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Posts Tagged ‘RIchard Dawkins’

Altars Against God

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on August 5, 2017

Excerpted from Jesus Among Secular Gods by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale (Nashville: FaithWords, 2017). Used by permission of the Hachette Publishing Group.

It was years ago when I was speaking at an openly and avowedly atheistic institution that I was fascinated by a questioner who asked what on earth I meant by the term God. The city was Moscow; the setting was the Lenin Military Academy. The atmosphere was tense. Never had I been asked before to define the term in a public gathering. And because I was in a country so historically entrenched in atheism, I suspected the question was both hostile and intentional. I asked the questioner if he was an atheist, to which he replied that he was. I asked him what he was denying. That conversation didn’t go very far. So I tried to explain to him what we meant when we spoke of God.

It is fascinating to talk to a strident atheist and try to get beneath the anger or hostility. God is a trigger word for some that concentrates all his or her stored animosity into a projectile of words. But as the layers of their thinking and experience are unpacked, the meaning of atheism to each one becomes narrower and narrower, each term dying the death of a thousand qualifications. Oftentimes, the description is more visceral and is discussed with pent-up anger rather than in a sensible, respectful discussion. More than once I have been amazed at the anger expressed by members of the atheist groups at one or other of the Ivy League schools in the United States to which I have been invited to speak, anger that I was even invited and that I had the temerity to address them.

In theory, the academy has always been a place where dissent serves a valuable purpose in helping thinking students to weigh out ideas and make intelligent choices. And, dare I say, had I been a Muslim speaker, there would have been no such dissent as I faced. Evidently, being able to instill fear in people has a lot to do with how much freedom of speech you are granted. But alas! For some, at least, civil discourse is impossible. To her credit, at the end of a lecture, one senior officer in one club stood up and thanked me, a veiled apology for the resistance vented before the event. I did appre­ciate that courtesy.

This unfettered anger on the part of some is quite puzzling to me. I was raised in India where I was not a Hindu and, in fact, never once gave it any serious consideration. For that matter, I’m not sure if I even really believed in God. I was a nominal Christian but never gave that much thought, either. Most of my friends were either Hindu or Muslim or Sikh, with a few others of different faiths. I never recall feeling any anger or hostility toward those who believed differently than me, no matter how ludicrous their beliefs may have seemed to me. Nor do I remember ever being on the receiving end of such anger and hostility because I did not have the same belief.

But the likes of Richard Dawkins are renowned for their bully­ing and mocking approach toward opposing views, an attitude from an academic that makes one wonder what is really driving such an intense temperament. A questioner at a gathering in Washington, DC, once asked Richard Dawkins how one should respond to a per­son who believed in God. “Mock them,” he actually replied. “Ridicule them.” When someone at an event asked me what I thought of that response, I reflected that, were Dawkins to practice that same method in Saudi Arabia, chances are he would not need his return ticket. One thing is for sure—he would at least find out that not all beliefs in God are similar and not all imperatives, equal.

But his “ridicule them” posture remains unchanged. In an inter­view in The Independent with Maya Oppenheim (May 23, 2016), he said, “I’m all for offending people’s religion. It should be offended at every opportunity.”1 Really? Is this how one arrives at whether or not a belief is valid? He went on to add, “In the case of immigrants from Syria and Iraq, I would like to see special preference given to apostates, people who have given up Islam.”2 If Donald Trump had said the same, there would have been a session in the British Houses of Parliament to decide whether or not he should be allowed into the country anymore. But Dawkins says it and it’s acceptable, because atheists who love him and his style of atheism have their own absolutes and their own legitimized prejudices.

Intolerance, prejudice, disrespect, hatred, and offense are all within the fruit of Dawkins’ philosophy. In creedal form, his philos­ophy is hate, discriminate, judge, mock, castigate, eliminate, stop…do whatever you need to do to put an end to belief in God. Ironi­cally, he condemns God for being prejudiced, hate-filled, egotistical, judgmental, and demeaning to those who don’t agree with Him. He derides the attributes of God by making a caricature of Him, but justifies the same attributes in himself without caricature. I would rather trust the judgments of a good and gracious person than one who spends his time and energy in mocking people and their sacred beliefs. And he is not alone. The hallmark of the so-called “new athe­ists” is the anger and ridicule that is hurled toward anyone’s belief in the sacred.

Need I add, not all atheists have the same disposition. In fact, many find the hostility of the new atheists an embarrassment. I have met many a cordial conversationalist who is atheistic in his or her belief, and we’ve had the best of conversations. Many have remarked that they have been able to take only so much of Dawkins and his followers and then stopped even reading them. Whatever worldview we espouse, dialogue and debate should take place with civility and courteous listening. But our times make that ideal so elusive. Hold­ing a supposedly noble belief and reducing it to ignoble means of propagation makes the one who holds that belief suspect.

To be sure, many in the so-called “religious” category have pro­voked strident responses. The pulpit can sadly be a place of bullying people into guilt and remorse and other emotions that make them want to escape from the voice hammering away at them, to say noth­ing of the anti-intellectualism among Christian ranks that brands even a hint of philosophy or science heretical.

History has taught us to beware of extremists in any camp that sacrifice cordial conversation at the altar of demagogic enforcement. Views and opinions are aplenty in our world of tweeting and Insta­gram, but civil discourse is rare. And rarer still is the ability to defend one’s beliefs with reason and experience. I sincerely hope that as my colleague Vince and I examine the differences among secular belief systems (that are, in fact, also religions), we will be able to effec­tively demonstrate where these differences really lie, and that the Judeo-Christian worldview has the most coherent answers to the inescapable questions of life that we all have, regardless of our beliefs.

Questioning the Question

The story is told of an Indian sitting in a plane next to Albert Einstein. To pass the time, Einstein proposed that they play a game. “I will ask you a question, and if you can’t answer it, you pay me fifty dollars. Then you ask me a question, and if I can’t answer it, I will pay you five hundred dollars.” The Indian knew he was no match for Einstein but figured he had enough philosophical and cultural knowledge to be able to stump Einstein sometimes, and with a ratio of ten to one, he could manage to stay in the game.

Einstein went first and asked the Indian how far the earth was from the moon. The Indian was not sure of the exact number and put his hand into his pocket to give Einstein fifty dollars. Now came the Indian’s turn, and he asked, “What goes up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” Einstein paused, pon­dered, finally dipped his hand into his pocket and gave the man five hundred dollars. Now it was Einstein’s turn again. He said, “Before I ask you my next question, what does go up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” The Indian paused, dipped into his pocket, and gave Einstein fifty dollars.

Like that Indian, we often ask questions that are manufactured to trip up the other person, while having no answers to the question ourselves. In his book The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, Robert Morey points out the seven leaps atheists have to explain: How…

Everything ultimately came from Nothing

Order came from Chaos

Harmony came from Discord

Life came from Nonlife

Reason came from Irrationality

Personality came from Non-personality

Morality came from Amorality3

But more than that needs to be asserted. The questions in life are not just in the sciences. They are not just of mathematical or empir­ical measurement. Two people sitting next to each other in a plane may both be going to the same destination. They may know how many hours the journey takes and how many miles they may cover. One may be going to give a talk on science and the other may be going to bury his grandson. But think about this. The scientist may have his subject well in hand, but still have unanswered questions on the meaning of life, while the person next to him may have unan­swered questions on the value of the constants in the early formation of the universe, yet have the knowledge of what life really means. He may have in his heart the deep conviction that this present sorrow is only a punctuation mark because eternity awaits. One discipline may answer “how” in a material explanation, but the most import­ant question answers the “why.” Why is it that we are here in the first place, and who will see us through the anxieties and pains of life itself? These questions are different yet equally relevant, but for dif­ferent reasons. Life requires some understanding, and the struggles we face need explanatory power. It is when we get the two subjects and their reasons for existence mixed up that we end up with verbal attacks and needless hostility.

Many an atheist asks questions for which he or she admittedly has no answers or believes the answers to be “on hold,” but we are expected to give credence to the whole worldview for merely raising the question. I understand. As a young man I was like that, think­ing that putting another person down automatically justified what I had said in response to his position. This book is about examining the “gods” secular thinkers “worship” and how repeatedly they leave their own questions unanswered.

The points of tension within secular worldviews are not merely peripheral. They are systemic. Indeed, they are foundational. I have dealt with the philosophical debate on these matters in other writ­ings. Here, I wish to examine their answers to questions about life and its meaning in distinction to the answers Jesus gives to the same questions. That’s where our philosophical rubber meets the road of life. But hopefully, more than that, we will state why the answers of Jesus have stood the test of time, truth, and coherence.

Remember the insight of G. K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy that, for the atheist, sorrow is central and joy peripheral, while for the follower of Jesus, joy is central and sorrow peripheral. The reason that statement is true is that for the atheist, the foundational questions remain unanswered while they have answers for the peripheral ques­tions; hence, sorrow is central and joy peripheral. For the Christian, it is reversed: The foundational questions have been answered and only the peripheral ones remain in doubt.4 Hopefully, as the content of this book unfolds, Vince and I can sustain that claim.

