The New Atheism


 
 

The following article is an excerpt from The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom

Militancy is the difference between what was historically known as “atheism” and the modern movement of “antitheism.” The atheists of the old school took a rather relaxed, passive attitude toward God and the Bible. They felt that if people were foolish enough to believe in religion, that was their problem. These atheists did not feel the need to read through the Bible, desperately seeking contradictions or errors. They did not sit up night after night feverishly trying to formulate attacks against religion. They simply ignored religion.



Hating a Nonexistent God

The situation abruptly changed after Hegel (1770-1831). Atheists became anti-theists as they were now actively “against” God, seeking to wage war on God and on those who believed in Him. Thus the pure atheism of nonbelief gave way to a crusade of anti-theism. No longer did they simply not believe in God. They now hated God and wished to destroy all faith, love and obedience directed to Him.


Hegel and those who followed him, such as Feuerbach, Neitszche, Marx, etc., believed that God had to be pushed aside in order for man to be free to be his own god. The only way for man to ascend the throne of divinity was for God to step down. It was not simply that God did not exist; God must not and ought not exist.1


Thus modern atheists deny God’s existence because they actually hate God. They hate Him because this God demands they serve Him and fulfill the destiny He has decreed for them. This God gives man a revealed law which dictates what is right and wrong. God thus robs man of the freedom of being and choosing whatever he wants. God is viewed as the enemy that must be destroyed in order for man to reach his full potential. Instead of God being the measure of all things, man must be the measure of all things.


The only way atheists can strike a blow directly against God is to deny His existence. Is it any wonder then that the modern anti-theists’ champion is Prometheus who said, “I hate all the gods,” who said he would rather suffer death than be the servant of the gods. Prometheus did not deny that the gods existed. His was the rebel cry, “I will not serve you. I will not acknowledge your authority over me. I deny your very existence, for I will not bow down to you.”


Prometheus’ hatred of God and all He stands for is the soul and substance of modern anti-theism. This is why the name “Prometheus Books” was chosen for the major publisher of infidel literature. The truth of this observation is obvious because only a strong emotional antipathy toward God could fuel the zeal and enthusiasm of Paul Kurtz and his unholy crusade.


On one of my radio programs, I debated George Smith who wrote a book entitled The Case Against God. During our debate it became apparent that Mr. Smith was not simply an atheist, but was rather a typical modern anti-theist who saw God as his enemy. He reminded me of Madalyn O’Hair who would at times go outside during a thunderstorm and dare God to strike her dead as she shook her fists at Him.


Modern anti-theists use atheism as the ultimate means of attacking God. They raise their fist to heaven and say, “I will deny your existence because this is the ultimate way I have of attacking you.” Modern anti-theism has thus become a way to get back at God. It is an attempt to slap God in the face.


Anyone who reads its literature or debates its leaders finds that modern Anti-theism is fueled by such ignoble motives as bitterness, rage, and hatred. Its spokesmen manifest an angry spirit which rages first against God and then (because they cannot confront God directly) against those who dare believe in Him.


This irrational rage motivates some of them to read the Bible, frantically searching for ways to attack it. Obsessed with the need to debunk the Bible, they cannot rest until they have rooted out all faith in the Bible as God’s Word. Modern anti-theists are on a crusade against the Bible as well as God.


One clear example of the anti-Christian bias of modern anti-theists is the monthly newsletter called The Bible Errancy. While its editor claims to be objective and scholarly in his investigation of the truthfulness of the Bible, in his April 16, 1984 (Issue 16) edition he let the proverbial cat out of the bag: He had requested Madalyn O’Hair to allow him booth space at her atheist convention in Kentucky, but she refused because, “The Bible needs to be thrown in the trash…. We instituted an extensive educational program to wean atheists away, as fast as we can, from … a return to the Bible” (p.3).


Obviously, Madalyn does not want anyone, including an atheist, to read the Bible, and the editor’s response to Madalyn revealed his attitude toward the Bible was the same as hers. The motivation behind his newsletter was to get people to “throw the Bible in the trash.” He would do whatever was necessary to undermine the trustworthiness of the Bible.


With such an irrational hatred of the Bible as the motivation behind The Bible Errancy, it is no surprise to find the news-letter filled with every logical, historical and biblical error known to man. Apparently, the editor superficially rushes through the Bible looking for anything he can twist into a contradiction or error. Of course, he does not indicate he has ever had any education in the original languages or the text and history of the Bible.

