Atheist Fundamentalists

6 10 2010

As I write this, Richard Dawkins is here in Pasadena speaking at Caltech, presumably to a large crowd of students, about why belief in God is ridiculous. One doesn’t need tea leaves to divine the strategy of this New Atheist movement. They’re getting face time with the academic elite in order to further their agenda, which is to rid the world of religious belief. Such a subtle approach.

But here’s the irony: these folks are every bit as fundamentalist in their beliefs as any hard-core conservative Christian is. These atheists are positively inerrantist when it comes to their position. They see no error in their arguments, nor for that matter, any possibility of error ~ else they’d be agnostics. Indeed, they’re so cocksure of their position that they can’t help but sound arrogant in their expression of it. They’ve got a seriously large ideological axe to grind, and grind they do, like militant jihadists.

And so I’m left to wonder: how does their particular brand of science deal with the conundrum that its method cannot satisfy its own criteria in justifying its absolute claims, like their claim that there is no God? In other words, the scientific method demands measurable proof, and yet the statement that God is a delusion is neither measurable nor falsifiable, since it can reasonably be inferred that God, if he did exist, wouldn’t subject himself to atheists’ little fox hunting excursions. God does not bend to their terms (or ours), and as much as that must frustrate some of the more hardened atheist types, believers in God have been acknowledging this truth since long before atheism was even a glint in Feuerbach’s eye, which means we Christian folks can’t be accused of philosophical filibustering.

I’ve never met an atheist who liked saying “I don’t know.” Why? Because they’re absolutist in their claims, and yet, ironically, they blame believers like me of being so. And yet I merely take it by faith that God exists. I don’t know it any more than an atheist knows what happened before the Big Bang. I speculate, given the evidence around me, and then make an educated guess. And by “evidence,” of course, I don’t simply mean measurable evidence. I also mean intuitive evidence, evidence at the level of feelings and hunches. Indeed, that’s how I’ve gained a lot of reliable information about the world around me in my forty-five years of living. And if that method works for things like relationships and social dynamics and economics and quantum mechanics, why isn’t it a legitimate way of extrapolating to God?

It’s high time the Church pulled out the big guns and schooled these atheist wannabees (there really are only a precious few who wear the mantle with any real dignity) on the proper methods of disputation. It’s high time because, among other things, while the Church sleeps, these die-hard New Atheists are at places like Caltech infecting the minds of a generation of bright young students who are getting the clear subtext: if you want to be taken seriously in the Academy, you’d better not be foolish enough to believe in God. And who likes being laughed at? Much less unemployed?

And yet, the Christian faith will, one way or the other, get a fair hearing in the midst of all their cacophony of bluster and bigotry. The Church is the anvil that has worn out many hammers, and I’m just doing my little part in securing the ramparts. I’ve got a five year-old daughter to raise, after all, and part of my responsibility as her parent is to clear away the intellectual and ideological rubbish so that she can walk freely among the halls of open inquiry and the marketplace of ideas and not be bullied into one camp or another by shrill salesmen with rhetorical tricks up their sleeves. True, I’ve heard some church preachers who were doozies. But they’ve got nothing over their New Atheist counterparts. Talk about shrill.

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