An Interview with Mitch Stokes on “How to Be an Atheist”

9781433542985Mitch Stokes is an impressive thinker. After receiving a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and after securing five patents for turbine engines, he turned his attention to philosophy and religion. He did an MA in religion at Yale under Nicholas Wolterstorff, and then did an MA and a PhD at Notre Dame under Alvin Plantinga.

His new book, now available from Crossway, is entitled How to Be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough.

The influential philosopher Peter van Iwagen—the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame—writes that ”How to Be an Atheist is the best popular discussion of the (alleged) conflict between science and religion that I have ever read.”

J. P. Moreland writes in the foreword:

How to Be an Atheist is a model work in philosophical apologetics in the sense that Stokes painstakingly criticizes atheistic views that are raised against Christianity and responds to objections raised against Christianity. But it would be a grave mistake to think that this is just another apologetics book. No, this book gives the reader an education in a number of important areas and it teaches you how to think. Time and time again, Stokes takes an angle on an issue that is different, insightful and refreshing. And his research is exemplary.

If you are a believer, I urge you to get this book, encourage friends to get it, and form a study group in which you can work through the material slowly and thoughtfully. I promise you, it is well worth the effort. I meet many Christians who wish they could go back to graduate school and get an education relevant to their Christianity, but finances and other commitments present insurmountable obstacles to this move. Well, there is a second alternative: read books like this one and you will get an education.

If you are an atheist who is intellectually open to investigating some of the problems in your worldview, this is the book for you. It has an irenic tone and deals fairly and proportionately with its subject matter.

Dr. Stokes was recently at Crossway where I had the opportunity to ask him some questions, which you can watch below:

  • 00:00 – What is a Christian doing trying to tell atheists how to be better atheists?
  • 01:05 – Are the popular atheists of today different from the ones you first encountered when you were in undergraduate school?
  • 02:31 – Do you view the “new atheists” as writing with a hyper-confidence that wasn’t present among previous generations of atheists?
  • 03:25 – How long have atheists used science to argue against Christianity?
  • 05:56 – How did you come to faith and become interested in apologetics?
  • 09:38 – What do you mean when you say you are a “skeptic”?
  • 10:52 – In what ways do atheists misuse science and skepticism in their attacks against Christianity?
  • 12:15 – In what ways is someone like Richard Dawkins wrong about the black and white nature of science?
  • 16:53 – What’s the difference between science and scientism?
  • 18:40 – How does morality fit into the typical atheistic worldview?
  • 21:10 – How would you respond to an atheist who says, “I have a morality and can behave morally”?
  • 22:04 – What do you hope will happen to the skeptic who decides to read your book?

For endorsements, table of contents, and an excerpt of the book, go here.