 

 

Atheism by Decree

As stated in the previous chapter, modern anti-theism’s crusade against God and the Bible faces a giant hurdle: History has shown that people will remain religious despite so-called rational or scientific arguments against God’s existence. Abstract philosophical arguments have little meaning for the average person because the existence of God has always been, for most people, a matter of common sense. Thus when atheism competes with theism in the open marketplace of ideas, it never convinces the average people who make up the bulk of the population.


Since their abstract philosophical arguments have never secularized a nation, anti-theists have in the end used force to suppress religion. Thus in Communist lands, while Marx taught that religion will fade away in the light of the glories of atheism, communist leaders tacitly acknowledge today that Marx’s doctrine (on this point) does not work. Religion will not disappear by itself. Left to itself, religion will always grow. One must force people to give up their religion.


What the atheists have done in Russia, Cuba, China, etc. provides a graphic lesson in what happens when the infidel is in control. The social and political implications must not be ignored, because the anti-theists in the West call for the same suppression of religion which the Communists use in their lands.


First, the courts remove all religion from public life. No public religious ceremonies can be allowed. Religion must be rooted out of the public schools, and church schools must be destroyed. All hospitals, colleges, camps, orphanages, youth organizations, etc., which are run by religious groups must be taken over by the state which then removes religion from them. No religion can be allowed to broadcast over radio or TV. No publications can be allowed. No street preaching or home Bible studies can be permitted. Converting children or anyone to your religion is made a crime. Even the singing of Christmas carols must be forbidden.


We can say many things about the Communists, but we cannot say they are stupid. They know that if religion is allowed freedom of expression, the vast majority of people will be religious. Unbelief will always lose out in the end. The religious nature of man cannot be suppressed as long as man is man.2


Second, the government applies direct pressure to the populace because even after the courts make laws against religion, the people will keep right on believing. The basic necessities of life must be denied those who continue to believe. Religious leaders must be either killed or placed in slave camps. Church buildings must be either destroyed or used as antireligion museums and warehouses. Seminaries must be shut down to prevent the education of future religious leaders. Young people must be denied higher education and better careers if they are believers. The children of believers must be taken into the state’s custody and sent to atheistic state homes.


If believers were denied the basic necessities of life, higher education, better jobs, the custody of their own children, and if they were persecuted even to death for their faith, it was assumed by Communist leaders that believers would give up their religion in order to escape persecution. Those leaders now realize that even such harsh persecution has not destroyed the faith of their enslaved peoples.3


In fact, there are actually more evangelical Christians in the atheistic Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc., than before the people were enslaved by their Marxist dictators. The Catholic church is stronger in such places as Poland than ever before in their history. Islam continues to grow even in the Soviet Union. The moment that China relaxed its persecution of religion, the temples and churches filled to overflowing. In every instance where unbelief is the policy of the state, and religion is severely persecuted, the people have never given up their religion, although they may have had to go underground with their faith.


State persecution of believers may actually increase the number of believers. In China, after the communes were set up, the order was given to count the Christians in each commune. If there was more than one believer in a commune, the other Christians were distributed to communes which had no Christians-under the assumption that if believers were separated from each other, they would eventually lose heart and give up their faith. But the opposite occurred.


Christians were scattered throughout China at government expense, and were sent even into sections of China which had never had a Christian witness. In effect, the government placed one Christian missionary in every commune! As a result, all of China was evangelized and there are now more Christians than ever before. Entire communes have become Christian. The government cannot possibly root out all the house churches that make up today’s underground church in China.

 

 

The Politics of Atheism

“But,” someone may ask, “what does all this have to do with the various atheistic groups in America? Are you trying to say they are all Communists?” As a matter of record, many atheists who have gone public with their campaign to secularize America do not hesitate to admit they are Communists, leftists or socialists, and that their anti-religion activity is an outgrowth of their political commitment to Hegel or Marx. It is thus no surprise to find that most of the modern movements which espouse atheism do so as a necessary ingredient of their leftist ideologies. Modern anti-theists proclaim their unbelief in God as part of a “package deal” which includes totalitarian socialism as the ultimate goal.


Of course, a few atheists would deny that their atheism is connected with socialism or communism. Upon closer questioning, however, these individuals virtually always have a hidden political agenda that includes the denial of religious freedom. But while there may be somewhere a few patriotic atheists who are capitalists and proud of it (although I have yet to meet such a person), our main concern should be with the various organizations and leaders who make up the modern movement of anti-theism.


This movement should not be viewed as a sophomoric, philosophical discussion of the proofs for the existence of God. Its adherents have a political agenda that calls for the suppression of all religious freedom. Thus this is not a philosophic game which is to be played by philosophers in their ivory towers. The ultimate issues deal with the future of religious liberty.


Once we discover that today’s atheistic movements in the U.S. have the same political agenda as do their counterparts in Communist countries, we realize that unbelief is not just a philosophical debate about abstract arguments for and against God’s existence. The fundamental issue today is not philosophy but political science. And, we must add, the worse mistake most believers make about modern atheism is made at this point.


Some believers have naively assumed that modern atheistic attacks on religion are made by sincere people honestly searching for the truth. They mistakenly believe that if they answer these anti-theists with equal sincerity, these infidels will come to the faith. Yet, if history teaches anything, it teaches that answering professional skeptics is a never-ending task. As soon as one argument is answered, the infidel simply pulls another one out of his hat.

It requires little intelligence, however, to contrive groundless theories to attack something. The trick is to deny having to prove the theory. Arguments from silence are always the easiest method in this kind of deception. And, as shown below, the atheists use arguments based on silence for most of their attacks on the Bible.


Consider, for example, the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. When Jean Astruc, an apostate Jew, initiated the attack on the morality of the Ten Commandments, he saw that the best way to destroy it was to deny its historicity. He did this by claiming Moses did not actually write it. First came the declaration that Moses never existed. When the absurdity of this objection became obvious to all, infidels countered that there had been no writing in the days of Moses. When scholars demonstrated that writing existed before Moses’ day, they argued that the style of writing found in the Pentateuch did not exist in Moses’ day. When defenders showed this argument invalid, the attackers continued an endless succession of speculative arguments.4 As soon as one argument was refuted, the infidels simply conjured a new theory. At no point did they ever acknowledge that the previous arguments had been answered, because the real issue was not Mosaic authorship but the absolute morality of God’s law.


Nearly all the critical attacks on the historicity of Moses have been arguments from silence. It was assumed that the lack of evidence for writing in Moses’ day proved writing did not exist. The fact that such evidence was awaiting discovery reveals the absurdity of the infidel’s tactic of arguing from silence. The only logical deduction these infidels could legitimately have made was that at that time no evidence existed for writing in Moses’ day. To go beyond this and state there was no writing in Moses’ day was a logical fallacy. One can deduce only silence from silence. However, at least ninety percent of the critical attacks on Scripture are based on the false assumption that one can validly argue from silence.


This logical error frequently creeps into debates with modern infidels, as shown on a radio program I hosted in Chicago for several years. Each month I spent ninety minutes interviewing and debating skeptics, atheists, cultists, occultists, and religious quacks. Listeners found the format quite exciting because they could hear live debates between a believer and an infidel.


On several programs I debated well-known atheists, but a debate with one typical, dogmatic atheist in 1983 remains etched on my memory. She argued almost exclusively from silence. She dogmatically stated that Nazareth did not exist in the first century. What was her proof? The village of Nazareth is not mentioned by Josephus or the Talmud! She also claimed the Apostle Paul did not believe in the virgin birth of Christ. Her proof? He nowhere mentions it in his epistles! A transcript of the debate, given in a later chapter, provides an example of how most modern infidels argue against the Bible and religion.


Amid such debate, the worst mistake that can be made is to treat the modern atheistic arguments in an abstract philosophical manner. The arguments are given, not in the interests of finding the truth but as part of a political agenda for the secularization of American society and the destruction of religious freedom, a fulfillment of atheists’ socialist views. Many people are incredulous at such a claim, so we need to look carefully at the roots of modern atheism.


Historically, the modern-day atheistic movement follows in the steps of Robert Owen, the socialist labor leader of the last century who led the last great movement of unbelief in England and the U.S. Owen was quite candid about what he opposed and why he opposed it. His platform was threefold. He was against (1) private ownership of property, (2) the nuclear family, and (3) religion, because it is the source of the first two concepts.


This socialism, known as “Owenism,” mandated atheism as a necessary step to overturn private ownership and destroy the family unit. Owen’s commitment to the absolute supremacy of the state required the destruction of any authority which claimed to be independent from or higher than the state. Thus religion had to go because it denied the supremacy of the state in all things. Owen actually had adopted anti-theism rather than just atheism.

 

 

The Myth of Academic Freedom

What about the modern infidel organizations and publications? Do they, in the spirit of Owenism, treat religion as an abstract philosophical issue or do they wish to force their unbelief upon the nation and suppress the freedom of religious expression? Perhaps this question is best answered by observing the attitude infidel organizations have toward allowing creationists to present their position to students in high school or college. This issue is quite simple and it reveals the true attitude modern atheists have toward the freedom of speech for religious people.


