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The Four Horseman?
There has been a recent shift in the attitudes of some leading authors of books promoting atheism. Names like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and others, have shifted to a more 'militant' style of atheism designed to confuse spiritual seekers and shake the faith of Christians everywhere. These authors, referred to by some as the "four horsemen of atheism," are promoting what is called 'the new atheism' which advocates that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises." (Hooper, Simon. "The Rise of the New Atheists". CNN. Retrieved 2010-03-16.). It's rather ironic in that, most of the atheists that I deal with are as far from rational as the east is from the west.
In any case, these authors present a feeble, at best, case for skepticism, by using falsehoods and misinterpretations of scripture. This Hub will, using logic and relevant literature, reveal the embarrassing impotency of the arguments these authors present. We will take the claims of atheism to their logical outcomes and let you, the reader, decide for yourself what the real truth is.
In so doing, this Hub will thereby build a conclusive case for the existence of God - for this is where Truth resides. There are no answers in atheism.
"To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, "I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge." ~ Ravi Zacharias, Atheist turned evangelical Christian apologist.
Atheists are Reasonable?
If you have ever had an encounter with a proponent of this 'new atheism,' you would know what I mean when I say that they display an undisguised hatred for anything religious, usually embellished with somewhat vulgar language and representations made to influence the masses that Christians, specifically, are fools or unstudied simpletons. So much for the tolerant atheist. Dogmatic bigot are the words that more ring true.
Atheists are determined rescue you from believing and living a lie. So much so, that they will insist that their "truth" is more important than the pain and suffering of a family torn apart. Meaning, if you turn away from your faith it is worth the heartache and pain you would cause to family and loved ones. So, on the one hand, it is ok to cause that kind of pain and suffering for their own agenda, yet they will reject God, because of this very thing. The alleged pain and suffering that "God allows" is typically cited by atheists as a reason to reject Him. Isn't that interesting? Truth be told, Sam Harris, in an interview with Bethany Saltman, has said that if he "had a magic wand with which to eradicate either religion or rape, he would choose to eradicate religion." (The Sun Magazine interview, "The Temple of Reason", Issue 369, September 2006. Find it here: http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/369/the_temple_of_reason?page=2). Enough said?
"The use or abuse of Christianity in contradiction to the very message of the gospel reveals not the gospel for what it is, but the heart of man. That is why atheism is so bankrupt as a view of life, for it miserably fails to deal with the human condition as it really is." ~ Ravi Zacharias
In the past, an atheists would tell you that they are the most passive group of people in the world. They only wanted the "religious' Christians to quit "forcing their ways down the atheist's throat." They were "tolerant" of all other religions, in that regard. That was until the four horsemen rode into town.
Let me back-step for a moment. In his book, "Letter to a Christian Nation" Sam Harris asks, "When was the last atheist riot?" (Letter, p. 39). One must wonder if Harris realizes that atheists were present during the violent trade union strikes in Europe and at the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, as well as other places. Perhaps Harris is not aware of the extermination machine that was put into operation by Stalin after he rejected God and became an atheist.
In any event, readers, please consider the following. Did we see any rioting...
- after the release of the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ?"
- after the unveiling of Andres Serrano's photograph of of a crucifix immersed in urine?
- after the premier of "The DiVinci Code?"
- after the farce of 2007, when a documentary was aired claiming that the bones of Jesus were found in a Jerusalem tomb in 1980?
On the other hand, what if a movie was released, which exposed homosexual practices using medical examinations? Or, heaven forbid, what if the teaching of atheism was banned from university campuses? Can you imagine the riots that would take place?
Nonetheless, the truth is that atheists do not need to riot. Instead, they are gradually taking away our right to even speak about religion within the academies. Their agenda is to silence believers, once and for all. Take for example this quote from Richard Dawkins, in which he stealthily suggests (and insults) that any potential student with a creationist world view should be refused entry into Oxford!
"However, I would hope that the admissions procedures of a great university, especially given that entrance is so competitive, would be sufficiently well-tailored to exclude people who are stupid or ignorant. And that would automatically exclude young earth creationists."
And this man criticizes religion for being intolerant! Dawkins has been allowed to teach at Oxford due to the Christian ethic of tolerance. Yet, now that he is on the faculty he wishes to not only eject Christian teachers, but also students who do not accept his atheistic views.
Friends, it is no secret how careful Christian teachers or professors must be about expressing their faith in the classroom. Now, the attack by Dawkins and others is moving down to the student level as well. Underneath the the alleged 'political correctness' is an agenda to suppress all thought but their own.
