Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Atheism Remix"

I love short books. When I say "short," I'm not talking about a 20 page book. What I mean is a book that is 100-150 pages long. For the most part, books of this length get right to the point, don't mess around, and don't contain added fluff.

Atheism Remix is just such a book (108 pages). In this book, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, analyzes the new brand of atheism that is creeping more and more into mainstream American life. Mohler's purpose is to both discuss the dangers of the New Atheism, and to call Christians to continue to proclaim the truth of biblical theism.

Mohler suggests that atheism is on the rise in American culture. This is due in no small part to the writings of four men: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. These four men, who Mohler says could be called "The Four Horsemen of the New Atheist Apocalypse," have all written and spoken about the benefits of a naturalistic/materialistic worldview. They see religion as untenable and even dangerous.

Mohler helped me better understand the New Atheism by listing and discussing eight of its characteristics:

1. The New Atheism is marked by an unprecedented new boldness.
2. There is a clear and specific rejection of the Christian God of the Bible.
3. The New Atheists explicitly reject Jesus Christ.
4. The New Atheism is specifically grounded in scientific argument.
5. The New Atheism is new in its refusal to tolerate moderate and liberal forms of belief.
6. The New Atheism attacks toleration.
7. The New Atheists have begun to question the right of parents to inculcate belief in their own children.
8. The New Atheists argue that religion itself must be eliminated in order to preserve human freedom.

I find numbers 3, 7, and 8 particularly frightening.

What are Christians to do in the face of the New Atheism? Mohler writes, "Then, as now, the task is to articulate, communicate, and defend the Christian faith with intellectual integrity and evangelistic urgency. We should not assume that this task will be easy, and we must also refuse to withdraw from public debate and private conversation in light of this challenge."

I highly recommend this book. I appreciate Dr. Mohler's work in opening my eyes to this new strain of an old unbelief.

14 comments:

Henry W. Middleton said...

Interesting. I had not heard of this book. I have read Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" and I am about 80% through Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion." I am amazed by the level of arrogance, condescension, and anger in their style despite the flimsy arguments.

Eric said...

Henry,

It seems that these new atheists couch their hatred for God in terms of science and logic. The reality is that their arguments are very poor. You would probably enjoy Mohler's book quite a bit.

Samuel Skinner said...

1. The New Atheism is marked by an unprecedented new boldness.

Irrelevant.
2. There is a clear and specific rejection of the Christian God of the Bible.

True for all atheism.
3. The New Atheists explicitly reject Jesus Christ.

True for all atheism.
4. The New Atheism is specifically grounded in scientific argument.

True for all rationalists.
5. The New Atheism is new in its refusal to tolerate moderate and liberal forms of belief.

See "antitheism". French Revolution and Russian Revolution for antitheism in action- as well as the Japanese terms for surrender in WW2 and other cases.
6. The New Atheism attacks toleration.

Hate of evil is no vice, tolerance of falsehood no virtue.
7. The New Atheists have begun to question the right of parents to inculcate belief in their own children.

Except children aren't chattel of their parents.
8. The New Atheists argue that religion itself must be eliminated in order to preserve human freedom.

Nope. They don't actually say that. They argue that religion is false and dangerous. It is not the biggest obstcle towards freedom.

Henry and Eric
I have noted a tendancy for Christians to belittle the arguments used by atheists without showing the logical fallacies involved. Here is a list that you can use.
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
If one of them applies, say so. Otherwise your posts are meaningless except as cheerleading.

Anonymous said...

"We should not assume that this task will be easy, and we must also refuse to withdraw from public debate and private conversation in light of this challenge."

And yet many religious do refuse , specially online on blogs like this quite often !! .Something that only further destroys any reason i might see or try to find to reconsidder .Posting only what seems to be one sided biased views ,doesnt seem to point towards that of honesty and truth .

I was (born) into religion but now could be classed as agnostic/atheist
I agree the likes of Dawikins can be seen as a little to pushy ,maybe even a lot to pushy .However i see this mostly as their passion , no more passion or even blunt nastiness that i was brought up with within the religious domination i was born into.
And with all honesty in mind that these men might suggest that religion can be dangerious in thinking of what i experienced and being quite honest to some extent i would have to agree .My whole familys lives have been ripped apart and even friends were driven to suicide .Plus a whole lot more nastiness ,to much to list here.
These people like Dawkins (i have read nothing of any of their writings)i can see and feel are hated ,yet in being honest some of their points hold atleast some truth .

And i do have to wonder if it can be right that they are looked at and hated this way by the religious,and i ask myself how many judge these people without thinking of the reasons why their thoughts and writings might be being accepted to some extent .Or what reasons they may have found that might hold some truth .

Surely in thinking of what little i remember was written within this bible ,it seemed to me judgement needed to start from within ones self first .For any change to begin.

Hope my honesty doesnt offend !!.

Henry W. Middleton said...

Francis Schaeffer, Greg Bahnsen, and Ravi Zacharias provide helpful input. I have referenced them in my own blog.

Eric said...

Samuel,

Thank you for commenting about this post.

I have to admit that your arguments are not very compelling. You provide no real evidence, and end up doing little more than name-calling. Also, your attitude is lacking in its desire for real communication over the issues.

I'll go with the bible.

Eric said...

Anonymous,

No Christian should hate anyone else. When he does, he is sinning. Jesus Christ would not have approved of this.

The teachings of Christ are in no way dangerous. Those who become violent in the name of Christ are perverting and distorting His teachings.

The real issue that I challenge you to search for is what the objective truth is. If the claims of Jesus Christ are truth, then following Him is the only way of real life. If He was a false teacher, then Christianity should be rejected.

Search for the truth and follow that. Ask God to tell you if the teachings of the bible are true.

Eric said...

Henry,

Thank you for the suggestions.

Samuel Skinner said...

... I didn't offer any arguments. I was pointing out that
1 is irrelevant
2 is true of all atheists
3 is true of all atheists
4 is true of all rationalists (which most atheist are)
5 is true of antitheism
6 is true of antitheism
7 is true of antitheism
8 is true of antitheism

In short, all these have occured before- the new atheists are just a resurgence of antitheism.

Eric, if you think I have been insulting... you haven't seen my when I try. I... vary between Publicous and Darth Wong levels- textbook vs caustic.

"I have to admit that your arguments are not very compelling. You provide no real evidence, and end up doing little more than name-calling. Also, your attitude is lacking in its desire for real communication over the issues."

I wasn't arguing- I was simply pointing out that your defintions were incorrect.

You don't seem to realize that calling it "new atheism" is simply a bunch of meaningless chaff.

Also, you are commiting the ad hominum fallacy. It matters not how someone phrases something or who says it- their arguments are just as valid.

"I'll go with the bible."

Which one and which parts? As for myself, I prefer to go with reality- it is the ONLY truth.

Eric said...

Samuel,

I do appreciate your commenting.

I suppose we could have some sort of tit-for-tat argument that would lead to nowhere. I know I don't want that, and I doubt you do either.

We obviously have completely different worldviews. I believe the bible is true and base my conclusions upon that. Based on what you have written, you do not.

In the end, the issue seems to be what we believe the ultimate source of truth is. Since we cannot agree on authority, we are at a standstill.

Thanks again, Eric

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eric .I will think about what you have said.

You said
"The teachings of Christ are in no way dangerous. Those who become violent in the name of Christ are perverting and distorting His teachings."

I have heard this many times .

But i have also experienced once and also seen very many instances in many dominations when these teachings have seemed to become abusive and dangerous .I think i need not post evidence of them here.

It is one thing to claim these teachings of the bible are not dangerous and that it only comes about through them being perverted and distorted .

But it happens there is evidence for it .Surely if it was written as plain truth as true words of god .With him being all powerful and of knowing everything .These teachings would be written simple so this would never happen .

If i was god and wrote a road code that was quite hard to understand .So that people drove the wrong way and had accidents along the way .Would you say my book seemed to not be word of god or would you blame it on people getting it wrong ? .Perverting and distortion was the problem ? .

Would you begin to question my book ? .Would you at times start to wonder if maybe atleast some of it might be but mere thoughts of man ? .

There is many hated in this world for their non belief Eric.There is many judged in this world for their non belief too.Often shown through seperation and excomunication etc.Plus other ways.

These people who hate and judge , when doing so do they ever considder reasons why people may not find it so easy to believe ?.

Eric thank you for being kind .I question these matters with true honesty , i do not at all mean to cause trouble .

Eric said...

Anonymous,

Your questions are no trouble. I appreciate your desire for the truth and your humility.

I agree with you that many have distorted the teachings in the bible. However, I have to disagree with you about the complexity of the biblical message. I actually think it is really quite simple: God made a perfect world in which humans were to live in perfect harmony with Him. However, we have all rebelled against God and deserve condemnation. God, being merciful, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay for sin. Anyone who repents and believes in Christ as Lord and Savior will be saved. Once we are saved, we should become part of a bible teaching church, and spend our time loving and serving others.

This is a beautiful and simple message.

Unfortunately, there have been some people who have abused this message for their own economic and/or power gains. This is NOT approved of by God.

God is perfect and has written a perfect book. I encourage you to read the bible, expecting God to speak to you through it. Although there are people who distort its teachings, I have also met many, many kind and loving Christians in my life. For that I am very grateful.

Please don't let some people's sin get in the way of your search for the truth.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Without seeking to limit the value of your post, the points you have enumerated describe the atheism that has permeated our society all of my life; especially after WWII.

Solomon was right about there being nothing new under the sun.

I have nothing but pity for those who have taken a negative view of this comment, and appreciate your measured response.

"If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?"

Eric said...

John,

In evangelical America, I think many of us (myself included) are just waking up to the rise of atheism in this country.

I agree with you that the New Atheism is actually the same old beliefs. However, in the USA it does seem that today's atheists are prouder and more vocal about it. Also, the idea being proposed by atheists that all religion is dangerous is a new one to me.

Another new twist is the attack on parental rights in general, and specifically the suggestion that parents shouldn't be teaching their own children their religious beliefs.

The atheism is the same, but it seems more militant, at least in this country.

I always enjoy your comments.

Thanks, Eric