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Bob Stewart, NOBTS.

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1 Bob Stewart, NOBTS

2 “Collegiate Church Planning” has been moved to Holcomb 208.

3 You can get this PPT file by emailing me at drbobstewart@yahoo
You can get this PPT file by ing me at or

4 Introducing the New Atheism

5 Their Core Beliefs Science and Religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war.

6 Richard Dawkins “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.’ I can't help feeling that such a position,

7 Richard Dawkins though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” The Blind Watchmaker, 6

8 Daniel Dennett Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 18
“Almost no one is indifferent to Darwin, and no one should be. The Darwinian theory is a scientific theory, and a great one, but that is not all it is. The creationists who oppose it so bitterly are right about one thing: Darwin’s dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves.” Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 18

9 Atheistic Shrillness “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” Review of Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution, Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson, New York Times Review of Books 9 April 1989, 35

10 Their Core Beliefs Science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war. “Faith” is a superstitious blind leap based on the denial of evidence.

11 Faith as Superstition “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” “Less Than Miraculous,’’ Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 24, Number 2,

12 Faith as Superstition “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

13 Their Core Beliefs Science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war. “Faith” is a superstitious blind leap based on the denial of evidence. Religion is inherently evil.

14 Nobel Prize Winner Steven Weinberg
“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” The New York Times, April 20, 1999

15 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible

16 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible They are theological novices

17 Terry Eagleton “Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony

18 Terry Eagleton Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms. For Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any

19 Terry Eagleton entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects.” “Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching” London Review of Books,

20 Terry Eagleton “All I can claim in this respect, alas, is that I think I may know just about enough theology to be able to spot when someone like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens—a couplet I shall henceforth reduce for convenience to the solitary signifier Ditchkins—is talking out of the back of his neck.” 2008 Yale University Terry Lecture

21 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible They are theological novices They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim

22 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible They are theological novices They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim They are materialists

23 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible They are theological novices They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim They are materialists They are evangelistic copycats

24 Atheistic Spirituality?
Apparently Naturalists recognize that spirituality is not going to go away. This quote, from Naturalism.org, seems to imply as much. Although naturalism may at first seem an unlikely basis for spirituality, a naturalistic vision of ourselves and the world can inspire and inform spiritual experience.  Naturalism understands such experience as psychological states constituted by the activity of our brains, but this doesn't lessen the appeal of such experience, or render it less profound.  Appreciating the fact of our complete inclusion in nature can generate feelings of connection and meaning that rival those offered by traditional religions, and those feelings reflect the empirical reality of our being at home in the cosmos. 

25 Atheistic Spirituality?
Spirituality Without Faith—explores the spiritual possibilities inherent in naturalism, and how these compare with traditional approaches to spirituality. Enlightenment: Myth and Reality—an imagined dialogue in four parts about naturalizing the enlightenment experience, by Paul Breer, author of The Spontaneous Self. Reason and Reverence—a review of William R. Murry's fine book on humanistic religious naturalism. Debunking Enlightenment—a review of John Horgan's Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality.  How to be a religious atheist—interview with Tom Clark at Science and Theology News (cached, image is not Clark).

26 Their Characteristic Practices
They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible They are theological novices They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim They are materialists They are evangelistic copycats They feel marginalized

27 Does Science (or Darwin) Disprove God?

28 Believing Scientists Nicholas Copernicus, Heliocentric Solar System
Galileo, Observational Astronomy, Kinematics Johannes Kepler, Laws of Planetary Motion Isaac Newton, Laws of Motion Joseph Lister, Antiseptic surgery Louis Pasteur, Bacteriology Robert Boyle, Chemistry and Gas Dynamics Georges Cuvier, Comparative Anatomy Charles Babbage, Computer Science Lord Rayleigh, Dimensional Analysis John Ambrose Fleming, Electronics James Clerk Maxwell, Electrodynamics Michael Faraday, Electromagnetics and Field Theory Lord Kelvin, Energetics Henri Fabre, Entomology of Living Insects George Stokes, Fluid Mechanics Sir William Herschel, Galactic Astronomy Gregor Mendel, Genetics Matthew Maury, Oceanography

29 Agnostic Stephen Jay Gould
“To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists . . . Either half my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else

30 Agnostic Stephen Jay Gould
the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs—and equally compatible with atheism, thus proving that the two great realms of nature’s factuality and the source of human morality do not strongly overlap.” “Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge: Book Review of Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson” Scientific American July 1992, 119.