Michael Ruse on Dawkins
From the Mouths of Atheists
Michael Ruse: "The God Delusion" makes me embarrassed to be an atheist"
(Michael Ruse is an atheist and professor of philosophy at Florida State University)
Scott Atran: "I find it fascinating that among the brilliant scientists and philosophers at the conference, there was no convincing evidence presented that they know how to deal with the basic irrationality of human life other than to insist against all reason and evidence that things ought to be rational and evidence based" (in response to Sam Harris's presentation at the Salk Institute).
"I object to their manner of combating such beliefs, which is often scientifically baseless, psychologically uninformed, politically naïve, and counterproductive for goals we share." (http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#atran2).
(Scott Atran is an atheist, anthropologist and professor of evolutionary psychology)
O. Hobart Mowrer: "By denying the reality of sin, we have, in effect, lost our way as human beings and now find ourselves groping in the dark for a definition of the meaning of life.
(O. Hobart Mowrer, was an atheist, an American born psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Illinois from 1948 to 1975. He served as President of the American Psychological Association).
"When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche (“Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, 516.)
It is refreshing to know that not all atheist are as closed-minded as the other 95%. One has to admit that this type of honesty adds credit to their findings, when others such as Dawkins and Harris are so obvious in their prejudices - the kind that literally attacks people. The 'four horsemen of atheism' use cruel and bitter criticism in an attempt to eradicate a religion which includes peaceable men and women (Nobel men of honor, astute philosophers and scientists and others) who have worked hard to make this a better world.
This attitude further reveals that in an atheistic world, brotherly love and compassion are foreign concepts.
The Problems With Atheism
Atheism, as any other worldview, must answer four questions. These questions relate to where we came from, why we are here, why something is right or wrong and where we are going.
Where We Came From: The typical argument against atheism, is that something can not come from nothing. However, atheists now try to get around this by asserting that there never was 'nothing' - that something was always there. Notwithstanding, the silence in regards to why there is something instead of nothing, is deafening! That is to say, according to the laws of science by which atheists want to measure all things, matter cannot simply "appear" on its own. Bertrand Russell, an atheistic philosopher, said that the universe is "just there." (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell Section 1940's, 11th quote). This obviously is not a scientific explanation because science tells us that nothing that exists, can explain its own existence! Consider - what does this say about the so-called "empirical evidence."
Atheist Stephen J. Gould: "We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a "higher" answer - but non exists.... We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves - from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way." (Life, December 1988 - http://philosopedia.org/index.php/Stephen_J._Gould)
Not only does Gould assert that astral collisions made it possible for life on Earth by destroying already existing life forms, he is also quite silent on where these comets (and planets for that matter) came from. Again, his own paradigm is silent on the question of origins.
Friends, nothing in science supports the claim that order evolved. Something had to exist as an explanation in itself. Nothing can not produce something - and it never has.
Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, has postulated that life began , "Probably because a spaceship from another planet brought spores to seed the earth." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia). Carl Sagan had proposed that someday an alien being would be able to explain human existence here on earth. However, this does not answer the question of origins. We would still have to ask where did the aliens come from - God or evolution.
"I thank the Lord that, even though things were so wrong in my life here, I finally was brought to the realization of what all those struggles were about. There are some wonderful things from your painful past, things with a beauty you may not have realized at the time." ~ Ravi Zacharias
Why We Are Here: Setting aside the 'extraterrestrial' theories, we find ourselves back to the 'random beginnings' idea. However, if life is random, then that means that there is no purpose, and therefore no meaning, to our existence. This consequence is a fatal weakness of atheistic belief, one that ultimately leads to its downfall. You see, friends, we humans, as individuals and collectively as cultures, long for meaning. But if life is random, then we have evolved to the top of the chain, only to find nothing there. This is relevant because Sam Harris goes on and on about how we live such delicate lives that one tragedy should shatter our serenity. He, along with a vast majority of atheists, believe that the experience of pain in this world is proof of the meaninglessness of life.
But consider the words of G.K. Chesterton, that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain, but from being weary of pleasure (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/305041-meaninglessness-does-not-come-from-being-weary-of-pain-meaninglessness).
Science has the law of cause and effect. The loop of seeking the causes of many effects will ultimately lead us to an eternal cause that began it all. If the big bang theory is true, science cannot answer what or who caused it. Science hangs on the assumption of random chance which in any case requires more faith to believe in and thus is logically absurd.The explanation of the Living God is in all perspective logical and rational.
Friends, 'pleasure,' not pain, is what annihilates meaning. And this is the complication of Sam Harris's 'lonely planet' worldview. He believes that since we are alone in the universe, our joys and sorrows have no consequence or after effects on anyone else. Therefore, it's all about 'me.' Yet, most of us can easily recognize that it is not pain that produces emptiness in our lives - the real problem is that even pleasure ultimately leaves us devoid and discontented. When pleasure is available continually, at any given time that we desire, we are left feeling astoundingly empty and deceived.
