Their titles sound so confident:
• The Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam by Michel Onfray.
• God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
• Letter to a Christian Nation: A Challenge to Faith by Sam Harris.
and of course, • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Yet, like all atheists before them, they still can’t answer the fundamental questions of origins.
1) What is the origin of the universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do you get matter and energy from nothingness? How do you get a rock out of nothing?
2) What is the origin of life? How do you get life from non-life? How do you go from a rock to a tree?
3) What is the origin of mind? How does a living thing become a self-conscious being? How do you go from a tree, to an animal, to a human?
4) What is the origin of good and evil? How does an amoral being become morally aware?
Atheists respond to all these types of questions with essentially the same style answer. “We know God doesn’t exist. Therefore, since we’re here, though, it had to have happened this way. Thus, like the universe itself, life, mind, and mo-rality all ‘just popped’ into existence out of nothingness.”
I call them the Four Big Bangs:
1’) the Cosmological (the universe “just popped” into existence out of nothingness).
2’) the Biological (life “just popped” into existence out of a dead thing).
3’) the Psychological (mind “just popped” into existence out of a brain).
4’) and the Moral (morality “just popped” into existence out of amorality).
For their many obfuscating words, the authors still don’t improve much beyond the “just popped” thesis, if at all.
I was an atheist for 27 years. I used to play on that team. I used to pick on religious people too. I knew the arguments to press and those to avoid.
Attack with how unscientific theism is, how religious people aren’t very smart because they don’t chair any departments in the hard sciences at the right schools (it’s really called censorship). Raise the problem of evil: How could an omnipo-tent, loving God allow evil? Either God is not all powerful and can’t destroy it, or He doesn’t want to. Either way there can’t be a God because evil exists (don’t bring up the existence of good though, it’s too problematic). And, finally, go for the jugular with the hypocrisy of religious believers (You know, mention “all the wars in the name of religion,” and “all the fallen pastors” and especially, “the founders owned slaves” stuff, it’s really a good distraction.)Avoid the pesky problem of freewill. If atheism is true, if all that exists is mere matter and energy, then I don’t have a brain, I am my brain. But if the brain is exhaustively physical, then it is just as incapable of acting freely as a computer or any other machine. Which is why the idea of Artificial Intelligence makes for such fun science fiction – the more peo-ple believe that a computer can become a person, the less likely they will have need to believe they were created in God’s image. Thus, more AI, less theism – that’s the game plan. Same with the search for ET. Find life elsewhere so we can dismiss Genesis.
But, above all, avoid being cornered and forced to answer the questions of origins. Throw out lots of words that people can’t understand. Talk over them. Blind them with science. Talk about the details of the leaves on the trees but don’t allow them to bring it back to “Why the forest at all?” Assert the fact/value distinction. Claim that only science deals with knowledge. Drop in some postmodern gobbledygook. Distract them with how science deals with the “what, where, how and when” and not the “who and the why.” Especially avoid people who have had training in the philosophy of science – they’re dangerous because they see through us and know who we are – they don’t see the shimmering lab coats that everyone else sees. They don’t see any clothes at all.
But, for me, the real value of atheism lies in bolstering belief in God. When I doubt, I can begin to doubt my doubts by returning to the Four Big Bangs. And, I eventually fall to my knees and worship, “In the beginning, God.”