Friday, August 30, 2013

The Happy Atheist...he has Issues (ETC)

Below is the text of a letter I wrote to Rev. Todd Wilken, host of Issues ETC, following the fascinating interview he conducted with P.Z. Myers, author of The Happy Atheist. To hear the interview, click on the link below. This is a great exposition of the doctrine of the "New" Atheism, in the words of one of their own:


Dear Pastor Wilken,

I listened to your interview with the Happy Atheist today and am thankful that you took to time to interview him. The so-called "new" atheists have attempted to cover their hostility toward God with the veneer of reason, science, "reasonableness", glued in place with the bonding agent of elitism. I believe that your straightforward conversation with Dr. P.Z. Myers exposed that, and helped to illustrate that New Atheism is nothing new. It is the same hatred for God and defiant opposition to God's moral standard written on the very fabric of human kind that it has always been since man's fall into sin.

I realize that you had a limited time with Dr. Myer and to address specific issues would have had the potential to turn the interview into debate. That being said, a few points from the interview did stick in my mind, and I would have liked to have heard Dr. Myers' answers.

At the beginning of the interview Dr. Myers asserted that there is absolutely no historical basis for the New Testament documents. I'm sure that you had to bite your tongue to let that one go by, as we know from the very best and most recent scholarship that the New Testament documents are supremely reliable as historical record. As stated numerous times on Issues ETC, archaeology continues to support the validity of the New Testament accounts.

You asked Dr. Myers how he would react to all of the positive contributions to the world which seemed to have sprung from a Christian ethos, citing abolitionism, hospitals, orphanages, universal education, etc. Dr. Meyer said (I paraphrase) that it was a revision of history to talk about Christianity/religion as a force for good in history; He specifically attacked Christianity's role in the abolition movement and the position of slavery within the Christian worldview in general. He did not, however, answer the other examples you raised. I have seen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim hospitals, schools, and orphanages. I cannot recall seeing, or ever hearing of any such charity founded by a movement of secular humanism. I'm sure humanistic charities exist. They do not, however, exist as the norm of compassionate giving and human care and relief - they are the exception. Christian, and other religious charity, however, is the rule.

Dr. Meyer also stated, echoing the position of others within New Atheism, that there is no absolute moral authority. All morality is arbitrary, and to be based on "man's interaction with man" as man must live in community to survive. He conceded that different communities would come up with different community rules and standards, and that destructive "community moralities" (my own term) should be discouraged. Who is to determine what is destructive and what is constructive? Do opposing forces inside the community battle it out until one side or the other is dominant? The National Socialist worldview was considered constructive by those people who believed and implemented it. This worldview, justly implemented by a community of people (according to the argument made by Dr. Myers), is responsible for the destruction of millions of people considered to be sub-human, and a world war was fought to bring about it's end. Is Nazism simply wrong because the Allies were stronger than the Axis and won a war (ie a higher/stronger community standard)? Without some kind of absolute moral standard, what right did the Allied powers have to deem the Nazi's worldview as destructive and impose their own will instead. This seems to revert to the axiom, "Might Makes Right".

In the most ghastly segment about human rights and abortion, Dr. Myers stated that, "...personhood emerges gradually..." This view seems to echo that of Dr. Peter Singer, professor of Bioethics at Princeton who believes that right to life is tied to a beings capability to hold preferences, and that killing a newborn baby is not equivalent to killing a person because babies lack the essential characteristics of personhood. If "personhood" does indeed emerge gradually as Dr. Myers states: 1) Who determines when someone has achieved personhood, or when someone has lost the personhood they once possessed? 2) If a newborn baby is not immediately a person at birth (as Dr. Myers implied) but rather develops into a person at some indeterminate time during it's physical growth and cognitive development, what implications does this have for so-called women's rights? Would a mother have the right to "abort" her "non-person" newborn just as she had the right to abort her "non-person" fetus when it was in the womb? 3) Do human rights apply to human beings, or only to persons? If human rights apply only to "persons" then the application of those rights depend on whether or not that human being is a person. That determination is made according to the human beings size, level of development, environment, and/or degree of dependency and is essentially arbitrary, being totally subject to the "community", which could change its standard as it desired, unless some other "community" that developed was stronger and asserted its dominance.

Fortunately, the world does not function this way. God's law is written on our hearts. There is no one righteous, not one. What's more is that we know our state, and how helpless we are. Thanks be to God that he has provided redemption, pardon, and peace to us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. The Happy Atheist is nothing more than a real world example of what St. Paul writes about the depravity of unregenerate humanity in Romans:

"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them," (Romans 1:28-32).

Thank you for straightforwardly exposing Dr. Myers' beliefs and letting his words show the depravity of New Atheism. God bless you also for firmly confessing your faith to him toward the end of the program, and rightly proclaiming law and gospel to him as you did so.

God's Richest Blessings to You in Christ!
The Hodgkins Lutheran