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DEPARTMENTS: Opening Salvo
First, I want to confirm that this is a copy of Salvo that you hold in your hands. And just so you know, more changes are coming, including brand new departments, an improved structure, and even more fake advertisements. Thanks to our online survey (and if you haven’t filled one out, please do so at salvomag.com), you were given a chance to tell us how we could make the magazine better. Now we are in the process of complying with your requests. The current issue is the first step in a transition that will be complete with the publication of Salvo 8.
But don’t be fooled by our new size and format. The magazine will remain a brazen force in these culture wars, fighting for morality, human dignity, and the transcendent truths that lead to happier, healthier, and more fulfilled lives. Indeed, whatever qualms you might have about our makeover should be allayed by the present issue—a no-holds-barred counterattack against the misleading claims of today’s New Atheists. By magazine’s end, I think you’ll agree that only some of the more superficial aspects of Salvo have been changed.
Moving on, then, to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and the rest of the New Atheist crew, it’s important at the outset not to overestimate the impact that these gentlemen have had on religious belief. As Dinesh D’Souza remarks in Marcia Segelstein’s conversation with him (p. 31), religion is more popular than ever throughout the world, particularly Christianity, which is seeing huge growth in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Thus, far from signaling the end of faith, these New Atheists might very well be sounding the death knell of disbelief, emitting one last frustrated gasp over the triumph of religion.
That said, most of the New Atheist books have been bestsellers, and many individuals who might be categorized as “on the fence” regarding religion have been persuaded by them to abandon whatever vestige of belief they had left. Dr. Karen Swallow Prior tells the story of a young Christian couple at her university who were thrown for a loop by New Atheist assertions, an encounter from which they have yet to recover (p. 24). In all those years of Christian education, writes Prior, “they had never been faced with the questions raised by the New Atheists. Thus, they had never been faced with the answers to those questions either.”
This is the real danger that the New Atheists pose. For the first time in a long time, religion is under the microscope, and for some, this has proved an unsettling experience, forcing them to confront questions and accusations that they just aren’t prepared to answer. But Prior is absolutely correct: The answers do exist, and Salvo has them. In the following pages, you will learn that an entire body of scholarship has arisen in response to New Atheist arguments, and it is so much deeper and richer than anything that the New Atheists have produced.
Here’s the thing: Despite New Atheist claims to the contrary, these men do not have a monopoly on dispassionate reason. In fact, their dirty little secret is that they are fairly well consumed by a deep and zealous hatred for religion that blinds them to the biases, falsehoods, and logical fallacies that plague nearly all of their arguments. By contrast, the case for religion is grounded in solid thinking that is—as Greg Koukl has noted elsewhere—free of linguistic tricks, rhetorical ruses, rabbit trails, and red herrings. I hope you enjoy reading our presentation of this case, and I hope you like the new Salvo magazine. •
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