Life Seeks a Balance

My favorite essayist, F. W. Boreham, has written an essay enti­tled, “A Baby’s Funeral.” Anyone who has read Boreham knows the beauty of his language and the depth of his writing. He has authored over fifty volumes of essays. In this particular essay, which I have references in two of my previous books but in this new context per­fectly illustrates how all of life must be grounded in truth, Boreham begins by describing the scene of a distraught woman he saw one day walking back and forth outside his home, pausing as though wanting to enter his garden and then backing off.

Finally, Boreham stepped out of his home and wished her a good morning. She asked if he was the pastor of the church nearby and he admitted that he was. She entered the house at his invitation and struggled to pour out her story. She had had a baby, born terribly deformed, who had died shortly after birth. She desired for the baby to have a proper burial and wondered if he would do that for her.

Boreham promptly responded that he would. He took out a pad to get the information. Did the child have a name? Who was the father? So went the questions. She answered them and the date for the funeral was set. The woman left and Boreham and his wife con­tinued with their plans for a picnic that morning. Throughout the day the woman was on his mind and he told his wife that there was something that didn’t quite sound right about her narrative. He did not know what it was but hoped he would have more clarity before the day of the burial.

When they returned home, the woman was standing outside their home and asked if she could come in. She sat down, rubbing her hands nervously, and said, “I have not been honest with you. The baby was born illegitimately, and I have given you a made-up name for the father.” The story unfolded and Boreham comforted her as best as he could.

The day of the burial came. It was pouring rain, and to add to the desolate reality, the cemetery was a new one and this was to be the first body interred. Boreham remarks on the total feeling of alone­ness for this poor woman. An illegitimate, deformed baby. Pouring rain as the three stood under their umbrellas, the grave digger stand­ing by ready to lower the casket into the soggy ground. A tiny body about to be buried in a place where no other had ever been laid to rest. No one else, just the minister and his wife and the bereaved mother present for this tragedy, and they too were strangers.

Boreham suddenly switches the scene and begins to write about being on a train journey years later with a superintendent in his denomination. It was a whistle-stop trip where, at every station the superintendent would step out, meet with a group of his ministers, listen to them, pray for them, and then would leave these parting words with them, “Just be there for your people. Be with them in their needs, in their hurts, in their pains. They will never forget your presence and your kindness.”

Boreham continues that as he listened to this advice being given to the younger pastors, his mind flew back over the years to the day a young woman walked distractedly back and forth in front of his home, a woman whose child he had buried in a lonely cemetery. He realized that through the years, rain or shine, every Sunday since then that same woman had been in his church and lived a life in a quiet relationship with her Savior.

This very type of story was reinforced just two days ago. I had just finished speaking to a full church in Jakarta, Indonesia, and there was a silence as the music played softly for the closing moments. I was near the platform, having stepped away from the lectern, and my eyes caught sight of a young mother with two little children. Her arms were gently bent at the elbows, palms open, reaching outward while the two little ones, one on each side of her, held on to her skirt. As soon as the benediction was over, the two of them ran up the stairs to give me a hug, though I had never met them before. And as they left, my interpreter said to me, “Almost exactly to the day, a year ago their father was murdered. The little boy looks just like his dad.”

What a statement that suddenly changed the context and my emotions from witnessing a young family at worship, absent the father, to realizing a young single mother reaching out to her heav­enly father and raising her two children without bitterness or anger. I spoke to her afterward and my heart still recalls her words. “Yes, I’m alone now, but my God is with me.”

You see, there is an intellectual side to life but also a side to life where deep needs are experienced. We falsely think that one side deals with truth and the other with fantasy. Both need the truth, and the elimination of one by the other is not the world in which God intends for us to live. A mockery of the sacred reveals an animosity that staggers not just the mind but shows the character flaw in one such as that. The words of Blake are appropriate here:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;

Mock on, mock on, ’tis all in vain!

You throw the sand against the wind,

And the wind blows it back again.5

It is my hope that the reader will stay the course with an open mind to judge fairly how unique and splendid is the message of Jesus Christ, reaching to the deepest hungers and questions of the heart and mind. To be truthful, I wouldn’t waste a solitary moment in this task if I didn’t truly believe that as the world is skidding out of con­trol—politically, socially, economically, and racially—Jesus’ answers are unique and true and provide the only coherent worldview, combining truth with relevance to bring hope and meaning.

Every day, the news carries stories of tragedy and atrocity. News is thrust into our consciousness whether we want the information or not. Behind many an act and behind all responses is a worldview that filters reality. The follower of Jesus sees what is happening through the lens of how Jesus describes the human condition and the answer He gives. The contrast with the secular gods of this age is huge. A fair-minded person must at least give a hearing as to why that is so and, if indeed the answers of Jesus open up vistas for one’s own individual life, see the world through a different set of eyes. With that goal in mind, I enter into this journey of thought.

Your Worldview Matters

The Great Books of the Western World, published in the 1950s, gave the longest space to the theme of “God,” addressed by the most notable Western thinkers of the day. When Mortimer Adler, the edi­tor, was asked why that theme occupied such length when many other notable themes were given less space, he answered without hesita­tion, “Because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.”6

The questioner was silent and nodded.

Yes, indeed, more consequences, on every matter of value and relationship, follow from one’s genuine belief or disbelief in God than from any other issue. This alone ought to remind us just how critical is the foundation to every life when it comes to God. The follower of Jesus Christ must take serious note of this. That belief has meaning and must make a difference.

I will never forget talking to a former Muslim who had com­mitted his life to Jesus Christ and who gave me a fascinating word picture. He drew two circles and put a small dot in each of them. Pointing to the first, he said, “As a Muslim, I believed the circle to be my faith and the little dot to be my life.” Then he pointed to the next circle and said, “Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have seen the differ­ence in the cultural tension. To many Westerners, the circle is his life and the dot is his faith.”

In other words, a Muslim believed that life was expendable, his faith paramount. The Westerner, he charged, regards his life more important than what he believes. “That is why,” he added, “the West will ultimately be overrun. Faith, in the West, is sort of an extracur­ricular interest and a mere aspect of life for the sake of inner peace. But faith seldom enters the conscience as a conviction.”

That was truly a sobering revelation of just how faith is viewed by most in the West, let alone the plurality of faiths that exist. In fact, the very word faith is now used in less than flattering terms. The real world is considered intellectually rigorous, and the world of ulti­mate reality—faith—fanciful, not to be entertained in factual terms. How fascinating that is. So the values by which we live are parked on the shifting mix of quicksand the skeptic calls “faith,” while the world of pragmatic and real understandings is supposedly built on the bedrock of the sciences called “reason.”

Is my friend right?

If he is right, I will go so far as to say that the West is on the verge of collapse at the hands of its own secular intellectuals. It is only a matter of time. The Christian faith brings with it convictions by which to stand and build a moral framework. The secular thinker, with his implicitly amoral assumptions, imagines that knowledge without a moral base has enough sustaining power. It simply doesn’t.

Watch Europe cower under the heel of Islamists who have not forgotten that they were stopped from overtaking Europe and beaten back by Charles Martel thirteen centuries ago. Now, with patience and the clever control of demographics and a gullible media, they stand by, ready to one day take over the structures and edifices built by a different ethic and a different belief system. It is only a matter of time, and they are in no hurry. Thirteen centuries ago, Europe was able to stop the theocratic Islamic tidal wave because it had a faith to defend. The value-less culture of today will not be able to withstand the attack.

Years ago, while Hitler was making plans to overrun the world and some were attempting to placate him in order to save themselves from having to make a moral justification for war, Winston Chur­chill made a telling speech in the House of Commons on October 5, 1938. (“The Munich Agreement” is also known by the title “A Total and ‘Unmitigated Defeat,’” referring to the mollifying treaty brought back by Neville Chamberlain.) Quoting from Scripture, Churchill declared, “You have been weighed in the balances and found want­ing” (Daniel 5:27). Then he ended his speech saying, “And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recov­ery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”7

After Hitler visited Paris in 1940, André Boulloche, a courageous member of the French Resistance, penned a letter to his father, say­ing: “The country can only be saved by a complete moral resurrec­tion, something that will require the work of all men of good will.… I think I can contribute a great deal. And if more troubles lie ahead, isn’t my duty present?”8

Indeed, the preservation of a nation’s ethos is at stake at all times. This is especially true of a nation such as America whose values of trying to balance liberty with law were clear from the beginning. That balance is easier stated than done. John Adams said it well: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”9

So I ask: Should one’s belief in God and destiny be more import­ant than life itself?

The answer truly depends on what that belief is and whether it is true. The irony is that for the atheist, the answer can only and ultimately be found in one’s political theory or, by default, in one’s cultural cradle, and cannot be mandated by a supervening world­view that pursues truth as an objective fact over and above all else. Every other discipline is dismissed as being outside truth, reflecting merely cultural and career desires. That’s all life is about. The natu­ralists control truth and then give license to other disciplines to live without absolutes. That is the deadly fallout.

