The Platform of New Atheists 1)Faith is irrational and they are out to debunk it 2)Evolution is true and undercuts any reason people used to believe in God 3)Biological and social Evolution explain the origin of religion 4)The Bible is archaic and its teachings harm us. So they will warn against it and attempt to discredit it 5)The Jesus of history was mortal – if He even existed 6)Christians in the U.S. constitute a profound threat to democracy 7)The world would be better without any religion - David Marshall, The Truth Behind the New Atheism, p.9
Portrait of the New Atheists The point is not that we atheists can prove religion to be the cause of more harm than good (though I think this can be argued, and the balance seems to me to be swinging further toward harm each day). The point is that religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know. If ever there was an attitude at odds with science, this is it. And the faithful are encouraged to keep shouldering this unwieldy burden of falsehood and self-deception by everyone they meet – by their coreligionists, of course, and by people of differing faith, and now, with startling frequency, by scientists who claim to have no faith… Surely we can grow in altruism, and refine our ethical intuitions, and even explore the furthest reaches of human happiness, without lying to ourselves about the nature of the universe. – Sam Harris, http://www.edge.org/discourse/moral_religion.html#harris accessed July 29, 2008http://www.edge.org/discourse/moral_religion.html#harris
They Say There Is No God Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God – as some scientists seem to manage it – there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith…there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is. – Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times. I. They Are Still People of Faith
An Old Caricature: Science is Simply Facts The problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, science, as the only begetter of truth. – Harvard geneticist Richard Lewotin It is worth observing that religion is the one area of our lives where faith in dogma – that is, belief without sufficient evidence – is considered a virtue. If such faith is a virtue, it is a virtue that is completely unknown to scientific discourse. Science is, in fact, the one domain in which a person can win considerable prestige for proving himself wrong. In science, honesty is all. In religion, faith is all. That is about as invidious as comparisons get. – Sam Harris, Faith Wont Heal a Divided World, Nov. 14, 2006 Http://Newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/sam_harris/2006/11/faith_and_a_undivided_world.html accessed July 29, 2008
An Old Caricature: Faith is Simply Superstition Faith is a kind of mental illness…a state of mind that leads people to believe something – it doesnt matter what – in the total absence of supporting evidence…not only in the absence of evidence, but in the teeth of evidence – Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976. p.198, 330. In science, it is a cardinal sin to pretend to know something that you do not know. Such pretense is the very essence of religious faith. – Sam Harris, Faith Wont Heal a Divided World, Nov. 14, 2006 Http://Newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/sam_harris/2006/11/faith_and_a_undivided_world.html accessed July 29, 2008
Science Deals With… 1. What can be Observed 2. What can be Reproduced in experimentation
When scientists dont know something – like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed – they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesnt know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion… When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. – Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times.
They Say There Is No God I. They Are Still People of Faith Thus, Atheism and Evolutionary Theory (Macro Evolution) are Faith Systems!
They Say There Is No God II. Their Reasons for Atheism are Unreasonable I no more believe in the Biblical God than I believe in Zeus, Isis, Thor and the thousands of other dead gods that lie buried in the mass grave we call mythology. I doubt them all equally and for the same reason: lack of evidence – Sam Harris, Newsweek, April 9, 2007. p.55
Cause and Effect The Beginning of the Universe demands a Beginner If it is reasonable to assume a First Cause as having always existed, why is it unreasonable to assume that the materials of the universe always existed? – David Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism.
Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe Second Law of Thermodynamics (a.k.a. Law of Entropy) Universe Expanding – 1927, Edwin Hubble Radiation from the Big Bang – 1965 Einsteins Theory of General Relativity - 1916
Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe Well, the question of questions is what caused the Big Bang, or what (or who) caused the universes beginning. Natural forces are ruled out because they were not the cause of the Big Bang but were created at the Big Bang. Since a cause cannot come into being after its effect, something outside of nature must have been the cause – Norman Geisler & Randy Douglass, Bringing Your Faith to Work, p.84
Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy – Robert Jastrow, agnostic astronomer and founder of NASAs Goddard Institute of Space Studies.
