Atheists forget man remains man

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July 19, 2012

Dear Sir,

“The New Atheists” is the name given to a group of writers including Richard Dawkins, Daniel C Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, who take a more aggressive approach to opposing religious belief than atheists and agnostics have traditionally done.

This New Atheism is, in its origins and aims, a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world. The world, marked as it is by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot, it is claimed, be the work of a good and just God. Such a God must be contested. In his absence, man is called upon to establish justice.

The atheist’s claim, however, that humanity can do, and must do, what God cannot is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. Indeed, this idea has led to widespread cruelty and the violation of justice.

We have seen the contemporary results: nihilistic yet impeccably democratic legislation that repudiates life itself! I am thinking here of existing, enacted, and pending articles of legislation that legalise the use of various drugs, the practices of prostitution, contraception, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, in-vitro fertilization, and the hollowing-out of human dignity through genetic manipulation, human trafficking, and other new forms of slavery.

On a global scale one can also add to this list: the inequality in the distribution of goods, the depletion of the earth’s resources, and the increase in poverty, famine, and illness. Also, one cannot forget the brutal campaigns that were waged against religion in the 20th Century by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

A world which seeks to create its own justice purely through human reason, the very existence and origin of which the atheists cannot explain, is a world without hope. No one and nothing can guarantee that the cynicism of power, whatever beguiling ideological mask it adopts, will cease to dominate the world.

Contrary to the New Atheists, faith is necessary as a purifying force for reason, to liberate it from its blind spots and help it to be more fully itself. Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. When human interests and values are based on reason alone, apart from the truth that transcends them, the individual and his human rights, dignity, worth, and capacity for self-realization are at the mercy of caprice.

When man rejects absolutes, he ends up judging by pragmatic criteria which are based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all things. All of life’s mysteries are then reduced to problems that must be solved commensurate with the human mind that has posed them.

However, beyond man’s intellectual ability to solve problems there are mysteries which engage, not only the mind, but also the heart, body, and whole being. These mysteries do not challenge us to master their complexity; rather, with a sense of reverence and awe, they invites us to marvel in contemplation at their core simplicity.

To protest against God in the name of justice is self-defeating. The New Atheists forget that man always remains man. They forget man’s freedom; they forget that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. They believe that once the economy, for example, has been put right, everything else will automatically be put right. Their real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment. Indeed, the kingdom of good will never be definitively established in this world. Anyone who promises a better world, guaranteed to last forever, is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom.

Perhaps the great tragedy of this world is that atheists have no one to really love. Since there is no one to love they never think of the love of God. Their life is tragic indeed.


Hamilton, Ontario

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Published Jul 21, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm)

Atheists forget man remains man

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