Saturday, 19 July 2008

An atheist who gets it better than we do

Many Christians vastly overrate the importance of the politics of this present world. Don't get me wrong - I believe that bearing witness in the public square is an essential task; Jesus is Lord of all, not just of the holy huddle. Nevertheless, politics does not advance the kingdom of God one iota.

Christopher Hitchens is one of the more famous "new atheists", seeking to promote the argument that belief in God is not only mistaken, but positively dangerous.

Well, I find Hitchen's arguments spectacularly simplistic and inconsistent. All theists are lumped in together, and the worst examples he can trawl from history become reliable guides to the whole lot, no distinctions. The point that Jesus was as fierce, if not more, a critic of false religion as he is is one he never appears to have considered. He also whitewashes the history of the 20th century with its multiple attempts at building socities based upon the principle of the setting aside or utter denial of belief in God. Ridiculously, he lumps the atrocities of communist states, built by their own confession with atheism as a fundamentla principle, into the crimes of the religious, arguing that all totalitarianism is inherently religious and therefore these crimes actually support his argument against belief in God... go figure that one out!

Nevertheless, there is one thing in which Hitchens is dead right:

Hitchens told WND after the debate his purpose is simple.

"I do it because I think the essential argument that underlies all other arguments is the one between belief in the supernatural and repudiation of that," he said. "It cuts across all the left-right, libertarian-statist arguments."

Amen and amen. At heart, the issues of life boil down to one fundamental issue. Is man the ultimate standard, or not? Are we made under authority, or arbitrary accidents who can do as we please? Are values just personal preferences, or are their transcendent truths which are binding on us all? Can we re-engineer society in any way we please, or is there a divine order which, if disregarded, will cause our foundations to crumble? Are human beings masters of their own fate and destiny, or must we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God?

If only Christians would see the issue as clearly as this atheist...

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