The Evangelists of the Nothing
guest post by Matt Rawlings*
I loved the movie The Neverending Story as a kid. If you are unfamiliar with what is now a classic family film, the plot revolves around a bullied kid who hides from his tormenters in a bookstore. There he opens a large, leather-bound book about a boy in a distant time and land fighting the spread of the “nothing,” which threatens to destroy everyone. In the film, the “nothing” is to be feared and fought but now there are intellectuals who want all of western culture to embrace it with open arms.
We live in a unique time when, for the first time in history, there is an expanding, zealous group of atheists. They not only believe in the transcendental “nothing” but actively seek to evangelize as many as others to their cause. There are even a growing number of “atheist churches” (although, ironically, one recently suffered a split! I wonder if it was over the music?).
The leaders of the “nothing” are a group of respected New York Times best-selling authors such as zoologist Richard Dawkins, scientist Sam Harris, philosopher Daniel Dennett, the late journalist Christopher Hitchens, and magician Penn Jillette. These atheist evangelists have been forcefully countered by Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig, (who has never lost a debate including lopsided defeats of Harris and Hitchens).
Yet, few Christians know these new apostles of atheism or what they teach. I routinely find fellow believers who misconstrue the arguments of secularists because they have never bothered to read them. But those committed to truth and respecting the dignity of all those made in the image and likeness of God should always be fair to everyone even those who vigorously oppose them.
I was an atheist for ten years and rarely found graceful and intelligent conversation partners who disagreed with me. So, in order to be fair and help others to do the same, I will be reading, summarizing and analyzing the works of the leading atheist thinkers. So, tune back in and please feel free to add your voice.
Until then, grace, peace and truth.
*Matt Rawlings is a Teaching Pastor at Christ’s Community Church in Portsmouth, OH and State Director of Development for Alliance Defending Freedom. You can visit his blog here.