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More Atheist Arrogance

Apr 15, 2009

Another day, another outburst from God-hater Catherine Deveny. The Age atheist is at it again, with yet another juvenile attack on God. Her arrogance and poisonous posturing are really becoming quite tedious and offensive. Consider her opening paragraph:

“Good Friday was spent sitting round with lapsed Catholics drinking wine, eating meat and using the Lord’s name in vain, punctuated by the odd person saying, ‘Don’t tell my parents.’ What a thrill to stare eternal damnation in the face with a chop in one hand, a glass of cask wine in the other and a mouth full of blasphemy while still being scared of your mum and dad. All the while not believing in God. We don’t believe in heaven any more, but as sure as hell something’s making this snag taste so good. It’s probably the confidence of our contradictions.”

And this is what passes for commentary in the Age nowadays? The rest of her article is no better. After a bit of pro-homosexual rambling, she gets back to her favourite topic: God-bashing. She opines: “My mate and I debriefed about the deep-rooted brainwashing of children by religion. No child is born religious, homophobic, racist or sexist. They are programmed. Children’s brains are malleable to promote the survival of the species.”

Here we have a mishmash of rationalist thought, from Locke’s tabula rasa (blank slate – we are born with an empty or clean slate, to be filled in by society as we develop) and Rousseau’s noble savage (we are born innocent but society later corrupts us).

Of course the Judeo-Christian view is radically different: we are born with a sinful nature. GK Chesterton once said that the doctrine of original sin is “the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved”. Ask any parent for the empirical proof of this teaching.

No toddler has to be trained to say ‘me’ or ‘mine’. No toddler has to be taught how to grab toys out of the hands of playmates. The opposite is the case. The general drift to selfishness and greed has to be unlearned, as children are socialised and taught to not just think of their own desires and wants.

So Deveny would be much closer to the truth if she wrote, “No child is born irreligious, un-homophobic, un-racist or un-sexist”. But she gets worse, as she cites a neurologist who speaks of a “God spot”, and how evolutionary theorists posit that religion is hardwired into our brains.

Of course atheists, who are committed to materialism – the belief that matter is all there is – are forced to explain not just religion but all non-material things (love, justice, truth, beauty, etc.) in materialistic terms. They argue that God does not exist, and belief in God is irrational and a delusion. So how do we account for the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind has always been religious?

Simple: they resort to the foolishness that ‘God genes’ exist, or that evolution has hardwired religion into us. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? In truth, it takes more faith to believe some of these wild speculative theories than it does to admit that the reason humans everywhere are theistic is because God exists.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

But if we are to accept such silly atheist concoctions, then they must cut both ways. One must then speak of atheist genes and irreligious hardwiring. If theism is a product of random evolution, so too is atheism. Dawkins has been roundly critiqued, even by his own peers, for his theory of memes, yet all we get here is more of the same.

And if Ms Deveny wants to cite neuroscientists, why does she not refer to Mario Beauregard? He and Denyse O’Leary wrote The Spiritual Brain (HarperOne, 2007) arguing just the opposite case: that materialism cannot account for consciousness and religious experience, and that it is a reductionistic, flawed theory. The evidence seems to be that God created brains, instead of brains creating God.

Let me offer just one more quote from our God-hating columnist: “I’m with Richard Dawkins. Indoctrination of children into religion is child abuse. Children should have the right to be raised free from their parents’ superstitions, prejudice and mumbo jumbo. Let them make up their own mind when they’re adults. Instead, let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love.”

So does she believe that when she rams her misotheism down the throats of her children, this will somehow not be indoctrination or child abuse? Why is indoctrination in atheism good, but religious instruction evil? And notice she is willing to use the word “brainwash”. Exactly. If she had her way, all children would be indoctrinated and brainwashed into the same materialism and atheism that she is so happy to spew, courtesy of the Age.

Ms Deveny thinks she is being so cute and so clever in blasting the deeply held faith of millions of Australians. And the Age is so happy to run with all this. I wait for the day when the Age will run equally poisonous tripe about Islam. But those Christians are such soft targets: no worries about fatwas being issued or bombs going off at the Age.

Yet one day the smirk will disappear from her face as she stands before her creator and judge. There will be no more cutesy comments and snide remarks then. Her head will hang in shame, and she will realise what a fool she has been (Psalm 14:1).

Then it will be God who does the laughing: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalm 2:1-4)

The worrying thing about this is the fact that the Age actually pays this woman to write such anti-Christian drivel. They seem to think it is their religious duty to regularly mock and ridicule the beliefs of many of its own readers. One day the editors of the Age will also stand before the judge of all the earth. It will not be a pretty sight.

