Challenging the New Atheists
by Lenny Esposito
In the November 2006 issue of Wired magazine, Gary Wolf coined the term “New Atheist”. In his article, “The Church of the New Believer” he defined the New Atheist as someone who will “not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God.”1, In other words, there is a movement today where atheists are engaged in an ideological war with people of faith, and they feel they are on the side of virtue.
Three primary proponents of this “war against faith” (Wolf’s term) are highlighted in the article – zoologist and evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins, End of Faith author Sam Harris, and philosophy professor Daniel Dennett. Although each seems to take a different tact in their approach to unseating the entrenched religious viewpoints of the masses, they all seem to argue that they advance their cause as a moral obligation.
Eroding the Moral Argument
The fact that Dawkins, Dennett and Harris all appeal to a moral framework in their belief system fascinates me, for by its nature, atheism has no objective standard by which to claim moral values. The article restates Dawkins
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position that bad ideas foisted on children are moral wrongs. But talking about things like moral rights and wrongs bring the question of good and evil into play and that requires a moral framework from which to judge things as being either “good” or “evil”.2 One must have a basis to compare one’s actions or ideas to classify them as falling into one category or the other.
This is one area where an atheistic worldview fails. Moral frameworks require a moral lawgiver who transcends humanity. In other words, moral laws require an all-good God who can tell us what’s good and what isn’t. Without God, then man is the ultimate arbitrator of what’s good and what’s not, which simply means that it’s my opinion against yours. In fact, if evolution is true, if we really are here only due to a random series of natural processes, then saying we “shouldn’t” do this or that is tantamount to saying a comet shouldn’t have struck the earth and killed all the dinosaurs. So the primary premise of the New Atheists really rests on an assumption of God’s existence while they try to deny that very existence! Every time they claim a moral reason for advancing their cause, they are trying to smuggle in a condition that could only exist if God does.
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