In a commercial I saw recently, a couple of bandits are hold­ing the tellers at a bank at gunpoint and demanding money. All the customers are ordered to the floor. One man whispers to a security guard, “Do something, you’re armed!” The security guard replies, “I am on duty not to do anything but only to determine if a robbery is underway.” Then he pauses and reassures the customer, “Yes, indeed, this is a robbery.”

The naturalist is somewhat like that. Unable to respond to where the truth leads, he is useless to a person hungering for rescue and safety for life itself. He just states what is and does nothing about what should be.

Why do I make the connection between a nation, a people, and a culture? In the current climate, the political arena is fraught with language and views that are scary and disorienting. In one instance, a trail of lies makes no difference to the electorate, proving that the most valuable thing in human discourse, truth, is an expendable value if power is obtained. In another instance, even extreme and sometimes pejorative statements on people and views don’t seem to matter, and the dignity of office is replaced, once again, by the quest for power.

Candidates coming to the fore propound ideas that are creat­ing anger and protests that make the future very fearsome. For one, “dishonest” sums it up. For the other, “disrespectful” or worse, “prej­udice” is the charge. Whether these are legitimate assertions or not is secondary to the assumption that morality matters.

Ironically, the protestors protesting the candidates themselves resort to injurious means. But what is obvious is that statecraft has become soulcraft, and a nation that formally wishes to deny God finds its imperatives in a deadly mix of conflicting worldviews and hate-laden words on a path to power. What has happened? The answer is clear. The discussion in the public square is now reduced to right or left, forgetting there is an up and down.

These matters alone remind us that we had better understand this philosophy called atheism and why it leads where it does. Strange, isn’t it, that atheists in the West want the term marriageredefined while their counterparts in Russia and China will have nothing of that redefinition? Both have their own reasons, and there is no common point of reference. That’s precisely the edifice built on the bedrock of naturalism. Each person is a law unto himself.

Remember in the Old Testament when people wanted a king and God said that He wanted to be their ruler? The people fought back and said they wanted to be like every other nation and, in fact, have somebody else to fight their wars while they could go about their lives. They got what they wanted and found out that the greatest battles were ultimately for the rule of one’s heart. Once that becomes autonomous, culture and politics become lawless. And when those battles are lost, the war that looms is of huge proportions. This is, at best, the unintended consequence of atheism.

As Old as the Hills

We think atheism is some kind of newfangled thinking, that sci­ence and its bequest gave way to autonomy and our solitude in the universe. That is simply not so. The formalization of it and giving it intellectual respect may have taken time, but the question goes back to the beginning of time. Right from the start the question was not the origin of species but the autonomy of the species. We are more prone to quote from the Wilberforce/Huxley debate or the Galileo/Church conflict than to look back and see where such real tensions began.

We think Darwin buried God, but in fact, in Genesis 3, the very first in the created order wished to bury Him too. All the way to Calvary, the first attempt at death was the death of God. The kill­ing of God was followed by the killing by Cain of his brother, Abel. The Bible addresses this conflict from the pre-Mosaic era. After all, the battle in Genesis was really based on two questions. The battle between theism and atheism is the oldest philosophical debate. It didn’t take the French philosophes or the British empiricists to get it all going.

What are the two questions that existed for humanity from the beginning of creation? The first salvo hurled against God in the Gar­den was “Did God really say?” In the gospel story, the temptation of Jesus resurrects the same question, either by questioning a text or by wrenching it free from its context. The test brought to Jesus in the desert, the same test brought in the Garden, was “Has God said?” and “Is it true?” Those questions implicitly asked whether there was an up and a down. Is there a prescriptive backdrop to life? Can I not be my own definer of good and evil? Am I subject to some higher non-tangible authority?

In his article on “Religion,” Thomas Paine picks up this tension as if it is something new and makes some incredible statements questioning whether one should actually believe that God reveals and speaks. Here’s what he says:

As to the bible (sic.), whether true or fabulous, it is a history, and history is not revelation. If Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, and if Samson slept in Delilah’s lap, and she cut his hair off, the relation of those things is mere history, that needed no revelation from heaven to tell it; neither does it need any revelation to tell us that Samson was a fool for his pains, and Solomon too.

As to the expressions so often used in the bible, that the word of the Lord came to such an one (sic.)…it was the fash­ion of speaking in those times…. But if we admit the suppo­sition that God would condescend to reveal himself in words, we ought not to believe it would be in such idle and profligate stories as are in the bible.… Deists deny that the book called the bible is the word of God, or that it is revealed religion.10

That is a fascinating mix of prejudice and perversion. One feels he must ask if Paine was present in the Garden right from the begin­ning. He takes the stories of Solomon and Samson and puts them in a “history” category. Would he do the same with the crucifixion and the resurrection or does a different kind of narrative now take place?

The key here is that he simply does not believe God would reveal Himself in propositional truth. Paine didn’t invent that predica­ment. It existed from the beginning. Revelation was not in a vacuum of belief. Revelation was sustained by evidence and propelled by a reality check, time and again. The very means by which we ascertain truth is not merely an inner voice but the rationale of why we are here in the first place.

The question should really be why we even think of a supreme being. Why do we ask if there is a sovereign power over the universe?

Is it because we are deluded into thinking there should be, or is it because reason demands a cause and a purpose? Is it possible that deep within our hungers is this quest to know why we are here in the first place, and the naturalist’s cavalier dismissal of that question falls upon questing souls that search for a reason as much as the body yearns for water?

There were no professors of science in the original created order to question revelation. From deep within the human soul arose the challenge for autonomy over against a boundary within which to live. So let’s get over two blunders—the one that thinks this is mod­ern man in revolt, and the other that thinks intellectuals disbelieve in God and only the naïve or stupid continue to believe in God. I have met intellectuals on both sides of the issue, and it is not merely an intellectual struggle. It is a struggle of bridge building, of trying to tie theoretical structures to heartfelt and heart-hungering realities. 

As Real as Now

The second question that originated in Genesis came in the form of a challenge: “You will not surely die! You will be as God, defining good and evil.” For Darwin, as for our polite modern thinkers, hell is anathema. Why would any self-respecting human being think up hell? Interestingly, these who challenge the existence of God are the very ones who are willing to punish others for their beliefs. “Destroy the livelihood of those who believe in the sanctity of marriage!” “Don’t give them a place in academia if they really believe God exists!” Such is the retribution of self-worship, imposed by those who call God vengeful, a “joy-killing monster,” and “a freedom-re­stricting tyrant,” if you don’t give Him His due place. Fascinating how we wield power when we own it and then mock others with power for giving in to the same expression.

The enemy of our souls basically counters the claims of God, not merely by questioning them, but then by asserting that by dis­obeying God’s commands one will actually be promoted to taking God’s place. Once again at the heart of all temptation is the desire for autonomy and power. The human scene was steeped in the battle for autonomy and power right from the beginning. Did God speak? Is it true what He says about good and evil? Are we going to believe the truth, or are we comfortable with the lie because of the power it promises to give us?

It seems as though the ultimate destination point, then and now, is the power to control culture and destiny. Very recently, a Russian business tycoon gave Stephen Hawking one hundred million dollars toward his endeavor to find extraterrestrial intelligence. Hawking has opined that it is critical for us to find them before they find us, saying that if we don’t find them before they find us, they could wipe us out of existence. After the slaughters in San Bernardino, Belgium, Paris, the Boston Marathon, Turkey, Baghdad, Orlando, Dallas, and the list goes on endlessly, we want to get to other planets without fixing our own and destroy them also?

I found his comment fascinating. My first reaction was cynical. Yes, I thought, since we don’t see much intelligence on this planet any more, let’s go looking for it elsewhere. Then another thought kicked in. It is fascinating that the “world’s brightest mind” thinks an intel­ligence possibly exists out there that could destroy us, but no intelli­gence exists as Creator.

Then yet another thought. Professor Hawking himself, had he been left at the mercy of a pragmatic “life is not human in the womb,” or not worth saving by virtue of a degenerative disease, would have been destroyed and we would never have seen the likes of his genius. It would have been our loss. You see how intrinsic value decisions are in the choices we make? The scientific single vision does not give us values; it gives us only what is and cannot give us what ought. Is it any wonder that in this scenario where science is our single vision, existence is the circle and what we believe—our values—are merely a dot, as described by my friend?

Another personal note, from having lived in Cambridge in the early nineties: Hawking’s first wife, Jane, was and is a devout Chris­tian, an intellectual in her own right. Hawking himself has paid her the finest compliments. Living side-by-side with one of the brightest minds in the world did not take away her deep belief in Jesus Christ and in the created order. That alone should tell us that what is at issue is not as simplistic as an intellectually determined faith. Much more goes into this.

So then, right from the beginning, in the face of choices, two questions determined the future: 1) Did God say? 2) Do you really think you’re going to die or can you become like God, determining good and evil? 

The Theoretical Backdrop

What does it mean to be an atheist? What does the “ism” of the atheist hold? Is it monolithic? Are all atheistic systems the same in political theory? How did that philosophy become a formal system, and how does one respond to its claims?

