New A-theists = Old A-Theism

Posted: April 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

There are new players in the same old game of atheism. Some new plays, some new sayings and cheers, but nothing mind blowing and definitely nothing spoken or written, published or publicly viewed which is not at its core from an old naturalistic worldview. A naturalistic worldview which is definitely not built on any grounds of authority. However, the “a” in “Atheism” whether capitalized or not may just as well spell “Attack on Christendom.” But, with this so called “New Atheism,” the attacks go beyond Christendom and into having intolerance toward all faiths: Islam, Judaism, others, but there remains, nonetheless, a strong vitriolic leaning toward Christianity.

Why is any of this important? Why should it be the least bit concerning to you? In a biblical nutshell, we are commanded by Peter to

in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Hence, as Christians we need to have a response ready to give to things such as this new wave of atheism. Although the majority may never read a book by one of these authors, many still will and as more delve into a naturalistic worldview, the tighter the noose will get around the neck of Christianity and in turn, religious freedom.

Furthermore, at work in the office, at the park with the children, a friend who is struggling with their walk in Christ, or any ol’ joe who is lacking direction and picks up one of these writings off the coffee table – these folks are those we need to have a response for. Whether they accept or reject Christ, do you not want to be informed with skewed views they may have already been experienced to before the gospel? We need to be equipped to explain why Sam Harris and others are spiral downward in their thinking and how it reflects a purely autonomous life which is ultimately contrary to all of Christ’ claims. How can we give a response if we are not even informed?

To get a quick taste of what this New Atheism brings to the table, pick up Sam Harris’ book “Letter to a Christian Nation” and breeze through his 91 page monograph onslaught against Christ and anything else having do with with belief in a deity. Harris, who was raised in a secular home where the Bible nor God was discussed has written another piece, one much longer, called “The End of Faith.” In this book he highlights what he believes is man’s lack of reason and radicalism in religious belief which in turn, historically led to violence. Hence, it is a call to the end of faith.

In “Letter to a Christian Nation” he takes shot after shot on Christianity, as well as Islam and other religions, but no doubt Christianity takes the brunt of it. Regarding Islam, though, he does say of all the beliefs out there that it is uniquely dangerous to civilization.

To take a different, less venomous approach than Harris, I will extend appreciation toward him saying I’m thankful for his display of courage and willingness to write. However, Mr. Harris, your approach is anything but new, and it just makes the pile of attempted attacks on Christendom climb higher.

Harris dropped out of Stanford University only to to later return and finish his B.A. degree in philosophy. He received his degree on anything but the fast track. Taking eleven years to finish a four year degree, Harris spent much of this time experimenting with MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) inducing euphoria and intimacy which he claims helped him receive insights into psychology and spirituality. FYI, this is the same drug given to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as though suffering from depression. The only things Harris suffered from was godlessness. He finished at Standford and then invested in a PhD. program in neuroscience at the University of California.

One of the hallmarks of this New Atheism which Harris clearly makes apparent in his writings is the need to freely question the idea of religious faith and ideas, saying this is the root of society’s troubles. At this, they [Harris and others: e.g. Dawkins] claim that atheism is not so much a worldview as it is the destruction of bad ideas. Simply put, this is a deafening call for people to believe in secular humanism, a life, worldview, and thought process devoid of God, faith, and community. If you want more information, surely you can search any atheistic website, but one particularly keen is http://www.newatheism.org. Here you will find a nice little mantra, more like their statement of faith:
“Intolerance of ignorance, myth and superstition; disregard for the tolerance of religion. Indoctrination of logic, reason and the advancement of a naturalistic worldview.”

This is not merely an attack on faith, but directly at history, not taking note of any biblical history. It is a direct attack upon the cross, upon the Christ – God will not be mocked.

A few things regarding “Letter to a Christian Nation.” The book was poorly footnoted and having many sentences and propositional facts without any referencing. It seemed as though Mr. Harris was simply making up whatever he wanted to regarding religion. Also, there did not seem to be anything too “new.” It all seemed to stem from a traditional naturalistic worldview which atheists for years have been attempting to use to dissipate religion. Lastly, any Christian and even any Muslim who reads this book would be appalled at all the scripture Harris uses and how they are wildly out of context in order to prove his points. Or should I say, attempt to prove his points.

Furthermore, there is one thing different about these new atheists which is clearly seen in Harris’ book. They are much more outspoken and clear it what they are trying to do. They have taken an approach which is less philosophical in their choice of language and have decided to speak simple and clear in their statements which are wreaked with anti faith propositions. So, don’t be surprised in reading it if you catch your jaw dropping a time or two. Harris has a third book coming out this year titled “The Moral Landscape: How Science Will Determine Human Values.” This will no doubt be a more captivating read as Harris will evidently attempt to ground morals in science.

Our response? It’s a call to prayer, a call to return to diligently studying God’s word, a call to return to being informed with what worldviews and writers are attacking Christianity; it’s a call to return to sharing our faith and being aware of things such as this new atheism to be an ongoing part of our conversation. We need to be relieved that the Bible has authority, not merely historically, but all the more in its Author.

What will result from these new atheists? Probably we will see an rise in atheists being more outspoken, more verbal in their worldview. Probably also we will see people who are lacking direction just jump aboard the atheism bandwagon. These are those who are in are our midst’s in the market place of life, these are those who need Christ and we are those who can give him to them.

Be encouraged dear believer! I recently was overly encouraged by one of my dearest friends who just finished his time studying at the University of Central Florida. As an outspoken Christian he lived and shared his faith throughout his fraternity. More recently, though, a gathering of his friends began watching a documentary on Stephen Hawkings new book which inquires of extraterrestrial life. This quickly turned in to a more than four hour discussion on faith and how you one can believe. My dear friend stood upright with his shield of faith, not wavering despite being out numbered and was “ready to give a response,” defending his Lord and in turn, helping his lost friends come closer to the Cross. Giving a response is doable.

God will not be mocked and his word and Son will indeed prevail. For the time being, we are caught in this typical culture battle. May we be faithful, doing what we are called to do, giving a ready response, regardless of the outcome.

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