Atheism’s New Bulldog

By Holly Pivec (2007)

Sam Harris thinks Christians are not only delusional, they’re dangerous. But is his bark worse than his bite?

Sam Harris thinks you’re nuts. And he wants to save the world from you — and those who share your “foolish” and “dangerous” belief in God.

Armed with two New York Times bestsellers — The End of Faith (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004) and Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf, 2006) — Harris, a fortyish Stanford University graduate, has launched a media blitz to convince people that belief in God is as silly as belief in the tooth fairy — only much more deadly.

Harris believes religion, including Christianity, threatens civilization with its radical views on moral issues, like stem-cell research, and its geopolitical views on Israel, which many evangelicals believe was given to Jews by God.

Harris accuses Bible-believers of holding to unscientific myths, like the virgin birth and special creation. Worse, he says, these “fanatics” sway the American vote, a particular source of embarrassment for Harris, an American.

“The time for respecting religious beliefs of this sort is long past,” Harris told hundreds of applauding CEOs and scholars at a 2005 Canadian conference, called “Idea City.”

Harris — part of a post-9/11 movement Wired Magazine called the “New Atheists” — is kissing political correctness goodbye and believes religious tolerance only forces people to condone dangerous beliefs. Reason, in the form of atheism, he argues, should guide one’s decision-making, not religion.

In Letter to a Christian Nation Harris writes, “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

Sidestepping Arguments

Despite Harris’ show of logical force — brandishing words like “evidence” and “argument” — many Biola University professors have found that his case for atheism offers little of either.

Dr. Douglas Geivett, a Biola philosophy professor, called The End of Faith “the product of a bizarre logic.” And Dr. David Horner, a Biola philosophy and theology professor, said, “Harris is not a careful thinker.” Horner said Harris’ books are full of contradictions, conjectures and caricatures of religious people.

Many of Harris’ critics note that he glibly asserts that there’s no evidence for God without interacting with or acknowledging the traditional arguments for God’s existence.

Dr. William Lane Craig — a well-known Christian philosopher and research professor at Biola — said the evidence for God’s existence is “abundant,” including the beginning of the universe out of nothing, the fine-tuning of the universe for the existence of life, and the existence of a realm of objective moral values.

These arguments and more have been put forth for millennia by the greatest minds of Christianity, according to Geivett. Yet Harris’ books don’t address them…


Atheism’s New Bulldog « Biola Magazine

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:   Reasonable Faith (3rd Edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics / I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist / Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors / More Apologetics Resources >>>