Let’s go back to the philosophical and categorical roots of this so-called belief, to its philosophical and cultural viewpoint. The very Greek word from which we get atheism is really a simple conjoining of the negative with the divine. The alpha is the negative and theos is the word for God. At its starting point, from the very structure of the word itself, the philosophy of atheism means no personal, self-existent, autonomous, intelligent first cause of reality.

Ironically, in particular cultural milieus the word gets watered down so that in the days of the early Church, Christians were called atheists because they denied the existence of the gods of Greece and Rome. By the seventh century, Muslims branded Christians polytheists because of their cardinal doctrine of the Trinity. One can readily see how important it is to understand, from the orthodox point of view, what the beliefs really are rather than attributing cultural nuances to a system.

In two of my previous works, I have quoted the standard texts and definitions that provide the starting point for this discussion. I would like to refer back to that before I move forward and bring the positions up to date. Frankly, in a subject such as this, there really is ultimately nothing new under the sun. People such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Krauss, and others who promote the aggressive side of this belief muster not a single new argument to defend their position. That is why even other prominent atheists or agnostics con­sider them an embarrassment and say so. In fact, Dawkins’ remark on Harris’s explanation in The Moral Maze—that he provided the last strand against theism—is embarrassing to other atheists, to say the least. I doubt he truly believed that.

The well-respected Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Paul Edwards defines atheism as follows: “An atheist is a person who maintains that there is no God, that is, that the sentence ‘God exists’ expresses a false proposition…a person who rejects belief in God.”11 In his book on atheism, Étienne Borne says, “Atheism: the deliber­ate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God.”12So while the bottom line of the view is a denial of God’s existence, in fairness it is really within the spectrum of agnosticism that ranges from a soft-boiled agnosticism where one claims not to know whether God exists to a hard-boiled agnosticism that postulates that one simply cannot know. The next stage is a rigorous denial of the existence of this Being we call God. That is the hard-nosed idea that God is not in the realm of meaningful statements, and that if He/She/It does indeed exist, it is up to the theist to prove it.

Now this latter assumption is terribly prejudiced by culture and, one might dare say, flies in the face of how philosopher Alvin Plantinga, a longtime member of the faculty at Notre Dame, would describe belief in God—a “Properly Basic Belief” so common and so self-evident to the masses of humanity that, to them, no defense is needed. Of course, other philosophers take issue with that and say that in any debate this description would not stand the test of argu­ment. Plantinga contends that the masses of people are not in the arena of debate; they intuitively believe that there is a power greater than themselves, and they seek ways in which to connect with that supreme being. Raised in India, I have seen this firsthand. Though it was not my personal belief, it was indisputably intrinsic to the main­stream of life, both for the unsophisticated and the highly educated.

It is important to recognize that the Greeks, who really are the forerunners in systematic philosophical thought in classical philos­ophy (and as an extension of that came democratic government), attempted to define ultimate reality in abstract terms. Their musings and ponderings on ultimate reality cause some to even argue that Plato was probably moving toward a high monotheism. Whether one accepts that or not, what is important is that in their view, ulti­mate reality was inseparable from virtue and ethical norms.

For many in Greek thought, the power of reason was supreme, and the freeing of philosophy and science from the mystical was a deliberate and purposeful discipline. But, I repeat, for the Greek thinkers, though they did not posit a God, one thing was certain—virtue and harmony were the emergent implications for life.

There is a striking similarity between our so-called doctrine of tolerance and the early Greeks. For example, the oration at the funeral of Pericles gives fascinating insight into the hub and spokes of their reflections on life and destiny. We owe to Thucydides the reconstruction of that eulogy. Here it is:

[J]ust as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other. We do not get into a state with our next door neighbor if he enjoys himself in his own way…. We are free and tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs we keep to the law….

When our work is over, we are in a position to enjoy all kinds of recreation for our spirits…in our own homes we find a beauty and good taste which delight us every day and which drives away our cares….

Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extrava­gance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft…. As for poverty, no one need be ashamed to admit it: The real shame is in not taking practical measures to escape from it.

We make friends by doing good to others, not by receiv­ing good from them. This makes our friendships all the more reliable…. [E]ach single one of our citizens, in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and to do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility.13

Tolerance the New Virtue

Actually, that philosophizing would fit into Buddhism, Hindu­ism, Jainism, and the new tolerance of Western Secularism. That is the new god of this age. One look at this and you can see how a politi­cal framework addresses the soul of a people when God is not known or sought. We can readily see how critical it is that values be upheld for the public good. In reality, this is possibly the basis of a noble humanistic credo, but we shall deal with that later.

For now, we see how the early Greek philosophers and early non­theistic spirituality or mystery religions believed in a structure of vir­tue for one’s individual life and destiny. There were, however, very important differences in terms of why they thought this way and what they believed the purpose of life to be. That, to me, is key. As I have travelled for some four decades and have literally met with thousands of individuals, either one-on-one or in small groups after the public forums, there are really a handful of questions that emerge.

The first question is of life’s purpose and meaning: What does life and living really mean? Then there comes the question of plea­sure and enjoyment: How do I fulfill my desires? The pursuit of pleasure is at the core of our existence. We work, we earn a living, we return to our homes, but then we make decisions for our enjoy­ment: Are there any boundaries for pleasure? Then there is the third question: What does one make of all the suffering and pain we see in this world?

There you have it. Meaning, pleasure, pain. And all of these hang on the hinge of the fourth major question, a very defining one: How and why am I here in the first place? This was the very bedrock of questioning that Solomon pursued. He was not raised a Greek. He was raised in David’s family, a Jewish family with a definite belief in a personal God. There had to be a father-son disjunction here for Sol­omon to live as a hedonist but be regarded as a moralist, renowned for his wisdom.

That defining question is answered confidently by the atheist that we are here by accident. Turn back the clock and try the same thing again and it will never happen once more. Our presence is a cosmic accident for which there is no script for life or preassigned purpose. But let us be absolutely clear: The atheist has placed all other definitions of life’s imperatives on this one hinge, that we exist on this earth and struggle with human personality, morality, and reality without a personal, moral, or real first cause. That’s the leap of faith—to believe that ultimately life is matter and that it therefore doesn’t really matter. If you submit to the first conclusion, you are inextricably bound to the rest that follow.

Take for example Stephen Jay Gould:

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial crea­tures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dino­saurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise avail­able (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never literally froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa, a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a higher answer—but none exists. This answer though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must con­struct these answers ourselves—from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.14

Gould states unequivocally that meaning is not decipherable by us. No higher answer exists, he says, and we have to find the answers on our own terms. This incredibly answerless answer is what sends Western values on the slippery slope of nihilism. But there is more. If meaning is not within the purpose of our existence, the second struggle is whether to seek a boundary for pleasure or eliminate all boundaries.

The difference between a nontheistic religion and an atheistic worldview is literally worlds apart. The difference comes from the explanation for theistic thinking. Both the realities of pleasure and of pain demand answers and explanation, whether life has meaning and whether there is a solution to the problem of pain. To arrive at a formal and creedal denial of a supreme being opens the door to all kinds of debates and arguments on the entailments of such a hope­less foundation.

From that starting point the remaining three answers are liter­ally up for grabs, so let’s see how the religious nontheist and the sec­ular atheist deal with the entailments of their starting points. When you start off with “no god,” you end up with the strangest of mental manipulations to keep you from the logical arc of reasoning. And the first mistake for the atheist is to position science into doing what it was never supposed to do.

Scientists themselves question their fellow authorities in this field. The agnostic physicist David Berlinski has written a trenchant critique of Dawkins in his book The Devil’s Delusion, a challenge to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. On the inside flap of the book, intro­ducing his subject, he writes,

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?

Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe and why it is here?

Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?

Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought?

Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?

Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?

Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?

Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual con­tempt?

Dead on.15

One has to commend Berlinski and others like him for call­ing the bluff of those hiding behind science and making sweeping assertions against belief in God. In fact, there is so much contradic­tion even within the exact sciences that anyone who speaks for all obviously does not respect the different disciplines within science. I know scholarly thinkers in the field of chemistry who have issued challenges to others, asking them to show evidence from chemistry that the move from primordial slime to Homo sapiens is even theo­retically possible. Professor James Tour of Rice University is one such scholar. In fact, cosmologist John Barrow said to Dawkins, “You have a problem with these ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a sci­entist. You’re a biologist.”16

Interesting, isn’t it, how the methodology and implications vary between the disciplines? It was this very challenge that caused Chan­dra Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle to postulate that an earth­bound theory explaining origins is mathematically impossible. But that is the foundation on which all the debunking of religious belief takes place. My colleague in this book will be dealing more exten­sively with the hazards of a scientific single vision. For my purposes here, let us agree that the extension of the discipline takes it outside its range.

That, then, brings the implications of the existential struggle into the no-man’s-land of meaninglessness.

A Rootless Culture

In Western cultural speak, we have basically gone from being a rootless society to a ruthless society. In America, we say that we are a nation of laws. That sounds fascinating. Are we implying that other nations are nations without laws? No culture on earth has more laws than the Islamic world. Their laws extend to what you eat and when you eat, how you marry and whom you marry, how you bank and with whom you bank, when you fast and how much you give, which way you face when you pray and how many times…laws ad nau­seam. They pride themselves on it.