There are many examples of this, I will site only two. One can read the biography of Oscar Wilde, the epitome of hedonism, and be surprised over and over by the passages of despair that came from a man so extensively committed to the attainment of pleasure. Another good example is none other than Hugh Hefner. His authorized documentary, "Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time" clearly demonstrates the spiritual emptiness in a life of hedonism. This is the tragedy of man. He is not adequate, and there is no one there to answer. Truth be told, some of the loneliest people that I have read about are those who have had everything and experienced very little pain.
I am sure that many readers will agree, the biggest disappointment is when you experience that which you thought would bring you pleasure, and it lets you down. That is because pleasure without limits produces a life without meaning and that, my friends, is true pain. At that point, nothing matters and life becomes complete emptiness, with no purpose.
Does this mean that God did not intend for us to have pleasure? Of course not. God wants us to find much pleasure (and meaning) in this world. The difference is that He knows what kind of pleasure is true pleasure. Apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it this way...
- anything that refreshes you without distracting from, diminishing or destroying your final goal is a legitimate pleasure.
- any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred rite of another is an illicit pleasure
- any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance will distort reality or destroy appetite.
The trick here is to know what our final goal 'is.'
"you must enunciate what your final goal is. You cannot understand what a distraction is until you know what your goal is."
Most of our sins against one another, ourselves and God are directly related to our connection with one another, ourselves and God, as well as a sense of direction in our own life. With no direction we end up becoming aimless hoarders of pleasure who would turn to violence if those pleasures are threatened by anyone. It is very difficult to serve one another and to do acts of love toward our enemies if our pursuit in life is personal pleasure for the sake of pleasure itself.
Atheism's Achilles' Heel
"When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God has truth—it stands or falls with faith in God." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche (“Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 515–6)
What is Right or Wrong? We have seen how atheism leads to the death of meaning - now we'll take a look at how it also leads to the death of moral reasoning. First, however, let us understand the argument as shown by Sam Harris in his book "Letter to a Christian Nation." His argument is that if God does actually exist and has an interest in humanity, then it should be easy to see what He is doing. Harris then begins his argument by blaming the Holocaust on medieval Christianity, proposing that the anti-Semitism brought on by the Christians led to the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis (Letter, p. 41-42). However, one should not make such bold statements and speak them as fact, unless one has done even the slightest bit of research. For instance, from this claim, I have to wonder if Harris has read anything about Hitler's own spiritual walk. Or the fact that Hitler dabbled in the occult. One has to question if Harris is even aware that Hitler personally presented the writings of Nietzsche to Stalin and Mussolini. And, if the Holocaust was based solely on anti-Semitism, how do we account for the non-Jews that were slaughtered by Hitler? It does not appear that Harris read Adolf Eichmann's last words which refused repentance and denied a belief in God. Nor does he consider Hitler's words over one of the gas chambers in Auschwitz, "I want to raise a generation of young people devoid of a conscience, imperious, relentless and cruel."
Either way, here's the punchline. The point Hitler was making was that the annihilation of the weak is a good thing for the survival of the strong, and that "nature intended it that way." It is interesting indeed that this is what is taught by atheistic evolution's principle of natural selection - "the survival of the fittest." In any event, none of these evidences point to Christianity being the cause of the Holocaust.
By the way, it should be noted that for Harris to say that Hitler was wrong for his part in the Holocaust, he must borrow from an objective moral framework to support this claim. That is to say, if Harris's allegation that there is no moral order in the world is true, why then couldn't Hitler make his own order? Meaning, what 'makes' it wrong - what is the basis on which Harris is calling Hitler immoral? That is, 'if' he is indeed calling Hitler immoral.
Nonetheless, laying down the foundation that Christianity is responsible for the Holocaust, Harris then goes on to cite, quite dramatically, a few examples designed to feed on the readers emotional capacity. These examples include the rape, torture and murder of "a little girl," to which he adds the fact that this is happening everyday. Sam goes on to make us aware of his disappointment that statistics advise that the parents of the girl are likely to believe that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God is watching over them and the little girl, even as this tragedy is taking place. Harris is puzzled that "so many otherwise rational men and women" deny this horror and accept that God is acting according to the pinnacle of moral wisdom (Letter, p. 48).
Sam Harris asks whether it is acceptable or even good that the survivors of said atrocities should believe in this God (Letter, p. 50-51). He answers his own question with a dictatorial and opinionated 'no.' This is what Harris describes as 'atheism.' To him, atheism is not so much a philosophy or worldview, as it is a simple refusal to deny what is obvious - that there is no God (because this is obvious to Harris). He comes to the conclusion that the very word "atheism" should not exist (Letter, p.51).
