Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Surprised By Joy, Chapter 9: New Atheists

Having said that he [Lewis' instructor "Kirk"] was an Atheist, I hasten to add that he was a "Rationalist" of the old, high and dry nineteenth-century type. For Atheism has come down in the world since those days, and mixed itself with politics and learned to dabble in dirt. The anonymous donor who now sends me anti-God magazines hopes, no doubt, to hurt the Christian in me; he really hurts the ex-Atheist. I am ashamed that my old mates and (which matters much more) Kirk's old mates should have sunk to what they are now. It was different then; even McCabe wrote like a man. At the time when I knew him, the fuel of Kirk's Atheism was chiefly of the anthropological and pessimistic kind. He was great on The Golden Bough and Schopenhauer.
C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy, p. 152

What's old is new again. The recent resurgence of the New Atheists sounds much like the proselytizing atheists of Lewis' day. It is fascinating that some atheists are not content to stew in their own nihilism. They defeat their own argument by caring so much; for if they were right, there would be no point in convincing every they're right: all will be gone, all will be lost at the heat death of the universe. There may as well have never been pain and sorrow, joy and delight, life itself, for the memory of existence will fade away. By finding meaning in something, the anti-theist imparts significance to life. This group sounds a bit like what C.S. Lewis had previously called himself, "very angry at God for not existing."

Lewis makes a great point about what the New Atheism accomplishes: giving boldness to someone who has already made up their mind. That's it. They do not truly harm those with faith, for those who truly believe in God know that the New Atheists are just dabbling in dirt.

These who have set their lives vehemently opposed to God need prayer and witness. If this group succeeds in fooling the world with their non-belief, life will become very dark. But exceeding the horror of earth's consequences is the eternal destiny of their souls. If they do not confess in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their eternal separation from all of God's grace is tragic. Soul-rendingly, heart-breakingly tragic.

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