Atheists believe life just arises from matter. It’s not created for a purpose by a superintellect others call God. Although life looks superbly designed, atheists and evolutionary biologists claim its apparent design is just an illusion. They have faith that mindless moving atoms and molecules acted on by blind physical constraints somehow “evolve” into life so complex that even humans can’t imagine how to make it.
Given the faith that life comes from matter rather than mind, the atheist rejects the “wisdom of God” about the nature of life and how it should be lived. Since life reduces to matter, the atheist has no reason to believe that it continues after death. The materialistic logic of death then leads to the selfish goal of living life in a way that will avoid suffering to attain happiness. According to the “Humanist Manifestos,” the guide to this nirvana is human “reason” and materialistic science, not the wisdom of God.
“Reason” deserves quotes. The inherent problem with “reason” is that it is only as good as that which informs it. If the faith of materialistic science that informs reasoned atheism is wrong, then we can’t expect the “reasoned” output to be right. Garbage in yields garbage out. Misinformed and biased reason and science can lead us to garbage like eugenics, the Holocaust and sexual promiscuity that can destroy the individual, family and culture.
Of course, many prudent atheists don’t ignore all the wisdom of God. That wisdom, which is steeped in reason as well as faith, has optimized the mental and physical health of individuals, families and Western civilization for thousands of years.
Unlike TV evangelists, most atheists and agnostics are hard to identify. Many may not even know they fall into this class. I didn’t until I became a Christian at age 37. The persecution of heretics for millennia has kept all but a growing number of outspoken “Brights” in the closet.
More importantly, an atheist need not be a raving evangelist to accomplish his mission. The tenets of his religion blend with the mundane and temporal as he uses materialistic “science” and reason to inform his views about the big questions of life. It’s easy to silently promote his religion with “secular” labels. Indeed, many atheists deny their worldview is religious.
So if one went to a sporting event, one might easily misclassify those in the stadium based on their behavior. Highly disciplined and principled atheists might “look” like Christians and many Christians who have fought demons all their lives might “look” like pagans.
The pews of Christian churches are likely filled by countless agnostics who take a seat to enjoy the political, social and economic benefits of being a member of a caring, family-values community.
Until recently, atheists did not have written tenets, worship in churches or have recognized organizations. In 1933 they came out of the closet with the publication of the “Humanist Manifesto,” which sets out the specific tenets of their religion. As their number grew, they began to meet in organized churches worshiping reason and science, rather than God and His wisdom. In 1964 the Unitarian and Universalist churches merged after accepting atheists into their congregations. The American Humanist Association actively evangelizes atheism as it files suits to enjoin any public mention of God.
Atheists don’t wear crosses, burqas or yarmulkes, although more and more display Darwin fish on their bumpers. So how does one recognize the practice of their religion, one that eschews God and His wisdom? When does one know atheism is at work?
The telltale signs emerge as soon as God or His wisdom enters the room. At that point, the evangelical atheist can’t sit still. As scientist Richard Lewontin said, our commitment to “materialism is absolute, for we can’t allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Imagine a generic conference on how to improve K-12 education where a wide range of subjects are discussed, including the biggies: Where do we come from and how should we live? One day one of the participants named Glen walks in with a poster of the Ten Commandments and a roll of tape in his hand. He wants to tape it to the wall as they have something to say about many of the subjects covered in the ongoing discussions.
The ears of a closet atheist named Bob perk up. Bob can no longer sit still as the “Divine Foot” is kicking at the door.
But Bob is in a quandary. His atheism is most effective when invisible to others. If he objects as an atheist, his cover will be blown and he knows he’s not going to be effective appealing to his own anti-God religion. He can’t say, we can’t have the Ten Commandments for I don’t believe in them. Nor can he say that the precepts mentioned in the commandments are bad ideas, for then he invites a discussion of them, the very thing he cannot tolerate.
Bob has many Christian friends in the room, for they find reason and science consistent with many of their nonscriptural views. They probably don’t even know Bob’s an atheist. So, rather than raising his flag, Bob pulls aside a “mainstream” Christian buddy named Tom at the coffee break.
He says: “Tom, you know the primary rule of our forum is that it remain secular and noncontroversial. Although Glen is a nice guy, he’s obviously violating the rule. What do you think ‘we’ should do?”
After the break, Tom takes the floor after a nudge from Bob, and says: “Well, Glen, I appreciate your idea, but we have this rule that the discussion will remain secular, and not religious. When you bring God into the room, you violate that rule. So, we think you need to keep your Scriptures at home.”
In this way, the atheist never reveals his true religious objection to the commandments. Instead of discussing their substance, he focuses on a rule of procedure that everyone can agree with: “Let’s avoid controversy by keeping the discussion secular, not religious.”
Glen is crushed, but then has a bright idea. He says: “Well, the ideas in the commandments address the subjects we have been discussing. Furthermore, they have merit in their own right as they promote healthy lifestyles, so we ought to be able to consider them.”
Bob winks at Tom, as he stands to back up his buddy: “Well, Glen, those views come right out of the Bible. How can they not be religious? Glen, we know you’re a recovering alcoholic, but can’t you leave the AA 12-step program at home?”
Groupthink sets in, and everyone nods in agreement as no one wants to be linked to a knuckle-dragging, right-wing religious fundamentalist described in “Inherit the Wind.”
Feeling the crushing antipathy, Glen rolls up his poster and slinks to the back of the room, vowing never to return to scorn that can be cut with a knife.
Glen’s mistake is that he agreed with the implicit assumption of Bob and Tom that religion is just confined to belief in God. Religion is not limited to God. It also includes the religion of no-God, atheism. If he had taken this into account he could have completely changed the discussion and the result by saying:
Well, Tom, I don’t know if you’re an atheist or not. However, what you are advocating is that we embrace the core tenets of that religion. Atheism seeks to remove God from the room, along with all of His wisdom. If we do as you request, we will be promoting that religion. The only way we can keep the room secular when discussing inherently religious subjects is to allow the ideas of the atheist and theist to compete. Why don’t we put up on the other wall the “Humanist Manifesto.” We can then compare the competing ideas of the two religions and see which make the most sense.
Of course, the atheist can’t tolerate that discussion, for its very nature admits the possibility he denies. Furthermore, he knows his belief system is religious, particularly because the courts have on numerous occasions agreed that it is. And now, he has been exposed for what he is, just as religious as the next fellow.
John H. Calvert, J.D., is the author of “Kitzmiller’s Error: Using an Exclusive Rather Than Inclusive Definition of Religion, Liberty University Law Review” (Spring 2009). A summary of that 115-page article is available online.