In continuing to appeal to the reader's emotions, Harris goes on to cite the massive destruction of New Orleans caused by a hurricane in 2005, and asks, What was God doing during hurricane Katrina? Didn't He hear the prayers of those who "fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there?" He then points out that these people, "died talking to an imaginary friend" (Letter, p.52). Harris states with determination and absoluteness that is is contemptible for survivors of any tragedy to believe that a loving god let them live while allowing others to die, including "infants in their cribs'" no less (Letter, p. 54). It is his assertion that only after you have stopped using "religious fantasies" to explain the suffering in the world, that you will truly understand just how delicate life is and how distressing it is that suffering takes place at all, as the only reason for suffering is to interfere with one's pursuit of happiness (Letter, p. 54).
That being said, it is difficult to decide where to begin to respond to this kind of thinking. There is just so much emptiness to this type of theoretical mindset. As noted previously, this is the reiterated 'evidential' argument that evil is proof that there is no God. What this implies, then, is that there is no moral order at work. However, if there is no God, who then has the right to say whether there is a moral order at work here? Sam Harris? Adolph Hitler?
Isn't it interesting, or in the least, peculiar, that when it is Stalin or Pol Pot who does the killing, it is because they are demented or impetuous ideologues? Their atheism has nothing to do with it. But when a Holocaust is produced by an ideologue, it is the product of four hundred years of Christian bigotry towards the Jews.
Does Sam Harris not realize that his own book just might sow the seeds for the slaughter of Christians? One must question what might motivate a person to write against any group of people. Would it be possible that, two-hundred years from now, someone could say that the mass extermination of Christians can be traced back to the anti-Christian writings of Sam Harris?
In any event, if the murder of innocent people is wrong, it's wrong because every life has worth, not because science tells us it's wrong. That is a premise that atheism cannot agree with. Sam Harris can not argue for moral preferences other than by subjective means - his own personal preferences. The irony is that you cannot make absolute statements based on your personal views on a subject. That fact is the reason that this class of writers, that assume that nature is all we have, admit that moral reasoning is not conceivable apart from God. Thus, their philosophical word games are just and attempt to get away from the unreasonableness to which they are driven.
"The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people, it is just mere opinion enforced by might. The Christian appeals to a standard outside himself/herself in which truth and qualitative values can be made sense of." Peter Huff
The problem with Sam Harris's assessment of God, is that the entire argument is based on an objective moral framework - but where does it come from? His examination hangs on an argument that basically says, "I can see no morals in the world, but what I do see is morally deplorable." This is what is referred to as a mutually exclusive assumption. In other words, his moral framework is one he built himself!
As is with most atheists, Harris believes that morality should be self evident to everyone, regardless of there being a God or not. He does not appear to consider that, in some cultures they love their neighbors, and in other cultures they eat them. There are many examples along the same lines, but essentially they prove that morality is not self-evident to everyone. Therefore, Harris can not explain his inborn sense of right and wrong because there is no reasonable explanation for how that discernment toward morality could develop from mere matter and chemistry. A popular argument goes something like this...
- When you say that there is such a thing as evil, you must assume that there is such a thing as good.
- When you say that there is such a thing as good, you must assume there is a moral law to distinguish between good and evil. There must be some standard by which to determine what is good and what is evil.
- When you assume a moral law, you must conclude that there is a moral law-giver as the source of the moral law.
Yet, the idea of a moral lawgiver is precisely what atheists reject!
Although most atheist will argue that a moral law-giver is not necessary in order to recognize good and evil, the truth is that a moral affirmation cannot remain abstract. The person who moralizes assumes congenital worth in himself/herself and transfers congenital worth to the life of another, and therefore must think of that life as worthy of protection (as in Sam Harris's examples of rape, torture and natural disasters). In other words, transcending value must come from a person of transcending worth. However, this is impossible in a world where only matter exists. Apologist Ravi Zacharias puts this in philosophical terms this way...
- Objective moral values exists only if God exists.
- Objective moral values do exist (a point Harris concedes in his Letter).
- Therefore God exists.
J.L. Mackie, an extremely boisterous atheist, who also debated the existence of God based on the reality of evil, admitted this logical connection when he said, "We might well argue... that objective, intrinsically prescriptive features, supervenient upon natural ones, constitute so odd a cluster of qualities and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events, without an all-powerful God to create them" (quoted by J.P. Moreland, “Reflections on Meaning in Life Without God.” The Trinity Journal, 9 NS, 1984, p. 14).
Therefore, we must conclude that nothing can be intrinsically prescriptively good unless an all-powerful God created the universe that way. Yet, again, this is the same God that Harris denies exists because there is evil in the world.
"Atheism leads on down a path of narcissism, hedonism and despondency - Christianity leads to a series of positive changes in character, values, morality, priorities and relationships." It makes one a better husband/wife, father/mother, citizen and person. ~ Lee Strobel, Atheist turned Christian author, journalist, apologist and pastor.