Is Religion The Enemy? 4

04 Jul

We will continue to look at different quotes from  McGrath, A. (2011). Why God Won’t Go Away: Engaging with the New Atheism . London: SPCK. BUT this time we are going to let the quotes speak for themselves as we think we captured enough information to provide you with the right amount of conext.

We may not agree with everything said and may make a comment or two at differen tpoints

#1. Yet the New Atheism’s critics, including many atheists, argue that it seems to think it has a monopoly on truth, refusing as a matter of principle to concede the rationality of other positions, above all of religious faith.  (p. 56). .



#2. I love reason and science. I’m a freethinker. That’s what led me to give up on my earlier atheism and embrace the Christian faith while studying the natural sciences at university back in 1971. I have no doubt that Richard Dawkins is a freethinker too. Yet Dawkins and I seem to understand the notions of reason and science in rather different ways, and find that our freethinking leads to very different conclusions. (p. 56).

But does freethinking lead you to the truth and does it set you free from sin and error? This is where we will disagree with Dr. McGrath as while we can think on many things, we need to be guided by the spirit of truth in order to avoid falling into traps set by evil. For example, many unbelievers will want believers to think ‘objectively’ but that means if the believer does so they are following the counsel of the ungodly, putting off their beliefs and disobeying God.

we need to watch how we think freely and remain within God’s guidelines not the unbelieving world’s.


#3. Philosophers are still debating the great questions of truth and have yet to settle their differences. Is there a reality outside our minds? Is there a God? What is the good life? The jury is out on all these and countless other issues. (p. 56).

Who cares what philosophers say, they were not given the keys to the truth nor are they the discerners of truth unless they follow the Holy Spirit to the truth. Philosophers are in need of a savior and unless they repent of their sins, their thinking is as deceived as an unbelieving secular scientist.



#4. The New Atheism makes rationality one of its core defining characteristics and emphatically and aggressively denies that any alternative view can be regarded as rational. It needs to be said, however, that this is a populist rather than a scholarly view. Most reflective atheists outside the New Atheism concede both the limits of reason and the rationality of non-atheistic perspectives. They may believe that their atheism makes more sense than its alternatives, but certainly won’t necessarily dismiss belief in God as irrational. (pp. 57–58).



#5. Rationality is less concerned with adopting a particular starting point or conclusion than with the rules that regulate reflective discussion leading to a conclusion. New Atheist writers often define the term beyond its fundamental sense, holding that it demands we interpret the world in a specific way that excludes belief in God. Yet this interpretation clearly involves smuggling in a host of value judgements, assumptions and unverifiable starting points about the nature of reality that are, strictly speaking, not demonstrable by reason

Dawkins seems to overlook the legion of religious writers—such as Richard Swinburne and C. S. Lewis—who insisted that faith could and should justify itself by argument. Perhaps some religious people do refuse to think. My studies of New Atheist websites lead me to believe they’re not alone in that. But it’s just nonsense to represent this as typical of either religion or atheism. (pp. 58–59).



#6. The New Atheism refuses to confront the inconvenient truth that every world-view—whether religious or secular—goes beyond what reason or science can prove (p. 60).



#7. For Christian writers, religious faith is not a rebellion against reason but a revolt against the imprisonment of humanity within the cold walls of a rationalist dogmatism. (p. 61).



#8. From a New Atheist perspective it’s not that human reason discovers God by reaching beyond reason, but that naive human beings invent God. More than that: they invent a nasty God. Let’s reflect on this important objection in more detail.

According to New Atheist websites, this invented God is to be blamed for the evil of the world. It’s not the fault of decent human beings. God is a revolting oppressor, more to be compared to a North Korean dictator than to a good shepherd (p. 61).



#9. This fundamental criticism is summed up clearly, if a little portentously, by Richard Dawkins:

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, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.15

It may be a clumsy piece of prose, but there’s no denying the rage it expresses, which Dawkins is careful to present as reflecting his moral outrage rather than anti-religious prejudice. There’s no point in understanding or tolerating religions when they submit to such a repulsive deity. The important thing is to resist them and purge such hideous ideas from society at large. (pp. 61–62).



#10 New Atheist bloggers frequently speculate on the moral turpitude and degeneracy of this invented deity. Some even go so far as to declare that God was the hidden force that locked the doors of the Auschwitz gas chambers and poured in the cyanide. But let’s think about this for a moment. As a made-up concept, God could not possibly tell people to close the doors of the gas chambers and pour in the gas. Nor, for that matter, could God tell people to kill vast numbers of innocent people in an act of terrorism such as 9/11. Within its own intellectual framework, God is simply not an intellectual option for the New Atheism. God is a delusion. People are deluded in believing in God. If the New Atheism is right, there is no God to tell people to do anything. (p. 62).



#11 Yet the doors of the gas chambers were still closed, and the gas was still poured in. And 9/11 happened. If there’s no God, these things simply cannot be God’s fault. They were acts committed by human beings. The New Atheism may protest that they were committed by deluded human beings. But there’s no escaping the dreadful and inconvenient truth: if there’s no God, then there’s no one to dump the blame on for human evil. The fault is ours alone. (p. 62).



#12 The New Atheism, in scapegoating God for the rational and moral failings of human beings, is hoping that nobody will notice the blatant incoherence in its own world-view. Everything that’s wrong with the world, it assures us, can be blamed on God. But if God is an invention, a fictional character, then the blame has to be laid firmly and squarely at the door of God’s human creators. It wasn’t God who initiated or executed the Holocaust. It was human beings in the twentieth century, supposedly at the zenith of their rationality and morality (p. 62).



#13 The New Atheism is in an intellectually and morally uncomfortable place. The more it excoriates religion as irrational and immoral, the more it highlights the irrationality and immorality of its creators. It’s caught in a dilemma framed and created by two of its core beliefs (neither of which, of course, can be proved):


1      God is evil and nasty.

2      God is a delusion created by human beings.


As I read Hitchens and Dawkins, I sometimes find myself wondering if they would actually prefer God to exist. Their ferocious anger and their litany of complaints would then be directed against a real being, who could be hauled before his accusers and held to account. If the ferocity of some New Atheist writers and bloggers is anything to go by, God would probably get lynched. (Come to think of it, didn’t that happen once?) God can be scapegoated for everything that’s wrong with society, and that allows some people to feel better about themselves. But if there’s no God, the spotlight of blame shifts relentlessly on to us. (pp. 63–64).



#14 An alternative New Atheist strategy is to argue that humanity has grown up since the age in which religion began to flourish. It wasn’t that humanity was originally irrational in believing in God; that just seemed the best way of making sense of things back in the Bronze Age when nobody knew any better. But what of the situation now? Numerically, far more people believe in God today than ever did in the past. The New Atheist dilemma concerns why so many human beings continue to hold to such belief when they have no business doing so. (p. 65).


#15 The casual and breezy New Atheist references to the rationality of godlessness and irrationality of belief in God merely invite the entirely proper question: ‘Which rationality do you mean?’34 Religion may not conform to the New Atheism’s dogmatic notions of rationality, but there are still plenty of rational alternatives. And belief in God turns out to be one of them. (p. 71).

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, controversial issues, faith, leadership, theology


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