The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Atheist Debate

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I received a letter from an atheist over the weekend. He claimed that it was perfectly logical to be an atheist, that he was just as moral as any Christian. I asked him this simple question: “ Given the basic assumptions of “militant atheism,” if somebody put a bullet in your brain, would that person have done anything wrong?” He responded with this:

If you think that as an atheist that I do not believe murder is wrong then you have no real understanding of what it means to be an atheist. The entire term “militant atheism” is a non-sequitur invented to label the people who do not wish to be forced to either sanction with their tax dollars or to honor your prehistoric beliefs. We simply wish to live in a free society without being pressed into accepting the silly beliefs and practices that you do. However, I would fight just as hard for your right to believe whatever the heck you want as long as it doesn’t infringe upon me. I also do not approve of your beliefs or lifestyle. I just realize that I have no right to tell anyone how to live.

Nearly every atheist I’ve encountered does not get it. Yes, they are (mostly) moral people. That’s not the issue. I want to know how an atheist accounts for his moral worldview. Why is it murder for one human being to kill another human being, but it’s not murder for a dog to kill another dog? Why is it wrong for one group of randomly formed atoms to extinguish the “life force” of another group of randomly formed atoms?

You may have noticed something else that atheists throw into the argument. My emailer did it in predictable fashion: “I would fight just as hard for your right to believe whatever the heck you want as long as it doesn’t infringe upon me.” Where does this rule come from? In a universe that supposedly came into existence by chance from the accidental collection of atoms, where do “rights” and “self-determination” come from? The Declaration of Independence accounts for such things by asserting that they are an endowment from the Creator. If there is no God but only matter, why is anything right or wrong?

The debate over the existence of God has been a long one. The Bible acknowledges that there are people who deny God’s existence. Such a person is called a “fool” (Psalm 14:1). American Vision has been on the front lines in confronting the atheists head on. We’ve published two books: Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson and The Return of the Village Atheist by Joel McDurmon. Both have gotten some attention. There will be an online debate between Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great. It will be sponsored by Christianity Today. The following was written by Ted Olson of CT magazine:

Newsweek had Rick Warren vs. Sam Harris.

Beliefnet had Harris vs. Andrew Sullivan.

Next week, ABC’s Nightline has Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort vs. the guys.

No. Really. Nightline has tapped Kirk Cameron to be fidei defensor.

I suppose we could have asked Cameron, too. Or maybe Lisa Whelchel, Mr. T, Willie Aames, Justine Bateman, or Gavin McLeod.

Instead, we’d rather hear from Douglas Wilson, author of the new book, Letter from a Christian Citizen (American Vision). Wilson is senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College and minister at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. He is also the editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine and has written (among other things) Reforming Marriage and A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking. His Blog and Mablog site inevitably makes for provocative reading.

Wilson will be corresponding with Christopher Hitchens, author of the new book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything ( Twelve Books). Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School. He is the author of numerous books, including Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, Thomas Paine's “Rights of Man,” Letters To a Young Contrarian, and Why Orwell Matters. He was named, to his own amusement, number five on a list of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect.

You'll enjoy the discussion regardless of whether you're already familiar with Wilson and Hitchens. But if you are familiar with their work, you'll know that it promises to be anything but boring.

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