FAIRBANKS - A few months ago, there was a sort of coming-out party for atheists called, the “Reason Rally.” This was a rally for the “new atheists,” those who are loud and proud. No civil discourse here; four letter words and blasphemous songs were belted from the stage, and in the crowd, people carried anti-Christian signs. One of these signs read, “So Many Christians, So Few Lions.”
Predictably, one of the keynote speakers was Professor Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion.” Dawkins claims that “faith is an evil.” He calls monotheism (belief in the one God) “the great unmentionable evil,” and the Old Testament, “a barbaric Bronze Age text.”
It is too bad that Dawkins wasn’t born into one of those “good” godless societies. Perhaps he would have found his utopia under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot or Chairman Mao. Of course, these atheists murdered, imprisoned and enslaved countless millions — but then what’s a few million lives here or there in a world where nothing matters?
Dawkins exhorted the crowd to demonstrate contempt for believers, “Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!”
What’s all the anger about? Isn’t God just a fairy tale, a myth, a delusion? Why are the new atheists so angry about our “delusion”? And why are the new atheists trying so hard to win converts?
Author Dinesh D’ Souza argues that the rise of militant atheism is in response to the fact that “God has come back to life.” He writes that there is huge explosion of religious conversion and growth in the world, and that Christianity is growing faster than any other religion. So why can’t we see it? Because most of us are talking to the wrong people. Even in increasingly secularized America, some 40 percent of the population attend church, and some 90 percent say they believe in God.
Other parts of the world are seeing Christian renewal and conversion. For instance, a century ago, less than 10 percent of Africa was Christian, now it is 50 percent Christian. That is a remarkable figure. It is estimated that there are 100 million Christians in China, worshipping in underground churches. Thus the world as a whole is becoming more religious, not more secularized.
This fact, D’Souza argues, angers the new atheists. They, like Nietzsche, argue that God is dead. But God is alive; it is Nietzsche who is dead.
I, for one, don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. It takes a great deal of faith to believe that something can come from nothing; that an inconceivably large number of universes spontaneously created themselves; that life could spontaneously emerge from non-life, consciousness from unconsciousness; and that love, goodness, beauty and morality just sort of randomly came into existence, completely by accident.
If I truly believed this world was all there ever was and all that ever will be, I doubt if I could summon the will or the energy to even get out of bed. What would be the point?
That’s just it, there would be no point. To anything. Ever. Life would be a completely joyless and futile endeavor. I could try to grab pleasure here or there, but I would still come away from my pleasure pursuits feeling empty and sad. It would never be enough. Nothing this world has to offer could ever be enough. The human soul longs for more.
Every human soul longs for reunion with its creator, whether that soul cares to acknowledge this truth or not. It is why we were created. It is why we were born into this world — so we can freely choose to be with God into eternity, or freely choose to be separated from him for all eternity. Now is the time to choose.
Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Robin Barrett is a parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral.