Evangelical Atheists

Atheism is on the offensive.  The slew of new books out (none of which I’ve read yet) by people like Christopher Hutchins (God is Not Great — #11 at Amazon), Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation), and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion – #69 at Amazon)  are aimed at the heart of the Christian message.  I offer no critique of these books as of yet, but after reading the recent Newsweek article, “The God Debate” which pitted Rick Warren against Sam Harris, I can’t help but wish for a C.S. Lewis or a Francis Schaeffer to help us out.  I know men and women of that intellectual stature are out there, but we sure don’t hear from them very often.

I’ve been a bit lazy intellectually lately.  My adventures in photography engaged a very different part of my brain, and my brooding has decreased accordingly.  But as far as atheism goes, here’s my problem (one of them): I can’t explain morality in a God-less world.  The existence of a moral impulse in humanity seems undeniable.  It’s in the very fabric of our language.   We plan the future based on some notion that is will be “better” then than it is now.  We use words like “good” and “great” and we feel the force of objects, events, and people that can be described as “good” and “great.”   Justice is preached constantly, but without God, I cannot understand the ground or first cause of any notion of justice.  I suppose we believe in justice, truth, and beauty simply because we do.  Emperically, there is no doubt that these concepts exist.

But why?  Is there any other creature that suffers under the weight of acting against their nature?  How are we able to make choices that seem to run against our nature?  How do we sin?  What is sin?  What is wrongdoing?  There are many answers to these questions, most all of them couched in the language of me vs. you, us vs. them.  What is good is what is good for me or my group.  What is good for all is undiscoverable (unless of course it matches up with what is good for me).   If good for all is undiscoverable, then why do we pretend that it is?  Is it just pragmatism, that the notion of good somehow works, so we use it?

I am certainly willing to entertain the idea that I’m wrong.  I may be wrong about most things,  but as unthinkable as God is to the atheists of our time, no-God is at least as unthinkable to me.  Complexity, beauty, art, self-sacrifice…all of these make no sense to me as time plus chance plus nothing.

..read Dick Staub on this one…

2 Replies to “Evangelical Atheists”

  1. I would recommend starting with the Dawkins book. Then, move on to “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel Dennett. Those two books cover all of the questions you have asked in this post, probably in more detail than you might care to read.

    Hitchens and Harris are more political and confrontational, which tends to produce a defensive response in some of the more devout.

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