by Michael J. Klassen
Two days ago I drove to a Barnes and Noble bookstore to meet a friend at a Starbucks coffee shop. Because I arrived a little early, I decided to walk through the store—a rare treat because I buy most of my books online.
Browsing through the place, I couldn’t help noticing the many volumes on display attacking religion. Authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claim that humanity suffers from a “God delusion,” and that “God is not great.”
Is it just me, or does it seem like atheism is on the rise?
Interestingly enough, a few years ago I ran across a study indicating that the number of atheists in America has remained the same for quite some time. However, in recent years, they’ve garnered a little more air time. In my opinion, the more publicity they receive, the more adherents they’ll win.
Are we in trouble?
Recently, Oxford University released the findings of a three-year mega-study on the prevalence of religion around the world. The nonsectarian project incorporated 40 different studies conducted by dozens of researchers. People surveyed hailed from countries around the world—China to Poland to America to Micronesia and beyond.
Perusing CNN.com, I ran across an online article reporting on the study:
“We tend to see purpose in the world,” Oxford University professor Roger Trigg commented on Thursday. “We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can’t see it. … All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking.”
Around the globe, regardless of race or location, people instinctively believe in a creator who governs world affairs and gives purpose to our everyday lives. This is a universal phenomenon.
“Children in particular found it very easy to think in religious ways” Trigg reported in the CNN article. Nevertheless, the study discovered that adults also jumped first for explanations that implied an unseen agent at work in the world.
I won’t go into detail about proving God’s existence, but suffice it to say, long ago Anselm of Canterbury theorized that because people can envision a God, he must really exist. Looks like Anselm’s theory might actually be fact.
“There is quite a drive to think that religion is private,” Tripp said, arguing that such a belief is wrong. “It isn’t just a quirky interest of a few, it’s basic human nature. This shows that it’s much more universal, prevalent, and deep-rooted. It’s got to be reckoned with. You can’t just pretend it isn’t there.”
If you fear for the future of Christianity, don’t.
To quote Mark Twain: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.
7 responses to “Bad News For Atheists”
The main problem with atheists, and theologian-atheists, is that they leave God out of the picture.
That pretty much fits the definition.
Right on, Michael!
1 “What advantage then has the Jew, … ? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, LET GOD BE TRUE BUT EVERY MAN A LIAR. …”
In His very great essence, God cannot be hurt by the imperfect things that man does or believes. These are the things that will “pass away,” and be “burned as chaff.”
Luke 3:17 “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Disobedient, faithless “men” hurt themselves. As every true and loving parent weeps (bitterly) for their poor children who are influenced and led astray by the lies of “the world,” — their precious innocence being co-opted and corrupted before their very eyes, — God does care about what happens to us, but our failures will not change His perfect Reality and nature. We are the idiots who go around proclaiming absurdities that we cannot know, and “shooting ourselves in the foot.”
As per stories in the great “Classics,” from fairy tales to Shakespeare, our fallen nature is easily portrayed inclining this way and that, and as vulnerable to following the wrong leader as the children in the “Pied Piper,” or the Lost Boys and those “who never want to grow up” in Peter Pan. In stories, our fallibility can be “charming,” but in real life, getting “off compass” can be bitterly — and sometimes irrevocably — devastating. The stakes are much higher than any common ordinary atheist realizes or can (or will) tell you.
Be very careful,…very very careful,…because “misery loves company,” and wants yours. His name is ultimately ‘satan.’ And he is NOT “your friend.”
Don’t say nobody ever warned you. The signs are everywhere. But are we listening?
Wonderful article, very encouraging. God bless.
Great thoughts, Mike. It’s refreshing to read from someone who isn’t reacting to what I like to call “the heresy hype”, that we somehow always need to be on the defense like God’s holy hall monitors.;-) I know there is a place to be “ready in and out of season to give an answer” and for apologetics, but it seems you are confident that when Jesus said “the gates of hell will not prevail” against his Church, he meant it.;-)
Speaking of “classic” fairy tales and such, many of these were supposedly written to be Christian allegories. As such they are seen to portray in characters and images, as symbols, parallels to our Christian walk in this life: the good, the bad, the innocent, the victim in need of rescuing, the hero, the savior, the enemy, the wise, the fool, the seeker, the bitter and jealous, the corrupt power-monger, a clever plan, a long journey, and on and on,…
Psychologists and anthropologists also take note of recurring human themes and patterns thusly portrayed. Often I have found their analysis to be interesting as it may relate to frustrating patterns of deficient human character and behavior patterns that we notice recurring in our midst, with persistent frequency — our characteristic problems with “fallen” human nature that obviously need to be redeemed to a better level of functioning by our “savior.”
Even our modern frustrations with the harsh women’s lib persona and the failing fathers syndrome, and the lies and compulsions that underlie these personalities so skewed away from God’s righteous patterns for us, can be characterized in ways that we can study and learn from.
Nothing is “hidden” that will not be revealed. Good has recognizable indwelt patterns, as well as does evil.
Mark 4:22 “[ Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation.] For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything [temporarily] kept secret except in order that it may be made known.”
Psychology, on its own terms, may wander in and out of Truth, as it is often wont to deny a “moral compass” and proclaim its own authority. But keeping in mind God’s Word as a framework, we can learn to recognize human patterns, in all their lack and deficiency, and repetitive, compulsion profusion — (rather like a dog chasing its tail, aren’t we — without God?).
This is not only an interesting study, but can certainly reveal “problem areas” where we, (becoming “wise” to them), can “step aside” and avoid entrapment, as well as pray the prayers for healing and restoration that is our blessing and privilege and promise “in God.”
… compulsive profusion … (oops!)