by Bill Nugent
If you’ve looked over the best seller lists recently you may have noticed two new books that champion the cause of atheism. One is by the Englishman, Richard Dawkins and the other, titled Letter to a Christian Nation is by the American, Sam Harris. I didn’t give the title of Dawkins’ book because the title itself is a blasphemous statement. Dawkins, Harris and other atheist authors including Christopher Hitchens form the vanguard of a new atheist militancy. Dawkins has been quoted as saying that Christians have no right to raise their children as Christians. It is a new overt assault on our faith. This new surge of atheistic zeal is really a form of secular fundamentalism. I define a fundamentalist as anyone who is deeply committed to the basic or fundamental doctrines of his or her faith. I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist. The atheistic fundamentalists are deeply committed to the belief that life formed by accidental collisions of atoms and death causes the ending of consciousness. Not surprisingly, they are deeply committed to evolution as an explanation of origins.
This reminds me of a time when Thomas Huxley (1825 – 1895) in England and Robert Green Ingersoll (1833 – 1899) in the United States promoted Darwinian evolution and atheism. Evolution is the origins myth of atheism. The teaching of evolution in the public schools has caused many young people to embrace atheism.
Let me give a thumbnail sketch of the history of philosophy to give you an idea of the context in which the new atheists operate. For the nearly 2,000 year period from <b.socrates< b=””>(470 – 399 BC) to Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) the emphasis in philosophy was onmetaphysics which is defined as the philosophy of ultimate causes and the ultimate reality beyond the physical sense world. Metaphysics was closely tied to theology. Plato, with his doctrine of the “unmoved mover” and the great medieval philosophers all respectfully regarded God as the starting point or baseline of thought. Descartes brought in a major shift away from metaphysics to an emphasis on epistemology. Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge or how we can be certain of what we know. Descartes also brought the rise of modern philosophy in which it is asserted that truth is known or discovered by human intellect and not given by revelation (the Bible). Modern philosophers thought that an ideal system of absolute moral values could be discovered by human reason and this would bring about a perfect world. They rejected the ancient wisdom given by God in the Bible. Modernism was very limited under Descartes but expanded gradually until David Hume (1711 – 1776) and the Enlightenment philosophers brought empiricism to high prominence. Empiricism is the idea that knowledge comes only through the senses. The nineteenth century brought us Darwinand his idea that humans descended from apes. This brought a major shift to anthropology which is the philosophy of what it means to be human. The rejection of God and of God’s morality because of Darwinism brought the rise of communism and fascism as atheist political philosophies. (Though Nazism was technically an occultic system it was heavily influenced by evolution based racial theories.) The mass murders that occurred under Hitler, Stalin and Mao caused a radical pessimism and nihilism under Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The pessimism was the result of the fact that 300 years of modern philosophy did not result in the discovery of a system of moral absolutes that could unite the world in peace. Absolute morals are morals that apply to all people across all cultures.
The two world wars and the mass murders under communism caused such pessimism that it became fashionable among philosophers to reject human reason altogether. This was a rejection of modern philosophy and the introduction ofpostmodern philosophy. Postmodernism seeks to reject and transcend reason. It is a rejection of the idea that absolute truth is given by revelation (the Bible) or discovered by human reason. Postmodernism is the idea that truth and morals are not absolute but are created by each individual human. This is calledrelativism. It is a rejection of all moral systems that are absolute. They claim that no moral rules apply to all people across all cultures. Postmodernism is a radical shift to narcissism as the basis for all human inquiry and enjoyment. Narcissism simply means “self love.” The postmodern concept of the self is a radical concept of self love and self reliance. This new self love is the context in which the new atheists operate. They have gone beyond the post WWII pessimism to a new optimism based on radical individualistic self reliance.
The new atheists are closely tied into the promotion of postmodern relativism. They claim to promote freedom by throwing off the old shackles. As many of you know I debate atheists on an email debate group calledCreation_evolution_debate@Yahoogroups.com. The rudeness and condescending verbal attacks from the atheist evolutionists in the group is appalling! One evolutionist was so insulting I decided not to even open his emails anymore. I left his emails closed and replied to the other debaters. Even the group’s moderator was so disgusted with one debater that he excluded him from the group only to have him come back again and again under 16 different screen names! In spite of it all I continue to debate and I believe I’m getting through to them because they change their arguments over time and give other evidences that they are beginning to see the flaws of a causeless universe.
I certainly don’t make a bigoted claim that all atheists are incorrigibly rude. I say this in spite of the fact that most atheists I’ve dealt with or seen in media seem to be highly abrasive. I guess the ones who “come out” are not a cross section of atheists as a whole. I will say that the atheist worldview gives no real philosophical underpinning for morality. As Dostoevsky wrote: “If there is no God, All things are permissible.” The atheist worldview permits rudeness, foul language and all sorts of antisocial behavior. Any number of individual atheists may or may not choose to do what their worldview permits.
As evolution and its implicit atheism is taught in taxpayer funded schools it has caused the secularization of society. The schools turn out many scruffy, ill-mannered people with no moral compass, guided only by their base, animal appetites. The moral capital built up over generations when people learned the Bible at home and at school and at church is being spent and this valuable Christian moral capital needs to be replenished.