Here is the issue at stake: Should creationists be allowed equal time to state their case so students can make an informed, intelligent choice? Should creation scientists be given the freedom to express their views? Should public debates be allowed between evolutionists and creationists?


Now, if the creationists’ arguments are as stupid and devoid of scientific merit as the evolutionists claim, the smartest way to discredit creation science is to let it be heard. No one will believe it if the theory is as absurd as the infidel scientists claim. What is there to fear?

Also, shouldn’t students be allowed to hear all sides of an issue, even if the present administration takes only one side? After all, “academic freedom” in the U.S. allows a Communist to teach a course on why America is the cause of all the evil in the world and why the Soviet Union is the working man’s paradise. Marcus, Angela Davis, and a host of other leftists have done exactly this for years in state universities.


In addition, censorship certainly should not be practiced on the university or college campus. All ideas should be expressed freely. We should not go back to the Dark Ages when no one was permitted to question the “orthodox” view, or suggest an alternative view. Modern liberal education has always prided itself on the student’s right to question the position of the teacher. Let all ideas compete freely in the marketplace of education.


The above tenets are championed when atheists and other unbelievers desire the right to attack religion and teach their own world view, but once they have gained the right to air their ideas in the name of academic freedom, they have no intention of allowing creationists the same freedom to state their case. Creation scientists are to be censored. There is no academic freedom for them.6


The average atheist sees no contradiction in his hypocritical attitude that demands academic freedom for himself but denies it to believers. For example, in one state college an atheist is always appointed to teach the religion course. The administrators claim that if a believer taught it, the course would be biased. When someone suggested, however, that a theist should be allowed to teach an “unbiased” course on atheism, the hoots and howls could be heard all the way to Moscow. The atheists would not extend to believers the same freedoms they claim for themselves.


Many evolutionist professors will not allow creation scientists to speak because the professors have misrepresented creationists as stupid, lacking intelligent spokesmen or arguments. If the creationists received freedom to speak, the students would discover that creation scientists hold Ph.D.’s as do the evolutionists and are capable of presenting intelligent arguments and scientific evidence for their position. The typical atheistic professor is attached to the theory of evolution for political and ethical reasons and will recoil in horror at the thought of their students hearing the creationist position.


When Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, was asked on TV why his generation leaped to accept the theory of evolution, he was honest enough to admit they adopted evolution because they wanted to be rid of the moral restraints of religion.7 They accepted evolution for moral reasons, not scientific reasons. This emotional attachment to the theory of evolution makes it difficult for evolutionists to have any scientifically based discussion of the subject. For them, evolution has to be true. The moral implications of creation would be too dreadful to bear.


In my many encounters with atheists, skeptics, freethinkers, and the like, I have yet to meet one who does not feel “there ought to be a law” to curb religion’s freedom of public expression. They all seem to agree with O’Hair that the courts should ban prayer in the schools; restrict any public religious ceremonies or display of symbols; dismantle the system of military chaplains; revoke the tax-exempt status of church buildings; obliterate “In God we trust” from U.S. currency; and delete “One nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Many of these atheists make it abundantly clear they even want the evangelistic outreach of believers banned. And they are succeeding. For example, it is now illegal in New York City and other large cities to hand out religious literature in public parks or on public beaches; it is illegal to preach on any public property. In some cities such as Atlanta, Georgia, it is now illegal to hold a Bible study or prayer meeting in a private home without permission from the city. Clearly, the day of religious freedom in America has passed. Believers must wake up to this while they still have time to recoup their losses. The longer they remain inactive, the harder it will be to regain their civil rights.


The restrictions modern infidels wish to place on religious expression would ultimately confine religion to one’s private thoughts. No expression of those thoughts would be permitted, whether in the home or in society at large. Of course, people always will be free to think what they want because the state will never devise a way to monitor or control the ideas in their minds. But such freedom is a ruse. Giving people freedom to think what they want while denying them freedom to express those thoughts is the soul and substance of tyranny.


But what about the philosophical arguments? Don’t we have to deal with them, even if they are politically motivated? Of course we must deal with the attempts of unbelievers to undermine the Faith. But while doing this we must remember that refuting the present popular arguments will only lead to the infidels thinking up some new ones.

The task of refutation is endless because the arguments are morally and politically motivated. Even when his arguments are shown to be false, the infidel will not believe because he doesn’t want to believe. He is against God not because he has to be, but because he chooses to be. Even in His own day, Jesus said of such people, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40).


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