by others. What makes the Kaufman book unique and what makes it a substantial contribution to scholarship is his addition of sophisticated Jewish theological voices to the controversy.”
-Professor Richard Olmsted,
Professor of Philosophy,
Rhode Island College

“It is the first and only scholarly endeavor that combines a critique of the New Atheists with an exposition of the Jewish-Revisionist, providing the reader with a unique perspective on the subject.”
-Rabbi H. David Werb,
D.D. Brockton, Massachusetts

Table of Contents

Foreword by Emanuel S. Goldsmith
Part I:
A Philosophical Critique of the New Atheists
Chapter 1 Introduction:
The New Atheists and the God-Debate
What’s New About the New Atheists?
Review of the Literature
State of the Question
Criteria of Evaluation
The Argument
Chapter 2 Christopher Hitchens: Occam’s Razor Cuts Both Ways
Brief Review
Introducing Christopher Hitchens
Occam’s Razor
A Critique based on Criteria
Chapter 3 Richard Dawkins: Is God a Delusion?
Introducing Richard Dawkins
God as a Scientific Hypothesis
Dawkins’ Arguments Against the Existence of God
Dawkins’ Critique of Supernaturalism
Dawkins Critique of Theological Reconstruction
The Problem of Evil
Dawkins’ Six Point Summary of His Argument
Critique of Dawkins
Chapter 4 Daniel Dennett: Breaker of Spells
Why is Evolution a Dangerous Idea?
The Possibility of God
Breaking the Spell
A Seeker of the Agent
A Critique of Dennett’s Theory of Religion
What Else is Missing in Dennett’s Theory of Religion?
Belief in Belief
A Spectrum of Intentional objects
Critique of Dennett
Chapter 5 Sam Harris: A Critique of Faith
Attack on Faith
Critique of a Critique
Varities of Faith
Harris on Judaism
Critique of Harris
Part II: A Jewish perspective on the New Atheists
Chapter 6:
Milton Steinberg’s Defense of Faith
The Nature of Faith
Steinbery’s Reply to Atheism
Critique of Steinberg
Chapter 7: Other Theological Options of Contemporary Jewish Thinkers
Types of Jewish Response
Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Way of Thinking
An Ontological Presupposition
Buber’s Response to Atheism
Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995)
From John Wild to Emmanuel Levinas
Levinas on Atheism
Chapter 8: Mordecai M. Kaplan’s Transnaturalism
Concepts of Divine Creativity and Cosmic Creativity
Chapter 9 : Conclusions

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