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I like free books. So I was excited when I opened a package that contained a book that I had not ordered. Apparently, I’m on someone’s list of notables, because Alfred A. Knopf thought I should have a copy of Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation. And since I had received an unsolicited copy, surely there were others who were equally blessed with a free copy. I can’t believe that anyone at Knopf thought I would be persuaded by it, so I’m assuming that an enterprising marketer saw it as a way to get some free publicity. It worked! And we are grateful. American Vision will have a response to the book in about four weeks written by Douglas Wilson with the title Letter from a Christian Citizen.
There’s little that’s new in Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation. It’s the old atheism wrapped in a new package. The same tired arguments that have been answered convincingly by any number of Christian writers over the centuries have been trotted out again in the vain hope that atheism will find a new audience.
Atheism doesn’t have much going for it. As an ideology, it postulates the random origin of the universe and can’t legitimately account for meaning among the “things” that an impersonal conglomeration of atoms spontaneously brought into existence. As a letter writer to Time magazine put it in his response to a series of articles on the mind and body found in an earlier issue of Time, “I’m not sure I’ll ever have the same degree of self-respect now that I know I’m just an illusion created by 100 billion jabbering neurons.”
When confronted with the charge that “atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history,” Mr. Harris dodges the accusation by claiming that atheist regimes like fascism and communism “are too much like religions.” He’s closer to the truth than he realizes. The ideological engine of atheism is evolution, and by the declaration of its own practitioners, it’s a religion. Why should we expect its practitioners not to act consistently with its belief system? As evolutionary apologist Michael Ruse makes very clear: “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” Ruse is not alone in his admission that evolution is a materialistic religion founded on unaccounted for metaphysical assumptions. “The distinguished biologist Lynn Margulis has rather scathingly referred to new-Darwinism as ‘a minor twentieth century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.’ Stuart Kauffman observes that ‘natural selection’ has become so central an explanatory force in neo-Darwinism that ‘we might as well capitalize [it] as though it were the new deity.’”
When Richard Dawkins was asked, “What do you believe that you cannot prove?,” he admitted the following: “I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection.” Dawkins, and those who follow his naturalistic creed, have faith in an impersonal cosmos that is the product of a faith-committed impersonal concept that has no inherent moral brake.
The atrocities of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler reveal in stark detail how despotic and cruel the impersonal worldview of naturalism can be if followed consistently. It is no accident that Communism and Nazism claimed Darwin as their patron saint. Darwin’s approach to origins found an enthusiastic adherent in Karl Marx and his communist successors. Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels in 1866 that Darwin’s Origin of Species “is the book which contains the basis in natural history for our view.” The results have been horrendous. One-hundred million dead in what has been described as “Darwin’s century.”
“We make men without chests and we expect of them virtue and enterprise,” C. S. Lewis writes. “We laugh at honor and we are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” We strip men and women of the certainty that they are created in the image of God, and we are surprised when they act like the beasts of the field.