Of course the real tragedy is this: today Jesus stands before all these God-haters with his outstretched, nail-pierced hands. But when he meets them in the next life, the offer of forgiveness will be withdrawn, and the proper and just course of judgment will begin. Either way we will all meet Jesus. Pray that people meet him now, not then.

www.theage.com.au/opinion/the-perfect-riposte-to-childhood-indoctrination-20090414-a67t.html

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49 Responses to More Atheist Arrogance

  • Well isn’t that intolerant of her!

    Are we not living in an age that preaches tolerance?

    I suppose only when it fits to their agenda.

    Megan Fisher

  • Thanks Megan

    Exactly so. She spouts off about “tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love,” yet she demonstrates none of the above. Her writings are regularly characterised by intolerance, lack of acceptance, irrationality and hatred. As has often been noted, those who carry on the most about tolerance are usually the ones who are the most intolerant.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Re Locke’s tabula rasa: although he introduced the term in Book II of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, it’s been taken a lot further by other writers and applied to moral development. Locke’s intention is to elucidate how the mind arrives at knowledge. For Locke, the workings of the mind can be an original source of knowledge even though they’re not produced by external stimuli; but external stimuli are required for the mind to have data to work on.

    Locke himself was a serious Christian who believed in the supreme rationality and intellectual defensibility of the Christian faith, as his correspondence and later works on the Reasonableness of Christianity and his Paraphrase & Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul show.

    Michael Watts

  • Here is John Cleese having a go at ‘determinism’. Some theories are just begging to be pilloried.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

    Dale Flannery

  • Hi Bill

    Don’t you have religious tolerance laws in Victoria which stop this sort of ‘hate speech’?

    Where are VCAT when stuff like this happens?

    Geoff Peet

  • Poor Ms Deveny. What on earth has happened in her life to make her become like this. She is so full of hatred, anger, sarcasm and bitterness. We need to pray for her and those responsible at ‘The Age’ that they will stop encouraging her to vent her wrath in public which does nothing constructive but only stirs up more loathing and bigotry.
    Mandy Varley

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes what you state is correct, and his tabula rasa had more to do with his epistemology. (It can be debated whether human knowledge is at all possible in such a blank slate, or if prior categories of thought or innate ideas are necessary – perhaps part of what being made in God’s image entails.) What I also had in mind was his 1679 Two Treatises on Government in which he spoke of a perfect “state of nature” free of guilt and restriction, later brought about by society. And one can explore how Lockean empiricism, part of the overall Enlightenment project, led to later wars between faith and reason. But this is all a bit of a digression from the main point of the article!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Geoff

    Yes we do have such laws, and she would be an ideal candidate to be tried under such legislation. But my take on using such laws is this: I – and others – fought hard and long against the introduction of such laws a decade ago. So I do not want to now use laws which I still consider to be terrible laws. I still prefer to see these laws scrapped altogether, rather than we using them against the misotheists.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Mandy

    Yes, she obviously seems to think she had a lousy upbringing as a Catholic youth. So now she will let that experience cloud her judgment and poison her thinking. Instead of rationally assessing the claims of Christ, she has allowed herself to become embittered, and she uses her atheism as an excuse for her vitriol and ugliness. For all her claims about championing rationality and reason, she is instead running from these things. She seems to be running on anger and resentment instead of clear thinking and an open mind.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Many thanks Dale

    It is a great send-up indeed of the “God gene” and all forms of scientific determinism. LOL. It is less than 3 minutes, so I recommend that all my readers have a look at it. Many thanks for the tip.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill, Even though I accept and respect your position about the vilification laws and I am every bit against the laws myself but don’t you think that someone like this person should be fought against under those laws as they are in existence now? And secondly this will stop anyone trying to pick on the Christians in future as it is alarming that she (or anyone else for that matter) can say this against the Christians and “get away” with it as it gives the impression that the Christians don’t fight back to stand up for their faith and these people keep insulting their faith which is wrong because if they want to be “tolerated” then musn’t they also learn what it really means to respect another’s faith even though they disagree and that means you can debate, discuss with others in a rational manner but one musnt overstep the mark with terribly insulting words such as this. I wonder what she would say if I were to write about her and use offensive language and put down her beliefs in the same manner every time she writes about the Christian faith. I am shown her columns by my Christian friends and they are always insulting to the Christians. This is a bona fide situation where the laws should be used as it is insulting to the Christians especially on such a Holy day as Good Friday.
    Siti Khatijah

  • Catherine Deveny’s God-hating ways run deep. Some years ago she ran a piece on private schools, and she so incensed my then 14-year-old daughter – who attended one and who is incidentally not a Christian – that she wrote Ms Deveny a letter stating that her article was incorrect. Ms Deveny had neither the manners nor the professionalism to actually respond. You may be correct Bill to say not to exercise the use of VCAT, but perhaps if a Christian did use that perogative just once, it may put some of these members of the “artistic elite” (read chattering classes) on their guard. It would be interesting if a Moslem took umbridge at this article and instigated VCAT action.
    Wayne Pelling