So we are a nation of laws. Let’s move further. To use a meta­phor, law forms the roots from which our culture is built. The trunk then becomes the political system; the branches and the leaves or the fruit of the tree become the expression of the culture. That’s the figurative description of how we build a culture. When you think about it, it is actually circular. We act as if law just came into being and is self-evident. The question should really be, what holds the law in place?

The laws that legitimized slavery were railed against by a moral intuition that this exploitation and dominance of a people was morally wrong. Ironically, in their songs both the slave and the slave owner called upon God to rescue them or validate them. They weren’t calling upon nature to do so. Even in the context of the dominance of the Indian people by the British, Bertrand Russell, of all people, said that it was doubtful the plea from reason would have succeeded against the British except that it appealed to the con­science of a Christianized people.

This is where worldviews come into play. What holds the laws of a nation? It is the moral soil that must hold the roots. As G. K. Chesterton put it, lawful and legal do not mean the same thing and the moral soil is indispensable to aesthetic flourishing:

We are always near the breaking point, when we care only for what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as mar­riage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.17

Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art, any more than anything essentially reasonable has ever arisen out of pure reason. There must always be a rich moral soil for any great aesthetic growth.18

Recently I saw a movie titled Irrational Man. The well-known actor Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of an esteemed and atten­tion-drawing professor of philosophy. Before he arrives at the school at which he will be teaching, he already has a reputation as a bit of a loner and an eccentric. As the story line builds, we become aware that his goal is to influence his students toward the ethical system he subscribes to, built on the existentialists.

One day he overhears the story of a woman who was wrongly victimized by a judge’s ruling and becomes irate over that injustice. He ponders how to set this right and decides to kill the judge. That accomplished, one of his students discovers that he is the killer and, aghast, gradually pins him down with the truth. He has one option left, to kill her as well, even though he was romantically involved with her. In the end, in a struggle near an open elevator shaft, she gets the better of him and instead of her, as he had intended, he is crushed under the weight of the elevator.

It is interesting that though reason was his discipline, he was crushed by the weight of the immoral reasoning he had justified in his own heart as the right thing to do…until he was found out and had to explain it.

Law, philosophy, love, education, justice…all are built not on reason alone but on moral reasoning. This is the discipline under which atheism fails, and the ideas of atheism will be crushed under the very system constructed to make the one who points the guilty finger ineffectual.

The hunger of the human heart is for meaning, reason, purpose, and value, and atheism simply does not have either the answers or the explanatory power to make it possible to build a life on the foundation it offers. That is why some of the best of them discover at life’s termination point that their philosophy was reasoned into irrationality and their temporary victory, pyrrhic—it cost the victor more than it cost the vanquished.

To wit, Antony Flew and A. N. Wilson, two prominent thinkers who climbed the tree of atheism to great renown, only to concede that its trunk is hollow and its branches, deadly. The unanswered questions made Flew question the philosophy. An Easter Sunday walk to church with his family where he observed the followers of Jesus and heard the truth claims of their resurrected Lord made the difference for Wilson, the difference between life and death, sub­stance and hollowness, purpose and meaninglessness, love and hate, living a lie or living by the truth.

The chapters to come show the difference between Jesus and secular “isms” in the why of life itself. Our first comparison will be a deeper exploration of atheism—the general “ism” underlying all other secular worldviews. Then we proceed chapter by chapter to confront the secular gods that guide our neighbors and our nation. So far we have glimpsed only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s see where the differences really take us.

 

__________

Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

Maya Oppenheim, “Richard Dawkins: Atheist academic calls for religion ‘to be offended at every opportunity,’” The Independent (23 May 2016), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-atheist-academic-calls-for-religion-to-be-of­fended-at-every-opportunity-a7043226.html. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

2 Ibid.

Robert A. Morey, The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986), 98.

4 G. K. Chesterton observes, “It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Chris­tianity of sorrow; it would be just as easy to prove that Paganism is pure sorrow and Christianity pure joy…. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsa­tion of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 236–237, 105. Also available online at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16769/16769-h/16769-h.htm. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

William Blake, “Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau” in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Third Edition, general editor M. H. Abrams (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975), 1338.

6 Mortimer Adler, The Synopticon: An Index to the Great Ideas, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Britan­nica, 1952), 543.

7 Winston Churchill, “The Munich Agreement,” http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1930-1938-the-wilderness/101-the-munich-agreement. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

Charles Kaiser, The Cost of Courage (New York: Other Press, 2015), 51.

9 “Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798,” in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1848), 266.

10 Thomas Paine, The Theological Works of Thomas Paine (London: R. Carlile, 1824), 317.

11 Paul Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 175.

12 Étienne Borne, Atheism (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1961), 61.

13 Thucydides, “The Funeral Oration of Pericles,” History of the Peloponnesian War, M. I. Finley, editor, translated by Rex Warner (New York: Penguin Classics, 1972), excerpt online at http://teacher.sduhsd.net/tpsocialsciences/world_history/dem_ideals/peri­cles.htm. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

14 Stephen Jay Gould, quoted by David Friend and the editors of Life magazine, The Meaning of Life(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), 33.

15 Citation from book jacket, http://www.davidberlinski.org/devils-delusion/about.php. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

16 John Barrow quoted in Julia Vitullo-Martin’s “A Scientist’s Scientist,” http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/barrow-to-dawkins-youre-not-really-a-scientist/. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

17 G. K. Chesterton, As I Was Saying, ed. Robert Knille (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984), 267.

18 G. K. Chesterton, “A Defence of Nonsense” in A Defence of Nonsense and Other Essays (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1911), 8.

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Atheism Becoming the New Religion, Evangelicals Warned

Posted by faithandthelaw on October 19, 2010

CAPE TOWN, South AfricaEvangelicals heard the call on Monday to be guardians of the truth in the face of widespread indifference to religion and the “denial” of Scripture within parts of the church.

Carver Yu, president of the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong, said that “confusing ideologies” were creating emptiness and alienation among people, while indifference to religion was “tightening its grip.”

He said the recent advertising campaign by Richard Dawkins and other atheists on London buses was a perfect example of the “enthusiastic zeal” with which atheists were campaigning against Christianity and religion.

Atheism is about to become the new religion,” he said. “Christians must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ fearlessly because he is the way, the truth and the life. Only he can lead us away from the present state of godlessness.”

Yu was addressing more than 4,000 evangelical leaders from around the world at Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on world evangelization taking place this week in the South African city.

Also taking to the podium was Michael Herbst, researcher in evangelism and church development. He warned that the decline of faith among parents was leading to a whole generation of children in Germany growing up with an “atheist mindset” and the belief that “faith doesn’t matter.”

He noted that the idea of a “singular truth” and monotheism had become unpopular and were widely regarded as dangerous, arrogant and potentially violent.

“Everything is relative now except for this one new and ultimate truth – that there is no singular truth,” he said. “All those professing a singular truth should be silent in a tolerant world.”

Os Guinness, co-founder of The Trinity Forum, echoed his sentiments. He said that the biblical view of truth had become “obscene to modern minds” and was being taken by many to be exclusive, intolerant and divisive.

“But on a deeper look the biblical view is profound, timely and urgent for the day, even for those who reject it,” he said.

Guinness was especially critical of liberal Protestants who he said had been “careless” with the truth. He contended that they were just as “dangerous” as those outside of the church and contributing to a weakening of the faith.

Guinness said Christians had a responsibility to confront false ideas and beliefs and uphold the truth of the Gospel.

“Our stand for truth must start in the church itself. We must resist the powerful seductions of those who downplay truth for methodology, or truth in the name of activism, or truth for entertainment, or truth for seeker sensitivity, and above all those who put a modern and revisionist view to the truth in the place of a biblical view.”

He continued: “Shame on those Western Christians who casually neglect or scornfully deny what the scriptures defend and what many brothers and sisters would rather die [for] than deny – that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

Christians were urged to not stay silent about their faith or be content with personal truth only. Herbst encouraged Christians to share their faith “from below” by serving and living out truth in their own lives.

“It is not the prevalence of Christendom that empowers the Gospel but the power of the Holy Spirit that brings the truth into the heart of those who listen,” he said.

Truth is the first of six main themes to be discussed at the Congress over the next seven days. Other issues on the agenda include evangelism in a multi-faith context and the integrity of the church.

More than 4,000 Christians are in Cape Town for the Congress, with hundreds of thousands more expected to take part online and at smaller congresses being held at 650 “Global Link” sites around the world.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20101018/atheism-becoming-the-new-religion-evangelicals-warned/

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Atheist Summer Camps For Children and Teenagers?

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 30, 2010

News out of Great Britain indicates that Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world’s most famous living atheist, is setting up a summer camp intended to help children and teenagers adopt atheism. As The Times [London] reports: “Give Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life.”

The camp, based upon an American precursor, is to be financially subsidized by Dawkins. According to media reports, all 24 places at the camp have been taken.

