Saturday, February 09, 2008

New atheists vs. the ex-atheist

Marvin Olasky muses on the recent popularity of "new atheist" books:
Atheistic authors see themselves as avant-garde, but they merely are echoing the riffs of 19th-century scoffers who predicted the imminent demise of Christianity. Gilded Age orator Robert Ingersoll, for example, said that when Christians dominate schools and media, it is hard to mount an attack on concepts of revelation and miracles, but "now that religion's monopoly has been broken, it is within the compass of any human being to see those evidences and proofs as the feeble-minded inventions that they are."

So what happened? Why are many churches in the U.S. booming? Why is Christianity expanding so rapidly in Africa and China? To begin to answer that, we should let our imaginations run wild: What if in the 20th century, in the biggest country by land area and also in the biggest country by population, leaders had required the teaching of atheism in all schools? Freed of "feeble-minded inventions," wouldn't the world be a better place?

Oh, you say we don't have to imagine? You say the Soviet Union and China did establish atheism and the results were not pretty?

He thinks it's a passing fad. I think it's a last ditch effort to sell atheism before the science evidence for meaning and purpose in the universe makes atheism as implausible as the fairies in the bottom of the garden.

At least in the Western context. You could still be an atheist in the Eastern context, but that wouldn't abolish anything that the new atheists want to get rid of. Yu'd have karma instead of God.

For example, right in the middle of the organized atheist uproar, an atheist who was far more highly respected than any of these others, Antony Flew, came to the conclusion, based on science evidence, that there IS a God. I have written about that here.

The important thing to see is that he did NOT have an old tyme religious experience and did NOT become a fundamentalist. He simply came to the conclusion that the science evidence is best explained by the idea that there is a God. That's more or less what I think too after co-writing The Spiritual Brain.

Yes, yes, I was a Christian before that, but I didn't realize how much science evidence supports theism. I had never been asked to look at my faith that way; it was all experiential. The Spiritual Brain (I am Mario Beauregard's co-author) was a chance to look at one huge line of evidence from neuroscience about the reality of the mind.

One difference between ex-atheist Flew and the new atheists may be that Flew doesn't appear to have bought into materialist ideas of the mind - that here is really no mind, no free will - what Mario calls the central dogma of modern neuroscience.

And if you think that there is a mind, there is free will, why not a Mind behind it all, idf the evidence suggests that? Not proven, but a reasonable assumption, and certainly worthy of further investigation.

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