Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006


Albert Mohler reported on Wired magazine’s latest cover article: “The New Atheism.” The author, Gary Wolf, aptly described this new brand of atheism represented by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris:

 

The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it’s evil. . . . Dawkins does not merely disagree with religious myths. He disagrees with tolerating them, with cooperating in their colonization of the brains of innocent tykes.

 

The new brand of atheism is not like the old. Old atheism was relatively passive. At worst the old brand of atheists would argue in the public square that religious belief is wrong, or intellectually inferior to atheism. But now atheists are being evangelistic and militant for atheism and against theism. They are arguing that religion is the cause of the world’s evils, and should be fought against as a social evil. Dawkins goes so far as to propose that the state should prevent parents from being able to teach their religion to their kids!

 

There is a war on religion in the West. This really hit home to me when I was walking through San Francisco with N.T. Wright’s book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, in my hand. I thought to myself, I am more likely to be privately derided by passerbys for carrying this book than I would be if I were carrying Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Sam Harris wrote that “at some point, there’s going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God.” I think he’s right. That mood is already here. One of the main reasons for this shift is because people have become convinced religion is blind faith, unsupportable by reason. That’s why there’s a great need for Christians to become informed about their faith, learning the reasons that support their religious convictions, and then actively engaging non-believers and believers alike in the public sphere to share those reasons with them, persuading them of the intellectual viability of the Christian faith. Doing so will go a long way toward making Christianity a viable option in an increasingly educated culture that demands reasons to believe.

 

One quote appearing in Mohler’s article is from Daniel Dennett. Dennett argues that “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 can agree with that!


P.S. Chad says there is a lot of anti-Christian sentiment at the new “On Faith” website.

Wesley J. Smith drew my attention to a short editorial Richard Dawkins wrote in the 11-19-06 edition of Scotland’s Sunday Herald, titled “Eugenics May Not be Bad”:

 

In the 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous – though of course they would not have used that phrase. Today, I suspect that the idea is too dangerous for comfortable discussion, and my conjecture is that Adolf Hitler is responsible for the change.

Nobody wants to be caught agreeing with that monster, even in a single particular. The spectre of Hitler has led some scientists to stray from “ought” to “is” and deny that breeding for human qualities is even possible. But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability? Objections such as “these are not one-dimensional abilities” apply equally to cows, horses and dogs and never stopped anybody in practice.

I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them. I can think of some answers, and they are good ones, which would probably end up persuading me. But hasn’t the time come when we should stop being frightened even to put the question?

 

These are the sorts of moral options within an atheistic worldview. You can’t tell me atheists have the same moral ethics as other religious believers. There may be some overlap, but there are considerable differences. Theism, particularly Judeo-Christian theism, makes a big difference!