  • Thanks Siti (and Wayne)

    It is certainly possible that other believers may well want to use such religious vilification laws as you suggest, and I won’t begrudge them of this. If nothing else, it might be a bit hypocritical if I make use of them, since I campaigned so hard against them in the first place. My main preference is to see these bad laws dumped, but if Christians or other religious people want to use them against raving misotheists like Deveny, then I guess they should go ahead and give it a try. It would be interesting to see what the result would be. I suspect that we would not get very far. After all, it is open season on Christianity, and most of the public servants working at places like VCAT or various EOC bodies would probably share Deveny’s beliefs!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill,

    Closer to the philosophical level of John Cleese than John Locke, the innate sinfulness of man was illustrated well by Jeff Foxworthy (of “You might be a Redneck” fame) in one of his routines about kids. If it was all about chance or a neutral attitude, a toddler might – after accidentally stuffing chewing gum in the video recorder – accidentally go and clean the bathroom and do the dishes.

    Sadly, Deveny even misses that!

    Jeremy Peet

  • Even a non-Christian social commentator, Dr Theodore Dalrymple, showed up the flaws in this evolutionary reasoning, as promoted by the atheopathic philosopher Daniel Dennett, in What the New Atheists Don’t See
    :

    ‘Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.
    ‘For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favor, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.’

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hey, I keep being inundated with great comments. Thanks for the neat Foxworthy illustration, Jeremy. And thanks Jonathan for the terrific quote by Dalrymple.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill and others.

    My question was actully very much tongue in cheek, with the point being that the laws are ridiculous as surely one of their supposed aims was to stop this sort of garbage gaining a public airing. I totally agree in the right to vigirous debate and that means taking criticism (however biased) as well as being able to clearly articulate your view on truth as well.

    My comment was an indication at the falsity of such laws and the need for the laws to go, not the (one-sided) debate.

    That said, all it takes is one person to complain in my understanding – does Catherine realise this? I wonder how quickly VCAT would be able process such a debate as surely there is more than sufficient written material to uphold such a complaint. What would be the consequence if the complaint is upheld?

    Again, this supposed scenario should point to the need for the laws to be repealed if they can’t even achieve what they were supposed to. It appears these laws cannot even change the actions let alone the heart of a person. Voddie Baucham speaks of the only two answers that secular humanists have to our fallen state in the link included above (an excellent sermon) – more education and/or more legislation, neither of which can change the heart of man which is sinful above all things and byond cure (Jer 17:9).

    There is a huge difference between grace and tolerance!

    Geoff Peet

  • Dear Bill, Thank you. I understand your stand but it is time that people stop persecuting and bullying the Christians as they are the least to fight back. This is my very adamant position. Those who practice peace must be respected, not be taken for granted. I hope some Christians will take her to VCAT and silence her because she picks on the Christians too much and all those others that do. Sometimes the Christians must fight back in a court of law like the VCAT to be seen that they must not be taken for granted. After all taking the course of law is a good way of fighting back unlike some “fanatical religious” people who just simply murder!
    Siti Khatijah

  • Bill,

    Did you submit your article to The Age for publication? Sounds like a mighty good idea to me.

    Spencer Gear

  • Some good comments Bill. Sadly, Catherine Deveny’s article shows more about her as a person than anything else. She attacks Christianity with a passion, but it’s clear she’s caught her ideas like chicken pox, without any real serious thought. Actually one wonders whether Ms Deveny has an idea of her own, since we’ve heard her kind of stuff so often before. She tries to tell us, in a not so flattering manner, that a personal, all powerful, righteous, and loving God, as depicted in the Bible, is obsolete, and those who hold to such a belief — deluded. But tell me, what would someone like Ms Deveny say to those of us who mourned and sought comfort in praying to such a God after the recent horrific Victorian bushfire disaster (or any other calamity that life throws up from time to time)? If there is no God, then there is no one to hear those prayers. Moreover, there is no hope in all the struggles and tragedies that we go through in life, particularly when we lose our loved ones.
    Trevor Grace

  • Thanks Spencer

    Yes I thought about it, but sent in a letter instead. I used to get articles published in the Age on occasion, but that is getting more and more difficult to achieve as of late.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Brilliant response brother! Thank you !

    “One must then speak of atheist genes and irreligious hardwiring.” I love it.

    How inconsistent is a darkened mind; but how blind not to even see it.

    Pascal Denault

  • It is said that we live in a secular age and that the post war generations, especially since the sixties have taken it as a self evident truth that our lives are autonomous: the rights of the individual are absolute and sacred. Like “Home Alone” kids, we believe that we have become liberated from the inhibitions, constraints boundaries of our cultural past – and particularly of our Christian prejudices.