AsLois Rogers of The Times reports:

Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.

The organizers of the camp are doing everything possible to emulate more traditional summer camps, generally organized by Christian groups or venerable organizations such as the Boy Scouts. Campers are to learn about evolution even as they go canoeing and swimming. Like their counterparts at Christian camps, these campers will sing songs around the campfire. As might be expected, the songs will be quite different.  “Instead of singing Kumbiya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out ‘Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too.’”

Camp Quest, established in the United States in 1996, has now expanded to six locations. While its numbers are small in terms of attendance, especially as compared to more traditional camps, the camps for atheists receive a good deal of media attention.

In this light, it appears that this announcement hardly adds to the reputation of Richard Dawkins. In the parlance of American popular culture, he appears to have “jumped the shark.” As this phrase indicates, some figures in the public eye become something like parodies of themselves. In this case, the recently retired Oxford University professor has thrown his public reputation behind an effort that appears to be profoundly unserious when it comes to reaching the masses. If Richard Dawkins is really so concerned to support atheism, it hardly seems that a summer camp limited to 24 children and teenagers represents a bold advance for his cause.

In recent months, Dawkins has spent his personal credibility on a project to put atheistic messages on London buses and, now, on this very small experiment in a secularist camp for children. The bus advertisement campaign became something of a joke, with the signs declaring only the claimed probability that there is no God. Londoners seemed more bemused than persuaded. Now, Professor Dawkins lends both his name and his financial support to an atheistic summer camp that will teach evolution to children by day and teach them to sing the songs of John Lennon by night. The Boy Scouts should not fear the competition.

At a deeper level, the existence of this camp in Great Britain and its sister camps in the United States indicates something of the intellectual insecurity of contemporary atheism and agnosticism. The effort to create a religion-free zone for summer camp makes for an interesting news story in the media, but it is not likely to draw the masses.

What comes after atheistic bus signs and a secularist summer camp? Time, as they say, will tell.

Courtesy of http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/06/30/richard-dawkins-jumps-the-shark/

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Elite Media vs. Tim Tebow, Christian

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 17, 2010

 
What do women, Tim Tebow, and evangelical Christians have in common?

They are all largely despised by the sports journalism division of our media elite. The continuing controversy over the first round selection in the National Football League draft of quarterback Tim Tebow by the Denver Broncos is a reminder that sports journalists are simply smaller and often nastier versions of their elite brothers on the serious side of the business.

Get accused twice of rape (Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh), repeatedly abuse your wife (Michael Pittman, Tampa Bay), regularly strangle and drown hapless dogs (Michael Vick, Atlanta)? Ah, well, boys will be boys, it is society’s fault — and besides, women and dogs don’t wear Super Bowl rings. But pray, work with the poor, and refuse to engage in casual sex — there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or, as one Sports Illustrated writer put it, you are a certified “wackdo.”

And so the controversy has swirled around “wackdo” Timothy Richard “Tim” Tebow, the evangelical Christian whose Denver Bronco jersey has become the top NFL merchandise seller before he set foot on Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. Fans love this clean-cut, home-schooled son of Christian missionaries as much as the sports journalism establishment despises him.

His crime: an intense faith considered “pretty evil” by journalists who look to their progressive brethren for their worldview. Welcome to the world of the sports journalism elite. Just call these mainstream sports journalists Mini-Me, the tiny clone of Dr. Evil in the late nineties Austin Powers movies. Mini-Me was everything Dr. Evil was, but less. In the same way, sports journalists are everything mainstream journalists are… but less. 

The mainstream sports elite looks up from what famed sports writer Jimmy Cannon called the “toy department” of life and see their big brothers on the news side emphatically anti-Christian, misogynistic, and radical left in orientation. And so they say, “Me too!”

“Me too” to the disdain for the young quarterback unexpectedly taken in the first round of the NFL draft and who led his University of Florida team to two national championships. In selecting him, Denver defied media and NFL insider conventional wisdom, which translated his “goofy” worldview to disparagement of his football skills. Never mind that he came out of college with both a Heisman Trophy, the premiere award of college football, and a James E. Sullivan award for the nation’s top athlete in any sport — Tim Tebow doesn’t have what it takes to succeed in professional football.

The antagonism of the media originates in the same place as the love of the fans — priorities. The Tampa Bay newspaper described Tebow’s view of the world as “faith, family, academics, football,” in that order. But what about the NFL staples upon which sports journalists fawn: sex, drugs, violence, and bling? 

Fans have largely ignored media experts, cheering Tebow because he is an exceptional athlete with exceptional character. The latter, however, is what bothers most journalism insiders, who responded to the selection with “scorn and mockery,” as the Wall Street Journal put it.

The intangibles that Broncos Coach Josh McDowell is betting will turn Tebow into a franchise leader are exactly the qualities at which mainstream journalists scoff. Don’t talk to us about character, CBS sneered, because if it really mattered, then all the NFL needs to do is gather up a bunch of “altar boys” or “‘A’ students.”

But character an NFL player does not make, and the sports media elite sees trouble in Tebow’s in-your-face spirituality and religion and family… especially his family, evangelicals all, smiling and wholesome and using words like “wonderful” and “blessed” and “thankful.”

With rare exception (Denver Post columnist Woody Paige predicted stardom, maintaining that murder and mayhem are not the only qualifications for NFL success), the journalists have delighted in disparaging the Tebows as too “Christiany,” a journalistic synonym for “fascist.” You know, the kind of people whose vocal love for Jesus conjures up thoughts of a “Nazi rally,” as the largest Boston sports radio station described a family gathering.

Tebow and his family are disliked because they are emphatically traditional, loving, and Christian. One Slate writer admitted to “queasiness on the part of media elites (me included) over the idea that the family really believes what it says it believes.”

Shameful, really: Respect women, love your neighbor, and put God first. This contrasts with the reigning attitude among sportswriters and broadcasters, which a retired female sports journalist described as “historically liberal and, in fact, misogynistic,” “delight[ing] in portraying females” as “sluts and groupies.”

Witness Tony Kornheiser, popular ESPN commentator and long-time Washington Post columnist, who often starts his cable show, “PTI,” with a leering remark about having sex. In his early sixties with a scraggly beard and balding head, Kornheiser has the on-air presence of the creepy uncle you shoo away from the kids on family picnics…and he has just finished a suspension for making sexist remarks on air about a female colleague.

He is a star of the ESPN network, which downplayed the charges against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is alleged to have raped two girls, one in a ladies room stall in a nightclub. And while NBC sports gave the rape charges the boys-will-be-boys treatment, CBS spotlighted a player who said he would “never condone” what “Ben did with the young ladies”…but you want him leading your team.

After all, what’s a rape or two — just means you’re a leader, a player is the prevailing sentiment among those who cover the NFL. Besides, do you know how many of those press corps iPods are blasting rapper Eminem’s latest, saying that he’d like to “get as rowdy as Roethlisberger in a bathroom stall”?

And into this marches Tim Tebow. He films a commercial with his mother for Focus on the Family (“dedicated to helping families thrive“), and media angrily accuse him of pushing traditional lifestyles. You know, marriages where women are equal partners and men do not beat their wives or leave children sprinkled around the landscape like so many daisies in a field.

Positively un-NFL, so much so that one front-office executive announced to Yahoo Sports that “I don’t want any part of him” and his nutty views. Yahoo Sports columnist Les Carpenter, reacting to this, noted that Tebow, “known for his goodness[,] has actually drawn a more visceral reaction [from the NFL and sports journalism establishment] than those players who are at their core, truly bad.”

But Tebow continues being Tebow. He responds with good-natured humor to a jeering press that accuses him of being a virgin with a simple statement: “Yes, I am.” And he goes on to explain the importance of commitment and marriage and ends with noting the discomfort in the room: “I think y’all are stunned right now.”

…To which Pro Sports Daily responded “Don’t be shocked if some of these guys want to take him out and kill the legend that is Tim Tebow.” NCAA Football Fanhouse expressed dismay that “the most popular player in SEC history is saving himself for marriage.” “Unbelievable” when he can have any girl he wants.

What is wrong with this guy? The Washington Post brought in professional atheist Richard Dawkins to reassure its readers that the NFL has nothing to fear. Too many hits from the blind side did not produce this “dummy.”

Rather, that he was “home schooled by missionary parents is to blame.” So don’t worry: “Different sperm” from his father might have produced a child less “spectacularly stupid” with a greater chance to “have survived the home schooling and broken free.”

Don’t worry — you’re safe, for this Christian “nonsense” is an aberration, Dawkins assured readers.

So drop your pants, boys — are you ready for some football?

Stuart Schwartz is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Courtesy of http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/05/elite_media_vs_tim_tebow_chris.html

 
 

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Evolution and Atheists Big Dilemma:The Question of Beginnings

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 16, 2010

Explanations exist for the answer to “How did I get here”:

  1. Evolution — first there was nothing, and then it exploded. Then goo formed, then amino acids, then life, then through mutations became what we see today.
  2. God — an eternal being created the cosmos.
  3. Aliens placed us here 10 minutes ago with all memories intact (we’ve heard that before, seriously).
  4. We’re in the Matrix.

