The New Atheist
Who is the new atheist? He is bold; he is vocal; he is armed with anti-Christian propaganda, scientific arguments and an unwavering belief that science proves he is right; he is on a mission to tear down anything that promotes a Supreme God. Tragically he is defended by a growing force of supporters that subscribe to his belief system. Some of them have even taken to de-baptising themselves and publicly renouncing the faith of their childhood, an initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (AFP, Breitbart).
Atheism is nothing new but in the last couple of decades it has become a fast growing movement led by four prominent leaders (often called the four horsemen of new atheism): Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. Widely known for their atheistic arguments through a series of best-selling books and countless anti-God campaigns, these men are actively recruiting and converting many to adopt their attitude towards God, religion and specifically, Christianity. Unfortunately, they’re succeeding. According to the latest America Religious Identification Survey, “nonreligious” adults (comprising of atheists, agnostics and others with no religious beliefs) are now the third largest group in the US after Catholics and Baptists. This group has grown by 138% since 1990! This drastic increase suggests that a number of Americans are succumbing to a dead end belief system that rejects God, dismissing Him as unnecessary since, according to them, science proves that all life originated by chance. More importantly, they insist that religion is the primary cause of evil in this world and as such are tireless in their campaign to dispel all religious beliefs.
Here’s a few insights into the characteristics of the New Atheist:
The New Atheist is bold in his proselytizing and unrelenting in his fight to turn others away from a belief in God. According to Dr. Mohler, author of Atheism Remix “The New Atheists are, in their own way, evangelistic in intent and ambitious in hope. They see atheism as the only plausible worldview for our times, and they see belief in God as downright dangerous.” Christopher Hitchens has been diagnosed with cancer and his sickness has only added fervor to his cause: “If anything, my contempt for the false consolation of religion has increased since I became aware that I probably don’t have very long to live” (Christopher Hitchens, NPR). As Christians, we should not be deterred or easily angered by the disrespect that atheists show for our God; instead we should be Christ-like in our approach as we share our faith with them. Love, knowledge, relationship and patience are integral to moving boundaries when witnessing to atheists.
The New Atheist rejects the notion of a Supreme Being or Creator; he specifically targets Christianity, abhorrently rejecting God, Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible. Quoted directly from his book “The God Delusion” Richard Dawkins says “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal…malevolent bully”
2 Peter 3:3-6: Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
I am repulsed re-writing Dawkins’ blasphemous words; but it’s important that, as Christians, we have an understanding of who we are up against as we spread the Word of God, His love through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and the real truth.
The New Atheist has a Darwinian worldview and uses science, specifically evolution, to build his case that belief in God is unnecessary, even impossible. For Dawkins, truth is grounded in explicit proof whereas religion is grounded in faith (“The Selfish Gene” and “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins). Our faith is grounded in truth, and science also proves it. We should embrace science and logic as we witness to atheists – there’s so much evidence that proves our case for Christianity and for Creation. Our brothers at Inspiks have pulled together a wealth of information in the following two articles that are eye openers and make strong arguments for our beliefs:
Additionally, reading books by Christian apologists such as Ravi Zacharias, Stuart Mc Allister, Paul Copans, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, just to name a few, will provide you with the knowledge that you need to effectively witness.
1 Peter 3:15-16: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..
The New Atheist believes that religion leads to evil and is the direct cause of the world’s perils. He has a zero tolerance approach to religion in any form whether conservative or liberal and as such, has waged a war on religion believing strongly that it must be eliminated in order for human freedom to be achieved. Their alternative to religion? Science, of course, since it cannot determine what is good, evil, ethical or immoral. With no moral code, which originates with God, everyone is free to ‘legally’ do what they want. Morality is all relative—according to the new atheist. This message resounds loud and clear through the numerous worldwide atheist bus campaigns with banners that read: “You Don’t Have to Believe in God to be a Moral or Ethical Person” and “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life (see photo)” (http://richarddawkins.net).
“There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life?” I find it rather ironic that they use the term “probably.” Is it that they’re not sure? Could they just be wrong? They would never admit it, but somehow in the midst of telling scientific evidence that points to proof of a Creator and forces them to look for new arguments, I wonder if there is some remote doubt on their part. Christopher Hitchens’ illness is very unfortunate and I do pray for him and wish him well—but, I can’t help but wonder what is really going through his mind as he faces cancer and his possible fate. Is he really prepared to bet his eternity on a faulty belief that there is no God? Are they all really prepared?
Romans 1:20: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
As we witness to atheists and engage them in examining and testing their worldviews, it is important that we are armed with the knowledge we need to appropriately defend our faith and that we approach them in love and with patience. Building relationships breaks down barriers and will be integral to our defense as they see God working in our lives and experience His love through our witness.
Colossians 4:5-6: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
New Atheism refers to a 21st century movement in atheism. The term, which first appeared in the November 2006 edition of Wired magazine, is applied, sometimes pejoratively, to a series of six best-selling books by five authors that appeared in the period 2004–2008. These authors are Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger and Christopher Hitchens. The collective representation of Harris, Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens has also been termed “The Four Horsemen”, based on a discussion in 2007. They and other supporters of the New Atheism movement are hardline critics of religion. They state that atheism, backed by recent scientific advancement, has reached the point where it is time to take a far less accommodating attitude toward religion, superstition, and religious fanaticism than had been extended by some atheists and secularists. According to CNN, “What the New Atheists share is a belief that religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.” Source: Wikipedia
- Source for Photo: (in right of photo is Richard Dawkins)
- AFP, Breitbart “Following atheist trend, Britons seek ‘de-baptism’”
- NPR, Bradley Hagerty, Barbara “Hitchens Brothers Agree To Disagree Over God”
- Mohler, Albert “Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists”
- Self Described Religious Identification of Adult Population: 1990-2008