    But the reality is that the man in the street and the girl working at the check – out counter whilst believing they are absolutely free, cannot live forever in a philosophical vacuum. Unless they wish to go insane, like those who undergo spending too long a time in a sensory depravation chamber, they are forced to view the world through another grid or mesh in order to interpret and make some sense of it. Consequently, regarding truth, existence and morals, they have merely submitted to another set of presuppositions.

    But they would be mistaken to think that these new presuppositions are the unique product of the 21st or even 22nd century. The world view to which they now submit has not arrived out of thin air. It has been a long time coming; it has been trickling down through society, over a period of several hundred years from intellectuals in the first instance, to artists and composers. Until finally it is has spread through general culture, multi-culturalism and finally to Freud and sex.

    It is a view of the world that nothing is knowable apart from that which the senses perceive. This view that requires as much faith if not more than that of the Christian. This is antithetical to the Christian view which is that truth has been revealed to us. Starting alone simply with sense impressions and an intellect free of any pre- conceived notions or “revealed truth,” towering intellects like Leonardo De Vinci, Descartes, Voltaire, Kant, Hegel, Rousseau, Hume, Nietzsche, Marx, Huxley – even as far back as Solomon of the Bible (nothing is new) – have shaped the way we view ourselves, the world and existence.

    As Francis Schaeffer says in “The God who is there”, ”The mass of people may not enter an art musem, may never read a serious book. If you were to explain the drift of modern thought to them, they might not be able to understand it; but his does not mean they are not influenced by the things they see and hear- including the cinema.”

    The medium has indeed become the message. Catherine Deveny says, “I’m with Richard Dawkins. Indoctrination of children into religion is child abuse. Children should have the right to be raised free from their parents’ superstitions, prejudice and mumbo jumbo. Let them make up their own mind when they’re adults. Instead, let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love.”

    Her words say it all: “let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love.”

    Words like tolerance, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination are designed to neutralise discernment, commonsense, discretion, debate, argument and above all judgement which she equates with abuse. This is exactly the same as when Steve Chalk, the British evangelical likened Christ’s death as cosmic child abuse.
    And yet these people are those who harbour deep grievances, shaking their fists, demanding that it is they who judge God rather than the other way around. And it was rational thought that produced the Soviet Union.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Catherine Deveny is scheduled to appear on Q&A tonight on ABC. I suggest everyone submit questions and see whether one can squeak through the cracks of the ABC filter and see what she says when put under a the microscope of a tough question or two.
    Paul Wakeford

  • Bill, re using the vilification laws, I see two sides of a dilemma:
    a) as citizens we are entitled to use the laws as they stand (eg. Paul used his Roman citizenship to advantage on occasion)
    b) sometimes the best way to see a bad law repealed is to enforce it’s provisions vigorously (to demonstrate how bad it is)
    but
    c) if we take such a challenge to VCAT and fail, then we will have lost ground and the opponents of The Faith will have entrenched themselves unfairly.

    The special difficulty of c) is seen in
    (1) challenging say the Arts Festival or Comedy Festival stuff where the bias of the bureacrats will dovetail neatly with freedom of expression in “art”
    or
    (2) a general perception that if Christians do defend themselves at VCAT, they are thereby proving that they are a ‘bunch of whingers’. This reinforces the common perception supposedly held in the community of Christians as thin-skinned, hyper-sensitive and therefore unworthy of the protection of this law.

    I know there is no logic to all this but that’s the reality we face.

    John Angelico

  • It’s a small point, I know, but in reponse to paragraph 5 might I say that there is no single ‘Judeo-Christian’ view of anything much other than belief in the existence of God. Having a ‘sinful nature’ is one thing; ‘original sin’ is quite another, and is an Augustinian doctrine which is absent from Judaism and is essentially rejected by Eastern Christianity. Regardless of the nature of Ms Deveny’s remarks, let’s not counter her mishmash with careless elisions.
    Gordon Kerry

  • Just thought I would say that I as well wrote to the Age.
    I told them that I was tired of Ms Deveny’s rude remarks that seem to only target Christians. I told them that as a Christian I have a duty to protect the Lord’s name and that because of this duty I was no longer going to buy their paper. I also told them that their intolerance was not reflecting the culture of tolerance they and others like to preach.

    I think it would be great if those of you who have also commented would think about writing to the Age. They need to hear from us.

    Megan Fisher

  • Thanks for the article Bill. I looked through the comments (great video!) and I think it would be interesting if a Christian tried to exercise the VCAT laws in a situation like this. If you hear about such a thing happening, I’d love for you to write an article on it.
    James Swanson

  • Catherine sounds like an uneducated, babbling moron who has not travelled the world to learn about religions and cultures (she hasn’t even studied what’s in her own backyard in that regard). And she is writing for the Age???
    Teresa Binder

  • A point that I did not sufficiently make clear was that Catherine Deveny contradicted herself when she said: “I’m with Richard Dawkins. Indoctrination of children into religion is child abuse. Children should have the right to be raised free from their parents’ superstitions, prejudice and mumbo jumbo. Let them make up their own mind when they’re adults.” But then she goes on to say, “Instead, let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love.”

    One minute she is saying that children should, like Rousseau’s Emile, be left to formulate their own views, but in the next she blatantly says that we should brainwash them.

    But for her “tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love” do not mean what a society “brainwashed” on Judeo Christian principles mean. They are the defining, iron-willed and cruel characteristics of a materialistic, libertarian society that will brook no constraint. In her eyes self -control must be a neurosis from which a child needs therapy or diversity training. She demands the right to demand what she wants when she wants – never thankfulness for grace, but like a spoilt child, at a party, forever grasping and coveting what others have, just like Obama.

    If some kind of order is required, so as to stop the whole of society descending into anarchy of competing rights, a referee is brought in, just to keep the game moving, like a well-oiled machine. But the appeal is never to an absolute authority, unless of course we are talking about the state which is rapidly becoming “that than which no greater can be thought.”

    The idea that religious belief is the product of a part of the brain wired for survival and that since man has now achieved a certain degree of control and mastery over life – even to the point where scientists are exploring the possibilities of giving us eternal life – this then makes religious belief redundant, ignores the fact that what motivates man to create his cities, culture, artistic and scientific achievements, for as long as history has been recorded, is not the need for survival but a profound dissatisfaction with mere existence.

    If scientists could find such a part of brain responsible for this eternal torment they could cut it out or control it with drugs so that we, or some sections of the population, could live in blissful disengagement with the real world, and like some autistic children could put our hand in the fire or chain saw without a flicker of emotion.

    But the fact remains that materialistic societies are driven as much by a vision of a New Jerusalem as the so-called religious. They, like Moses in the desert, having to urge the people to keep pressing on towards the “not yet,” the imminent, need constant revolution; otherwise their society dies and stagnates, which is exactly what we do find in history: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/07/07/when-nations-collapse/

    We need to hear the voice of Catherine Deveny for how will we know what we believe unless it comes under attack? How will we know that our faith in Jesus Christ will stand up under persecution. Let her speak, I say, so that the Christian will be exercised and motivated to give an answer for the faith he/she has.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Woe! What a mouthful! She must have been so hurt…we need to pray for her and fast!
    Jane Byrne

  • Enjoy your articles Bill, and the information about what’s happening here.
    Did write to The Age today. I don’t think they like to be criticized though so I don’t think our letters will be published. Lefty rubbish!
    Saw Catherine Deveney on QandA tonight. Well, if you can’t say something nice…don’t say anything at all (my mother). John Elliott was funny though.
    Helen Leach

  • Jane is that use of “fast” as in fasting and praying or to “hurry and gird up our loins” as time is running out for humanity? The return of the Judge of the Whole Earth is closer than it was yesterday. I do not think Ms Deveny and friends will be drinking wine – unless it is the Grapes of Wrath, unless they come to know Christ.
    Wayne Pelling

  • God help us, but the woman sounds like a 15 year old, as do her companions.

    The perfect riposte to childhood indoctrination? Are they kidding? Sitting around blaspheming God, while being too scared to be found out by Mum and Dad?

    For Pete’s sake!

    Stupid, stupid children!

    Louise Le Mottee, Hobart

  • As I had cause to observe recently, I’m sure this materialistic outlook in society accounts for the increasing rate of youth suicide (and suicide in general).

    Sometimes I just want to yell at the secularists when they start bemoaning youth suicide, “Well, if you keep insisting that life is essentially meaningless, what do you expect?”

    Someone else noted that the deep hunger for purpose that nearly every human being feels is one of the major intellectual problems for materialism and atheism.

    To which I replied that the atheists do not spend much time addressing it, with the same intellectual rigour as so many Christians have poured into the Problem of Evil?

    All the materialists bother to say is that “wanting something to be true [there is purpose] does not make it true.”

    But then, from a strictly materialist POV, why should we want anything other than just food, sleep and sex?

    Also, the materialists (either the hard core atheists or the soft “I just distract myself from metaphysics with shopping or ceaseless activity” types) are just kidding themselves if they think they can counter the increasing youth suicide rate by continuing to point out that there is no meaning in life etc. Seems to me that if you are a materialist, you simply have to resign yourself to the fact that people you love, including perhaps your own children may well top themselves. IOW, if you don’t want that to happen, you have to look at something else apart from materialism for the answers.

    And then, strictly speaking, if the material world is all there is, why would we even care if our loved ones do commit suicide?

