New Atheism

How Should Christians Answer the New Atheism?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Despite the unbreakable connection between New Atheism and evolution, simply refuting Darwinism is not enough.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part nine of a series. Read part eight.

While Christians must recognize the unbreakable connection between New Atheism and evolution, simply refuting Darwinism is not nearly enough.

Recognize the Atheism-Evolution Connection

Christians need to recognize the inseparable connection between New Atheism and the belief in Darwinian evolutionary theory. It surprises many Christians to understand that it is relatively easy to debunk evolution scientifically. The simple fact is that the data in the natural world fits the literal, historical Genesis account perfectly. The evidence for Biblical special creation (not merely so-called "intelligent design") abounds.1

We also need to understand that atheistic evolution has a rather poorly-kept secret.

Atheistic evolutionists cannot cite a single genetic example to support their case for molecules-to-man evolution via mutation and natural selection. Scientists - creationist or evolutionist - universally understand that such evolution requires the addition of information to DNA. But they also understand that natural selection and mutations always mean the loss of DNA information, never an increase.

This is a fundamental and fatal flaw in the theory of evolution. In a video-taped interview, Richard Dawkins was asked this question: "Can you give an example [just one, in all the world!] 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.2

But - Dealing With Darwinism is Not Enough

Atheistic evolution is fatally flawed. It is a faith that does not fit the facts. But Christians need to remember that it is one thing to deal with New Atheism in terms of evolutionary theory - that is the relatively easy part. But it is quite another thing to deal with New Atheism as a belief system. In the previous articles in this series (see links below), we have demonstrated that New Atheism is exactly that. And at the end of the day, that is how Christians must deal with it.

How should we do that? We must answer with Biblical authority. There is no other!

Agree About "Religion"

You may be surprised at our suggested starting point: Agree with New Atheists about "religion". As we read God's Word, and as we look at the subsequent history of the world in light of Scripture, we find that "religion" is indeed historically a major vehicle for evil in the world.

Cain's decision to practice his own religion rather than the one ordained by God, led to his murder of his brother Abel (Genesis chapter 4).

Pharaoh's blind adherence to the false gods of Egypt, and to his notions of being a god himself, led to the series of plagues that demonstrated the powerlessness of each of the major Egyptian deities and of Pharaoh himself, and brought destruction and death upon the nation (Exodus chapters 3 through 12).

Israel's repeated apostasy, leaving the one true faith to worship false gods, or intermingling pagan worship with that which God had ordained (beginning even while they were in the wilderness, Exodus 32), led to repeated invasions, captivities, and eventual exile from the Promised Land.

The Pharisees added layer upon layer of man-made commentaries and regulations on top of the true worship of God, to the point where the people of Israel were perishing under a mountain of legalism. Jesus condemned the religious rulers of the Jews for their evils (e.g., Matthew 23:13-39). Freedom in Christ from legalistic religion was a major focus of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, as we see especially in Romans and Galatians.

Paul pointed the "very religious" philosophers of Mars Hill to the one true and living God, and showed them the emptiness of religion without Christ (Acts 17).

Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit repeatedly warns Christians against falling prey to false religion:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:8-10

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Disagree About the Supernatural

But having agreed with the New Atheist that "religion" is at the heart of the world's evils, we must then part ways. New Atheists' core definition of "religion" is a belief in the supernatural, which they also equate with mysticism. To the naturalistic mind, belief in the supernatural is the root of all evil. And on this point, standing on the authority of the Bible, we must totally disagree with the New Atheist. The real issue, as Romans chapter one tells us, is not that man needs to deny the supernatural. He does that just fine. The problem is that man needs to stop denying the supernatural - the one true and living God, His eternal power and Godhead - and instead truly understand and submit to the supernatural.

Christ is the Issue

And here we must point the atheist to Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the One who, as the Gospel of John tells us, exegetes God the Father to man (John 1:18). Jesus Christ is the issue. He is the One the New Atheist must face, either as Redeemer through repentance and faith here on earth, or as condemning Judge on the Last Day.

We need to present Jesus Christ to the New Atheist with a good apologetic, but without apology. We need to present the Bible as the only supernatural Book - the only book that provides an explanation of man's origin and present condition with which the data that we find in the universe agrees.

Recognize Who Does the Work

But we must couple all of this with prayer. We do not save anyone. God does.

We need to remember that the New Atheist is the natural man of 1 Corinthians chapter 2, who does not receive the things of the Spirit of God - in other words, he does not accept them as true - nor can he, because they are spiritually discerned. All the evidence in the world, and all the argumentation in the world, will not bring any person to belief unless the Spirit of God regenerates him.

No answer to the atheist, no witness to the atheist, is complete without prayer that God the Holy Spirit will bring that person to saving faith in Christ. One of the most powerful and convicting things you can do is to tell the atheist that you are praying for his salvation.

Never Be Ashamed or Intimidated

Never apologize for dealing in the supernatural. The supernatural is not the "mystical" - it is the real world. All that we see, hear, feel, touch, taste, and smell is supernatural in origin, and on that basis, we can answer New Atheism with Biblical authority. We have a supernatural Book. It tells about a supernatural Creator and Redeemer. It tells us that the "natural order" came into existence supernaturally (Genesis chapter one). It tells us that the "natural order" is held together supernaturally by Christ (Colossians chapter one.) By Him all things consist - by the rule and authority of Jesus Christ, the universe hangs together and operates. If He took His hand off of it for a moment, it would cease even to exist.

It is the New Atheist who is out of touch with reality. But he doesn't see it; he refuses to see it.

Our job is to answer the New Atheism with the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. May we rely on His power to that end.

 

References:

 

1. TeachingTheWord does not present an extensive creationist apologetic on our website because other organizations have already done it so well. See, for example, http://www.answersingenesis.org/ and http://www.icr.org/.

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

tq0080


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