New Atheism, Same Paganism
and the firmament shows His handiwork”
Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a fractured Union during the woeful Civil War, was well versed in Scripture and no doubt understood the great spiritual trauma that coincided with the obvious political and physical trauma of the horrendous conflict over slavery (bondage). Faced with the atrocities of the Civil War, or any war, one could readily dismiss the idea or reality of a completely Good and Loving God if one did not comprehend that the suffering and evil in this world were the consequence of human failure, not an egomaniacal God. In this respect, Lincoln did not wallow in despair or question such a glaring reality as the existence of God when he witnessed the horror and cruelty of fallen humanity in that he was anchored by his spiritual depth and unshakable faith in the Creator. Such conviction enabled the requisite foresight concerning moral victory (as well as the military and political) and the need to fight for it. So it should be with anyone who claims to “know” God, personally and theologically.
King David, who knew God better than most despite his failings, unashamedly proclaimed his sentiments when he recorded:
The term “new atheism” has been tossed about in recent years as self-proclaimed atheists attempt to band together and foment a more effective assault on religion, faith, and ultimately God Himself. Amusingly, these new atheists offer nothing new. They offer only “faith” in a hopeless worldview, which itself is a “religion” having roots in prehistory when Cain deviated from the one Truth and insisted upon creating his own (untruth). Consequently, he was cursed by his Creator, not because God is cruel but because a just God had revealed His mercy and grace and Cain had rejected it. Ever since, the willfully ignorant among us choose to serve their own intellect and inclinations, purposefully edifying themselves as gods. Herein, the legacy of Cain’s rebellion thrives to this day via vehicles of ancient paganism wherein the crown of creation (humanity) refuses to believe in its Creator yet will believe in anything else.
Atheism is generally understood to mean a disbelief in any god, but particularly a disbelief in the God of the Bible. But allow me to be more explicit; I define atheism as an intellectually constructed buffer against that which the unsaved spirit knows to be true (God exists), enabling one to deny Truth with apparent conviction. Of course, the atheist’s folly is eventually exposed as the mind attempts to defend beliefs that defy both the heart (spirit) and logic. Admittedly, some atheists carry significant education and/or articulate reasoning in their defensive arsenal, but they are significantly and articulately wrong. Moreover, atheists lack the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3). Without such, they are fools indeed.
The apostle Paul warns against those who peddle untruth wrapped in “plausible arguments” and offers encouragement to stand fast “lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world (naturalism without super-naturalism), and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:4, 8).
We shall now examine a few of these contemporary fools and their vain philosophies, beginning with Christopher Hitchens, whose book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007) includes the quote, “Religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.”
Though he attacks God directly at times, Hitchens’ primarily accuses all religions of being cults of fear purposed toward controlling their subjects in the name of “God” while the real power is possessed by the cult elite. In fact, this has been historically true at times, but whitewashing all religions and faiths (and therein their adherents) as “corrupt frauds” is juvenile and betrays his vast disassociation with legitimate rationale. Further, Hitchens’ judgment concerning religions being “invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry” is indeed true for many unsavory creeds; however, Christianity invests in deep knowledge and wisdom, welcomes scrutiny, and exhaustively proves that unbiased scientific pursuits in all fields lead to the self-evident conclusion of an infinitely intelligent Creator Who invests in us. The brilliant success and explosion of Christian apologetics in the past decade has dealt a withering blow to secularism and naturalism, and as empirical science advances, so too does the evidence for God.
Sam Harris, directly addressing Christians, wrote in Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), “Nonbelievers like myself stand beside you, dumbstruck by the Muslim hordes who chant death to whole nations of the living. But we stand dumbstruck by you as well – by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God.”
Such banality smacks of the childish mantra, “You are different so you are dumb.” I could offer the same in rebuttal with only slight modification: ‘Believers like myself stand dumbstruck by you– by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you endorse in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to ultimate hopelessness.’
