that their contemporary brand of anti-theism is not nearly as deep or as challenging as that of past generations, for instance the great atheist-existentialist thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre or Albert Camus, and thus presents little challenge to the more noteworthy theologians of our own time.The problem with
The "great atheist-existentialist thinkers" Clawson mentions were primarily existentialist thinkers who happened to be atheists; existentialism has only an indirect connection to atheism. (And identifying Nietzsche as an "existentialist" stretches the boundaries of the term.) It's worth noting that Nietzsche, Sartre or Camus themselves added nothing to Hume's refutation of apologetics. These thinkers essentially asked, "OK, God is dead, we can't console ourselves with fairy tales any more, what now?"
Atheists, as slut mentions, are not typically interested in theology; they're interested in apologetics. What little post-enlightenment apologetics we've seen (e.g.
*I seem to have a persistent mental block about spelling his name correctly.
No prominent atheist has ever claimed that each and every religious person is a violent fundamentalist, so the observation that there are theologies that are not violent or fundamentalist is of no relevance. The actual claim is that violent fundamentalism requires anti-skeptical, authoritarian thinking, and the world's religions (as well as some nontheistic philosophies) all promote that sort of thought. In just the same sense, just the fact that some people, even a lot of people, can remain asymptomatic when infected with some organism does not argue against the germ theory of disease.
The further claim, made explicitly by Harris and implied by Dawkins and Hitchens (Dennett barely condemns religion at all) is that the moderate religious provide intellectual and political cover for the violent fundamentalists. By supplying an irrelevant, fallacious arguments to protect the violent fundamentalists from prominent atheists' explicitly targeted and well-supported criticism, Clawson and Haught are both doing precisely what Harris explicitly condemns.
Has Haught written any books drawing upon theologians such as Tillich, Bultmann, Ricoeur, McFague and Pannenberg explicitly to refute some of the fundamentalists' claims? (That's not a rhetorical question; I don't pay much attention to the intramural disputes of fairy-tale believers.) If so good for him, but I'll have to see it to believe it.
Clemson descends to sixth-grade trash talk:
I honestly can’t see Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens going toe to toe with the likes of NT Wright, Nick Wolterstorff, Miroslav Volf, Jack Caputo, Walter Bruggeman or even John Haught.Who cares what Clawson (an obviously biased party) can and cannot "see"? We're interested in what he can argue.
Have all the authors Clemson mentions together sold a tenth as many books as the fewest of Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens alone? I could just as easily say I can't see the Pope going toe to toe with me, or Hemant or the sacred slut, or even PZ Myers. So what?
Are these authors apologists? If they're theologians, why should any atheist go toe to toe with them? We freely admit we have no skill whatsoever in fraud, bullshit, mendacity and reconciling the mythology of barely literate savages with a modern humanistic ethic. If we're going to talk about theology, then yes, we cannot compete.
In apologetics, I could take all of these guys on at once, with three beers in me just to give them a sporting chance. I'd take Clawson on himself, but if I drank enough alcohol to give him a chance I'd be unconscious, which makes for a rather boring debate.