Some of my best friends are atheists. God is with them. God is present where God’s name is never heard, and God does not affirm all that is done where God’s name is regularly pronounced.
Some people tell me, “I do not believe in God.” My response often is, “tell me about this “God” you do not believe in.” And when they do, very often I find the “God” they describe I do not and could not believe in either!
So atheists can be prophets, they can challenge the idol we call “God”. I want to work in partnership with all of good will, Christians, those of other faiths, agnostics, atheists, to make this a better place. My atheist friends work in partnership with me. Many challenge me by their altruism and generosity. Some people see Christianity as being about great rewards for limited loving investment. Well orthodox Christianity is not about rewards – it is about love for its own sake and life (in its fullness) is always a gift – not a reward.
But there is, increasingly, a new style of atheist. They do not want to work in partnership with good people of faith – they proclaim faith itself as evil and the source of most of the world’s evils. These are not simply atheists – they are antitheists. Theirs is an obsessive belief-position that they incessantly have a need to impose upon others. Their mindset is most comparable to the fundamentalists they constantly berate – not surprisingly: our enemy is a mirror to ourselves was an insight from Jesus. They do not address middle, moderate, thinking, caring Christianity, but rather ask the same questions that fundamentalists do – they just come up with different answers. They do not appear to pause to examine whether the questions themselves are at issue. Fundamentalists ask questions of the Bible and find God scary. Antitheists ask the same questions of the Bible and find God silly. Atheists often struggle to live with metaphor. So do fundamentalists.
For more on the antitheist bus campaign click here. I generated the above advertisement incorporating the Biblical phrase “do not be afraid” which occurs at least 70 times in the Bible. My advertisement reworks the antitheist “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. As a qualified Mathematics and Science teacher I base my “probability that God is” on the anthropic principle – the low probability that the universe we live in exists by chance.
More than half of atheists deny evolution
A recent article in the Melbourne Age again highlighted the intellectual weakness of many claiming atheism. “24 per cent of Australians firmly believe there is no God, and 6 per cent are pretty sure.” Here’s the crunch: “Only 12 per cent believe Darwin’s theory of natural selection”. I would like to think that there are a few Australian theists who accept (I do not like “belief” applied to Science – I think it confuses things) Darwin’s theory. But, for argument’s sake, let’s pretend ALL Australian theists do not accept evolution. So: that would mean only half of Australia’s atheists accept evolution!
I agree with atheist, Guy Rundle, former editor of Arena magazine. He states the antitheist Dawkins-Hitchens version of atheism is ”the most shatteringly empty creed to come along for many a year”. It misses the point, he says, goes out of its way to hurl insults, misunderstands how belief systems work, uses straw man arguments and is boring because it ”takes the least sophisticated form of theism and beats it around the head”. It also fails to grapple with sophisticated theologians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth; and it is blind to the fact that, when science (quantum physics and cosmology) try to explain the origins of the universe, its materialist, atheist account is as mysterious and improbable as that of any religion. New atheism also, he says, refuses to concede that many people have feelings of transcendence that must be expressed.
From 12-14 March there is The 2010 Global Atheist Convention being held in Melbourne. I conclude by quoting from the Age article:
”All that Dawkins can offer is a revival of old-fashioned secular humanism, whose hopes and aspirations are summarised in John Lennon’s insipid 1971 composition Imagine,” theology professor Tom Frame wrote last year. Melbourne Catholic auxiliary archbishop Peter J. Elliott says the new atheism should be respected, and welcomed into dialogue, and could even play an important role in ”correcting religious fanaticism”, on which score ”many religious people would agree with them”. But he echoed the concerns of a number of religious people that this movement was in danger of becoming a faith in its own right. ”It’s when they slide into a kind of fundamentalism themselves, and become dogmatic, that’s when we have a problem with them.”