The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist

by Conrad Black

Having spent a very enjoyable two hours in conversation with Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and one of the most rational and persuasive advocates of a Christian theistic view of the world, it has come back to me what a shabby level of mockery and sophistical evasion many of the militant atheists are reduced to, in comparison even with the famous skeptics of earlier times. People like Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, wrote and spoke well, and were more able than is rigorously admissible now to cloak themselves in the inexorable march of science and reason. Their witty if gratuitous disparagements of Christianity were much more effective than the coarse blunderbuss of my late quasi-friendly and frequent adversary, Christopher Hitchens.

I met Dr. Lennox in the context of my televised conversations for the Vision Channel television program Zoomer, and I naturally looked at a number of the many debates Dr. Lennox has had around Britain and the United States with prominent militant atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer and the inevitable Hitchens. Dr. Lennox is one of the world’s most eminent mathematicians and he is on the side of those men of science and reason such as Sir Isaac Newton, whose reaction to discoveries of the intellectual and natural wonders of the universe is to be more convinced than they had been before of the existence of a divine intelligence that had created such an intricate and complex mechanism as the universe we are steadily coming to know better.

The current militant atheists: those well-known and learned professionals who not only strongly dispute the existence of God, but are hyperactive on the international speaking and debating circuits evangelizing random audiences both to the non-existence of God — hardly a novel contention nor one any of them puts forth with much originality — but to the evil and destructiveness of religion itself. Richard Dawkins has often said that “the very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.”

Yet neither he, nor his fellow vocal atheistic militants, such as Singer, David Hawking, Jonathan Glover and Richard Rorty, all formidable academics, can dispute that without some notion of a divine intelligence and its influence on the culture of the world through the various religions (though the principal religions are not interchangeably benign or influential) there would be no serious ethical conceptions. Communities untouched by religious influences have been unalloyed barbarism, whatever the ethical shortcomings of some of those who carried the evangelizing mission among them. Without God, “good” and “evil” are just pallid formulations of like and dislike…


The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist | National Post