Evolution makes many assumptions about what may or may not have happened billions of years ago (“first there was nothing, and then it exploded”), simply because they’re required for evolution to occur. But that’s not science. The scientific method1 involves repeatable, experimental data. If you don’t have that, it’s not science — by definition. So where is the experimental evidence for the following? If you don’t have repeatable, verifiable experimental data for it it’s not science, and you can’t answer the question (via science) of how did I get here?

  1. Matter comes from nothing.
  2. Non-living material can spontaneously become alive.
  3. Species can change from one to another.
  4. Explosions produce order.

Evolution doesn’t work — even Dawkins admits a god exists2. If you believe “from the goo to the zoo to you” you need repeatable, scientific experiments for it. If you don’t have that, you accept evolution on faith, not science.

The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing—is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice. — Richard Dawkins “The Ancestor’s Tale” page 613

Dawkins states how the universe came into existence is evolution. And his theory about evolution is “first there was nothing, and then it exploded” followed by the goo … to the zoo … to you! All without experimental data to support it. Where are the experiments showing matter comes from nothing? For non-life becoming life? Of course, that’s not the only problem Dawkins and his disciples need to answer:

Nevertheless, it may be that the origin of life is not the only major gap in the evolutionary story that is bridged by sheer luck, anthropically justified. — Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” page 140

Where’s the science? By Dawkins’ own admission, he’s postulated a lucky theory-of-the-gaps, where he has a start and end point, and in the middle only exists “poof—some magic happened” — completely without any scientific experimental evidence or observation in the lab. Where are the experiments proving life comes from non-life, or matter comes from nothing? Dawkins takes evolution on faith, not science.

Some say evolution doesn’t involve these questions concerning the beginning of the cosmos and matter itself (even though Dawkins disagrees), but we still need to answer the question: how did I get here? If you want to ignore the foundation and start on the 13th floor, fine. Where are the experiments showing massive quantities of mutations create new species? This gets to be an argument over what a species is, but for the bit we’ll gloss over that issue to focus on another problem — lack of information.

Courtesy of http://www.dyeager.org/book/atheism-agnosticism/question-beginnings

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Faith, Charity, and the Atheist

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 25, 2010

By Miguel Guanipa
Thanks to the congenital human faculty of empathy, there is no shortage of charitable agencies ready to assist people in dire straits. One venue which I find particularly interesting is a collection of — for lack of a better definition — “like-minded” organizations, banded together under the moniker Non-Believers Giving Aid, in a joint effort to address the enormous amount of suffering caused by the sudden outbreak of tragic events currently taking place around the globe.

This curious gathering — or as they fancy themselves, “free thought groups”– is the brainchild of famous atheist Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS), who pioneered this alliance, along with other non-religious affiliations, with the purpose of funding relief efforts to help victims of natural catastrophes — or as insurance agencies like to call them, Acts of God.

Given the preponderance of secular associations Dawkins has enlisted in this venerable campaign against suffering, it would seem that he is none too eager to accept any membership requests from groups that openly profess allegiance to any religion. Indeed, Dawkins makes a point of reassuring prospective donors that their contributions “will only be passed on to aid organizations that do not have religious affiliations.” One could surmise that this progressive coalition is not averse to openly engaging in a very direct form of religious discrimination. But Mr. Dawkins has reasons for this caveat, which are outlined in the group’s mission statement.  

Although at first glance it looks like a noble effort on their part, the initiative is billed as an attempt to counter the more sanctimonious and judgmental approach of religion-based charities, whose emissaries, according to Richard Dawkins, are often more inclined to “gloat over natural disasters” — an unfortunate reference to televangelist Pat Robertson’s impetuous claim that the earthquake in Haiti was a form of  divine chastening against a nation that had entered into a pact with the Devil.

Yet despite Mr. Dawkins’ selective outrage at religious-based charities, nobody is really arguing that religious and secular institutions should compete for the benign privilege of lending assistance to the needy, as the immediate concerns of people in distress often trump fact-checking the doctrinal beliefs of their benefactors. Unfortunately, what is purported to be Dawkins’ main objective of alleviating people’s suffering ends up being sidetracked by this backhanded rebuke against his more pious competitors in the field.

Now, since Dawkins has chosen to make God-centered charities the object of his vilification, an equally impartial examination of what he offers as the alternative is in order. And frankly, if the substance of his charitable endeavor were of no importance, then why would he and his posse of God-less relief agencies go to such lengths to assure potential patrons that theirs is just as generous and substantive — if not more worthy — a mission as that of their rivals?

In terms of substance, Dawkin’s amoral altruism is rooted in an eminently self-serving ethos. It showcases a magnanimity grounded on feelings rather than a transcendent absolute. The shallow brand of compassion that it produces seeks to satiate a sense of self-fulfillment through service to others. That is, since it assumes that there is no moral law-giver to whom we are accountable and from whom we derive moral concepts like good and evil, which ultimately steer us toward self-renunciation for the sake of the less fortunate, we are left with helping others simply because it makes us feel good about ourselves. This kind of charity is defined as that which springs from a desire to meet a vague sense of obligations to help others, and it is fueled by the expectation of reciprocity and a self-congratulatory reminder that we are, after all, rather decent human beings.

Real charity instead is anchored on the injunction furnished by the millennia-tested Judeo-Christian tradition, which affirms that every benevolent act towards a fellow human being in need is a direct offering towards our creator — a reminder that charity begins with a surrender of the self and a concern for the other. Moreover, this tradition does not cast all suffering as intrinsically evil, but it recognizes that in many instances, evil does result in much of the suffering we experience in the world. But also, in a deeper sense, suffering can ultimately have a redemptive purpose. 

In contrast, Atheists tends to view suffering as an evil to be avoided, for some even at the cost of removing those whose suffering is deemed less consequential and yet are the most vulnerable, such as the terminally ill and the unborn. Ironically, this is a supreme evil perpetrated in the name of what is really a hollow form of compassion.

So what’s really at play here is a brazen attempt on Mr. Dawkins’ part to impute legitimacy to a time-worn assertion that Atheists have been peddling for decades, which is that morality can exist without God. In other words, since the moral concepts of good and evil are social constructs that tend to organically emerge within any given cultural setting, we can arbitrarily fashion a moral paradigm where actions can be judged as good or evil, and we can bypass any invocations of a higher being we have to eventually answer to. We thereby answer only to ourselves. 

Following in the tradition of their neo-Darwinist cohorts, to whom they are greatly indebted, Atheists maintain that the survival of the species somehow hinges upon a yet-undiscovered benevolent gene that mysteriously compels the fittest — against their native instincts of self-preservation, no less — to help the weaker victims of undirected natural forces, or the very forces which Dawkins describes as being “supremely indifferent to human affairs and sadly indifferent to human suffering.” Incidentally, these are the same forces that arbitrarily chose to bring both victim and rescuer into being. This rather uninspired tautology also allows for random mutations that intermittently favor or hinder our own preservation, giving, on occasion, only the illusion that a personal deity is supervising these complex natural phenomena.

But who can discern the moral divide between helping our fellow man and abandoning him to perish in his suffering in the context of an amoral world like the one envisioned by Atheists? How does the Atheist draw the sublime authority in the first place to judge whether or not suffering is an undesirable state of affairs — an evil, if you will? In a universe that is merely the product of random, unplanned, undirected, and hence purposeless forces of nature, how does he arrive at a fixed criterion for appraising the goodness or depravity of an act, since there is no absolute, transcendent moral standard he can appeal to?

In short, from where does the unbeliever summon the prerogative to decree a moral benchmark by which he can judge the evil or good qualities of chance-driven phenomena — of which he is also a product — that haphazardly transpire in a wholly impersonal universe, including the natural occurrences that bring so much suffering to humans?

In Dawkins’ world, these are questions that should remain outside of the purview of the religiously inclined; but the answers to them could very well spell the moral insolvency of his coterie of faithless philanthropists.

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27,000 Free Copies of Darwin’s Famous Book Given Away to Coincide with New Atheist Guru Richard Dawkin’s Meetings

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 9, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY, March 8 /Christian Newswire/ — New Zealand born author, Ray Comfort (who lives in the United States) said, “I will be interested to see if the Professor once again reveals how afraid he is for people to read the Foreword, by telling them to rip it out–as he did in Canada recently.”

In November of 2009, Comfort gave away 170,000 copies of On the Origin of Species to students at 100 of America’s top universities. His team will also be giving away 1,000 free copies of Darwin’s famous book as people leave the Christchurch Town Hall, New Zealand, on March 11, after listening to atheist Richard Dawkins. A total of 26,000 copies of the more than 300-page special edition of, On the Origin of Species were given out in Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Wellington on the 9th of March–at each to coincide with Richard Dawkins speaking.

When asked if he would debate Comfort about the existence of God, Dawkins replied “There’s nothing to debate. It would be like having a debate with a flat-earther.”[1] In response, Comfort said, “Calling your opponent a ‘flat-earther,’ an ‘ignorant fool,’ and ‘an idiot’ (as he did on CNN recently) are classic signs of a man who is insecure in his beliefs. An ad hominem means to attack your opponent rather than his argument, because your argument is weak.”

