Saturday, October 13, 2007

Matt 24 Watch, 33: Mr Dawkins and his fellow Atheists make their agenda "Crystal Clear"

In a report on the recent conference of the newly launched Atheists Alliance held in Virginia, "Crystal Clear Atheism," we may read of a telling contrast between Oxford University's Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Mr Richard Dawkins, and his fellow Atheist, Mr Sam Harris:
Dawkins portrayed a black-and-white intellectual battle between atheism and religion. He denounced the "preposterous nonsense of religious customs" and compared religion to racism. He also gave no quarter to moderate or liberal believers, asserting that "so-called moderate Christianity is simply an evasion."

"If you've been taught to believe it by moderates, what's to stop you from taking the next step and blowing yourself up?" he said.

By contrast, Harris's speech was a more tempered critique of the atheist movement itself. While Harris said he believed science must ultimately destroy religion, he also discussed spirituality and mysticism and called for a greater understanding of allegedly spiritual phenomena. He also cautioned the audience against lumping all religions together . . . . Specifically, he [Harris] noted that radical Islam was far more threatening than any radical Christian sect, adding that Christians had a right to be outraged when the media treated the two religions similarly . . . .

While the audience gave Dawkins a standing ovation, Harris received only polite applause. One questioner later declared herself "very disappointed" in Harris's talk . . . .

"Religion is not the root of all evil, but it gets in the way of [determining] how we got here and where we find ourselves," Dawkins said. "And that is an evil in itself."

Dawkins was particularly critical of parents who raise their children as a "Catholic child" or "Protestant child." Children must not be labeled as subscribing to a particular religion, he said, and should be allowed to examine the evidence and determine their beliefs for themselves . . . .

When asked what the main difference between believers and atheists was, Dawkins had a quick answer: "Well, we're bright."
Mr Dawkins' recent interview with the Guardian Newspaper is equally telling (and quite chilling; pardon my citing the offensively racist reference he makes):

Britain’s leading atheist is spearheading a campaign in America to challenge the dominance of religion in every day life and in politics, insisting that the millions of US godless deserve to be heard too.

Atheists in the US “have been downtrodden for a very long time. So I think some sort of political organisation is what they need”, he said . . . . Religion is palpable in US schools, places of work and public institutions . . . .

"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."

What did he hope an atheist bloc in the US might achieve? "I would free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community. I would like to free everyone from the assumption you have to be religious in order to be a decent person or to be moral. Obviously stem cell research and all the interference with scientific research that goes on [should stop]. Obviously the whole creationist interference with education [should stop] but I think, more positively, I would like to see people encouraged to rejoice in the world in which they find themselves, the universe in which they have been born, to take full advantage of the tiny slice of eternity they have been granted."

It is hard to pick where to begin with in such a target-rich, hostility-laced rhetorical environment. However, several points plainly should be highlighted, so that we can be forewarned and forearmed:

1] The two tidal waves: Observe how Mr Harris had to try to publicly correct Mr Dawkins on the plain and obvious difference between Bible-believing Evangelical Christians and violent Islamist terrorists -- a direct implication of the propagandistic impact of the smear word "fundamentalism." It is telling that the Atheistic audience received Mr Dawkins with a standing ovation; Mr Harris' attempt at being self-critical and fair-minded received only tepid polite applause. And these folks view themselves as "the brights" and complain of oppression and unfairness? [By the way, relative to evolutionary materialist premises, how can one ground the binding nature of moral claims such as the claim to fairness as a right? More on this later.]

2] A telling irony on "freedom": Obseve that when it comes to religion, Mr Dawkins and his ilk believe that "Children . . . should be allowed to examine the evidence and determine their beliefs for themselves" and intend to "free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community." Let's put that plainly: by direct implication, in the name of "freedom," it would be illegal to have Family Devotions, or send kids to Sunday School -- shades of the late, unlamented USSR. But at the same time, in school [as we can see from the Judge Jones case on ID], it would be illegal to allow children to examine for themselves the pros and cons of the actual evidence relating to the self-refuting philosophy of Evolutionary Materialism, especially such evidence as might point to intelligent design as a major feature of nature from the fine-tuned physics that permits a life-habitable cosmos to exist, on to the formation of the equally fine-tuned functionally specific, complex information systems of life at cellular level, to the further increment in such complex specified information required to account for the diversity of life forms from amoeba to man. All, in the name of "freedom."