31 Francis Collins “For quite a while in my twenties I was a pretty obnoxious atheist. At the age of 27, after a good deal of intellectual debating with myself about the plausibility of faith, and particularly with strong influence from C. S. Lewis, I became convinced that this was a decision I wanted to make, and I became by choice a Christian, a serious Christian, who believes that faith is not something that you just do on Sunday, but if it makes any sense at all, it is part of your whole life. It’s the most important organizing principle in my life.”

32 Does Religion Poison Everything?

33 Friedrich Nietzsche “Another Christian concept, no less crazy, has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the ‘equality of souls before God.’ This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights: mankind was first taught to stammer the proposition of equality in a religious context, and only later was it made into morality.” Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, Aphorism 765

34 Keith Ward “But consider a parallel case: politics could also be said to be one of the most destructive forces in human life. In Russia and Cambodia, millions of people have been killed in the name of socialist political ideologies. In Latin America, millions of people “disappeared” in ruthless campaigns of violence propagated by right-wing politicians. Deception, hypocrisy and misrepresentation are commonplace in political life. Might we not be better off in a world without politics too?

35 Keith Ward Even science, often thought of as an uninterested search for truth, produces terrifying weapons of mass destruction, and the most advanced technology is used to destroy human lives in ever more effective and brutal ways. Would we be better off without science as well?” Keith Ward, Is Religion Dangerous?, 179-80

36 Thomas Crean “Still, one point is worth making in answer to the author’s claim that ‘religion causes people to do evil things’. Insofar as this is true, it has no tendency to show that religion is itself a bad thing, or that its message is false. Love causes people to do evil things; so does patriotism. The love of a man and a woman can lead to unfaithfulness, to the

37 Thomas Crean destruction of families and even to murder. Patriotism can lead to hatred and to the indiscriminate bombing of cities. None of this means that either love or patriotism is a bad thing. It simply means that the weakness of human nature is such that any great object or cause may stir our emotions as to lead us to act against our better judgment. If religion occasions evil as well

38 Thomas Crean as good, this is no sign of its falsity, but simply of its power of attraction over human nature. That in the name of religion good men may do bad things is no argument against religion, unless crimes of passion are arguments against human love.” Thomas Crean, God is No Delusion,

39 So Why Am I Not a Naturalist (an Atheist)?

40 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting.

41 Naturalism.org Naturalism as a worldview is based on the premise that knowledge about what exists and about how things work is best achieved through the sciences, not personal revelation or religious tradition. . . Scientific empiricism has the necessary consequence of unifying our knowledge of the world, of placing all objects of understanding within an overarching causal context. Under naturalism, there is a single, natural world in which phenomena arise.

42 Naturalism as Self-Refuting
One reason that I am not a naturalist is that naturalism cannot be proved according to its own methodology, i.e., the scientific method. What sort of scientific experiment could possibly be constructed to test such a hypothesis? The answer is none. This would not be a problem if the scientific method were not viewed as the only meaningful test for truth, but given that it is this becomes a deal-killer.

43 Dawkins Contradicting Dawkins
“As an academic scientist, I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.” A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love,

44 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. Because Naturalism undermines human rationality.

45 Naturalism and Reason Naturalism undermines reason by insisting that reason is the result of an organ produced by a random process. Why should we believe that reason is a reliable guide to truth if naturalism is correct? Why should we believe that any theory produced by an organism that is itself produced by random processes is true?

46 J. B. S. Haldane “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms within my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true and hence I have no reason to believe that my brain is composed of atoms.” “When I am Dead,” in Possible Worlds ed. Carl A. Price (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2002), 209.

47 Patricia Churchland “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F's: feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary

48 Patricia Churchland advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” Patricia Smith Churchland, “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience” Journal of Philosophy, 84 (October 1987), 548.

