Joe Carter goes after David Hart for finding virtue in a particular type of atheism:
While there have always been people who deny the existence of a deity, it has not been a prominent view among intellectuals, much less a serious alternative to Christian theism. What previous cultures instinctively understood, and that we in turn have forgotten, is that atheism is a form of (self-imposed) intellectual dysfunction, a lack of epistemic virtue, or--to borrow a term from my Catholic friends--a case of vincible ignorance. Vincible ignorance is lacking knowledge that is within the individual's control and for which he is responsible before God.
Let me do a substitution on the part I have emphasized: While there have always been people who deny the existence of Allah, it has not been a prominent view among intellectuals, much less a serious alternative to Muslim theism. For much of the history of the West there were strong social sanctions against public expressions of atheism. And quite often the sanctions were not simply matters of ostracism, they were of capital consequence. The last person executed in the British Isles for atheism suffered such a punishment around ~1700 (see How the Scots Invented the Modern World). There were almost certainly many atheists at the commanding heights of intellect in the pre-modern era in the West, but they would certainly not be open about their views lest they suffer extreme punishment.
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