Friday, March 20, 2009

Watch Out! The Four Horsemen Are Here!

Did you know that the Four Horsemen have been galloping through our nation for the past several years? That’s right, only these aren’t the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who sweep the world to destroy the ungodly. On the contrary, these horsemen are out to destroy faith in God. I refer to the four popular atheist authors that have come to be known as the Four Horsemen: Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. Each has written popular books with the purpose of eradicating from the world the dangerous influence of faith in God. They found an ear in our society, due in part to the public disgust of Militant Islam and the Religious Right. The former brought terrorism to our country on 9/11 and the latter displayed intolerant hyposcrisy during the Bush years. A lot of people think that God is ready to be kicked out of society and the Four Horsemen are just the tool to make it happen. I have read their books, listened to their debates, and heard them interviewed. Their arguments are cogent and passionate. They can intimidate you with their intellectual authority. Their books offer powerful ammunition for those looking for reasons not to believe. And, for nominal Christians and Christians who don’t know Biblical theology these books can cut your faith to pieces. After digesting these books and their arguments, I want to offer a few observations:

First, these guys just don’t know the Bible in it’s historical, grammatical, cultural and theological context. Dawkins is a biologist. Harris is a philosopher. Hitchens is a satirical writer. And Dennet is a philosopher. None of these guys have a background in Biblical scholarship. And, it shows in their work. So, their picture of God is so characaturized that they wind up arguing against a god that does not exist. They build their own misinterpreted picture of what the God of the Bible is like and how he relates to the world and then they attack that picture. Well, in logical parlance, this is called a Straw Man argument. Sure, if God was all that they describe him to be, then who would want to believe in him?

Second, it is a fact that evidence cannot establish the existence of God. There either is not enough evidence, or there is only a preponderance of evidence. As Christians we accept this and understand that faith is required to believe in God, not evidence. If evidence were enough to establish the existence of God, then faith would not be necessary. The Bible is clear on this point. However, what the Atheists don’t tell you is that faith is also required of their position. A case in point is the question of origins: The origin of man, The origin of the universe, The origin of matter, The origin of logic and self-awareness. They are evident, but where did they come from? Even evolution cannot establish origins. The Atheist does not know where it all came from and all he can do is theorize without evidence, just like the believer. We are ultimately in the same boat!

Third, logic and reason are often used to persuade one from belief in God as though logic is on the side of Atheism. However, I have seen debate after debate where logic and reason are used to establish the veracity of “each” side of the argument. Logic and reason are just like facts, they can be used to support any hypothesis. The believer says, “God exists and here is why…” He then gives you his logical reasoning. The atheist says, “Here is why I don’t believe that God exists…” He then gives you his reasoned case for not believing in God. The formal debates that I have seen often come down to who best uses logic and reasoning skills, not which view is the truth.

There is a lot more to be said in defense of the existence of the Christian God. I just list a few things to keep in mind. If you are going to read these books, do not put your “faith” in the Four Horsemen. Come with skepticism to their assertion that God does not exist, just as they come with skepticism about God’s existence.

1 comment:

downtownpastor said...

Thanks, Joe! Very challenging read. The four atheists have awakened a sleeping giant!
Ken