CultureWatch

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

A review of The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom. By Robert Morey.

Jan 5, 2007

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.

[1125 words]

7 Responses to A review of The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom. By Robert Morey.

  • Bill,

    That sounds a useful book.

    I heard Graeme Samuel, Chairman of the ACCC, interviewed by Terry Lane (an atheist) on the ABC a few days ago, and he said that he was an atheist. About his atheism, Samuel said he occasionally has doubts, but if anyone could show him otherwise he would be quick to change his mind, which encouraged me to write to him.

    I found the 2004 interview with Anthony Flew, legendary British atheist icon, interesting. At the age of 81 he announced he was no longer an atheist but a deist. He said, ‘I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries.’

    Also, the reviews of CS Lewis’s ‘Surprised by Joy’ in which he describes his journey from atheism to belief in God were fascinating. He was a professor at Oxford, same as Richard Dawkins.

    In particular I was moved by this review:
    “This is not a novel and not really an autobiography, but rather a first-hand account of one man’s journey from atheism to belief in God (Christianity came much later and is not covered in this book—for that, read his many religious works). I discovered this little gem while living in Scotland, at a time when I was neck-deep in the pit of atheism and feeling almost totally lost. I don’t know why I was moved to take it off the shelf and buy it, but it was to be only the first of Lewis’s books that I read. It’s still my favorite because its theme is so close to me.”

    What a graphic image: ‘neck-deep in the pit of atheism’.

    Another amazing story is of Zdenek Karasek, who grew up as an atheist in communist Czechoslovakia.

    I’m convinced there is still hope for Richard Dawkins, which is why I continue to pray for him. I would like to know what it was that made him so angry with God.

    Tas Walker

  • It’s hardly surprising that antitheistic authors like Nicholas Capaldi published by antitheistic publishers like Prometheus Books should advocate deception. Under an atheistic world view, where we are just rearranged pond scum, there is nothing wrong with deception. It’s about time that Christians realized the implications of an atheistic evolutionary worldview and stopped being so trusting of evolutionary “science” that can provide no objective basis for the rightness of truthtelling.

    Jonathan Sarfati. Brisbane

  • “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.”

    Perhaps their inspiration for this crusuade came from reading St Augustine’s, City of God, where he does a very good job of trying to remove every religious belief other than his own. No doubt atheists today also learn’t many of the tricks of argument from Augustine as well.
    Paul McNamara

  • Thanks Paul

    But Augustine, like any good Christian apologist, simply sought to show the intellectual/philosophical superiority of the Christian worldview. He was not on a crusade to eradicate all competing points of view, as the militant anti-theists are bent on doing. It is one thing to engage in the debate of ideas and worldviews. It is another thing to say that opposing views are evil and dangerous, and must be eliminated at all cost.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thank you, Bill, for exposing the intolerant, militant and aggressive nature of atheism.

    Tobias Jones wrote on this theme recently in a fascinating article, “Secular fundamentalists are the new totalitarians”, in the British daily paper, The Guardian (January 6, 2007). URL: www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1983820,00.html

    Jones describes how militant secularists wage war against the most innocent public manifestations of Christianity, and seldom encounter any resistance.

    He observes: “The greatest appeasers, however, have been the believers. Until recently many hid their religion in the closet. They conceded that it was something private. Until a few years ago religion was similar to soft drugs: a blind eye was turned to private use but woe betide you if you were caught dealing. Only recently have believers realised that religion is certainly personal,but it can never be private.”

    I think there’s a lesson here for all Christians.

    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  • These things come and go. it should be noted that the most devout countries in Europe are the former communist ones – countries which endured 70 years of anti-theistic indoctrination and whose populations have more practical experience of anti-theism than any others informing their choice of belief. Without seeing any opinion polls, it suggests maybe the populations of those countries don’t think anti-theism was the great civilising, egalitarian panacea they were told it would be, and that certain strong atheistic commentators tell us it would still be.
    People either have realised or will soon realise that militant anti-theism is as certain of itself, as zealous and as hostile to the non-believer as fundamental religion.
    There aren’t easy answers in this life, and the reductionist philosophies promulgated by Richard Dawkins et al., are little better than the simplistic doctrines that say you can get to heaven simply by not eating pork, or by not engaging in pre-marital sex.
    Ultimately, I have faith in people, who have faced greater challenges than militant anti-theism, and seen them off. People are inherantly moderate, I believe, and belief in something greater than the self is something intrinsically human which would not go away even if that “belief in something greater than the self” were not belief in God. So whilst theistic belief and its perception may change, I doubt it will be lost. Even the Chinese Government now admits the importance of religion in society.

    John Muir

  • I’ve now been informed (by a fair-minded atheist who has taken fellow atheists to task for unfair attacks), then investigated further, that Morey doesn’t seem to have read Capaldi’s book or know much about his background. Checking on Amazon, its full title is The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking : How to : Win an Argument, Defend a Case, Recognize a Fallacy, See Through a Deception, Persuade a Skeptic, Turn Defeat into Victory. It appears to cover introductory logic, critical thinking, seeing through fallacies and contructing powerful arguments. The contents pages on the site and the reviews show that it’s not a how-to-defeat-Christians guide.

    Also, Capaldi is Distinguished Scholar Chair in Business Ethics at Loyola University of New Orleans. So there is a good chance that he is a Catholic, rather than an antitheist. Publishing in an antitheistic press which has a virtual monopoly on the “Jesus never existed” nonsense is hardly encouraging, and this should send up red flags just as “Chick Publications” does for atheists (and informed Christians too). Nor is the fact that many Catholic universities are really CINO (Catholic In Name Only), e.g. teaching higher criticism and inviting pro-abortionist commencement speakers, and Loyola seems to fit the description. But it’s hardly plausible that they would appoint a high-profile atheist to be a chair, if that’s what Morey claims Capaldi is.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

Leave a Reply