They Say There Is No God No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the beginning or creation of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself… Although we dont know precisely how the Earths early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. – Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times.
Design demands a Designer Anthropic Principle Atmosphere Distance Water Moon
Design demands a Designer Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. - Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker.
Design demands a Designer The major intellectual problem presented by the origins of life is concerned with the next state, the evolution of biological organization. How did a complex self-replicating organism evolve from an unorganized mixture of polymeric molecules? Little experimental evidence is available, so one is forced to attempt a speculative reconstruction of this phase in the origins of life – Biologist Leslie Orgel, The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection, 1973. p.230
Design demands a Designer According to this story, every tree, every blade of grass and every creature in the sea and on land evolved out of one parent strand of molecular matter drifting lazily in a warm pool. What concrete evidence supports that remarkable theory of the origin of life? There is none. – Agnostic and evolutionist Robert Jastrow, Until the Sun Dies, 1980. p.49
A Moral Law demands a Moral Law Giver Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did no have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material… Discovery that the universe apart from man or before his coming lacks and lacked any purpose or plan has the inevitable corollary that the workings of the universe cannot provide any automatic, universal, eternal, or absolute ethical criteria of right and wrong. - George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution, 1971. p.314-315
A Moral Law demands a Moral Law Giver How is it fair for God to have designed a world which gives such ambiguous testimony to his existence? How is it fair to have created a system where belief is the crucial piece, rather than being a good person? How is it fair to have created a world in which by mere accident of birth, someone who grew up Muslim can be confounded by the wrong religion? I dont see how the future of humanity is in good care with those competing orthodoxies. – Sam Harris, Newsweek, April 9, 2007. p.63
A Moral Law demands a Moral Law Giver In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it? – Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times.
Harriss antagonism toward God ends up proving that he intuitively finds some things reprehensible. But he cannot explain his innate sense of right and wrong – the reality of Gods law written on his heart – because there is no logical explanation for how that intuition toward morality could develop from sheer matter and chemistry. Popularly stated, I would put it in this way: When you assert that there is such a thing as evil, you must assume there is such a thing as good. When you say there is such a thing as good, you must assume there is a moral law by which to distinguish between good and evil. There must be some standard by which to determine what is good and what is evil. When you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver – the source of the moral law. But the moral lawgiver is precisely who atheists are trying to disprove. – Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, p.54-55 A Moral Law demands a Moral Law Giver
We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of year of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness – Sam Harris, Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times. [As an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
They Say There Is No God III. Their Faith System Offers No Hope Origin? Meaning? Morality? Hope? AtheismChristianity Life is Random Life is Purposed Life is Meaningless Life is Meaningful No Absolutes Absolutes & Judgment No HopeLiving Hope
They Say There Is No God IV. They Still Look for Something Greater Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of natures laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists – Sam Harris, 10 Myths – and 10 Truths – About Atheism, Dec. 24, 2006, The Los Angeles Times. Extraterrestrial Life
They Say There Is No God IV. They Still Look for Something Greater Extraterrestrial Life If you look at the D-cells, the D-cells of biochemistry – molecular biology – you might find a signature of some sort of designer…and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. – Richard Dawkins, from the documentary Expelled, released 2008.
They Say There Is No God IV. They Still Look for Something Greater Extraterrestrial Life Probably because a spaceship from another planet brought spores to seed the earth. – Francis Crick, Nobel laureate, atheist, and codiscoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, answering the question of how life around us began. It is possible that the future of human civilization depends on the receipt of interstellar messages – Carl Sagan, The Quest for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Cosmic Search Vol. 1 No. 2. http://www.bigear.org/vol1no2/sagan.htm accessed July 31, 2008 Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994. p.9
They Say There Is No God IV. They Still Look for Something Greater Christianity: Assurance of Supernatural Life