Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Art of Poetry

Many of us have heard the name "Christopher Hitchens" in association with the most recent and extreme form of atheism bleeding out of academia.  "The New Atheism" is the term for a populace of speakers and authors who see belief in God not just as false but as dangerous.  While their sentiments are not not shared widely, the existence of such belies or "anti-beliefs" at the popular level is indicative of the intent of persecution.

For many years, extreme atheism in the west has been limited to extreme circles of writers in the academic field. The release of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion to a popular rather than academic audience is an unfortunate cultural step toward the limitation of religious belief.

Many Christians see belief movements like this and assume that we have lost the debate.  The thinking is that if professors and scientists hold a belief, it must be in response to great evidence.  The fact that the new atheism has moved from academia to the populace must mean the atheists won the debate in academia.  This is not true.

In the academic realm, theism (belief in God) is taking new ground.  The argument from atheism used to be: "Look at all this scientific evidence about the age of the earth and how natural law works.  The universe is a closed system of cause and effect.  There is no God, because we know how the universe works."  However, as Albert Einstein awakened us to the reality of atomic and subsequently sub-atomic physics, many scientists and philosophers had to concede that the universe is significantly more complex than we thought.  We now know that we cannot predict every cause and effect action with absolute certainty.  Simply put, we don't know everything.

Beyond that, theism has gained ground recently by shifting apologetic focus from creationism which, like evolution is heavily dependent on interpretation of evidence to the Resurrection which brings its own evidence and leaves little room for debate.  In the academic realm, we are taking ground.  Physicists like Frank Tipler are aligning themselves with Christianity not in spite of the evidence but because of it.  Additionally, we have not ceased to celebrate Antony Flew's turn to theism.  His reason? "I have to go where the evidence leads."  If you read only one of the books I've linked today read There is a 

Why then is the New Atheism gaining popularity while simultaneously losing their debate?  The simple answer is that there is a lot of bad press for theism.  The New Atheism's argument has shrewdly moved from evidential to effectual: "Look at all the suffering in the world caused by religion.  Religion is dangerous to humanity."  Their argument is popular, not because it is true but because it resonates with a world frustrated by terrorism and politically-driven religion.

The big question then is: What do we do about it?

Surprising to many is that Christopher is not the only Hitchens with a book about the existence of God.  Peter Hitchens (Christopher's Brother) recently released The Rage Against God addressing the issue of belief from a theistic perspective.  That's right.  They're brothers and they completely disagree.  I'm not sure why so many are surprised by this.

As Christians, our first response (after brief celebration) is to ask Peter what new argument for God's existence should we use on his brother Christopher.  Keeping in mind the effectual rather than evidential  reasoning behind the new atheism, Peter says something profound: "It is my belief that passions as strong as his are more likely to be countered by the unexpected force of poetry, which can ambush the human heart at any time."  Strange that the most effective response to the most jaded opponents of Christianity is not evidential (though we must have evidence) but relational.

Atheism cannot account for the existence of genuine, unconditional love.  There is no logical reason for a person loving someone who hates them.  Loving your enemy is the irrefutable evidence of Christ in you. I'm not saying we shouldn't rise to the occasion and debate for the truth of God's existence.  The evidence is in our court and we should use it to show that the Truth of God is not afraid to be tested.  Debate with relentless passion for truth, supported rationally with irrefutable evidence, driven by and dripping with love.

Could this be the reason Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44)?  At the fear of this statement becoming a bumper-sticker or T-shirt, here's a suggestion:  Prove an atheist wrong today.  Love them.

What made you belief in Christ?  Was it evidence or love?


  1. Loved this post! To answer your questions: My logical base for God comes from the idea that there must have been a beginning (ie. Big bang) and a primary mover. However, it is through a relational experience that I have come to believe in Christ.

    "You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart"... ah cliche truths are wonderful

  2. Thought you might find this interesting in light of this post: