Blogs - The President's Desk
May 09, 2008
Aikman, Berlinski, Day, and Lennox v. Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and Harris
Our 2008 Australian Summit was conducted in Melbourne at the Deakin University campus. The college bookstore was drenched in Richard Dawkins. His picture was everywhere, promoting his book The God Delusion. But nowhere to be found were any works challenging Dawkin's atheism, evolution, humanism (but I repeat myself). Dawkins teaches at Oxford University, but so does John C. Lennox. Alas, the bookstore had no interest in Lennox, only Dawkins! Also not to be found was David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion, "the definitive book of the new millennium," according to George Gilder.
The evidence clearly shows that many of our institutions of higher leaning are cesspools of atheism and hotbeds of radicalism, including sexual radicalism. It's as though we're reliving the pre-French and pre-Bolshevik revolutionary eras.
The same was true during the years preceding the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Communism was founded on the atheism and socialism of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin with Darwin's evolutionary theory thrown in for spice. Remember that it was Marx who wrote Fredrich Engels saying, "During…the past four weeks I have read…Darwin's work on Natural Selection . . . this is the book which contains the basis in natural science for our view."
Now we are being assaulted with what is sometimes labeled "New Atheism." Paul Kurtz's Center for Inquiry, for example, is conducting a summer institute for young atheists entitled "The Journey From Religion to Science." One of their course descriptions reads, "Contemporary issues in secular studies; multisecularism, desecularization and the 'new atheism.'"
In reality, however, there are no new arguments for atheism. Unless "new atheism" means "new atheists," it's a misnomer. The arguments that the French and Communist atheists had in their quiver generations ago are the very same arguments Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and Harris (DHDH) have in their quiver. It seems each generation is called upon to face the same issues, and the question of God's existence is a perennial. It wasn't too long ago that Richard Bentley (1662–1742) was invited to give the first Boyle Lectures on Natural Theology. His lectures were entitled, "Confutation of Atheism from the Origin and Frame of the World."
Because we, too, must face the issue of atheism head-on, let me recommend the four books listed at the top of this article by Aikman, Berlinski, Day, and Lennox (ABDL). These authors handle all the major arguments, accusations, and assertions of the new atheist crowd. Indeed, it's as if we have two law firms bidding for the hearts and minds of this generation. And so they are because ideas have consequences. Theism and atheism have consequences.
Let's begin with David Aikman, who summarizes the case against these famous four theologians of atheism. Analyzing their writings, he says their errors fall nicely into three major categories: (1) their assertions are too wild to be taken seriously (e.g., "religion poisons everything" or "better many worlds than one god" or "Jesus was born in 4 A.D."); (2) they stray into unfamiliar territory (Biblical studies, theology, philosophy) and prove they are wading in way over their heads; and (3) their view that somehow science invalidates religious truth is far from historically true and certainly not scientifically true since religion birthed science (see Berlinski, p. 46). Berlinski goes so far as to state that the faith necessary to do coherent scientific work is debauched by a complacent atheism.
So let's be blunt for a moment. For all the hype given over to the atheists' charges, claims, pronouncements, and fairy tales, I can't think of one thing that Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, or Harris preaches that isn't answered in a scholarly, even "fair and balanced" manner, by Aikman, Berlinski, Day, and Lennox. No Christian need be embarrassed by the avalanche of atheistic propaganda, believing that their arguments are really too profound and powerful to challenge. ABDL challenges every one of them with reason, logic, science, common sense, and yes, a sense of humor, too.
Atheists, by the way, seem to lack a sense of humor (although Hitchens has far more than the others combined). Case in point: Harris wants to put to death those he considers truly harmful to society (Aikman, p. 32). I'll let his words speak for him: "The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live" (The End of Faith, p. 52).
And these are our modern-day tolerant atheists! Can you imagine if they were the Communist variety that slaughtered millions (see The Black Book of Communism by Courtois). Even one of their own, Theodore Dalrymple, remarks that Harris' statement is "quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist" (City Journal, Autumn 2007). Surely the "new atheists" have lost touch with reality.
Hitchens was probably not trying to be funny when he remarked, "We do not rely solely upon science and reason because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors." Berlinski's response is facetious, yet utterly reasonable — "If Hitchens is not prepared to 'rely solely upon science and reason,' why, one might ask, should anyone else?" (Berlinski, p. 5). Hitchens also reasons (in all seriousness) that his belief in the nonexistence of God is not a belief, but my belief in the existence of God is a belief. Go figure!
A question worth asking is this: What triggered such a sudden onslaught of hard-core, mean-spirited atheistic propaganda? Why now?
