Archives For atheism


jordantmoody —  August 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

Light/Dark analogy is useful

Frank's Cottage

After publishing my last essay, Twittering on the Divine, on another website, a reader named John responded with a pointed assertion. I responded and off we went, on a fascinating and, I believe, important debate on the nature of evil.

What do you think of the points each of us raised? Post your own thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

True, it doesn’t make sense to blame God when someone uses their freewill to commit murders. But then it would be incorrect to thank God when governments and aid groups use their freewill to help starving people. So then God isn’t helping at all.

John, anyone who believes God is not good and doesn’t care about us will find your mindset quite valid. I prefer not to have such a hopeless perspective and my viewpoint is backed up by the fact that God gave every single…

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If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good creator? — Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain

New Atheism is Dead

jordantmoody —  March 13, 2013 — 1 Comment
This post was written by a catholic and though I may not agree with everything he writes or believes, I think he offers an interesting and necessary perspective on New Atheism.
  • MARCH 4, 2013
  • Ed West

Amid all the warm words expressed by public figures after Pope Benedict announced his retirement one comment rather stood out. “I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex,” wrote Richard Dawkins on Twitter.

Even with the generally low standards of decorum on the site, the 71-year-old biologist’s comment caused groans. For while he still has his fans and admirers, Prof Dawkins has been preaching to the choir for some time, and the choir shrinks as embarrassed followers slink away from the scene. New Atheism has finally had its day.

As atheist writer Douglas Murray recently noted, after sitting alongside Dawkins in a debate: “The more I listened to Dawkins and his colleagues, the more the nature of what has gone wrong with their argument seemed clear. Religion was portrayed as a force of unremitting awfulness, a poisoned root from which no good fruit could grow. It seems to me the work not of a thinker but of any balanced observer to notice that this is not the case. A new … dogma has emerged. And the argument has stalled.”

Dawkins’s 2006 bestseller The God Delusion was New Atheism’s bible, and the professor became known as one of the “Four Horsemen”, alongside Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. Dawkins’s website became an immensely popular place for atheists, often living in religious parts of America, to express their anger and frustration. Dawkins has also taken enthusiastically to Twitter, which (among many downsides) can become a hateful echo chamber. Even to the many fans of books such as The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker he has became a dogmatic ranter. Meanwhile, Harris has been ostracised for speaking up in favour of racial profiling and gun ownership.

Despite Dawkins’s continual attacks on religion, the basic premise behind New Atheism has turned out to be weak. Dawkins’s grand idea, set out in a 1993 essay, “Viruses of the Mind”, is that religion is essentially a parasite that spread in human populations that had no other way of handling the daily toll of misery and grief that was our lot until recently.

Dennett, a philosopher of science, saw religion is similar terms, and knowledge as the inoculation. Hitchens, meanwhile, conflated religious and ethnic conflict which are often poisonously interlinked but have more to do with tribalism than faith. He downplayed or denied the Christian nature of progressive beliefs, even the
faith of Martin Luther King. In reality, anti-racists, like all modern liberals, are standing on the shoulders of saints.

The New Atheism rage exploded in a generation two degrees separated from religion who, unlike their semi-Christian baby boomer parents, were not interested in tolerating what they saw as religiously bigoted attitudes to sex. New Atheism was as much of a social phenomenon, an internet-led social network, as a philosophy:
an expression of solidarity for young, educated westerners. Like most such movements it was heavily white, and embarrassed about it. And while it was partly a reaction to the politicisation of Evangelical Christianity in America, fear of Islam also played a part. “Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings”, read one banner at the “Protest the Pope” rally during the papal visit to Britain. But like with all these denunciation of “religion”, it was one faith in particular that was feared. Dawkins once called Catholicism “the second most evil religion in the world”, and made no secret of what he believed to be number one.

New Atheism was also a response to the cultural relativism that came with multiculturalism, the idea that we must “respect” all cultures, and Europe’s failure to address practices such as forced marriages, honour killings and female genital mutilation.

This view was shared by many Christians, who after Muslims themselves are the biggest victims of Islamist atrocities across the Middle East. And although Christians continue to suffer there, “the War on Terror” has quietened down. Perhaps also the ire of internet debate in the Noughties has also burned out in Britain, while America, with its increasingly hysterical culture wars, is a cautionary tale.

Despite the millennial hopes of some atheists, religion is not going away. Angus Ritchie argued in the Church Times earlier this year that New Atheism has declined because “the profile of faith in public life has grown, not diminished”, citing One Nation Labour and the “practical and intellectual renewal” of religion. But it could also be a reflection of religion’s declining importance in British life. The culture war in Europe has developed not necessarilyto the Church’s advantage. One Nation Labour, while couched in the language of Christianity, is if anything post-Christian, keeping the warm, fluffy language of faith without any of the challenging aspects. Likewise, Christian campaigners on tax avoidance, debt cancellation and the living wage argue in secular language, playing down their faith.

Rather, New Atheism is in decline because more atheists see the social benefits of religion. Evolutionary psychologist Jonathan Haidt argued in The Righteous Mindthat human groups practising moralistic religions would have had huge advantages over those that didn’t. For Haidt, religion binds us to the group and blinds us to the point of view of outsiders, which explains both its unfortunate sectarianism and also its incredible strength.

Even to non-believers, the argument that religion is a damaging parasite seems implausible. In their everyday lives people see that atheism does not explain the fundamental questions and a godless world doesn’t make us happier or even more questioning. The popularity of the Sunday Assembly, an “atheist church” in Islington, or Alain de Botton’s “10 commandments for atheists”, reflect the growing belief in secular Britain that religion is not just a beneficial thing but perhaps an essential one. Perhaps that is why New Atheism is as dead as Nietzsche.

