Anyone who’s ever gone down a Christopher Hitchens rabbit-hole on YouTube will instantly recognize not only the title of this new little book but also its exact provenance ... The dialogue is reproduced here without editorial intervention; there are no stage directions to help newcomers picture the interpersonal dynamics at play. Some of it can be divined from the transcript... but the subtleties of the interplay are missing from these pages ... The natural pang of reading a book like this is of course that there can be only one. As all the participants point out in these pages, one resounding voice in the quartet is now gone, and the New Atheist movement itself has somewhat petered out - it’s extremely unlikely that it will field four simultaneous bestsellers again in our lifetime, and there’s an undeniable magic in this gathering, even on paper.
Dawkins’ determination in the preface to 'develop new points' wavers, and whatever fresh insights he has made since the week after Thanksgiving in 2007 sputter away into scattered potshots and familiar jibes that will surprise neither friend nor foe. The same can be said for the transcript ... Theologians get propped up as straw men, while the horsemen aim at their enemy’s weakness: Are these doctors of divinity the real literal readers of scripture, rather than the derided fundamentalists.
In many ways the conversation already seems dated in its political preoccupations ... The Horsemen agree eagerly that they are all very brave ... New Atheism’s arguments were never very sophisticated or historically informed ... This is where the preeningly fearless insistence on entertaining uncomfortable questions can so easily lead ... In its messianic conviction that it alone serves the cause of truth, this too is a faith as noxious as any other.
An exercise in the art of make-booking; a transcription of the only time the four all appeared on a platform together with penny-a-word extras from the three who are still in our sublunary sphere. To make things worse, there is an introduction by Stephen Fry – the unthinking person’s idea of an intellectual – which is both fawning and incorrect ... They certainly know about rabble-rousers and morons and literalists and idiots, but as for scripture or theology, precious little ... there is very little about ethics here.
Though the conversation has plenty of wit and bite, it is the atheist equivalent of preaching to the choir, capable of reinforcing convictions but unlikely to topple or change any. It’s a convivial conversation without agenda, as the four thinkers try to figure out what they’re collectively trying to accomplish and what the best outcome might be ... Mostly for devotees of the New Atheism. More than a decade later, not much has changed, as the faithful and the skeptics continue to talk past each other.
... meandering, unmoderated ... provocative but underdeveloped arguments ... the tone is generally harsh and unsparing. Readers who are looking for a taste of new atheism will get a good sense of the tone and style of these thinkers, but those familiar with the arguments will see this as an unpolished curiosity.