Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Letters Are Far From Losers

Mary Eberstadt
The Loser Letters

This book is a catch. The device Eberstadt uses is similar to the Screwtape Letters in that she uses a string of letters from one point of view to argue for the opposing point of view. The speaker in the book is a young atheist convert writing to the big New Atheists (always in a capitalized “You”) about where they have gone wrong. The tone is that of a smart but young adult who is serious about her desire for the atheists to be right about their ethics and naturalism. The point is an apologetic for where they go wrong in their arguments over and over.

One of the things I found surprising about the book is the storyline that unfolds through the letters. Who is this young lady known as A. F. Christian (A Former Christian)? How did her conversion from Christianity to atheism happen? What kinds of insights might she have for the New Atheists? And most importantly, what is happening to her now?

This is a popular-level book, so don’t expect any footnotes or jargon. But that does not keep Eberstadt from making some serious arguments and accusations and doing it well. I think this is a great way into the world of the current apologetic resulting from the New Atheists, and might even be a good breather from the more technical works.

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