The 'new atheism' is not about equality of belief but "destroying religious faith", according to a leading professor and apologist ...
Professor John Lennox was delivering the Institute for Faith & Culture Annual Lecture on 'Science, Ethics and the New Atheism' at the Palace of Westminster last night. RUSS BRAVO reports ...
Oxford University Professor of Mathematics and a leading apologist who has debated faith and religion issues with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in recent years, Professor Lennox focused on what he called "a new militant atheism that is not just anti-God but anti those who believe in God".
"There is a strong wind blowing for the privatisation of belief in God," he emphasised. "Secularism feels it holds the default position in society, and new atheists are about destroying religious faith. It has been stated that 'scientists should do everything that can be done to weaken the hold of religion'."
He went on to identify key areas where new atheists both misrepresented and misunderstood religious faith, and in particular Christianity.
"Religion is seen as a 'pernicious delusion'. Yet, new atheists do not discriminate between moderates and extremists – and they fail to distinguish between Christ's teaching and Christendom.
"If we cease to believe in truth, we will end up having to believe what power dictates."
He pointed out that new atheists portray the Christian faith as a 'blind faith' - believing where it is known there is no evidence. Yet "the Christian faith is a response based on evidence – and science itself is dependent on faith."
He went on: "There is a huge danger of scientism – seeing science as the only way to truth, and asking people to choose between God and science. It's not 'God or science' – this is a confusion of mechanism and agency. The Christian faith was the motor behind the development of modern science."
He contended that it was all too easy for new atheists to lay all evils at religion's door and exonerate atheism from any responsibility. Yet Stalin destroyed more than 50,000 churches, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn maintained the tragedy of communism arose because "men have forgotten God".
"Can science deliver morality? Every man or woman is created a moral being, made in the image of God. Yet Europe is in moral drift because no-one wants to raise the God question. Where is the new atheists' moral authority?"
He warned that Dawkins' views on a morality based on genetics were highly dangerous: "No good or evil – 'we dance to dna's music'. No blame. This is very serious – and many of our young people are being taught this. 'If God does not exist, everything is permitted'."
He closed by commenting on Dawkins' assessment that there is "no justice" by saying "If there is no final judgement, then justice is an illusion. God has appointed a judge, and his name is Jesus, who he raised from the dead".
In taking questions he called for a more open public debate via the media, and stressed "values have everything to do with your worldview".
The event was organised by CARE and co-sponsored by MPs Jim Dobbin, Andrew Selous and Steve Webb.
I really enjoyed your report of John Lennox's lecture "Science, ethics and the new atheism". Readers might like to know that my new book Who made God? published by Evangelical Press covers similar ground, though chiefly directed evangelistically at those who usually hear nothing but Dawkins-type atheism (Details on www.whomadegod.com and www.amazon.co.uk). It is currently being advertised on large posters at major railway stations throughout UK.
Edgar Andrews (Emeritus Professor of Materials, University of London)