Some suggest that perhaps it was George Bush and his administration that riled up the godless with his evangelical Christianity clearly on display. I personally think the answer is much closer to the atheist camp itself. One of their very own (and not just one of their lightweights) decided after looking at the scientific evidence that atheism is untenable, indefensible, and yes, false! The gang of four (DHDH) decided that such a gap in their Secular Humanist worldview armor needed to be plugged, and since Antony Flew is a heavyweight, so, too, the humanists had to call their remaining heavyweights to arms. Hence, this massive flood of atheist books and TV appearances, college lectures, and radio call-in programs.
DHDH could not stand back and fail to challenge Dr. Flew's admission that it was his study of science and philosophy that actually led him out of atheism, not theology and evangelism! In his book There Is A God (also highly recommended!), Flew begins with his early life as an atheist, explaining his reasons why God could not exist, and then moves to his later life and why he changed his mind. He now concludes that indeed there has to be a God, or there would be no universe. Sounds like Genesis 1?
Since the flurry over Flew's conversion to deism, a bit of calm has descended and a lot of research and writing has commenced. The authors answering the four purveyors of atheism are handing them their heads on a platter! Regretfully, atheist heads on platters is not graphic enough for coverage on the evening news.
Any fair-minded reader of Aikman, Berlinski, Day, and Lennox will recognize that the atheists' thrusts and daggers have been brilliantly and convincingly defeated.
Berlinski and Lennox, for example, take on the atheistic notion that somehow science proves the nonexistence of God. After examining the scientific method and its various ramifications, Berlinski concludes that he has yet to see how science disproves the existence of God. He notes that physicists seem "remarkably unenthusiastic about welcoming philosophers as fellow scientists" (Berlinski, p. 58). Richard Feynman observes, "The philosophers are always on the outside making stupid remarks." Saying that science somehow proves the nonexistence of God is a stupid remark! Another stupid remark is Dawkins' theological/philosophical claim that "Better many worlds than one god." Equally stupid is his "many worlds" or multiverse theory of not one universe but an infinite number of parallel universes. Such "science so-called" or better, "scientism" is merely Dawkins' atheism and materialism coming to the fore.
Berlinski's comments about "faith" and "science" are also worth examining. He quotes Stephen Hawking to the effect that "so long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator." It takes faith to accept the proposition that science has discovered a beginning to the universe. In fact, in takes faith in reason to even reason logically about it. Vox Day points out that faith is not the opposite of reason; the opposite of reason is irrationalism.
Berlinski contends (p. xii, xiii) that there have been four profound scientific theories since the great scientific revolution in the West—Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetic field theory, special and general relativity, and quantum mechanicsand none disproves the existence of God. Stated another way, none proves the atheist claim that science has buried God (note the title of Lennox's book). Einstein said it like this, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Dawkins, who claims Einstein as one of his own, should listen to his scientific superior.
Berlinski insists that "no scientific theory touches on the mysteries that the religious tradition addresses" (p. xiv). In fact, he says science has "nothing of value to say on the great and aching questions of life, death, love, and meaning." On the other hand, the religious tradition "has formed a coherent body of thought regarding these subjects" (p. xiv). Berlinski further notes, "Science does not harbor the slightest idea of how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic, social world in which we live could have ever arisen from the seething anarchy of the world of particle physics."
Aikman, Lennox, and Day do not in any way disagree with Berlinski, but rather add to his basic arguments. Day, for example, addresses in some detail the charge that religion is an enemy of science. He proves why the charge is false and quotes from Feynman to the effect that "[s]cientific knowledge is an enabling power to do either good or bad — but does not carry instruction on how to use it" (Day, p. 52).
Both Aikman and Day cover the area of atheism's practical outworkings in society. And their examples do not edify the atheist cause. For example, few atheists wish to discuss the relationship of Darwin to Hitler or atheism's role in the former U.S.S.R. Day quotes Lenin and Trotsky to the effect that "atheism is a material and inseparable part of Marxism" and the "very essence of religion is the mortal enemy of Communism" (Day, p. 243).
Day's chapter entitled "The Robespierre of Atheism" is an insightful look at Michel Onfray, the French atheist and hedonist and far-left Nietzschean. Nietzsche, of course, was not only an atheist and nihilist (life has no meaning), but also a warmonger. His famous statement on war: "War is an admirable remedy for peoples that are growing weak and comfortable and contemptible; it excites instincts that rot away in peace." Not surprising, Onfray, although a historian, has nothing to say of the "fifty-two atheist mass murderers of the twentieth century" (Day, p. 202). But he has plenty of nasty things to say about the American Secular Humanists for accepting way too much of the Judeo-Christian morality (e.g., Paul Kurtz says he can accept the Golden Rule in spite of its religious connotations). Onfray, however, would banish Christian morality on the basis that "it is anti-social." Translation: It is anti-Darwin's natural selection/survival of the fittest. Christian morality cuddles the weak, the sick, and the helpless instead of allowing them to die (or even assisting in their death), thus enhancing the evolutionary process.