    Indeed, why do people who say they only believe in matter cry out for justice, mercy and compassion and even love? These are all rather non-material things.

    Louise Le Mottee, Hobart

  • Thanks Louise

    Yes, quite right. I addressed the very same issues in an article penned some time ago: https://billmuehlenberg.com/1998/09/18/youth-suicide-and-secularisation/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Jane is right, of course, we must pray for Catherine and Co. Also, I agree that it would be a good idea to flood The Age with letters.

    Use humour if you can and a little bit of irony pointed at Deveny and The Age would by no means go astray.

    Really, secularism (and materialism etc) is such an incoherent and absurd world view that it’s easy to hold it up to ridicule. And it thoroughly deserves it!

    Louise Le Mottee, Hobart

  • Louise, I am sure you would agree that after all our intellectual and philosophical arguments about meaning, purpose, justice, love and evil etc., we must always earth our conversations with the word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Time after time, when Jesus was in dispute or discourse, he would conclude with pointing to himself, as on that famous occasion when dialoguing with Satan when he kept finishing with “ It is written.“
    All else is fantasy, vain imaginings. That is why as never before we need to keep going back to the Chart room, to check on the Compass, to look at the Instruments, so that we also do not wake up to find ourselves in dangerous waters.
    I fear that many of us, in the “never have had it so good” West, myself included, have become lax with reading daily the Bible, considering it as some kind of lucky charm to getting through the week, when in fact it is our only source of reality.
    Most of us have become inhibited from quoting from the Bible; indeed I heard one church elder saying that we should not “hit people over the head with it” – and that was during a church service!!
    Perhaps we should stop being defensive and apologising for quoting from scripture when talking to non – believers and develop more the spirit of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, when he said, “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.”
    David Skinner, UK

  • Equality. The homosexuals have more than their fair share of equality. What they really want more than anything else is not material equality but acceptance in society. The ability to walk hand in hand and demonstrate gay affection in public. But the inhibitions lie within themselves no matter how much they might wish to blame these on the rest of us. It is what is left of their own seared consciences that sours and poisons their so-called new found freedom. Even without the Christian being around to blame, the hounds of heaven will never stop biting at their heels.

    Homosexuals are free to drive on the road, sit on the same buses as us, compose music, enter into the Olympic games, eat in the same restaurant us, attend the same schools and colleges, manage banks and armies. They do all this without our ever knowing of their existence. Why? Simply because, unlike coloureds, those of other races and the disabled, there is nothing to distinguish them from the rest of us. The only way that they can do this is in their sexual and procreational (or lack of it) behaviour. This and this alone is what they demand we accept. The public are not expected to have an opinion on this; indeed as we have seen in California with Proposition 8, when the public are asked, this is greeted by the gays with howls of rage and temper tantrums. Will our politicians, as they uniquely did in California have a referendum and democratically ask us, those who elected them to represent our interests, namely our children, what our views are? Not. Democracy died decades ago.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Don’t know if they’ll print it, but here is my letter to the Editor of The Age:

    Good grief! What a diatribe! I refer, of course, to Ms Deveny’s incoherent, anti-Catholic vomit fest in honour of Good Friday (The Age 15/4).

    Secularists sure are cute little critters. Apparently it is child abuse to brainwash our children with religion but it is not child abuse to brainwash them with irreligion. Work that one out. And then, she and her friends are so brave that while they blaspheme and eat meat on Good Friday, they are worried Mummy and Daddy will find out! What heroes!

    I suppose The Age is entitled to waste its working capital on such drivel, but surely Ms Deveny needs to pay for her own therapy, rather than being paid to work out her issues with Mummy, Daddy and the mean old nuns in print.

    As obnoxious as such columns are, there is something terribly delightful in watching bitter and twisted atheists stamp their tiny feet in rage.

    Louise Le Mottee, Hobart

  • Dear Wayne, I have never been good at fasting! I meant we should all pray for her, asap! After all Catherine at this present moment is so lost! Louise, I have really enjoyed reading your comments…GB!
    Jane Byrne

  • As an American, my writing to The Age would be rather moot, but I wanted to add a couple thoughts.

    I do not think “Not telling Mummy and Daddy” is about the fear of being found out and shamed by one’s parents, but a poke in their eye for the alleged child abuse of childhood religious indoctrination. If Ms Deveny is a regular contributor to The Age, surely her parents would know what is contained in her ridiculous diatribes. Unless Ms Deveny’s parents have passed on, are completely isolated from the rest of Australia, or are otherwise incapable of understanding what she does for a living, I find it extremely difficult to believe they (or the parents of the 40 lapsed Catholics she dined and caroused with on Good Friday) don’t know what their child is doing. As some major American politicans have discovered to their dismay in recent years, it has become very difficult to live a double life when you’re in the public eye and your words can be transmitted around the world in a matter of seconds.

