According to Richard Dawkins, our “selfish genes” don’t have a moral compass. They are like the Terminator. Their only goal is to survive and replicate and pity the poor organism that stands in their way. Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson contend that “We need something to spur us against our usual selfish dispositions. Nature, therefore, has made us (via the rules) believe in a disinterested moral code, according to which we ought to help our fellow….  [E]thics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.”[1] Notice the equivocation: “as we understand it.” They don’t know this. Furthermore, even if our genes evolved to do this (and there is no empirical evidence that they have), it does not mean we are obligated to do what they have “fobbed off on us.” Evolution is not about cooperation. It’s about survival of the fittest.

A few years ago, a group of atheists ran an ad campaign with this banner: “Relax: hell does not exist, or heaven either, enjoy your life.” Who defines what gives someone joy and on what basis? The Declaration of Independence mentions “the pursuit of happiness.” One person’s happiness could be another person’s dread. How do we know? The Declaration of Independence gives us a hint by stating that we are endowed by a “Creator with certain inalienable rights.” There are moral boundaries to life, liberty, and happiness. We are not at liberty to do what we want to do because it makes us happy. Our genes, according to Dawkins and others, are happiest when they are surviving and passing on their genetic material to future generations. How would this play out in the real world? The following is from Os Guinness’s book Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, and Spin.

Jesus said, “By their fruit you will know them”—not by their seed [or genes]. If you had spoken to the prodigal son the day he left home, would he have listened? If you spoke to him the day he hit the pigsty, would he have needed to? “See where it leads to,” St. Augustine advised in dealing with falsehood. Follow it out to “the absolute ruddy end,” C.S. Lewis remarked with characteristic Englishness. Push them to “the logic of their presuppositions,” Francis Schaeffer used to say (96).

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis consists of twelve chapters that include study questions, an answer key, a glossary of terms, and a comprehensive bibliography. If you want to be equipped to present the truth of the gospel in a compelling way, Pushing the Antithesis is required reading.

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With these points in mind, two atheists walk into a bar…

First Atheist: I noticed your banner that I should enjoy life because there’s no hell. Do you mean that after death there won’t be a God to judge me for what I do or don’t do while I am alive?

Second Atheist: Yes. In fact, there won’t be anyone or anything to judge you and me. There’s no karma or transmigration of the soul. As the song says, “All we are is dust in the wind.” Furthermore, God is a fictional character that humans created a long time ago to give meaning to life before there was science. When something in the world could not be explained, humans attributed the unknown to supernatural entities like gods and devils, spirits and sprites. Since the advent of science, we know that only matter matters. If it can’t be seen under a microscope or its properties can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist. Invisible beings like gods, ghosts, and goblins can’t exist in a world that is now defined by the physical sciences.

First Atheist: So, if I can’t see it or examine it, it does not exist. If a claimed entity does not have any physical properties, it does not exist.

Second Atheist: Yes. Science has come a long way to remove many religious superstitions of the past. They’re still with us, but our organization is working overtime to eliminate every vestige of religion and the supernatural from our world.

First Atheist: I’m so relieved. All my life I was taught that there was a divine being who brought the world into existence, expressed His character in a specific moral code, and one day would judge me based on how I measured up to that moral code. So, you’re saying that no such entity exists and I’m free to enjoy life on my terms. I want to be sure about this. There’s a lot riding on your belief system.

Second Atheist: Yes. As our banners say, “Relax: hell does not exist, or heaven either, enjoy your life.”

First Atheist: I’m so glad you said that. Your banner caught my attention and makes my life worth living. I have a purpose for living in the now. Any guilt I had is gone. Now give me all your money and the keys to your car. I also want the PIN numbers to all your accounts. If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to blow your brains out.

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear—and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.[2]

Second Atheist: Hold on there. I don’t believe you have fully grasped what we are saying. We are free to enjoy life as long as our enjoyment does not infringe upon the rights of others.

First Atheist: Who says? On what basis is this true and obligatory?

Second Atheist: It’s common decency.

First Atheist: Who gets to determine what’s decent?

Second Atheist: It’s wrong to steal and murder.

First Atheist: No. At this moment in time, it’s unlawful to steal and murder. Laws are social conventions that are a holdover from our superstitious religious past. Survival of the fittest is the true basis of non-religious evolutionary origins. Laws are constantly changing. That shows that there are no eternal moral absolutes. There are now more than 70 different gender designations when not long ago there were only two. Men can become women, and women can become men. As atheists, we can’t prove that moral absolutes exist since no one has ever seen a moral absolute or has been able to study one. They’re like the phantasms we dismiss as being unreal.

