New atheism books are popularizing atheism to a new generation. This atheism is not like that of Nietzsche, but it is of the popular everyday sort versus being elitist, philosophical, and academic in nature. This new atheism is attracting people who call themselves “ex-Christians” or “de-converted Christians.” These are people who have been in the church for a number of years but only found Christianity to be a man-made religion. Their time in the church only created anger toward religion, namely Christianity, and left a decidedly bad taste in their mouths. These people are poised to distrust any idea of God because they found no authentic evidence of Him in their experience with Christianity.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote that “Christianity has never been tried and found wanting, but difficult and untried.” What then do we say to these ex-Christians? They have tried Christianity and they do find it wanting. They left it behind and entered the hopeless world of Richard Dawkins who laments that the world does not need religion it only needs to wake up and realize we are all dancing to our own DNA and make the best of it. Unlike Nietzsche, Dawkins keeps the idea of a moral construct that we ought to live by, yet divorces morality from God and leaves it hanging on the foundation of an inexplicable evolutionary process. In contrast, Nietzsche knew when he abandoned the foundation of goodness He must abandon all objective ethics and morality along with it.
Humanity has come out of the dark ages
Alas, atheism has progressed since this renowned philosopher declared the death of God. Humanity has come out of the dark ages and realized its morality is not indelibly tied to the nature of God. We have taken the reigns and soared to moral living without belief in God so we know it must be rooted in our own reasonable intellect.
We don’t know how we gained this understanding although we theorize it came to us over time, yet history records humanity grabbling with the same moral issues in the past that we do today. If it is human nature to know right from wrong, how did we acquire this nature? How is it we are not progressing to live more rightly? If we have not mastered our DNA, our DNA is mastering us. The problem of evil and injustice persist just as much today as it did at the birth of civilization.
Atheists argue that if a good God exists the world would be utopia.
There would be no problem of evil. Evil would not have been birthed in a world created by a good God. So if a God exists, He wouldn’t be the sort of God anyone would want to worship and love because He, being omniscient and all-powerful, is responsible for our plight. The problem is that evil is not an entity or a construct given birth by God. It’s the reality caused by created beings that persist in serving themselves above God. It came about from a disconnection with God in nature and not as an invention of God.
God did indeed create a paradise for humanity and He breathed life into the first humans in that paradise. However, He gave them the ability to serve their own interest with a divine plan in place to redeem them when they sinned against Him and took on a sinful nature into all creation. Had humanity not been given this freedom to choose whom they will serve we would have been mere robots incapable of true love and the full benefits of receiving the love of God.
Through Adam sin entered the world and through Christ, the law of sin and death is fulfilled. The demands of sin are paid in Christ’s sacrifice and a new life is available that is not a slave to the sinful nature. In Christ, we find restoration to God’s goodness by grace. If we work for that reconciliation through religion or other means we do so in vain for our salvation does not come from humanity, but from God alone. It is in the restoration of our relationship to God by grace through faith in Jesus that we obtain the Kingdom of God and can live a life that carries the reality of heaven into the earth. We can effectuate change in our earthly reality and make it obedient to the heavenly reality.
The Christian life is not about church services, pot lucks, being moral, praying, and reading your Bible.
These are common, and sometimes not so common, outward activities, but in and of themselves they are not Christianity. We can do all of these things and not know God. Being a Christian is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It’s about God dwelling inside us empowering us to live a life with Him. All the by-products of that life are to be lived out from a place of communion with God, and not of our own efforts. We don’t live by rules and laws; we live by the Spirit of God. We live a life of love because love overflows from God through us. We are a witness of Him because He is in us transforming us into His likeness. Anything else is mere religion. We weren’t born for religion. We were born for a supernatural life with God. And that is a life that is not found wanting.