The Ayatollah of Atheism and his publicist

If you believe in God, you’re in the majority. You’re also the target of Sam Harris.

Best selling author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, Harris is a man on a mission against God. Atheism is his religion and he wants more people to worship with him. Arguably, Harris is the reigning publicist of atheism.  But he is not alone on his mission. He merely follows the footsteps of Richard Dawkins, (the academic guru and Ayatollah of atheism).

In Dawkins’ new book, The God Delusion, he shakes his tiny fist in the face of Almighty God. His book is so full of enough venom and condescending ridicule that it’s hard to take him seriously. His broad stroke analysis and ranting against the bible are ironically based on strongly held moral assumptions that would parallel any fundamentalist.

Harris’ and Dawkins’ books are full of moral appraisals and readers are somehow obliged to see things through their moral grids. Of course, as might be expected, they both gloss over the question of why their moral positions are superior. Or, more accurately, they avoid the question by changing the subject. Yet they write as if an absolute standard of goodness and duty exists. Both men also wiggle around the issue of whether such a standard is possible without God.  

But without God, all moral conclusions are merely subjective human opinions without any binding authority beyond what a culture attributes to them. And, at this point the question, “Who are you to impose your morality on another?” becomes fair game. Who is qualified to declare his opinion superior to another? And, on what basis would he do this? Why is peace better than war or love better than hate? If I say one is superior, does that make it right? If I get enough people to agree with me, does this make it true for all? Is it all a matter of what increases happiness and decreases suffering? If so, whose happiness?

Reading Harris and Dawkins, I continually found myself asking. “Says whom?” Without God, all their statements about right and wrong are simply alternative choices without moral superiority. If Harris and Dawkins were logically consistent, they would suppress all notions of moral superiority—something neither one is willing to do. 

Further, if Harris and Dawkins followed their own logic, they would admit that evil is only an illusion. For there to be evil, there must also be some real, objective standard of right and wrong. But if the physical universe is all there is (as both men believe), there can be no such standard. How could arrangements of matter and energy make judgments about good and evil true? So, there are no real evils, just violations of human customs or conventions. How hard it would be to think of murderers as merely having bad manners.

Finally, Harris, Dawkins and their fellow atheists must admit that human beings are not importantly different from other animals. According to the atheist, humans are simply the result of blind chance operating on the primordial ooze, and differing from animals by only a few genes. Yet, the wonders of human achievement and the moral dignity we ascribe to human beings just do not fit with the claim that we are no different than the animals. They fit better with the scriptural conclusion that humans are creatures uniquely made in the image of the benevolent and righteous God. And these men assume a moral framework that attributes higher understandings of humanity. In fact, they consistently (and illogically) borrow the assumptions of theism to argue against it. They reject things in the bible considered by them inhumane and expect us to assume a basis for their moral conclusions. Worse yet, they use biblical categories of morality to reject the bible.   

The bible these men reject speaks openly of both evil and benevolence. One does not need to upgrade her view of the world when reading scripture. No rose colored glasses are needed. Yet the scripture offers a larger and more satisfying frame of reference for understanding the complexities of the world. It reveals a world God prescribed (the goodness and innocence of Eden); one he permitted (the violence and rebellion of Cain) and a world he will providentially make new (the new heavens and earth).  

 

Steve Cornell

 

This entry was posted in Atheism.

4 comments on “The Ayatollah of Atheism and his publicist

  1. Simen says:

    Theism provides no better standard of morality than its opposite. Why should we listen to God’s opinion of morality? Because that’s what it is, an opinion. If it is more than a subjective opinion, then it must be validated somewhere else and theists and atheists alike can ignore God and go to this source directly. If not, then it is no different from atheists who declare that some other person or people’s opinion is their morality.

  2. tdbwd says:

    Re: Previous post.

    Eventually, it seems, you will have to reach an original source. If you don’t believe it’s God, then God’s opinion may be subjective. If God is the author of life, then you’ve reached the end of the line. So the questions are: Does God exist and if so, what does he expect of us?

    Of course, there are many opinions about what God expects of us, and one of life’s big challenges, if we choose to believe in God’s existence, is to sort through those opinions and get to the truth. As the book of Proverbs cautions, it’s a lot of work.

  3. Charles Ware says:

    Two hundred sixty-million people believing something is absolutely no basis for that thing to be fact. Before 1492 the entire population of planet Earth believed the world they lived on to be flat. This did not make it so.

    Additionally, if humankind had not progressed beyond the literal interpretation of the Bible, slavery would still be acceptable. All Harris and Dawkins are doing is asking those of you who cower in fear of the dark to take that one last step into the world of reality. Unlike Harris and Dawkins, however, I don’t care what you do.

  4. Simen says:

    Before 1492 the entire population of planet Earth believed the world they lived on to be flat. This did not make it so.

    Now, a lot of people believe that people believed the world to be flat before Columbus’ journey. That does not make it so. In fact, that’s a myth. The general shape of the Earth was established before Jesus was even born.

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