New Dog, Old Tricks
by Burk Parsons
Since hearing about the supposedly “new” atheism I have been trying to figure out what’s so new about it. Its proponents are not saying anything different than their atheist ancestors have said throughout history. In truth, they are simply using the same old spin on a new generation of skeptics. Take, for instance, new atheism proponent Richard Dawkins’ assertions. In his article “On Debating Religion,” he writes, “The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything” and “faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” In his book The Selfish Gene, he writes, “Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings.” None of this seems all that different from the old atheism of Karl Marx, who in 1844 wrote in his introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
The trouble with this new atheism is that it is not new at all but is the same old humanistic sermon that has been proclaimed on the soap box of cynicism throughout the ages. Nevertheless, perhaps what’s most troubling is that these new atheists employ popular-level arguments in order to give them the broadest appeal.
What is even more troubling is that many Christians have shut their mouths and closed their eyes, pretending that this humanistic, atheistic nonsense will all just go away without affecting our churches or our children. Make no mistake about it, the Lord God Almighty reigns, and because His kingdom shall overcome, we shall overcome by His grace and before His face, coram Deo. And although these new atheists might call us deluded Christians, they are most certainly not deluded in their mission to convert the undiscerning world to the god of atheism — they know full well for whom they’re working as they seek new ways to suppress the eternal truth of God in their unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).