A Methodist Paradigm for Interacting with New Atheists Referencing Wesleyan Interreligious Resources

Benjamin B DeVan


Since Sam Harris published The End of Faith in 2004, a veritable cavalcade of New York Times bestsellers and other writings by academic and popular polemicists informally dubbed “New Atheists” has received significant attention in digital, audio-visual, and print media; as well as in academic and other forums. Despite this visibility, Methodists have been slow to interact with New Atheists and their ideas. Methodists pioneered academic and theological attention to world religions in America, but have failed to demonstrate comparable initiative with atheism. This essay argues that a Methodist approach to adherents and doctrines of non-Methodist denominations and non-Christian religions is frequently applicable to “New” and other atheists by setting forth seven principles for interaction referencing similar and supporting moves Wesleyans have historically made in interreligious encounters. Appended are book-length interactions with New Atheists arranged according to author by religion and/or denominational affiliation.

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