CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

An Anti-theist Outburst, Again

Jan 5, 2007

The devotees of Dawkins are working overtime to promote their militant anti-theism. The latest full-frontal assault comes from Australian playwright David Williamson. Writing in the 3 January 2007 Australian, he has a mischievous piece entitled, “Deliver us from the god delusion that imperils our humanity”.

It is full of the usual atheist venom and nonsense, disguised as a plea for a more humane world. It largely centres on the recent release of what is quickly becoming the atheists’ Bible, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

He says that his hope for 2007 is that the “religious extremists of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths in particular will sit down and read” Dawkins’ book. Then he informs us that “belief in a god of any kind is a delusion that has wreaked untold damage on the world since the dawn of recorded time”.

Now them’s fightin’ words. Not only has he insulted billions of human beings who happen to be religious, but he has managed in one ugly sentence to totally mangle human history as well.

“Untold damage”? Not one good thing to be said about religion? Nothing good at all to be found here? Not one soup kitchen, not one handout to the poor, not one hospital built, not one suicide averted, not one drug addict recovered, not one school established, not one word of comfort, not one act of kindness, not one word of forgiveness, not one act of grace? I could go on all day. Just what help is this article supposed to provide if its author thinks he can get away with making such incredibly insulting remarks.

Indeed, this gross and simplistic generalisation is as helpful as arguing that all Australian playwrights are anti-religious bigots. And of course all of this in the name of love, tolerance, peace and decency.

Williamson claims he is concerned about humanity, but it seems that for him humanity is merely an abstraction. The real question is, is he concerned about individuals? The process of dehumanisation and demonisation begins when individuals are no longer treated as individuals, but treated as faceless and anomic masses, relegated to unwanted and marginalised groups. That is how most modern totalitarian movements have begun.

And this is just what Williamson appears to be guilty of. He treats all religionists as a class – a class to be shunned and despised. History is replete with examples of those who would depersonalise individuals, and treat them as an ostracised class or group. Hitler targetted whole ethnic classes while Stalin went after entire economic classes. Millions perished as a result.

Thus my great fears about the militant anti-theists of our day. Today they simply save their spite for the printed page. But tomorrow their rage may take more tangible forms. We have seen it happen before, and no doubt it will happen again.

Williamson then wades into some hard core theology and philosophy, making this astute observation: “The belief that your group has its own special god inevitably leads you to feel superior to, and angry about, people who have chosen the ‘wrong’ god.” Sorry, but the issue is not about feeling special or superior. It is about truth. Of course in these postmodern times, truth is feared and avoided as much as the plague.

But truth is just what is needed today. Various religions make competing truth claims. The issue is, which is true and which is not? But secularists like Williamson don’t even want to think of such possibilities. They are simply content to put all religious belief systems into the too-hard basket, and to dismiss the lot of them. So much for dealing with real people and real needs.

The truth is, this article is just another example of intolerance masquerading as tolerance, and anti-theistic snobbery masquerading as free thinking. For all his mushy concerns about humanity, it appears the author despises the great majority of humans, simply because they are religious. In his dream world religion would no longer exist. And perhaps it would mean billions of religious folk no longer exist either.

He concludes with these words: “My hope for 2007 is that the world will draw just a fraction closer to realising that we are all part of one big tribe on a very fragile planet, and that people who parrot the prejudices of their particular creed will start to realise how toxic their belief system.”

But it seems the real prejudice and toxicity is coming from the radical anti-theists, who can barely hide their contempt for those whom they disagree with, and simply are contributing to the anti-religious bigotry which is on the rise in the secularist West. And as I say, anti-religious ideas usually do not just stay on the level of ideas. They sooner or later are translated into action.

One can almost imagine that these militant atheists will be there when the heads begin to roll, smiling approvingly, applauding each new whack of the guillotine.

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21002684-7583,00.html

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14 Responses to An Anti-theist Outburst, Again

  • In my experience with Atheists they don’t play a game fairly – my intention (being a Christian) is to converse with others and try to express the good news of Jesus Christ, not because I want to force them to believe (and I admit some Christians have been and continue to be forceful in their approach to evangelism) but because I care about them and don’t want them to go to hell. Now if an atheist was objective (and many are) they see that my attempt is motivated by concern and love and they appreciate my effort but politely decline debate… and I respect that, but what breaks my heart is people like Dawkins, Jill Singer and other militant Atheists who would prefer that me and my God would just roll over and die.
    These are not caring people – I respect they have an opinion but they preach and propagate their opinion like they are the only ones who have the truth, and any person who disagrees with them is uneducated and stupid.
    In the Islamic nations there has been evidence to suggest that the extremist Muslims war against the moderate Muslims to ‘persuade’ them to ‘get more passionate’ like the extremists are. The same is what I see here – extreme atheists waging war by calling anyone who disagrees with them stupid uneducated and deluded.
    Joshua Ferrara

