New Atheism

What is New Atheism's Doctrine of God?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
New Atheists have a doctrine of God? Yes, it's true. But it has a fatal flaw, and even they know it.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part two of a series. Read part one.

New Atheism has a doctrine of God? Yes, it's true - because New Atheism is a belief system. Its doctrine of God was summed up by the late Christopher Hitchens: "God did not make us. We made God." But the poorly-kept secret is that New Atheists' doctrine of God has a fatal flaw - and even they know it.

A System of Doctrine

As we said in a previous article, New Atheists admit that they embrace a belief system. (More Biblically, we should call it an unbelief system - John 3:18-21). New Atheists have developed a system of doctrine that they put on display as a rival to Biblical Christianity. They continually adjust this system of doctrine as Christians expose its fallacies. New Atheism has its own doctrine of God, a doctrine of origins, a doctrine of man, a doctrine of sin, a doctrine of salvation, a body of prophetic literature, and an eschatology. In this article, we shall briefly examine New Atheism's doctrine of God.

"We Made God"

New Atheists assert that a deity of any description, and the God of the Bible in particular, is an invention of the human mind. "God did not make us. We made God," said the late Christopher Hitchens in his book, god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.1 The title of Daniel Dennett's book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,2 echoes this view. Belief in God, say the New Atheists, stems from "primitive" man's efforts to explain what he could not explain otherwise - the existence of the universe, man, evil, and so on. Belief in God, they claim, is a relic of a "primitive" past, and an impediment to a brighter future for mankind.

"The Most Unpleasant Character in all Fiction"

Hitchens' and Dennett's books, along with two other recent New York Times best sellers, form what have become known as "the four gospels of the New Atheism." The tirades in these books are not merely anti-God, they are often ferociously blasphemous. In another of the "four gospels," The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins writes:

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, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully...[Dawkins then quotes a scatological reference to God that we shall not repeat here]...

It is unfair to attack such an easy target. The God Hypothesis should not stand or fall with its most unlovely instantiation, Yahweh, nor his insipidly opposite Christian face, "Gentle Jesus meek and mild."3

No wonder Dawkins has been called the Rottweiler of the New Atheism.

A God "Unworthy of Man"

In another of the "four gospels," The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, New Atheist Sam Harris writes that "the God of Abraham is not only unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man."4 One wonders who made Harris the god-like judge of such a thing. But Harris quite self-consciously puts himself in place of God:

We are the final judges of what is good, just as we are the final judges of what is logical...The only angels we need to invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human being: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devil's masterpiece...The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered.5

As for Jesus Christ, Harris says that offering the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament messianic prophecies in the person and work of Jesus Christ as evidence of His deity constitutes an insurmountable "leap of faith." It is, he says, "a fiction. No Christians, not even those of the first century, have ever been content to rely upon it."6

Apparently Harris has never read or understood the words of Philip in John 1:45 - "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth." Obviously he has never read that the Apostle Paul went into various Jewish synagogues on his missionary journeys, as we are told in Acts 17:2-4, and "reasoned with them from the [Old Testament] Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that [according to the Old Testament prophecies] the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.' And some of them [the Jews] were persuaded, and a great multitude of the devout Greeks..."

The attitude of the writers of the "four gospels of the New Atheism" and their followers is, at its core, the same as that of the unbelieving Jews during Jesus' days on earth: "Away with Him! Away with Him!" (John 19:15). They are "haters of God...inventors of evils things" (Romans 1:25). They have bought into and passionately promote "the lie" (1:25).

New Atheists' Core Argument Against the Existence of God

Dawkins defines the hypothesis that God exists thus: "There exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us." Even in this he misses the mark, reducing God to a creature of man's mind by speaking of God as "super-human" (i.e., made in the image of man, rather than the One who made man in His image).

Dawkins then offers this fraudulent starting point for a book asserting that belief in God and in Jesus Christ is a "delusion" -

any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God, in the sense defined, is a delusion...a pernicious delusion.7

In these statements, Dawkins sets up an argument based on two demonstrably false premises, leading to an unsupportable conclusion:

Premise A: A being capable of creating anything can only come into existence by evolving. [As we shall see in a moment, Dawkins' axiom is demonstrably false.]

Premise B: Because of the nature of evolution, such a creative intelligence comes late in the evolutionary process. [No one has ever observed the kind of evolution of which Dawkins speaks. And as we shall see, observable scientific evidence tells us exactly the opposite - and Dawkins knows it.]

Conclusion C: Therefore, God could not have existed first. [This is a false conclusion, based on two glaringly false premises.]

What Dawkins and other New Atheists are saying is this: Belief in God is false because evolution - which they define as molecules becoming man through billions of years of natural selection and mutation - is true.

A Fatal Flaw

The atheism-evolution connection is strong and unbreakable. But New Atheism desperately seeks to hide a fatal flaw in its doctrine of God: Its spokesmen cannot prove that evolution is true, and in fact, the evidence is overwhelmingly against them.

The kind of evolution which Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists assert as the basis of their entire worldview, requires that information must be added to the genetic material of organisms at every stage during the observable processes of natural selection and mutation. However, scientific observation demonstrates that just the opposite always occurs: At every stage of the development of organisms, genetic information is lost, not gained. Organisms do not gain in complexity from one generation to another.

When asked in a documentary interview, "Can you give an example [just one!] of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?" scientist Dawkins, who claims to be interested in the truth, could not name a single one even though he took nearly 20 seconds on camera trying to think of one. After failing to give an answer, Dawkins asked the interviewers to shut off their cameras. Although Dawkins has denied that he failed to answer the question, the actual raw video footage shows that his denial is a falsehood.8

The Real Issue

Given such a mountain of falsehoods, how is it that New Atheism and its doctrine of God are gaining rapidly-growing numbers of followers? The answer is that New Atheists, far from being interested in the truth about God and the universe, love darkness rather than light. The real issue is not scientific or philosophical, or even "religious." The real issue is not merely belief in a deity. It is belief in the person and work of God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all things without exception were created (John 1:3) and by whom all things now consist (in the original, "hang together," Colossians 1:15-17):

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:18-21)
 

 

References:

 

1. Christopher Hitchens, god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve/Hachette Book Group USA, 2007)

2. Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2006)

3. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), page 31.

4. Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), page 226.

5. Harris, pages 226-227. Italics in the original.

6. Harris, page 86.

7. Dawkins, page 31. Italics in the original.

8. See, for example, a discussion of this video interview and Dawkins' protestations at http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/3907.asp (as viewed on 11/1/2008). The video showing Dawkins' non-answer can be viewed here: http://answersingenesis.org/AnswersMedia/video/frogPrince.aspx, and the "pregnant pause" in his response has actually been shortened by several seconds.

tq0073


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