49 Richard Rorty “The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own uncreated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass—a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck.” “Untruth and Consequences,” The New Republic, 31 July 1995,

50 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. Because Naturalism undermines human rationality. Because Naturalism undermines human free will.

51 Naturalism.org From a naturalistic perspective, there are no causally privileged agents, nothing that causes without being caused in turn.  Human beings act the way they do because of the various influences that shape them, whether these be biological or social, genetic or environmental. We do not have the capacity to act outside the causal connections that link us in every respect to the rest of the world. This means we do not have what many people think of as free will, being able to cause our behavior without our being fully caused in turn.

52 Naturalism and Freedom
One way that naturalists will try to show that we are physically determined is to show that we can track certain types of reactions in the brain scientifically. This shows only that our thoughts are processed by the brain and that certain brain states can tracked under the right conditions. But what cannot be observed without some reference to the world beyond one’s brain is the specific content of that mental activity. A scientist might be able to

53 Naturalism and Freedom
identify the part of the brain that is involved in meditation or prayer but he cannot discern what an individual is praying for—or to whom. This is because the content of thought is not found in the brain but in the mind. You can look in my laptop and find the data that translates to the words of this presentation but you will not find the thoughts behind the words in my computer because those thoughts are in my mind, not the instrument that I use to communicate those thoughts.

54 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. Because Naturalism undermines human rationality. Because Naturalism undermines human free will. Because Naturalism undermines morality.

55 Atheists Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson
“Human beings function better if they are deceived by their genes into thinking that there is a disinterested objective morality binding upon them, which all should obey. We help others because it is ‘right’ to help them and because we know that they are inwardly compelled to reciprocate in equal measure. What Darwinian evolutionary theory shows is that this sense of ‘right’ and the corresponding sense of ‘wrong,’ feelings we take to be above individual desire and in some fashion outside biology, are in fact brought about by ultimate biological processes.” “Moral Philosophy as Applied Science,” Philosophy, 61 (1986): 179.

56 Naturalism.org From a naturalistic perspective, behavior arises out of the interaction between individuals and their environment, not from a freely willing self that produces behavior independently of causal connections Therefore individuals don’t bear ultimate originative responsibility for their actions, in the sense of being their first cause. Given the circumstances both inside and outside the body, they couldn’t have done other than what they did. Nevertheless, we must

57 Naturalism.org still hold individuals responsible, in the sense of applying rewards and sanctions, so that their behavior stays more or less within the range of what we deem acceptable. This is, partially, how people learn to act ethically. Naturalism doesn’t undermine the need or possibility of responsibility and morality, but it places them within the world as understood by science.

58 Naturalism and Morality
How do we hold people responsible who aren’t responsible? If we aren’t free, then why do we call Francis of Assisi a Saint and Jeffrey Dahmer a monster? If we aren’t free (or rational), then why do atheists even write books? It would seem that we are all just determined to do what we do and there can be no such thing as persuasion.

59 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. Because Naturalism undermines human rationality. Because Naturalism undermines human freedom and free will. Because Naturalism undermines morality. Because Naturalism undermines human relationality.

60 Naturalism and Relationships
If our actions are the result of physical causes, then what of love? Why does your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, love you? Why do you love your significant other? Does he/she do so freely? Do you? Not in a naturalist world. Love is simply a byproduct of biology; it’s in our glands, or some other physical source. In a very real sense, then, in a naturalist world we can say that love is in our genes—but so is psychosis. On a material level, it seems, then, that love and mental illness are roughly the same.

61 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism cannot explain human consciousness.

62 Richard Dawkins on Consciousness
“Neither Steven Pinker nor I can explain human subjective consciousness—what philosophers call qualia. In How the Mind Works Steven elegantly sets out the problem of subjective consciousness, and asks where it comes from and what’s the explanation. Then he’s honest enough to say, ‘Beats the heck out of me.’ That is an honest thing to say, and I echo it. We don’t know. We don’t understand it.” Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, “Is Science Killing The Soul?”

63 Ned Block on Consciousness
“We have no conception of our physical or functional nature that allows us to understand how it could explain our subjective experience In the case of consciousness we have nothing—zilch—worthy of being called a research programme, nor are there any substantive proposals about how to go about starting one Researchers are stumped.” “Consciousness,” in A Companion to Philosophy of Mind,

64 John Searle “Physical events can have only physical explanations, and consciousness is not physical, so consciousness plays no explanatory role whatsoever. If, for example, you think you ate because you were consciously hungry, or got married because you were consciously in love with your prospective spouse, or

65 John Searle withdrew your hand from the flame because you consciously felt a pain, or spoke up at a meeting because you consciously disagreed with the main speaker, you are mistaken in every case. In each case the effect was a physical event and therefore must have an entirely physical explanation.” The Mystery of Consciousness, 154.

66 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism cannot explain human consciousness. Because Naturalism denies the substantial reality of the self.

67 Naturalism.org As strictly physical beings, we don’t exist as immaterial selves, either mental or spiritual, that control behavior. Thought, desires, intentions, feelings, and actions all arise on their own without the benefit of a supervisory self, and they are all the products of a physical system, the brain and the body. The self is constituted by more or less consistent sets of personal characteristics, beliefs, and actions; it doesn’t exist apart from those complex physical processes that make up the individual. It may strongly seem as if there is a self sitting behind experience, witnessing it, and behind behavior, controlling it, but this impression

68 Naturalism.org is strongly disconfirmed by a scientific understanding of human behavior. Tenets of Naturalism

69 Naturalism.org We are the evolved products of natural selection, which operates without intention, foresight or purpose. Nothing about us escapes being included in the physical universe, or escapes being shaped by the various processes—physical, biological, psychological, and social—that science describes. On a scientific understanding of ourselves, there’s no evidence for immaterial souls, spirits, mental essences, or disembodied selves which stand apart from the physical world. Tenets of Naturalism

70 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism cannot explain human consciousness. Because Naturalism denies the substantial reality of the self. Because even if Darwinism is true, it doesn’t necessarily lead to Naturalism.

71 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism cannot explain human consciousness. Because Naturalism denies the substantial reality of the self. Because even if Darwinism is true, it doesn’t necessarily lead to Naturalism. Because Naturalism has no answer to the problem of evil.

72 Why I Am Not a Naturalist
Because Naturalism cannot explain human consciousness. Because Naturalism denies the substantial reality of the self. Because even if Darwinism is true, it doesn’t necessarily lead to Naturalism. Because Naturalism has no answer to the problem of evil. Because Naturalism often appeals to ad hoc solutions, such as “Memes.”

73 Richard Dawkins on Memes
“We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’.” The Selfish Gene, 11

74 Simon Conway Morris on Memes
“Memes are trivial, to be banished by simple mental exercises. In any wider context, they are hopelessly, if not hilariously, simplistic.” Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, 324

75 Practical Strategies for talking to Atheists

76 General Strategies Use their authorities rather than Christian authorities. DO NOT ARGUE EVOLUTION—this is like trying to get to Baton Rouge by going through Australia. Talk Physics and Cosmology rather than Biology. Use questions.

77 Strategy #1 Ask them if they think they freely don’t believe in God.
Ask them if they think they are rational and can reason their way to the truth on important issues. Ask them if they think certain evils are in fact evil. Ask how certain they are.

78 Strategy #1 Ask them how this can be the case if naturalism, i.e., materialism is true. Point out that many atheists deny freedom, etc. Ask them which they are more certain about—materialism or their own freedom and rationality.

79 Strategy #2 Ask them if they believe in investigation and research.
Ask them how they have investigated the question of God. Ask them how important this issue is. Ask them if their investigation has been proportional to the importance of the issue.

80 Q & A

81 We are excited to announce the 2012 Defend the Faith Apologetics Boot Camp. Defend the Faith is a five-day, five-night conference in Christian Apologetics training that includes outstanding worship. This event, held on the New Orleans campus January 8-13, 2012, will feature speakers such as Gary Habermas, Paul Copan, Mary Jo Sharp, Mike Licona, Robert Bowman, Bob Stewart, and many others.

82 You can get this PPT file by emailing me at drbobstewart@yahoo
You can get this PPT file by ing me at or

83 I’m on Facebook as “Robert Stewart
I’m on Facebook as “Robert Stewart.” If you want to friend me, please send me a message saying you heard me at Glorieta. Thanks and God bless you.

84


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