Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Sorry about last night, but I had some business that I needed to take care of. If the blog doesn’t come up, there’s no need to assume the worst. Tonight, I’d like to give my conclusions after reading Stenger’s book on the future of atheism.
I see the future of atheism as bleak, and this is largely based on the work of the new atheists. The new atheists come at their topic being unfamiliar with the arguments hoping to prey on a people who are unsuspecting and do not know why they believe what they believe well. It is banking on the ignorance of man.
This is also because of the age of the internet. In many ways now, the internet has been good to us. We do have ready access to much information and one can read scholarly articles online. It is also a good place to have the public exchange of ideas, such as how this blog reaches an audience through Theologyweb.com as well.
However, it has also been said that when ignorance meets ignorance, you simply get more ignorance. This is often why our Bible studies don’t go well as we just sit around and discuss what the text means to us. How many Bible studies get at what the text means? How many sermons really dig into the meat of the Word rather than just go straight to application?
On the internet, this happens often through wikipedia and youtube. With Wiki, anyone can edit anything and ignorance can become fact easily. Who wrote that article? You don’t know. Now I will look at wiki at times for simple basics or at things in the entertainment industry, but not for a real scholarly debate.
YouTube can be a tool for good, but you need to look at who’s making the video? Do they have the credentials that they need? Are their arguments sound? Remember, the presentation of the argument can blind you to the actual argument. This is a way the images can come to do your thinking for you.
In a culture of such ignorance, I think the new atheists will reach some. However, the more informed people are the ones who will not buy into their argumentation. I’m not saying that’s only theists. I admire the atheists who have the guts to come out and say the new atheists are hurting the cause of atheism, and I have seen some atheists write and speak about how bad the books of the new atheists are, and I’m grateful.
Lest anyone misunderstand me, such ignorance is also bad from the theistic perspective, as I’ve hoped to show in speaking about our Bible studies and about our sermons. Too many theists have based their whole worldview on how they feel. In fact, that is where our culture is going entirely. We often make the most important decisions of all based on nothing but feeling.
The problem with the new atheists is not only that they do not know theism. I also do not think they know atheism. An atheist like Nietzsche if he were around today would be tough as nails on the new atheists. He would tell them to get rid of this silly idea they have of morality being a reality apart from God. I disagree with Nietzsche’s conclusions, but he at least had the guts to stand by them.
The new atheists pull ideas of morality and truth out in the air without anything to support them. In this, they make the same error Christians can make. They do not argue at the level of presuppositions. They argue at the level of application. They take as a given morality and objective truth and the knowability of the world through rational means. They do not give a framework for these.
This is also what is done with the problem of evil. The debate does not even start with the basis of good and evil. Instead, the new atheists just assume that something is evil. In many cases, I will agree with them. When they speak of murder done in the name of Christ, I agree that that is evil. I just ask if there is a basis for that.
This is also why so many debates are so simplistic. Consider the creation/evolution debate. It is assumed by many in the debate that if evolution is true, then Christianity is false. I am not a scientist, but I know enough to know that evolution is not the end of the story and it’s a mistake for atheists and theists to think it is. I have no problem with atheists being critical of movements like ID or Christians being questionable of evolutionary theory. We need to examine the reasons.
This also applies with miracles. The atheists often make the case that these are the accounts of people who were superstitious and believed anything. If you begin with the presupposition of naturalism, of course a miracle is going to be ridiculous. That presupposition is what needs to be discussed. Someone is not foolish for believing in a miracle. You could make the case for them being foolish for believing in a miracle blindly.
Stenger thinks the future looks good for atheism. I disagree. I see it more as a knee-jerk reaction to a theism that is not satisfying, and that is the fault of those of us who are Christians at times as well. We Christians need to be living the light, but we need to do more than live it. We need to know it. A faith that is devoid of content and simply a list of rights and wrongs is not going to convert the world.
My call to Stenger and the new atheists and myself and fellow Christians and other theists is to return to the debate. Books like those of the new atheists do not take the debate seriously. The new atheists do not interact with the material and that will be their downfall. Whether it comes at the hands of theists or other atheists, I do not know, but those who treat the new atheists as serious debaters simply do not know the debate, and they only drag it down to a polemical level.
Tomorrow, we shall start a new book.