    All this really proves, of course, is that Ms Deveny unwittingly added the sin of dishonoring her parents to the others of which she boasted. What a sad and pitiful creature she is…as well the newspaper that would publish such childishly written rubbish.

    M.E. Huffmaster, US

  • But the abiding truth is that Catherine and every man or woman can never escape the conscience that God has placed in each of us. No law, no force, no amount of denial, delusion, self-deception, nothing that man can do can stop the conscience working away like a worm, now accusing now affirming.

    ‘When non Christians sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. Even non-Christians, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.’ -Romans 2:12 -16

    This is what fills Catherine with rage.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Dear David, it sounds like you have just described Andrew Bolt who says he doesnt believe in God but his writings are respectful, based on evidence, very responsible writing because he knows he can influence thousands of readers and not just some “its my opinion sounding like a teen who doesnt know what she wants…..”. This woman however knowing she can influence young people about all sorts of things being a public figure writes irresponsibly especially targeting almost predatory like behaviour, picking on them incessantly, a group of people who practice nothing but peace and upholds the Rule of Law.
    Siti Khatijah

  • ….Her words say it all: “let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love…

    Without God, what is this “good” that she speaks of? How can it even exist?

    Let alone, if everything evolved, what is “rational thought”, it cannot even be said to exist.

    Without God, who decides/sets the standard for what is “acceptable/tolerable”? Why should we listen to them anyway?

    And “unconditional love?” How on earth does that equate to a God-free, evolutionary/natural selection scenario where everything is based on what can “I” get in return for “loving”?

    Glen Grady

  • The article is so patently absurd, it would be funny – but that people actually believe such drivel and are prepared to stand up for it, at the end you do find yourself struggling to remain amused by it for long.

    I read it when it first appeared and was also struck by the “indoctrination of children” comment. It is just total hypocrisy to claim when you do something it is OK, but when somebody else does it, it is evil. The underlying question is never addressed – it is better for children to grow up learning about Christ or about atheism? She just assumes she’s right, but I doubt she would ever put her assumptions up to scrutiny. And therein lies her failure. Christians well schooled in their faith love to discuss it, but so-called ‘skeptics’ just run away when the going gets tough.

    Another thing that stood out to me was her phrase “the body never lies” in reference to accepting homosexuality. I laughed uproariously at that stupidity. Once I had quietened down a little, I began to imagine that I could actually start asking her some fairly basic questions about certain parts of the human body. You see, I think it is quite normal to question the health value of homosexual behaviour (never mind the morality). Cannot reproduce, and in the case of male to male acts, substantially higher risk to HIV, anal cancer, etc… I could quote a section of the book “Unprotected” where Miriam Grossman details the risk of acquiring HIV from anal sex compared to normal sex. It’s difficult to broach this subject without potentially being seen as being crude or deliberately provocative but the fact remains that homosexual behaviour actually means it’s about sex, (well, apparently that might be news for some) not about fashion sense, men with lisps or equal rights. And the act itself is a perversion of what the gift of sex is intended to be. I know some people will take emotional umbrage at my use of the word ‘perversion’, but all I would say is, don’t take my word for it, do some research. Anal sex in particular, is the biological equivalent of putting out the welcome mat for HIV. No amount of pride marches and belting people over the head with ‘tolerance’ changes that.

    http://www.miriamgrossmanmd.com/
    (Unprotected, p 68-71)

    I suppose in a way Deveny is right, the body does not lie – gay is very, very bad for the human body. That the Bible is so clear in its condemnation of the behaviour is hardly surprising when you find out how obviously harmful it is. God, who made us and loves us, cannot condone activities which are guaranteed to bring us grief. It just makes sense, even if some people have to struggle with sexual tastes that have been conditioned by our childhoods and adolesence in this broken world. We all have burdens to bear. But thanks be to God that He has not abandoned us to just ‘accepting’ things which will do us no good in the long run. He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for our sin (we are not alone) and heal our brokenness. These are not just words – it’s absolutely real. And it’s infinitely better than what Deveny offers – cynicism, acceptance of perversions, celebration of sin and hollow mockery. Her alternative is hopeless, literally.

    But Catherine probably thinks something like condoms – a precariously thin layer of latex rubber – will fix all those health issues…LOL And that her gay friend with the migraine and the PC relatives will live happily ever after too. Frankly, ideas like hers should be mocked and held in the highest contempt. People die as a result of homosexual behaviour, ‘Ms’ Deveny, do you not get that? Maybe she considers that “unsophisticated”. But let’s see her take a trip to a hospital where patients with relevant conditions painfully await their deaths and let’s hear her preach that secular gospel “rational thought”… (“Hi guys – listen, your body does not lie!”) That would be just one example of how her views are worthless in the real world.

