Writing "The Irrational Atheist" was an interesting exercise in swimming through a sea of unsupported assumptions and incompetent arguments. But one thing I noticed is that beneath the vast compendium of logical blunders and factual errors, there was a single false belief that serves as a flawed foundation for the entire New Atheist attack on Christianity. That is the idea that reason is capable of dictating individual belief.
This atheist paradigm is almost invariably entwined with left-liberal politics as well as a science fetish because it depends upon a progressive narrative. This is due to the 18th century propaganda of the Enlightenment, which is looking increasingly outdated and irrelevant. The progressive narrative is primarily dependent upon three factors, technological advancement, wealth and peace, which it credits to the increased secularism of Western society.
The inherent problem is that these three factors can also be attributed to economic growth, which has accompanied the increase in technology, wealth and peace. Some secularists have gone so far as to claim that secularism is actually the cause of economic growth, but this is clearly incorrect since historical economic growth in more religious periods has exceeded the growth that took place during the 20th century. It is, in fact, an egregious error, since there is a growing body of evidence that it is secularism itself that is the product of economic growth.
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Since I pay fairly close attention to various markets, it did not escape my attention that the New Atheists hit the best-seller lists very close to the time that the socionomists at Elliott Wave International were forecasting a Grand Supercycle peak. Sam Harris' "The End of Faith" was published in August 2004, with the Dow at 10,600. Richard Dawkins published "The God Delusion" in September 2006, when the Dow struck 11,508. And Christopher Hitchens appears to have marked the peak of both the New Atheism and the Dow when he published "god is Not Great" with the Dow at 13,188 in May 2007.
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It is interesting to note that even as the Dow has lost 40 percent of its value in the last year, polls indicate that atheism is more unpopular than it was before the New Atheism first appeared. Not only that, but church attendance has already begun to noticeably swell even though the public has been aware of the dire economic situation for little more than three months. The New York Times reported last week that the faster-growing evangelical churches have seen church attendance grow as fast as 17 percent in the last year alone, much of which has come since September. This pattern is not new, but has been observed since at least 1857.
During each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate of growth in evangelical churches jumped by 50 percent. By comparison, mainline Protestant churches continued their decline during recessions, though a bit more slowly.
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It is a mistake, however, to simply conclude that the return to church is nothing more than the desperate actions of fearful people afraid of losing their jobs. While that is certainly an important factor, it must also be recognized that the embrace of religious faith by the formerly secular is an abandonment of belief in the progressive narrative, a rejection of the faith that society is in the process of becoming more peaceful and more prosperous through its collective commitment to science and reason. (One would think that the relatively penurious state of scientists and philosophers would suffice to illustrate the bankruptcy of the larger principle, but then, as I've demonstrated in detail in TIA, neither logic nor observation is a strength of the average atheist.)
The truth is that as Tolstoy pointed out in his epic "War and Peace," no theologian or philosopher can present an idea so perfectly that it is capable of overcoming the great forces that sweep over individual lives as ruthlessly as they do over the societies those individuals inhabit. There can be little doubt that Alan Greenspan caused more people to believe God does not exist in the last decade due to his creation of the temporary illusion of wealth than all the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Michel Onfray combined.
And there should be no doubt at all that when millions of men and women who previously believed they had no need of any god elect to humble themselves before God and return to the fold of religious faith in the coming years, it will have nothing to do with anything that I or any other theist have written. If there is a silver lining in the catastrophe, it is the confidence that many lost sheep will be once more found.