"If atheism spread, it would become a religion as intolerable as the ancient ones." –Gustave le Bon
Dumbbell Nebula-Courtesy of NASA
Richard Dawkins, a respected evolutionary biologist, is arguably the most famous atheist of our day. He is Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at The University of Oxford. We have written regularly about the New Atheists, particularly Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet and Bart Ehrman (well, he calls himself the happy agnostic).
Richard Dawkins and his pals are not your village atheist. They are bright and media savvy and have achieved a sort of rock star following all over the world. TWW wrote a post in 2009 called The New Atheists Are Bright and You Are Stupid. Link
Many Christian assume they can go to a 1-hour seminar such as “ 5 Arguments to Win Over Atheists” and be ready to take charge of a discussion. Those who apply such formulas quickly learn that they are in over their heads. To understand the difficulty in dialoging with atheists, I suggest you visit the following three atheist websites to educate yourself.
- The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – Link
- Why Won’t God Heal Amputees– Link
- Ex Christians.Net– Link
I spent about three years trying to understand this issue at the Ex Christians site. I also have read, among others,
- The God Delusion-Richard Dawkins
- Letter to a Christian Nation-Sam Harris
- Misquoting Jesus -Bart Ehrman
These men are both bright and charismatic. Christians need to educate themselves on their arguments as well as find ways to intelligently to debate the issue. I find many Christians unwilling to dialogue. In fact, TWW has received numerous emails asking us to remove atheist commenters from our site because they were either argumentative or not worth the trouble. TWW is a place of dialog and we welcome, in the Spirit of Christ, all who come to reasonably debate or ask questions. Here are some of the excuses that we have heard.
- They are blaspheming the Holy Spirit and are therefore going to hell so what’s the use.
- I want to focus on the Bible and not on them.
- I want to spend my time witnessing to people who will listen.
Deep down inside, I suspect that many Christians are afraid to take these guys on and are not willing to take the time to learn how to compassionately dialog. I have watched as Christians get huffy when these new atheists make derogatory statements about the faith. We must learn to "turn the other cheek" and continue to exhibit the Spirit of Christ in the face of strong rhetoric. Remember, we have the Holy Spirit; they do not. We must love when they do not.
Folks, we have a problem. Atheism, statistically, is on the rise throughout the world and even in the United States. These men are influencing millions of people with their well thought out “Gospel of Atheism.”
Now, it appears, that Dawkins is taking his crusade to the most vulnerable, our children. He has written a book called The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True.
Here is a review of the book on Amazon. Link
“Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun.
Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.”
The Huffington Post , 10/6/11, posted an article entitled Bill O'Reilly, Richard Dawkins Debate Creationism Heatedly. There is apparently a push to get this book into the public school system. O’ Reilly, a Catholic, is known for his belief in creationism. By this term I mean that a Creator God created the heavens and the earth. He is a believer in an ancient earth and evolution as God directed.
The article states:
“Bill O'Reilly debated creationism on Wednesday's "O'Reilly Factor" with biologist and famous atheist Richard Dawkins. Not surprisingly, things got a little heated.
Dawkins was pushing a new book, aimed to teach adolescents and adults that science can explain ancient myths. O'Reilly told Dawkins that his book "mocks God," which propelled the two into a heated discussion about the beginning of time.”
I disagree that the exchange was heated. In fact, I thought O’Reilly did a good job sticking to his points. Before I present the video, which is 4 1/2 minutes long, I want to point out some highlights of the discussion.
- Dawkins is cleverly painting the Christian faith as a myth by lumping it in with other pagan beliefs such as Egyptian gods, Roman gods and goddesses.
- O’Reilly calls him on this assumption, clearly stating that the Christian faith is true. He implies that just because other beliefs are not true, does not mean the Christianity is a myth.
- O’Reilly cleverly refers to a previous conversation in which Dawkins had said that scientists were looking for a cause for the existence of the universe. He asks how that was coming along. Dawkins, once again, says that it is a process and that scientists “will” figure it out.
- O’Reilly then posts pictures of three atheistic dictators claiming that their atheism led to mass slaughter of people. Dawkins attempts, as do many atheists, to say that these men adhered to political solutions that have nothing to do with atheism. O’Reilly would have none of it.
- Carefully note the words "truth" and "magic" in the title of his book.
- Finally, O’Reilly states his belief that religion puts boundaries on behaviors that can be destructive to a civil society. I believe that this was the most interesting of his arguments.
I enjoyed this exchange and was impressed by O’Reilly’s comfort in debating Dawkins. O'Reilly, who is not trained in science, took on the underlying assumptions of atheism that have nothing to do with complex scientific understanding. Christians should take a clue. I look forward to the opinions of our readers.