  • It never fails to fascinate me how often atheism is linked with evolution as in Williamson’s diatribe. Atheism gives us no answer as to why we exist and evolution gives us no answer as to how we exist.
    Evolution pretends to do the latter by extrapolating from Microevolution, which is obvious and scientifically defensible, to Macroevolution which is neither.
    Evolution has no truly scientific answer for the development of biochemically remarkably complex life from simple elements. It has no answer to the existence of complementary male and female forms of life. It has no answer to the emergence of thought from matter – in fact it has no answer to any of life’s real problems.
    Evolution belongs to the realm of the imagination, not to that of science. Its attraction is its simplicity, but it has no real answers. It belongs more and more to the horse and buggy science from which it originated in 1859 (Darwin’s Origin of Species), but it is the backbone, such as it is, of atheism.
    Dr George Mangan

  • How nice. When Williamson is expressing his loathing for his fellow Australians (see Andrew Bolt’s columns Williamson on those violent, foul-mouthed “ordinary Australians” and Williamson complains: It’s Howard’s fault the “aspirationals” hate us), he is whinging against God. Two years ago he said:

    ‘I don’t pray to anything. I went to church in suburban Melbourne and had an intensely religious phase until I was 12, but then I heard the theory of evolution and it cured me of any idea we were God’s children. We’re just a life form that’s evolved reasonably successfully. There’s no grand plan for the universe or our lives, we’re the lucky recipients of random chance.’ (The Sunday Telegraph, 9 January 2005, Sunday Magazine p.7)

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • The article by Pamela Bone in The Australian 9/1/07 and similar articles by David Williamson in The Australian 3/1/07 and Jill Singer in The Herald Sun 8/1/07, denying the existence of God, would not have been seen in the Australian press 50 years ago. No doubt, many Christians will be offended. What has changed?

    Pamela in her article states “……that 44 per cent of Americans allegedly believe the second coming of Christ will occur within the next 50 years”. If that is so, that amounts to about 110 million Americans and to put it in context, approximately five times the population of Australia. That’s a lot of people.

    Christians need to remind themselves that those who deny God and Jesus Christ as His son, have the spirit of Antichrist (see 1 John 4:3). Like antipasta which is served before the pasta (main dish), the Antichrist will come before the Christ.

    If 110 million plus people believe that the return of Jesus Christ is sooner rather than later, it should be no surprise that the number of people denying God (those with a spirit of Antichrist) is also increasing. Hence we should not be surprised to see more of these types of articles.

    A believer can not debate with an unbeliever and expect to see changes in a spiritual dimension. If we do, the debate is like playing ping pong and expecting the return of a tennis ball instead of a table tennis ball. The believer has only one spiritual weapon which is the word of God and this is sharper than a two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). All believers are required to use it or the debate is spiritually useless and only academic.

    Erik Werps, Melbourne

  • However, one good thing is that more and more people are realizing that leftist journalists are not that bright and are motivated by bitterness against God and Christian valies. So they are increasingly gaining their news from other sources such as blogs.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Well Jonathan,

    The first challenge to your post is that many people who do not share your beliefs are extremely intelligent people. Incidentally, this is just as much a challenge for those of us who are atheists engaging in debate with believers, we cannot afford to underestimate your intelligence.

    A second challenge to you is that people who do not share your beliefs do still live by a code of values, including people of alternate faiths as well as atheists. Furthermore, these value sets are very similar from faith to faith.

    A third challenge to you is that since an athiest does not believe there is a god, it is impossible for them to have bitterness towards god from their point of view – if you do not belive something exists you cannot harbour bitterness towards it, even if you a s aperson who does believe in god perceives it as such.

    If we are talking about christian values in terms of loving kindness and compassion, I have yet to find an atheist who has a problem with those.

    Atheists do have a problem with a religious minority, the fundamentalist christian right, trying to enforce their belief system on others who are non believers whilst failing to recognise that they live in a society which protects their religious freedom to practice their faith within the confines of the law as indivduals. So no, Jonathan, you have no right to tell me what movies I can watch, whether abortion is right or wrong for anyone but yourself.

    Atheists also have a problem with a minority group continuing to espouse evident nonesense and insist that nonesense be taught in schools, when a rigorous scientific process has exposed the untruths of their position. That once again comes back to the difference between belief and reason, which Bill and toehrs have urgently to deny in order to protect the hollwe truths espouses by their faith.

    Andrew Lake

  • Dear George (should I call you Dr?),

    So you do agree that evolution addresses what you call micro-evolutionary processes (you call this opbvious and scientifically defensible)? So you do champion evolution (unlike Bill and many correspondents here)?

    I am not sure what you call macroevolution, however, although this is often refers to processes looked at on a larger scale, such as trends in body design over time and rate of turnover of species (eg gradual versus punctuated equilibria).

    Actually, there is no problem in dealing with questions such as accrual of complexity, sexual dimorphism or even the origination of thought from what you call “matter”. I suggest that you refer to recent work on the evolution of self-replicating systems, complexity, and on how biochemical molecules inter-relate into networks.