Second Atheist: But there are all kinds of moral absolutes that can be studied.

First Atheist: Show me one. You said that only the physical is real. God is not a material entity that can be studied by the standards of science, so He cannot exist. That’s what we atheists claim. Show me the physical laws against murder and stealing. Dawkins said that DNA neither knows nor cares. There are no laws written on our DNA. Moral laws don’t exist given our materialist assumptions.

Second atheist: Reason tells us that murder and stealing are wrong.

First Atheist: That’s the best you can come up with? Reason? I think it’s very reasonable to take your stuff because I’ll enjoy all that it will do for men to make me happy. Your sign tells everyone to enjoy themselves. This is how I want to enjoy myself. Anyway, whose version of reason should I follow? Yours? It seems reasonable to me to take your stuff since you aren’t really being consistent with your belief system. You’re holding on to the remnants of religion and the fictional worldview that it spawned. Every so-called tyrant (atheism can’t say if anything is tyrannical) believed he was being ultimately reasonable. Adolf Hitler didn’t believe he was being irrational. Neither did Lenin or Stalin, and they killed (not murdered) millions for what they claimed were very rational reasons. The French fought a revolution for the absoluteness of reason. Guess what? They took people’s stuff and killed people in the name of reason and called it “virtue.”

Second Atheist: But civilization depends on laws and morality.

First Atheist: I did some research and came across this: “No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life.”[3] A consistent atheist cannot account for meaning, morality, or rationality. If there is no judgment after death, then there is no difference between Adolf Hitler who killed 6 million Jews or Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue of more than 600 Jewish children from the Nazi death camps. At death, given atheist assumptions, they are equal, nothing more than worm food. Mao Zeong and Josef Stalin would argue that they were working for a world they believed would bring the most joy for themselves and those like them…. Now that I think about it, I don’t like this atheism thing. If I can rob and kill you with no eternal consequences, then other people can do the same to me.

Your banner is stupid. You need to think through your belief system before you end up like atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair. “In 1995 she was kidnapped, murdered, and her body mutilated, along with her son Jon Murray and granddaughter Robin Murray O’Hair, by former American Atheist office manager David Roland Waters.” In addition, more than $100,000 in gold coins had been stolen from the O’Hair’s. Who could object?

Waters must have said to himself, “Relax: Hell does not exist, or heaven either, enjoy your life.”

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths takes a closer look at God's Word and applies it to erroneous misinterpretations of the Bible that have resulted in a virtual shut-down of the church's full-orbed mission in the world (Acts 20:27). Due to these mistaken interpretations and applications of popular Bible texts to contemporary issues, the Christian faith is being thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matt. 5:13).

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Atheists would do well to read the following from the 19th century book Christian Charity in the Ancient Church:

If the individual man be only a passing shadow, without any everlasting significance, then reflection quickly makes us decide: Since it is of no importance whether he exist or not, why should I deprive myself of anything in order to give it to him? For the rule of life soon becomes this, that everyone makes himself as comfortable in this life as possible; and this implies that he need not trouble himself about the poor and needy, whose existence or non-existence is at bottom a matter of no importance.[4]

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), the British Social Darwinist who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” wrote the following:

“The unfit must be eliminated as nature intended, for the principle of natural selection must not be violated by the artificial preservation of these least able to take care of themselves.”[5]

In 1880 Social Darwinist William Graham Sumner followed the logical extension of evolution and its naturalistic and materialistic presuppositions in his essay “The Forgotten Man”:

Nature’s remedies against vice are terrible. She removes the victims without pity. A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things. Nature has set up on him the process of decline and dissolution by which she removes things which have survived their usefulness.

Atheists live within the moral context of a worldview they consider superstitious and scientifically untenable. They can talk about everyone enjoying themselves, but they don’t mean it because it can have disastrous results if atheism is pushed to the logic of its presuppositions.

[1]Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson, “Evolution and Ethics,” New Scientist, 208 (October 17, 1985), 51.

[2]William Provine, “Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?,” Origins Research, 16:1/2 (1994), 9.

[3]“Scientists, Face It! Science and Religion are Incompatible,” The Scientist (September 5, 1988).

[4]Gerhard Uhlhorn, Christian Charity in the Ancient Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1883), 38.

[5]Quoted by Marvin Olasky in “Capital Shakeup,” World (May 20, 2006).