Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Should We Respect Atheism?

Much of what I post here also finds its way to my ‘notes’ section on my facebook profile.  My post last night, “The Atheist Delusion,” received a gentle rebuke from a friend on facebook.  I believe that this paragraph is what he was responding to:

Anyways, if you or somebody you know has been affected by silly, little publishers who allow silly, little atheists to publish their silly, little arguments that try to disprove God, then I would greatly suggest that you delve into David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters.”

He encouraged me to “remember to stay humble.”  The most obvious place where humility was lacking was in calling these publishers, these atheists, and their arguments “silly” and “little.”

I’m not sure who it is that he quotes, but in C.J. Mahaney’s book “Humility: True Greatness,” he provides a quote that says something along the lines of, “at every stage of the Christian walk, pride is our greatest adversary/enemy, and humility our greatest friend.”  I give that idea (I would say quote, but there’s a good chance I’m misquoting it) a hearty ‘Amen!’

However, I would just like to think out loud a bit here.  On one hand, I believe that it is totally possible to be right in the wrong way.  By that I mean that you can be communicating truth, but do so in a way that turns people away from the truth.  Not on the basis of whether or not they believe it to be true, but on the basis of the way it was communicated.  If this is what my friend meant, then his gentle rebuke was warranted.

On the other hand, if what he meant is that I should show more humility by way of respecting atheism, then he was flat out wrong.  I believe that we sinners often sin in two ways when it comes to common misconceptions with regards to pride and humility.  Because our worldviews are far too often shaped by things outside of the Bible, we have a worldly view of pride and humility that is skewed.  Because of that, we often are guilty of sinful pride toward God when we keep our mouths shut in the name of humility.  The other side of the same coin is that we do not act as we ought in humility toward God for fear of being perceived as acting pridefully towards others.

So my answer to the question posed in the title of this post is a resounding “no!”  We should not respect atheism.  The reason that I wrote what I wrote last night was that I was greatly encouraged by Robertson’s book.  He is, for all intents and purposes, a nobody.  Conversely, Richard Dawkins is, for all intents and purposes, a somebody.  Robertson is a Scottish Presbyterian minister that I had never heard of until I picked up his book, and a man that few know.  Dawkins is a professor at renowned Oxford, and could very well be considered the current ‘Emperor of Atheism.’  Robertson discusses the children’s fairy tale about the Emperor’s New Clothes in his book.  And in his book he makes a very compelling argument that Dawkins, the ‘Emperor of Atheism,’ indeed figuratively has no clothes. 

So to see a relative nobody so effectively disarm arguably the world’s greatest atheist was very encouraging to me.  And when it comes down to it, atheists and their arguments are both “silly” and “little,” as I said in yesterday’s blog post. 

However, as my friend said, we need to remember to stay humble.  I need to remember to stay humble.  But for the grace of God, I would still be in the blissful ignorance of my atheism.  Therefore, what we need is to find a way to manage the tension between loving the atheist and giving their “silly, little” atheism no respect.  And make no mistake about it, atheism deserves no respect.  And men like Richard Dawkins deserve no respect.  He wrote “The God Delusion” to support atheism.  He wrote this book to try to do away with religion.  What is at stake with this book?

Souls and their eternal destination are at stake.  His book is an outright attack on Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  Let us have compassion for Richard Dawkins, and let us pray for God to send somebody to him with the Gospel.  And let us pray for his salvation.  But let us also pray for the failure of his work.  Let us pray that the great number of souls that come into contact with his book will see that they are nothing more than the Serpent’s lies.

The First Part of what, Lord willing, will be a three-part discussion in order to oppose atheism by providing evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is called “The Centrality of the Resurrection.”

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July 13, 2008 - Posted by | apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, humility, respect

6 Comments »

  1. Thanks David. Remember that truth is by its very nature offensive (1 Cor 1:18), and we certainly don’t need to add in our tone to make it “more true”, but we certainly can add unnecessarily to the offense.

    As I share with Mormons, atheists, and Muslims I am reminded on how much a humble heart with a true Gospel can tear deep into the recesses of a depraved heart.

    Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35), and John re-iterates this teaching, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

    Paul reminds us “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10). The most striking is Peter’s “apologetic manifesto” who says “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Peter doesn’t say to add onto the offense or be abrasive but to show gentleness and reverence.

    You can, and should, honor the person created in God’s image without validating a false worldview. Imagine if God didn’t do that to us while we were still sinners.

