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April 7, 2011

Roberts Professor Of Philosophy To Critique 'The Atheists' New Clothes'


 Dr. Koehl

Dr. Andrew Koehl’s April 14 Lecture, Based on His Upcoming Book, Takes on Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris


ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A rash of books authored by contemporary intellectuals challenging the validity of God and the legitimacy of faith have appeared in bookstores and on best-seller lists in recent years.  The best known – The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and The End of Faith by Sam Harris – are about to receive a compelling, no-holds-barred critique from Roberts philosophy professor Dr. Andrew Koehl, who finds them and their authors “terribly naïve” regarding the nature and basis of belief.

Dr. Koehl, an associate professor in the Division of Religion and Humanities, will make his case Thursday, April 14, in a lecture titled:  “The Atheists’ New Clothes,” starting at 4:00 p.m. in the Merlin G. Smith Science Center Auditorium on the Roberts Wesleyan campus.  Dr. Koehl is completing a book by the same name.  His presentation is free and open to the public.  Visitors are asked to use the College’s Buffalo Road entrance.

The weaknesses Dr. Koehl finds in these popular contemporary atheistic assessments are many and varied.  They range from misunderstandings about “the relationship between faith and reason” and “the nature of evidence, justification, warrant and knowledge,” to an arbitrary “insistence that theistic belief is not warranted unless it is the result of a well-confirmed scientific hypothesis.”

We are no more exclusively intellectual beings than we are exclusively emotional beings, Dr. Koehl notes.  The authors’ attempts to explain God, faith and spirituality entirely in intellectual terms – without acknowledging or possessing a spiritual point of reference – assure their inability to “get under the skin” of their subject and, ultimately, the insufficiency of their arguments.

“Each of these authors attempts to undermine theism by giving naturalistic accounts of the origins and development of the world religions,” Dr. Koehl points out.  “What is clearly unjustified is the further claim made by these authors that their naturalistic explanations for religious phenomena are better than theistic alternatives.  Here they are clearly overreaching.  To those who have encountered God and come to believe in God … these naturalistic hypotheses will be found quite wanting.”

For more information about Dr. Koehl’s lecture, sponsored by Roberts Wesleyan’s Cultural Enrichment Committee, contact Dr. Peter Knapp, professor of education and head of the CEC.  He can be reached at:, or (585) 594 6562.


About Roberts Wesleyan College

With an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students and a tradition of excellence since 1866, Roberts Wesleyan College is a leader among liberal arts colleges with a Christian worldview.  The College offers more than 50 undergraduate programs, as well as graduate programs in education, school psychology, school counseling, health administration, health information administration, nursing education, nursing leadership & administration, social work, music education, strategic marketing, and strategic leadership.  Roberts Wesleyan also offers innovative undergraduate degree-completion programs for working adults in health administration, nursing, organizational management, and teacher education. 

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