Dec 7, 2010

People are embarrassed to believe in God

People are embarrassed to believe in God so confesses Victoria Coren in an article in the Guardian over the weekend. And so as a believer in God herself she bemoans the lack of quick-witted, thinking, believers able to stand up to the growing assault of radical atheism.

'me a Christian?'

She writes: ‘Lord Carey (previous Archbishop of Canterbury) complained last week that Britain is ashamed to celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. It’s bigger than that: people are embarrassed to believe in God at all. They feel silly.

There is a new, false distinction between “believers” and “rationalists”. The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position

Coren wants Christians to pick up the gauntlet and respond!  It’s time for Christians to expose the illogicality of atheism (after all you simply can’t prove a negative and Dawkins when pushed on the matter in debate with Professor John Lennox admits that he is an agnostic rather than an atheist).  We need to reveal the intellectual poverty of atheism in its answers to questions of morality and to demonstrate the falsity of the claim that religion is to blame for everything by showing how the course of human history and the wickedness perpertrated by atheistic regimes around the world demonstrates that is is simply not credible to blame it all on religion and to believe that we’d suddenly transform into lovely people without it.

After all Coren notes  ‘Human nature contains a streak of fear, greed, selhsihness and territorialism that must result in a mean level of dissent and bloodshed, with or without the excuse of religious difference. Without religion, human life is no longer sacred – nothing is – so it’s not “logical” to believe we’d be gentler if it disappeared.’

The challenge

Where are the thinking believers? Why after all was it Tony Blair that was wheeled out to face Christopher Hitchens last week in debate on religion?

Come on; let’s make this a fair fight, at least. Identify yourself, thinking believers!’

The response

The good news is that there is a growing desire amongst Christians to respond to the challenge. Good books have been written in response to Richard Dawkins by John Lennox, Alistair McGrath and David Robertson amongst others. Intelligent, well-argued defences of theism are presented in good books by, for example, Tim Keller’s New York Times Bestseller The Reason for God.

But to really respond to the trickle-down effect of the ideas of Dawkins et al. we need to raise up evangelists and apologists at the local level. Churches need to identify, train and equip evangelists for the task.

We need to be bold and gain the gospel a hearing by addressing the questions raised by the new atheism.  We need to go out on university campuses and in the market-places of our towns and cities and address the issue with passion and persuasion.

And finally we also need to prepare the ordinary member of the church so that they, in the words of 1 Peter 3:15, may  ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone (even the atheist) for the hope that you have.’

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