Harris also said, “At some point, there is going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God.” His previous book, The End of Faith (2004), reveals that he expects Christianity to disintegrate at long last due to… peer pressure. I have no further comment for Harris’ puerile drivel.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion (2006), expressed his sentiments in the November 2006 issue of Wired, stating, “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?”
As with Harris, Dawkins’ comment could easily be thrown back from the Christian perspective, accomplishing nothing more than a sophomoric exchange of differences. Yet he also said, “Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists.” Again, a Christian could reword this, and then cite intelligent Christians such as Louis Pasteur, Michael Faraday, Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, James Ussher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leonardo Da Vinci, et al… continuing to present-day. Dawkins desperately wants his opinion to be fact, and thus prematurely and arrogantly assumes such, only to have his theories and convictions shaken when challenged by Ben Stein in the 2008 film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
Concerning theology, Dawkins has written, “The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject. Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content.” Such retorts serve to discredit any claims to serious research or criticism. One wonders just how much Christian theology Richard Dawkins has been exposed to, even by choice. Through interviews and through his writings, it is overtly clear that Dawkins’ comprehension of the Bible is scant at best. And holding the works of Charles Darwin over and above Scripture is laughable when a legitimate understanding of both is effected.
What is certainly vacuous and devoid of coherence or content is Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (1986). The title itself should induce a chuckle in most. In it he references William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) which postulated that finding a watch would lead one to the conclusion of a watchmaker, just as the complexity of life leads one to the conclusion of a Creator. Dawkins dismisses this logic and insists, “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way…” Deployed in a very special way?! He gives no satisfactory explanation, all is blind luck. This is seriously irresponsible science fueled by dementia alluded to in Psalm 14:1.
Daniel Dennett, a deeper thinking atheist and perhaps less callow, published Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006) purposing to break the spell of the supposed conviction that the details of any religion are barred from scientific inquiry and/or examination. He suggests that religion is “natural” and that scientific self-analysis of one’s deepest beliefs would assist in their discernment between what is good and what is harmful. Though a bit ambiguous in his reasoning, Dennett’s point seems generally helpful but ignores the most important aspects of the Christian faith, that being the supernatural and spiritual aspects. This disregard renders his thesis unworthy of meaningful consideration.
In an interview printed in Wired (same as referenced above) with respect to his book, Dennett was said to give “no quarter to believers who resist subjecting their faith to scientific evaluation. In fact, he argues that neutral, scientifically informed education about every religion in the world should be mandatory in school. After all, he argues, ‘if you have to hoodwink – or blindfold – your children to ensure that they confirm their faith when they are adults, your faith ought to go extinct.'”
I actually agree with this, for if there is true substance, i.e. reality, to one’s faith then it should strengthen over a lifetime as it becomes one’s life philosophy and ethic. I also agree that Christians should possess a very keen understanding of all other religions and cults, so as to better grasp the import of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and thus be more proactive toward the call.
Dennett was also said to take “very seriously the risk of overreliance on thought. He doesn’t want people to lose confidence in what he calls their ‘default settings,’ by which he means the conviction that their ethical intuitions are trustworthy. These default settings give us a feeling of security, a belief that our own sacrifices will be reciprocated. ‘If you shatter this confidence,’ he says, ‘then you get into a deep hole. Without trust, everything goes wrong.'”
These assessments are not ill-thought in the least, even hinting at Matthew 19:19. The only inquiry I have for Mr. Dennett is, Who programmed the default settings and ethical intuitions, and from whence are our convictions borne?
Atheism simply advocates choosing despair over hope. A foolish notion indeed when said so plainly. Some contend that God cannot exist because He is so complex. This reasoning parallels that of a child standing in the center of a crowded room with eyes closed, believing himself to be invisible because he cannot see the crowd.
Indeed, there is a Truth unseen by those who refuse to see, and such are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth… but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all… they have together become corrupt, and they are in great fear… (2 Tim. 2:7, 9; Psalm 14:3, 5)