Part one of a nine-part series.
Old atheists like Madalyn Murray O'Hare were reluctant to admit that atheism is a belief system. However, New Atheists like Richard Dawkins readily admit that they embrace a belief system. In fact, they call it a "rival" to Biblical Christianity.
In an interview with Paula Zahn of CNN,1 Dawkins said, "I'm an atheist with respect to the Judeo-Christian God, because there is not a shred of evidence in favor of the Judeo-Christian God, or indeed any other god." There is, he said "a historical misunderstanding of what atheism is." Dawkins accused Christians of being "remarkably intolerant of atheists...which is pretty astonishing, considering, as I say, the innocuousness of what they actually are. They're just people who hold a different belief system."
Atheists, he said, are harmless people. "No atheist...ever threatens violence, we never threaten to fly planes into skyscrapers, we never threaten suicide bombs. We're very gentle people." It is "religious fundamentalists," Dawkins and other New Atheists say, who go around deliberately causing death and destruction. They and their beliefs are the source and enablers of evil in the world.
New Atheists Aren't "Fundamentalists"?
In another television interview, Dawkins said this: "A fundamentalist is a person who believes in some holy book, and therefore will not change his mind."2 An atheist, he said, on the other hand is "interested in the truth," open to new ideas, and willing to change his mind.
But are the New Atheists really so gentle and tolerant? In an interview for the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Dawkins says this about theism of any kind, and especially the authentic Christian faith: "I am pretty hostile toward a rival doctrine."3
Dawkins' admission agrees with the Word of God. As we read the Bible's description of God-deniers in Romans chapter one, we find that hostility, not gentleness and tolerance, is indeed their true attitude toward God and toward believers in Christ.
A System of Doctrine with a "Holy Book"
Atheism is, in fact, a system of doctrine that fallen man has put up as a rival to Biblical Christianity. New Atheism has its own doctrine of God, a doctrine of origins, a doctrine of man, a doctrine of sin, a doctrine of salvation, a body of prophetic literature, and an eschatology. In coming days we are going to examine each area of the New Atheist belief system and compare it to the truth of Biblical Christianity.
1. Richard Dawkins, interviewed by Paula Zahn on CNN's Paula Zahn Now, 2/9/2007.
2. Richard Dawkins, interviewed by Mariella Frostrup on Sky TV's The Book Show, episode 14, 2007.
3. Richard Dawkins, interviewed by Ben Stein on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media Corporation, 2008).