A review of The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom. By Robert Morey.
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986. (Now published by Christian Scholars Press, 1350 East Flamingo, Suite 97, Las Vegas, NV 88119. Phone: 1-800-41-TRUTH.)
This book may be even more important now than when it was first released over twenty years ago. With the international prominence of atheist storm troopers such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, an account of the rise of militant atheism is much needed. And this book does that job admirably.
It not only discusses the rise and development of atheism, but helps us understand the mind of the militant atheist. Morey speaks of the new atheism, because the older atheists were content to just show their disdain and indifference to God and the Bible. Many of today’s atheists however are on a crusade to rid the world of religion, especially Christianity. They are engaged in a direct challenge to, and attack on, God.
Thus Morey rightly notes that the new atheism can more correctly be called the new anti-theism. It is not just that they believe there is no God; they are implacably hostile to, and contemptuous of, God, religion, faith and the Bible. They are on a mission to destroy these things.
Thus today’s anti-theism is not just some passive, disinterested, theoretical exercise, but a very real attempt to suppress all religious freedom, not unlike what was attempted in the former Soviet Union. Only today the anti-theists make use of the judiciary, our campuses, and various political means to achieve their objectives, instead of brute force.
The anti-theists do not just regard God as a harmless philosophical question, but as someone “who cannot exist because He must not exist”. And as Morey documents, God is often hated because of the moral restraints of religion. Atheists like Aldous Huxley and others have made this quite clear.
Because Morey has debated hundreds of atheists, and seems to have read all of their writings, he provides an accurate, if frightening, picture of the atheist jihad now underway. Much of the book is made up of direct quotations from the atheists.
Indeed, the book is very well documented, and the comments made by the world’s leading atheists should send shivers down the spine of most rational readers. As Morey makes clear by his numerous quotations, “modern Anti-theism is fuelled by such ignoble motives as bitterness, rage and hatred”.
He notes that this hatred of God usually stems from some personal episode in the life of the atheist. Indeed, he states that every atheist he has gotten to know had a prior personal problem of some kind with God before they embraced their anti-theism. In other words, they had already rejected God for various personal reasons long before they became “freethinkers”.
He also examines the lives of some leading atheists, and shows how this is true of them as well. These include Feuerbach, Marx, Comte and Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Thus it is seldom the case that philosophical or intellectual investigation leads one to atheism, but some personal crisis or negative experience. This point of course does not constitute a proof against atheism, but it does help to explain the psychology of the atheist.
Especially helpful is how Morey documents the tactics of the anti-theists, especially as they seek to make their case. In fact, they really do not attempt to make their case at all; they just hurl countless, and usually baseless, challenges to, and objections against, believers. They hardly ever provide any evidence, justification or proof for their claims. They simply think that by sheer force of argument, repetition, and accusation, they can by default establish their own position by tearing and wearing down that of the theists.
Morey provides numerous examples of this strategy, demonstrating how most atheists simply make unfounded assertions, without any evidence, and place all the burden of proof on the theist. They seldom offer justification for their own beliefs, but simply make charges against theists and demand that they respond to them. They will make a reckless claim, and then tell theists to disprove it, when instead they should be providing the proof for their own claims. In my own experience debating atheists I have found this to be exactly the case time and time again.
As an example, a favourite trick of the atheists is to define atheism in such a way so that they do not have to demonstrate or prove anything. They say atheism is simply the absence of belief about god(s). But of course under that overly broad, and therefore meaningless, definition, rocks and trees would qualify as atheists, as Morey points out. In defining their worldview in this way, they can then smuggle in any number of other beliefs, such as materialism and moral relativism, without having to offer any justification for them.
Or consider the assault on Jesus. The standard ploy is to simply claim that he did not exist, and then demand that the believer convince him otherwise. But since it is the atheists who are making this claim, they are the ones who should back it up. But they seldom do. Moreover, if they were consistent in their historical scepticism, they would have to insist that Socrates, Napoleon and Isaac Newton never existed either.
Morey provides plenty of examples where logical argumentation is largely absent from the atheist arsenal. Arguing from silence, red herrings, straw men, circular reasoning, personal attacks, etc., are the stock standard methods of anti-theist polemics.
He even quotes from a famous atheist debating guide, in which every trick in the book is offered to fellow atheists as they attack theists. Published by Prometheus Books, the main atheist publisher, The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi teaches atheists how to deliberately use deception to refute theists. After reading Moray’s description of, and quotations from, the book, it occurred to me that all the atheists I have been debating must have well-worn copies of the book. It certainly explains why actually having a rational debate with an atheist is so difficult. All the dirty tricks, ruses, ploys and deception makes any debate with them a one-way affair.
Morey concludes his helpful book by describing or transcribing various debates he has had with atheists. In these debates we clearly see the various tactics of atheism as delineated in this book.
Reading this book certainly gave me fresh insight into my own debates with atheists. Over and over again I found the various tactics and tricks of the atheists I have encountered described in detail in this book.
There is no question that we are involved in a war of ideas. And the anti-theism side has some pretty dangerous ideas indeed. They not only hate God and religion, but they have declared war on them. Anyone concerned about faith, truth, and religious freedom needs to become aware of the war that has been declared against them. And reading this book is a good place to begin.