    You might also like to read up on chaos/fractals etc to realise that some systems that appear to be complex really aren’t as they seem once you know how to define them.

    You might also look at work on the flow of information through biological systems to gain an appreciation of how plants and animals handle information, collate it and assess their options on how best to survive (the basis of thought).

    Since the actual evidence for such things is more compelling, more immediate and subject to far stricted systems of reason and analysis than than any evidence for a deity, it is clearly a more obvious place to base an evolign appreciation of life, the universe, or whatever questions trouble your mind.

    Andrew Lake

  • I love this! Ok let me explain. We Christians (yes I absolutely am one), until recently have been fostered in an environment where criticism and persecution of faith is quite foreign. Surely no faith is true and proven until such testing. Surely such contention will seperate ‘the sheeps and the goats’ of Christianity, which of course, is a good thing. Surely we’ll soon find ourselves not only understanding but perhaps hanging onto the final words of the Apostle ‘to fight the good fight of faith’. May we persevere to the very end!
    Peter Morreau

  • I would have thought that separation of ‘the sheeps and the goats’ was Jesus’ job, considering that’s what He said He would do! Meanwhile, Christians should aim to be salt and light to the world, not think it would be wonderful if society rejects Christian principles.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • To take up a point that has been made a number of times in different threads – it shouldn’t really surprise Christians that an athiest (or person from any other school of thought) should come to the conclusion that God does not exist and that Christians are dangerous and deluded because the person draws those conclusions having processed their arguments through their own man made philosophical grid. It’s exactly the point that the Bible makes in 1 Corinthians 1, that the message of the cross is (literally) “moronic”. Don Carson wrote on 1 Cor 1:22,
    “(the Gentiles referred to) create entire structures of thought so as to maintain the delusion that they can explain everything. They think they are scientific, in control, powerful. God, if he exists, must meet the high standards of their academic and philosophical prowess and somehow fit into their system, if he is to be given any sort of respectful hearing.” (The Cross and Christian Ministry, Baker Books, 1993, p.21)

    Richard Dawkins book is the most lucid fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 1 that I have personally come across. So I have taken away something very positive from the book – it is a far stronger affirmation of the reliability and truthfulness of the New Testament than any Christian work I have read.
    Damien Carson

  • John, perhaps that is precisely what God is doing; seperating or preparing His bride for His return. He is afterall moving and working throughout this earth of His, through at times, ‘unconventional’ means. I never mentioned that a society that rejects Christian principles is a wonderful idea, however I can not remember a time in history when unredeemed souls were brought closer to Christ by merely abiding by ‘our’ morality standards; rather the contrary. Perhaps it is only in a hopeless and moral-less secular society (as we are becoming) that people will eventually discover the need of a Saviour; discovered through our salt-filled living.
    Peter Morreau

  • On reading these comments on such weighty matters I’m confronted by a much simpler quandry – whether to laugh or cry?

    Andrew kicked off by masquerading as everyone’s favourite neighbourhood athiest, a reasonable man happy to let and let live. But the end of this contribution he is back to spitting out vitriol from between clenched teeth!

    Yes Andrew, I know lots of athiests and agnostics live by a code of values. You might, once in a while, achknowledge the Judeo Christian tradition’s contribution to shaping the code.

    Its poppycock to assert that atheists can have no bitterness toward God when you so obviously do? Why seem so obviously offended by a Christian’s faith and spend so much time trying to discredit this faith if you are all such moderate souls?

    I also have a few problems with the Fundementalist Christian Right. But many secularists use it as a bogeyman that (if you listen to secularists) seems to constantly encroaching on the ranks of mainstream Christianity as by osmosis.

    And finally Andrew, if you woke up and smelt the post-enlightenment roses you might consider that, as John Donne said ‘ individuals are not islands unto ourselves’ and that as the actions of individuals affect the sort of community I live in and that my children will live in, I and anyone else does have a right, not to decide what movies are immoral or whether abortion is right or wrong according to your personal beliefs, but to express my view about whether you should have unfettered access to them.

    But never fear, I won’t be ordering any eschaton entree either! I don’t know what the believers are supposed to be doing with our old testament swords, but I am certain we’d be infinitely be better off if people paid less attention to Revelations and more to Paul.
    Cheers
    Ben Carter

  • By the way Bill, having read your dictatorial rules, keep in mind that a one-sided argument is as useless as a feminist’s rhetoric, driven by ideology. You make yourself look foolish by not allowing opinions outside of your own, what a terrible scared little man you have become, where is your faith, if it was strong, you would welcome dissent.

    Stick to Christ as a philosopher, and forget the god drivel.

    Ray Bruce

  • Thanks Ray

    We will ignore your opening foolish remarks, and just reply to your last comment.

    I am afraid Jesus does not give us this option. He nowhere claimed to be a philosopher, but he everywhere claimed to be God’s son, and the only way by which we might get right with God. One cannot take Jesus at his word without accepting his clear claims to being divine. So we either accept Jesus as he presented himself, or we dismiss him altogether.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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