3] On being "moral" while Atheist: Mr Dawkins says: "I would like to free everyone from the assumption you have to be religious in order to be a decent person or to be moral." Of course, as we just saw, the profound immorality of what he intends to do in the name of freedom seemingly escapes him and too many of his followers. But, there is a deeper misunderstanding that lurks, one that can best be appreciated in light of Paul's teaching in Romans 2 and 13 [c. 57 AD]:

RO 2: 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil . . . 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good . . . 11 For God does not show favoritism . . . . 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) . . . . RO 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
--> In short, right from the very first generation of the Christian faith, in its foundational Scriptures, it has been plainly, explicitly taught that normal men have an innate, God-given intuition about core morality, regardless of their worldviews.

--> However, equally, at our best, we all struggle to live up to such intuitions. That is, there are no truly moral or decent people, just plain ordinary struggling sinners. (Thence we come to the Gospel as Good News, i.e that by God's grace in Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour, we may find forgiveness and a path to reformation, moral-spiritual empowerment and transformation. Indeed, from Rom 2:7, evidently even those who have never explicitly heard of Christ but "by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality," will be welcomed and blessed by God: " . . . [to these] he will give eternal life.")

--> In this light, I find the self-laudatory idea that "I don't have to believe in God to be 'decent' or 'moral' . . ." deeply troubling. For therein lies a want of self-critical reflection on one's own imperfection and moral struggles. Indeed, this is exactly what Mr Harris tried to point out during the "Crystal-Clear Atheism" conference -- and plainly failed to get across.

--> Indeed, it is not without relevance to note that Evolutionary Materialism, a foundation-stone of modern Atheism (on which it grounds its claim to be "Scientific"), has no firm basis for morality as a binding obligation. Indeed, the very fact that in quarrelling we appeal to just such a binding moral law raises the direct question of a Lawgiver, i.e God.

4] Monopolising the public square: Mr Dawkins blunders badly by citing the alleged Jewish monopoly on US Foreign policy. In so doing, he immediately shows his habitual want of care over truth and fairness in his public statements. The claim is also inexcusibly bigoted. It is further revealing: in a context where Atheistic thought and its associated secularism actually dominate the Campus, the media, many courtrooms and much of the public square, Mr Dawkins declares that Atheists are "downtrodden," and hopes to monopolise the public square. Given the now routine censorship, misrepresentation of other views and even career-busting that prevail and the declared intents as cited above, the fruit of such control would plainly be destructive and oppressive in the extreme.

5] The "brights": Mr Dawkins' parting shot on being asked on the difference between "believers" and "atheists" is utterly, stunningly revealing: "Well, we're bright." First, inescapably, atheists are believers too. For, to "prove" A, one needs B. Then, B required C to prove it in turn, and so on. So, either one faces an impossible infinite regress of proofs, or else at some point F, one accepts some things without further proof. One's Faith-Point. The real question is whether one's faith-point stands serious scrutiny on its own account or relative to other possible worldviews. On that score, Evolutionary Materialism [the hard core of current atheism] spectacularly self-destructs:
materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as "thoughts" and "conclusions" can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

Therefore, if materialism is true, the "thoughts" we have and the "conclusions" we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

. . . . In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.

As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community, for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

This is no surprise to one who is familiar with Paul's acid comment in Rom 1 on those who in ingratitude, turn their backs on the obvious evidence in the world without and the heart and mind within that plainly points to God:
20 . . . 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 men are without excuse.

RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles . . . 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised . . . . RO 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done . . . They are . . . 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful . . . senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless . . .
All that has changed, plainly and sadly, is the technology of the images, where they are located, and the particulars of the myths that substitute for the truth of Creation and moral accountability before God. In the old days, we had images of wood and stone, in temples and scandalous legends about gods. Today, we have computer-generated images and fossil reconstructions in Museums or on television or the Internet, and the stories are those of Evolutionary Materialism in the guise of science.

Nothing truly fundamental has changed.

Unsurprisingly, the results -- as the very conference of atheists we have examined above so painfully but plainly reveals -- are the same: en-darkened minds and hearts, arrogance, boastfulness, loss of the voice of conscience so that one is insensitive to the evil one is advocating or doing, out-of-control dark and plainly destructive passions.

So, let us pray for, counsel with and patiently correct [cf. 2 Tim 2:23 - 26] these sad, self-deluded, self-important people, that they wake up before it is to late.

Eternally, too late.

And, let us understand the implications of the ideas and agendas they espouse, that we may defend our hard-won liberties from this latest threat. END

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