Ed West is the author of The Diversity Illusionpublished by Gibson Square

The most offensive verse in the Bible

by Dan Phillips

From: Pyromaniac’s website

In the Sunday School class at CBC we’re doing a series called Marriage, the Bible and You. In the second lesson of the series, I brought up the subject of secular talk shows and how they like to try to beat up on Christians of any size, shape, and significance about whatever topic they think is most embarrassing and controversial. Of course, at the moment it’s “gay” “marriage,” or the topic of homosexuality at all.

In the course of the lesson, I remarked that I think — from the comfortable quiet safety of my study — that I’d take a different approach.

When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world’s consternation), I think I’d decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I’d say something like,

“You know, TaPierRosEllRy, when you ask me about X, you’re obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it’s far from the most offensive thing I believe. You’re just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you to the most offensive thing I believe.

“The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.

“That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

“Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

“Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator’s design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

“So yeah, insofar as I’m consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I’m wrong.

“To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

“But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse — beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God’s world-tilting Gospel, and that’s what we really need to talk about.”

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?

Someone has to say it

jordantmoody —  February 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

What Someone Needs to Say

Albert Mohler has a terrific piece in Christianity Today about the latest tantrum over Tim Tebow. In case you missed it, Tebow backed out of a speaking gig at a prominent Baptist church whose pastor is known for provocative statements and for teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful. We don’t know all the reasons Tebow canceled the engagement, but we do know the pressure to do so was intense. The secular press can be as fundamentalist as any hard core Baptist when it comes to its orthodoxies.

And at present, one of the worst heresies is to be in the same zip code with someone who takes a firm stance on homosexuality. From the Giglio Imbroglio to the Tebow Tantrum, or even the Chick-Fil-A controversy before that, we see the new way our world works. “If you espouse views we deem intolerant,” the logic goes, “or collaborate with someone who does, we will not tolerate you or anything you stand for.” It’s the Ivan Drago approach to cultural persuasion: I must break you.

So someone needs to refuse to be broken. Maybe some famous Christian athlete or actor needs to do it. Maybe a famous academic. Maybe a well known musician or humanitarian. Maybe you will be called upon this week to give account for your faith. Give it time and most of us will need to say something. What we must not do is allow the world to dictate what is and what is not a socially acceptable view on sexuality. The world may do that anyway, but we can at least play a little defense by refusing to play the game on their terms.

The next time—and there will be a next time—some famous Christian is pilloried in the press for maybe, possibly, at some point now or in the past holding to the traditional view of marriage, I hope he (or she) will come up to the microphone and say something like this:

Thanks for coming out today. I’ll try to make this brief and get right to the point.

Some people are really upset because they think I believe God does not approve of homosexual behavior. Well, I’d like to clarify: that is what I believe. Like everyone I believe some actions are good and some are not. We all have some form of morality. Thankfully, on a lot of topics most everyone agrees. Almost everybody agrees that murder is wrong and stealing is wrong and telling a bold-faced lie is wrong. But on other topics, we don’t all agree. That’s part of life. That’s part of being human. We have different views on raising children, on religion, on sex before marriage, on marriage itself, and on a hundred other issues.

I’m a Christian. That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone. In fact, I’m a Christian because I know how bad I am and that I need a Savior. But as a Christian I believe the Bible. I believe God is smarter than I am. I believe God tells us about himself, tells us how to be saved, and tells us how to live in this book. That’s actually what most Americans have believed about the Bible throughout our history. I understand that some people in this country don’t believe in God or the Bible. I understand that some people interpret the Bible differently. But I think the Bible is pretty clear that sex is a gift to be experienced in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. I’m challenged by this teaching too. I am tempted to sin in a thousand different ways, including ways that involve my sexuality. But if God tells me what’s right and wrong in the Bible, I have to trust him. If Jesus is really Lord, then he gets to the call the shots.

I don’t expect everyone in a free country to agree that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord or that the Bible is the inspired word of God. But in a free country I expect that we can hold to different views without automatically resorting to shame and ridicule. I hope that my fans will understand that we can still root for the same team or watch the same movies even if we believe in some different things. I also hope my critics will try to understand why billions of people all around the world believe what I do about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, faith, and marriage.

So the short answer to your question is: Yes I do still believe God designed sex for marriage between a man and a woman. And yes, I’m still accepting the invitation to speak. I don’t fault you for you doing your job. And I don’t deny your right to disagree with me in the strongest terms. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to let you dictate the terms of this conversation. I’m not going to be intimidated by bad press. And I’m not going to live my whole life trying to prove that I’m something I’m not. It ain’t gonna happen.

I’m a Bible-believing Christian. There, I said it. I’m out of the closet.  I’m not bitter. I’m not on a crusade. I just think it’s time to stand up and say enough is enough. I don’t like making people angry. But I can’t live my life to make you happy.

I don’t think I have anything else to say about the subject. If you want to know what I believe and what Christians are like, I’d be happy to take you with me to church anytime. I hope you all have a great day, because that’s what I plan on having now that this is over.

I don’t know exactly what Louie Giglio or Tim Tebow should have said or done. I’m not privy to all the information or behind-the-scenes conversation. This post isn’t about the past. It’s about what is coming in our future. At some point (and many points actually), Christians need to simply take it on the chin, not back down, affirm the truth, put in a good word for Jesus, and keep on smiling.

  Blog Post from The Gospel Coalition Blog