A few years 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 was heard there. 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, isn’t it, 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 atheistic regimes 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 is all the anger about? Isn’t God just a fairy tale, a delusion? Why are the new atheists so angry about our “delusion”? And why are the new atheists trying so hard to win new converts in government, media, schools, and in the public forum?
Author Dinesh D’Souza argues in his book, “What’s So Great About Christianity,” that the rise of militant atheism is in response to the fact that “God has come back to life.” He writes that there is a 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? D’Souza states that most of us are talking to the wrong people. Even in increasingly secularized America, some 39 percent of the population say they attend church, and some 89 percent say they believe in God.
Other parts of the world are seeing Christian renewal and conversion. For instance, less than a century ago, Africa had only a relative handful of Christians, now it has just under 600 million. That is a remarkable figure. It is estimated that there are 140 million Christians in China, worshipping in underground churches. Thus, as a whole, the world is becoming more religious, not more secularized.
This fact, D’Douza 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 that this world was all there ever was and all there will ever be, I doubt if I could summon the will or 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. Sure, I could try to grab pleasure here or there, but I would still come away from my pleasure pursuits feeling empty and sad. How many rich, beautiful, and famous people in Hollywood have died from suicide or drug overdoses? These are the people who supposedly “had it all.” And yet they had nothing. Nothing this world has to offer can ever be enough. The human soul longs for more.
Every human soul longs for union with its creator, whether that soul cares to acknowledge this truth or not. It is why we were created: 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. If you don’t know God, ask God to make himself known to you. Then it will be up to you to recognize his voice.
Robin Barrett is a parishioner of Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Insight column is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.