    Paul at Mars Hill came off in a way respectful of the philosophers, but shared truth in a way that pricked some hearts and as such he was invited back. If you notice his contextualized (hehe) approach brought forth truth in a God honoring way.

    Speaking the truth in love is a delicate balance and one worthy of deep reflection.

    Comment by Chris | July 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. I don’t ask for respect. Respect is earned. And earned by action, NOT by belief. No atheist deserves respect for being an atheist and I have never asked for it.

    I only ask for theists to listen. I rail against insults, but in the end, all I demand is that you think and are consistant.

    Why is it so hard for people like you to understand? The truth … the truth simply is. Why do you insist on blinding yourself to it? I know that now, as always, revealing the truth to people who refuse to see it.

    As always, I can see. I can see that I am right and you are wrong. How do I know? What clue shows and informs me constantly?

    The fact that theists CONSTANTLY claim knockout arguments… and then never give. Only those who claims are weak conceal their reasoning.

    Comment by Samuel Skinner | July 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. I meant to say somewhere in this post that I do not respect others’ atheism mainly because I do not respect my former atheism.

    I went from an ignorant Christianity to an ignorant atheism. I realized that my bias against Christianity was based, not on whether or not it was true, but on my preferance for it not to be true. When I objectively looked at the information, I could no longer suppress the fact that Christianity is true.

    Samuel, you say that “theists CONSTANTLY claim knockout arguments… and then never give.”

    You are right in that I gave no argument against atheism here, but my intention was not to give such an argument here. My intent in the post yesterday was to recommend Robertson’s book, which shows the plethora of holes in Dawkins’ book.

    My purpose here was just to say that humility is indeed needed in discussing truth, but that atheism does not deserve respect because it has earned no respect. Atheist arguments take half-truths and non-truths, and argue as if they were knockout arguments.

    We can discuss the numerous things that I think amount to a knockout argument in favor of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, if you would like.

    Thanks,
    David

    Comment by bigham | July 13, 2008 | Reply

  4. I found the title to this post interesting because a vigorous debate has been taking place in atheist circles in recent years on the corresponding question from the opposite perspective: To what extent should we respect religion?

    Some, observing that religion enjoys a privileged position in social discourse in which it is largely protected from criticism and even more so from disrespect by a social taboo on such behavior, argue that we should end this taboo and respect religious views no more than most other public social views in order to enable the merits of religious ideas to be freely and fully discussed and, they hope, debunked.

    Others argue that religion should not be respected and, indeed, should be ridiculed, thinking that that may be an effective way to shake up people’s thinking and, it is hoped, lead to their reconsideration and rejection of religion.

    Others argue the opposite, i.e., that religion should be respected, or at least not ridiculed, because honey brings people around better than vinegar.

    Others argue for respecting religion, fearing a backlash that would only complicate any larger dialogue about religion’s validity and set back any prospect of reducing religion’s sway.

    It is interesting to see that folks on both sides of this discussion wonder about respecting the other’s views.

    Comment by Doug Indeap | July 13, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thanks for your comment, Doug.

    It is great to be reminded of how central that Christ, and Him crucified, is to this debate. If not for the gospel of Jesus Christ and its importance, then I would say that I see where you are coming from. We could say that this is just an example of “six-to-one, half-a-dozen-to-the-other,” where the only hope is just to “agree-to-disagree.”

    However, my response here is the same as my response to Samuel’s comment, although your comment and his were quite different.

    The centrality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although, as I said in the post, presenting the truth in humility is necessary to avoid rejection of truth based on the presentation rather than the truth itself, at the end of the day what really matters is the truth itself.

    As the apostle Paul says, our hope for resurrection is directly related to Jesus’ resurrection. If He was raised, those who believe in Him, repent of their sins, and persevere in faith to the end will also be raised. If He has not been raised, then we will not be raised, and we are of all men most to be pitied.

    So, if you guys are up for discussing the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I’m absolutely in.

    Thanks for the comments, I’m honored that you guys read what I have to say!

    -David

    Comment by bigham | July 13, 2008 | Reply

  6. “The Centrality of the Resurrection”

    (That is a link to my latest post, where I argue about the centrality of the Resurrection from the Christian perspective. As of now, I’m planning for this to be the first part of 3, with the second being basically a “if the Resurrection happened, then what,” and the third being my argument that the Resurrection did indeed happen. Love to hear any thoughts along the way from you guys, Chris, Samuel, and Doug, as well as anybody else who reads this!)

    Comment by bigham | July 13, 2008 | Reply


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