All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

An Introduction to Atheism

In the past few months I have been studying the subject of atheism and the beliefs it involves. Surprisingly, it has been a fascinating study and has yielded a lot of interesting information. Atheism had never been of interest to me prior to a visit I took to the library, when I found the book The God Delusion by renowned atheist Richard Dawkins. I decided to take the book home and see what the fellow believed and if it was anything to be concerned about as a Christian. He gave me plenty of reason for concern.

Atheism in the past has been somewhat laughable, and certainly has never been what could be called “mainstream”. For the most part, people believe there is a “God”, but the definition of this individual varies from person to person. Recently, however, there has been a renewed interest in atheistic concepts. This is primarily due to the publication of several books by outspoken non-believers; i.e., Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. While atheism before was more of a “closet” worldview, consisting simply of an unbelief in the existence of God, this “new atheism” is much more volatile. There is more to it than simply holding that God isn’t there. The new atheism has adopted a vicious approach to all things religious, primarily directing its vehemence toward Christianity.

What is atheism? By formal definition, atheism is:

“The disbelief in the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

The prefix ‘a’ is always taken to mean “against” or “the opposite of”, as in the case of words like asymmetrical. The word atheism, then, literally means “against-theism”, or “the opposite of theism”. What is theism? The belief in the existence of a God. The majority of theists are represented by the Christian faith, who believe in a God who is personal and involved in human affairs. We have seen that atheism is defined as the denial of the existence of God — however, the new atheism goes further. The new atheism is better phrased as anti-theism — not simply denying God, but ferociously fighting everything in relation to Him.

Atheists have several fundamental concepts, or core values, that are central to their worldview. Without these principles, atheists would be unable to defend their position. The four most important concepts/claims of atheism are:

1. Freedom from bias and faith

2. The inherent goodness of man

3. The infallibility of science

4. The theory of evolution.

Whether conscious of it or not, atheists depend upon the validity of these concepts for the bulk of their arguments. There is a funny quote that says, “An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support”. Though meant as a joke, this is a true statement. While Christians appeal to God and the Bible in interpreting the world, atheists are left basing their views on opinion and theory. A common atheistic claim is that they found their beliefs on the “evidence”. However, a direct appeal to the evidence can never suffice as an argument. The evidence is available to interpretation by all people, not only the atheists, and depending on your worldview, you will translate the evidence in that light. Thus, atheists are not free of bias, but bring certain values of their own into the equation. These values include the latter three concepts stated above: the inherent goodness of man, the omniscience of science, and the theory of evolution. Each of these concepts are far from being universal truths, and are entirely founded upon first, a surprising lack of proof, and secondly, an alarming abundance of faith.

The battle-flag of atheism bears the motto “freedom from faith” — or so the atheists would like us to think. Never have I heard such scorn for faith than from the mouths of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who label it as superstition and equate it to the mindset of a helpless infant. This disdain for what is, in essence, dependency and trust in our Creator, derives from how atheists define it. Dawkins describes faith as “belief without evidence”. This definition of faith is faulty, and is used as a crutch to those who wish to ridicule the faithful while remaining loyal to what they themselves believe. The key word here is believe. Atheists believe there is no God — they can never prove He isn’t there! It takes more faith to believe there isn’t a God than to believe there is — the world itself is a picture of order and symmetry that random chance processes and destructive natural selection could never provide. Freedom from faith? I don’t think so!

But why even address atheism? How does it affect us, Christians, today? While the majority of people you meet on the street may not be atheists, they have undoubtedly heard and/or accepted the ideas propagated by these “intellectuals”. The leading atheists are not only intelligent (in the merest sense that they have a high IQ) but have taken pains to thrust themselves into the limelight. Their books top the New York Times best-sellers list and their debates have drawn a great amount of attention over the past decade. Their influence on society should not be underestimated. People in our culture are seeking truth, and the ideas presented by these well-spoken scientists and modern philosophers will be readily accepted if we do not present the real Truth to them.

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4 Responses

  1. Phylicia,

    Wow, this is a very good post. You most certainly have a gift for writing, and for perception and discernment as well. Just based on your post, you probably have a better understanding of atheism than most people who call themselves atheists (upon further investigation, most people admit they are agnostic).

    Your last thought about truth reminds me of how Pilot asked Jesus, “What is truth?” when questioning Him. Every time I read that I get a very bittersweet feeling. Bitter because there are so many people asking that same question today, and coming to the conclusion that truth is subjective, and there are no absolutes. But sweet because it is so prophetic, and only God could have preserved that record of a tyrant Roman authority asking the very same question millions would be asking 2,000 years later.

    God is so awesome and amazing!

    Blessings,
    ~Kristina

  2. Hi Phylicia,

    Yes, it is interesting that we both did posts on atheism. It’s a sad but relevant topic. The atheists are getting more and more militant and openly anti-theism, as you wisely said.

    I just realized I misspelled “Pilate” in my previous comment. I guess I stayed up too late last night 🙂

    Thanks for your comment, as well. I’ll try to post more often, and maybe something I actually wrote for a change.

    In Christ,
    ~Kristina

  3. I don’t remember if I commented on this post before… I know I read it before but as I just saw it again I was reminded of a great danger of atheism… suicide. Since the French Revolution the French have protected themselves from the “church”… to many evangelical churches are a cult. I believe that because science has taken the place of God it explains why there is such a high rate of suicides… which by the way is not really talked about at all. If you believe that you are here by chance by accident then I can understand why so many chose to just kill themselves. There is no hope without God in our lives.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’d love to hear about your first writing assignment. Email me if you want at stuart.tiffany@gmail.com

    My husband and I have the Truth Project series on DVD, it’s a wonderful study on “what is truth.”

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