    And she actually wrote “Hell is truth seen too late”!!! Well, I actually might agree with her about that too – trouble is I think she has little love for real truth – you know, the kind that stares you in the face occasionally and pronounces you wrong when you look in the mirror. I think she is nothing but a rebellious child in an adult body. The common thread in all her essays is that she rules the universe and she can do no wrong, no different than a self-absorbed 13 year old girl. I hope that she grows up one day. While her heart beats she still has that opportunity to actually acknowledge the source of actual truth. It is important to point out that (as well as those of Dawkins and other God-deniers) she still has a chance to change her eternal destiny. If Saul of Tarsus, and John Newton and Lee Strobel and, etc. can be changed, then there is still hope. I hope that she does not have to face the eternal consequences of hell if Truth is seen too late.

    Deveny seems to think clever humour in creative writing is a valid tool for defying logic, not as something that can and should be built on ethical and reasoned points of view. You can be funny and smart, it just takes a bit more effort. But nonsense is still nonsense.

    It’s interesting that The Age also chose over Easter to print an essay from Dr John Dickson, who did a pretty good job of defending the orthodox and historical view of the Gospel and the central part of it, the death and resurrection of Jesus. However, I fully expected a rebuttal from some outraged God-denier (The Age cannot allow such a good defence of the gospel to go unchallenged), and sure enough, an atheist got a letter in, even though it was totally lame in its arguments and should have been dismissed unworthy of print.

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/a-symbol-of-the-noblest-of-traditions-20090409-a235.html?page=-1
    (note however, that it’s a shorter version of the SMH version – 901 words v 1374 words)
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/from-instrument-of-brutality-to-symbol-of-love-20090409-a1y7.html?page=-1
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/letters/dont-sacrifice-dream-in-process-20090410-a2y6.html?page=4

    Life is so fleeting – on Good Friday someone I knew (a friend of a friend) was killed in a car accident, along with both of his children (sons), aged 8 and 5. (His wife survived.) The most frustrating thing about that situation is the unknowingness about their eternal destiny (I don’t know them well enough to comment on this). My family and friends will not have that doubt if a similar thing were to happen to me. Meanwhile, Deveny is eating snags, blaspheming and dissing her parents and the Son of God, and thinking about how to write another oh-so-clever essay for The Age. Hilarious. /sarcasm

    It is folly to rely on that fragile heartbeat in your chest – I want something a little more secure than that. Deveny sings about nothing except her own ego and it’s a tune that’s getting boring. Not to mention the fact that it virtually revels in anti-life ideas. How empty and sad.

    As a footnote, I actually did get a letter in The Age last year in response to her 2008 attack on Christianity pre-Easter. I wonder if she’ll be able to resist the temptation – if she’s still writing for The Age – at Christmas later this year, or Easter 2010? Probably not, but I don’t really care that much now anyway… at least Bill prints what I write, even if I a little too regularly write stuff that is too long… sorry, again…

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/catherine-deveny/easter-oh-wake-me-when-its-over/2008/03/20/1205602572780.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/letters/cut-this-program-and-lives-will-be-lost/2008/03/21/1205602652791.html?page=6

    Mark Rabich

  • Hi Bill,

    I have a question for you which I am hoping you can help me out with. I used to work for Oxfam but left in disgust the day I found out that their money was going to support abortions in the 3rd world. I decided to start a fundraiser 50km walk called Go the Extra Mile (you can check out the details in my website). Anyway, the target group of the charity is the ‘untouchable’ children of the Hindu caste system – they are educated, fed, clothed and taught the gospel – and many children and families are being saved through the work. I occasionally get objections to the work as it is coupled with the gospel – which angers me; I see that the very fact that this work is being done, is an example of the goodness that comes from the gospel.

    Anyway – I’m wondering if you have a blog that addresses the subject “Why you should not object to Christian’s who serve the poor sharing their faith” …

    Hope this makes sense (can probably see why I would have probably failed at writing something myself)!

    Peter Jackel

  • Thanks Peter

    I suppose I have a number of articles which indirectly address this issue, but one comes to mind. It has to do with an atheist admitting how much good the Christian gospel has been for Africa: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/01/10/christianity%E2%80%99s-positive-contributions-an-atheist-confession/

    Also, the two cannot be separated. It is exactly because of the life transforming gospel of Christ that Christians get involved in humanitarian work. And given that we are whole people, made up of both body and spirit (or soul), we have to deal with the needs of the whole person. So spiritual concerns need to be addressed along with physical concerns.

    And people of other beliefs – even secularists – are quite happy to push their own agendas while doing their social work, so why can’t Christians?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I agree. She doesn’t seem to have a great deal of depth to any of her articles. Just rambling about how much she hates a god who she claims doesn’t even exist.

    Michael Austin

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