Ray Comfort has debated atheistic evolution on America’s ABC TV, on the BBC, and has been a platform speaker for American Atheists, Inc. His “The Atheist Test” booklet has sold more than one million copies. The best-selling author, reasoned, “If I am such an ignorant fool, why did Professor Dawkins tell Canadian university students to rip out my Foreword to On the origin of Species? If what I had written was ignorant foolishness, why not let people read it to see how weak my arguments are?”

This battle seems to have begun when Comfort’s, You Can Lead an Atheists to Evidence But You Can’t Make Him Think bumped Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion off the Amazon number one position, in the atheist division. Hundreds of atheists then flooded Amazon and gave the publication bad reviews, in an effort to bring Comfort’s book down in the ratings. Comfort mused, “The reviews start off by saying that the book is the best thing since sliced bread, and then there are hundreds saying it’s worse than the worst piece of mold-laden bread.”

The outspoken author then challenged the Professor to a debate about the existence of God, offering him $20,000 for his trouble. Dawkins said he wanted $100,000, and called him “an ignorant fool.” Comfort put that commendation on the front cover of his next book Nothing Created Everything–the scientific impossibility of atheistic evolution, and used a morphed picture of Charles Darwin turning into Richard Dawkins, for the cover graphic.

When asked about the giveaway to 170,000 university students in the U.S., he called Comfort “an idiot” on international television.[2] Comfort said, “And then he began to use my comedy routine, and was getting quite a few laughs when doing it.”[3]

But when the author heard that Professor Richard Dawkins was going to his home town of Christchurch, New Zealand, it became even more personal. “This is a city where I (almost daily), for 12 years, poured my heart out in the local ‘Speaker’s Corner.’ Over 3,000 times I climbed onto a soapbox and spoke to crowds in an effort to turn people’s thoughts to God, and if the learned professor thinks he is going to walk right in and undo that without any opposition, he has another thought coming. All I want is for people to know that the theory of evolution is bogus science. Charles Darwin lamented the lack of species-to-species transitional forms, and 150 years later, the missing link is still missing.”

Comfort maintains, “Man, with all his technology can’t create a grain of sand from nothing, let alone a leaf, a flower, or a frog. So how intellectually dishonest is it for Richard Dawkins to say that nothing created everything (something he believes). Add to that the fact that the professor has a weird belief that we may have been created by aliens,[4] that we are cousins of bananas,[5] that nothing did create everything,[6] and he does it all in the guise of science. Then he says that anyone who doesn’t believe as he does is ‘ignorant, stupid or insane.'[7] He turns 70 next year, so I hope that he comes to see the difference between the hypocritical religion he so despises, and God, before he goes to meet His Maker.”

Media: See originintoschools.com for video and book graphics.  

————————————————————

[1] “Deluge of Delusion,” Your Weekend Magazine, Christchurch Press (Feb. 2010).

[2] www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZWBHMv7t30

[3] www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDPoEgvEvBE

[4] “Expelled.”

[5] The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins, chapter 1, “Only a theory?”

[6] www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/richarddaw363339.html

[7] “It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” — Richard Dawkins, quoted from Josh Gilder, a creationist, in his critical review, “PBS’s ‘Evolution’ series is propaganda, not science” (September, 2001).

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Prophets of the New Atheism

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on February 28, 2010

By David Klinghoffer

Special to The Times

While the American cultural landscape includes many religions, it’s still fascinating to watch closely when we have the chance to observe a new faith being born. Consider, for example, a religious phenomenon that has been dubbed the “new atheism,” prominently represented by some bestselling books.

Can disbelief in God be considered “religious”? Sure. Just ask Zen Buddhists, who worship no deity. By religion, I mean any faith-based set of values that makes exclusive claims for its truth and explains the mysteries of the universe. Yes, atheism begins with a faith, namely that only material and physical (not spiritual) causes make the world run.

Two recent atheist gospels, by Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”) and Sam Harris (“Letter to a Christian Nation”), are the country’s top two bestsellers among “religion” books, according to Publishers Weekly. The books are outselling even a Christian megahit like Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

These leading lights contend that traditional religions are not only false, but dangerous and morally grotesque. The title of another hot atheist tract, by journalist Christopher Hitchens and forthcoming in May, says it all: “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

Who are the new atheists? While only 5.2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, according to 2006 Baylor University polling data, it’s a privileged demographic category, disproportionately college-educated and affluent. Atheists tend to live on the West Coast or East Coast. In its polling sample, the Baylor study found not one atheist African American. Meanwhile, those of us from Jewish backgrounds are represented well out of proportion to our national numbers, with 8.3 percent rejecting belief in God.

You can see how influential atheism has become by noting how the media and academia deal with traditional faith. A recent New York Times Magazine cover story detailed the big debate among academic psychologists: Did God-centered religion evolve in prehistoric man as a useful adaptation or as a surprising byproduct of other evolutionary processes? The possibility that it developed in response to a living God was not considered.

The new religion has a scientific appeal, with orthodox evolutionary theory recruited to provide a rationalistic “proof” for atheist teaching. For this reason, Oxford University biologist Dawkins devotes the “central argument of [his] book” to an attempted refutation of intelligent design (ID), the alternative to neo-Darwinian evolution that has been spearheaded by Seattle’s Discovery Institute (where I work).

Unfortunately, Dawkins does not grapple with the latest arguments for intelligent design as formulated by their chief proponents. Harris is similarly preoccupied by ID, which evidently provoked the new atheism’s present evangelistic push.

Darwinism, of course, is hardly new. The novelty here lies in the new faith’s missionary fervor. Dawkins writes explicitly about making “converts.”

Another novelty: In the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively, the atheist French and Russian revolutions sought political power above all else, with terrifyingly violent results. Luckily, far from being politicians, the new atheists seek religious influence for its own sake.

Despite these novel features, in other ways the new atheism will be familiar to historians who have studied the trajectory of upstart faiths. A favorite strategy of such groups has long been to attack cartoon versions of older rival religions.

Dawkins, for his part, mocks the God of the Hebrew Bible as “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Such a wild caricature will be unrecognizable to any believer (like me) in the God of Israel. But Dawkins and Harris seem unfamiliar with religious tradition as biblical monotheists know it from personal experience and deep study. Frankly, the success of the new atheist faith would be hard to imagine without today’s soaring levels of societal religious illiteracy.

Which might sound like the new religion has a promising future. I doubt it. For one thing, God gives objective definition to our ideas of right and wrong, crucial for civilization. Equally important, he provides meaning to life itself.

Certainly, you can have an ethical individual atheist, an instinctively caring, generous person who happens to disbelieve in God. But an atheist society could not survive. It would first live on the fumes of ancient moral traditions. In the end, racked by despair at life’s apparent meaninglessness, its members would return to more nourishing faiths.

That’s what we see happening now in formerly communist Russia, with its Christian and Jewish revivals. The evaporation of atheist communism is a lesson worth pondering, and a sobering one, for the new atheists.

Courtesy of nwsource.com at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003653502_klinghoffer06.html

Faith and the Law Note: The new atheists should tune into faith and the law for our weekly top five list. Here is a sample of some of the latest top five lists pertaining to atheists.

Top Five Reasons Atheist Billboards Don’t Work

1) Freethinkers?  No comment. LOL. 🙂 

2) Hard time getting IRS to grant tax-exempt status as a charity organization. —

3) Like trying to convince people that air does not exist. Arguments are so insane that they are comical. —

4) Those all night “there is no God” telethons just aren’t raising the money.  —

5) In Sacramento alone $6400 a month for a billboard to convince people not to believe in God?  Am I missing something? 

 
TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT JOIN AN ATHEIST COLLEGE CLUB
 

1) For a college, one of the most ignorant groups on campus.
 
2) Who wants to worship Darwin or have faith in junk science.
 
3) Pepto-Bismol not help that empty feeling have inside.
 
4) Too hard to answer your own prayers.
 
5) “Eat, drink and be merry” t-shirts are a bit pricey.

 
 
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY ATHEISTS ARE JUST A MESS
 
1) ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT THE WONDERS OF CREATION AND THE HUMAN BODY. ARE YOU TELLING ME A GENERIC, NO NAME, ETHEREAL, VAGUE, UNDEFINED CONCEPT OR PROCESS BROUGHT THIS PERFECT CREATION INTO EXISTENCE FROM NOTHING? WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?
 
2) GOD LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANY OF YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS OR FELLOW NON-BELIEVERS.
 
3) SIMPLY SUBSTITUTING THE WORD “NATURE” FOR GOD DOESN’T GET RID OF YOUR CREATOR
 
4) YOUR STAR TREK SPOCK LOGIC JUST IS NOT ENOUGH TO OUTSMART GOD.
 
5) WOW! A BUS-BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO GET PEOPLE NOT TO BELIEVE IN GOD. WHAT WILL YOU THINK OF NEXT?

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