Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hypocrisy in High Places

As I was perusing blogosphere I ran across an interesting post on the TED site by a blogger who identified himself as a "militant atheist." Many aren't familiar with that term, but don't worry, we all will be very soon.

Atheism and it's offspring (strong/weak agnosticism/skepticism/rationalism) were content for centuries to merely be amused by the intellectually-inferior ramblings of people of faith. But something is changing. A new, almost evangelical breed of anti-dogmatism is becoming increasingly dogmatic.

When the doorbell rings, don't look for a Latter Day Saint, or even those who call themselves "Witnesses of Jehovah." Rather, look for the young and eager faces of a new army of proselytizers, from the most unlikely of camps. They now go by a variety of names, sometimes the really arrogant ones will favor Brights, or others Rationalists, some delineate themselves as the New Atheists.

This new movement is calling for the end of all things "religious or superstitious." Modern writers have even mockingly identified the leading spokesmen of the movement as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This increasingly vocal group is trumpeted by Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins (author, The God Delusion), Sam Harris (author, Letter to a Christian Nation), Christopher Hitchens (author, God is Not Great--he, by the way, identifies himself an an anti-theist), and finally, Daniel Dennett, professor at Tufts University (author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon).

Of course, atheism is hardly the new kid on the block. The ancient writer of the Psalms declared over three millennia ago, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" But the ideology has taken on a new boldness and a surprising intolerance, the type usually attributed only to "ignorant people of faith."

Recently Sam Harris has made an international call for the end of all religion, everywhere. He relegates any concept of God as only a primitive superstition, to be cast aside as a hindrance to the true progress of human evolution. Instead of the Biblical declaration that God created man in His image, Harris and his cohorts say that man created God in his own image. Dawkins calls the concept of God a "delusion."

Harris belittles Christians specifically in his indictment, Letter to a Christian Nation. He touts: "The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are." Wow.

Not to be outdone in his criticism of those who acknowledge an intelligence behind the complexities of the universe, Richard Dawkins makes this false conclusion: "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." Astounding. What would the great scientific (and gasp! Christian) minds of the last few centuries make of such pronouncements?

Try to imagine Newton (considered the greatest scientist to have ever lived) listening to such drivel and not responding (though he did not like crowds or a big social fuss). Imagine the famous former atheist-turned born-again Christian and philosopher C.S. Lewis, if he were to encounter these types of intolerant and defamatory proclamations?

Most, if not all, of this new type of evangelical atheism are fundamentalists along certain tenets. Most are Darwinian evolutionists. Science (which really means just knowledge) is the new deity. Their Trinity is Darwin, Freud, and Hubble, or perhaps Russell. They worship at the altar of human potential; in their minds, the thought of a Creator being a tad bit too constricting for the type of freedoms they wish to indulge (as Aldous Huxley admitted). Their ultimate hope is the grave, their passion, self- and universal-awareness, and their newest vocation is to spread this Christ-less gospel to the ends of the earth.

I am a firm believer (gasp) in freedom OF religion. As the scripture says: "Let each one be fully persuaded in his own mind." Religion is really about philosophy, it is about worldview. Everyone is religious in that sense. Atheism is a religion, a worldview that seeks to understand all of life and the universe without an intelligent Creator. I am firmly ensconced in the mindset that people should be free to study and choose their belief system.

I sat on a plane several years back, next to a maritime businessman from the former Soviet Union. We were flying over the Ukraine within a short time after Perestroika (openness) had led to the collapse of Soviet Communism. Our conversation turned to philosophy and worldviews, and discovering that I was a Christian, he sadly lamented that he did not have the mental capability to even think about God. He said that he had been told how to think and what to think for so long, that even the idea of God was difficult to contemplate.

If the new atheists have their way, it would be the abolition of any concept of God. They have even advocated the removal of any faith concepts from education, to rewrite much of Western history to remove the contributions of men of faith, or to deny the faith of the founders altogether. Dawkins has even proposed that it may be tantamount to a crime to allow parents to pass on their faith to their children. He says that "(Sexual molestation of a child) is disgusting. But it may be less harmful in the long run than (Christian) subversion of child minds." Are we at a crossroads? Maybe.

The title of this blog has yet to bear fruit on these pages. Hypocrisy in high places? It is interesting that in the marketplace of ideas or ideologies, it would appear that equal rights and an equal voice should be given to all concepts....except for any that involve an intelligent designer or God, of course. These preachers of godlessness make fun of the concept of absolutes, and then, ironically, claim that there is absolutely no God. Or, in a strange twist, they decry the "god of the old testament" as evil and immoral because people died in various judgments, but then try to assert that there really is no absolute morality, and that evil doesn't really exist. They claim that there is absolutely no evidence for an intelligent Creator. In the name of being open-minded and intellectually honest, they make the most narrow-minded statements imaginable, such as verbalized by Carl Sagan: "The cosmos: all there is, ever was, or ever shall be."

They say that we should be tolerant of all ideas, yet they are completely intolerant of the concept of God or of simple trust in Him. They would mock a Christian who says that Jesus is the only way of salvation, by saying that atheism is the only hope for mankind. Perhaps hypocrisy is not strong enough of a term for this type of duplicity.

If you are reading this, and for whatever reasons, you are skeptical, or an atheist/agnostic, I would encourage you to actually read materials that present the evidence for the Bible and Christianity, instead of re-reading websites that only cater to the masses ready to be confirmed in their unbelief.

I would offer: A Challenge for Atheists and Skeptics as a good starting read (and a short one)

Or read Mere Christianity by former atheist, C.S. Lewis
Or The Case for Christ or The Case for a Creator, by former skeptic and newspaper journalist, Lee Strobel.
Do some reading on the website of Ravi Zacharias.
Read about the dramatic conversion of former skeptic Josh McDowell, especially described in the book, More Than a Carpenter.

Read about the scientific discoveries that have led many scientists to acknowledge God, such as Hoyle, Jastrow, Davies, O'Keefe, Greenstein, Kistiakowsky, Tipler, and others.

The scientific community is coming to the realization of a powerful Creator through branches as diverse as physics, biology, and cosmology. The wonders of DNA, the fossil record of the Cambrian Explosion, and the fine-tuning of multitudes of chemical and physical constants has led to intellectual honesty of many to admit the necessity of God.

How about the rest of us?

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