Day's chapter entitled "The End of Sam Harris" is worth the price of the book. He especially takes Harris to the woodshed for his statement that "some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them" (Day, p. 129).
John C. Lennox's powerful defense of the Christian perspective will be hard to dismiss by any atheist. His overall thrust is to prove that theism as a worldview "sits most comfortably with science." His argument is that the scientific evidence moves toward theism, exactly opposite the argument of Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and Harris.
In fact, Lennox points to immunologist George Klein, who "states categorically that his atheism is not based on science, but is an a priori faith commitment" (Lennox, p. 34). Statements like this are bad news for the fearsome foursome of DHDH! Lennox also points to former atheist Antony Flew, who admits that his "whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates [to] follow the evidence wherever it leads." Following the evidence led him to remove himself from the atheist camp (Lennox, p. 38).
Much of Lennox's book covers the issue that "the genetic material DNA carries information" (Lennox, p. 54). Read it to be fully informed on why the existence of "information" spells death to the forces of HDHD! (Hint: Information is a form of language, and language implies an author.)
I now return to David Aikman, whose chapter entitled "The Christian Worldview Is the Foundation of Liberty" is priceless! Aikman begins by quoting Michael Novak: "Can an atheist be a good citizen? That has been done, many times. Can American liberties survive if most of our nation is atheist? The most common, almost universal judgment of the founders was that it could not" (Aikman, p. 135).
Aikman moves to more fully answer the question of the survivability of freedom under the atheistic worldview. He comes to the founding fathers' conclusion, but offers his analysis in a most interesting way. In fact, Aikman quotes Hitchens, one of the fearsome foursome, to the effect that "secular totalitarianism has actually provided us with the summa of human evil"(p. 98). However, this same Hitchens concludes the founding fathers were not "men of faith" because "almost to a man, none had a priest at his deathbed" (Aikman, p. 137). Aikman replies tongue-in-cheek, "Dying Protestants don't make a habit of calling on priests to attend their departure from this life."
Aikman's comments on Thomas Paine are also worth noting. Though Paine was one of the very few true Deists (most of the founding fathers were either Christian or Unitarian), when he returned to Paris following the American Revolution he went there to "fight against atheism." Paine fought against atheism because he held the atheists of the French Revolution era "responsible for the massacres" (Aikman, p. 141).
Aikman also quotes John Adams (a Unitarian) answer to the French atheist Marquis de Condorcet who was arguing for morality without religion: "There is no such thing [as morality] without the supposition of God. There is no right and wrong in the universe without the supposition of a moral government and an intellectual and moral governor" (Aikman, p. 152).
Not one of the fearsome foursome (DHDH) comes close to challenging Aikman's argument that the founding fathers were in no way establishing an atheistic commonwealth. All of America's founding documents were theistic in one way or another. Thomas Jefferson said, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" Our founding fathers knew that atheism could not be the foundation of a free, democratic republic. Dozens of their statements prove this point.
Aikman finds it significant that after atheistic Communist regimes have historically "wrecked suffering and chaos" on a national basis, "it is the secular rationalism of the atheist worldview that is being challenged." In China, most Chinese have lost faith in Marxism-Leninism, sensing that Marxist philosophy is chained to "the iron ball of state atheism, [which] has left it in a moral wasteland" (Aikman, p. 167).
Let me conclude by examining the observations of a former atheist — Sir Fred Hoyle (who, incidentally, was skeptical about Darwin's theory of evolution). Hoyle understood that for life to exist on earth, lots of carbon (C and atomic number 6) is needed. He understood how carbon was formed (combining three helium nuclei or combining helium and beryllium). He also understood that for any of this to happen "the nuclear ground state energy levels have to be fine-tuned with respect to each other" (Lennox, p. 69). If the variation were more than 1 percent either way, the universe could not sustain life. Hoyle says nothing challenged his atheism more than "this scientific discovery."
Physicist Freeman Dyson sees it nearly the same way: "The more I examine the universes and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming." Paul Davies likewise concludes, "It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe." (See also Hugh Ross, Creation as Science, p. 96[f] for additional examples of a finely tuned universe.)
Let's hope and pray that DHDH will reach the same conclusion. Let's pray earnestly that they cease and desist their atheistic propaganda machine that weakens Western Civilization's attempt to survive the current onslaught of Islam in its westward march, convinced that the time is right to demolish the decadent "Christian" West. As George Gilder says, "A culture that does not aspire to the divine becomes obsessed with the fascination of evil, reveling in the frivolous, the depraved, and the bestial." (See Gilder's review of The Devil's Delusion in National Review, May 5, 2008, p. 58.) Indeed, let's pray for a revitalized and rededicated Christianity that can again be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world," reflecting its founder and Master — Jesus Christ. Thus ends the homily!